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Homeland Security

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Would you ever think the US had been anything but a secure nation? It seems as if metal detectors and baggage checks have been around forever, but it all had to start somewhere. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the US government wanted to prevent any future domestic attacks; therefore, former President, George W. Bush, produced a National Strategy for Homeland Security in November 2002. This act created the Department of Homeland Security, whose main purpose was to prepare, protect, and respond to a domestic emergency, whether it is a terrorist attack, natural disaster, or other urgent situation (DHS 2). The newly born Department also focuses on better vigilance in laws, superior enforcement of those laws, and connecting all the first responders with each other in the case of an emergency. Mainly due to the wake-up call our nation received in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the US has fulfilled its previous attempts at creating domestic security; the result was the Homeland Security Act of 2002 and it provides our nation with a variety of secure and efficient strategic plans presented to the public each year.

As the devastation of the 9/11 attacks set in and US citizens feared for their loved ones lives, the US government reviewed how they could have prevented the situation. They soon realized they had failed to provide the public with a safe and secure homeland because of a lack of coordination, preparation, and effort on their part. For starters, the attacker’s leader, Mohammed Atta, never had a background check when he entered the US for the second time although he was inadmissible to the US under the CIA. US banks, credit card, and cell-phone companies also did not check his false accounts. In addition to this, the 9-1-1 system was unequipped to handle the volume of calls coming in on September 11th and helicopters above the twin towers reported seeing pieces that looked like they could fall but did not radio in until after the towers had collapsed (Olsen 3). However, what really got the government thinking about initiating a plan for change was the fact that prior to 9/11 it was illegal for the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), who takes care of international threats, to give information to the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), who tends to domestic affairs. This insufficiency disabled the FBI from preventing the ringleader from entering the US and it left them with the question, if the CIA and the FBI cannot share information, how are they to prevent another attack? Government officials forced themselves to look back on the previous attempts they had made regarding Homeland Security. In 1998, the US Commission on National Security/the 21st century (AKA Hart-Rudman commission) was proposed. The commission would coordinate, plan, and integrate government acts involved in domestic security; however, the bill never reached the White House (Olsen 8). It took a disaster to strike before the government would do anything about it.

“One Team, One Mission, Securing our Homeland” is what the Security Act promised America in 2002 and the Department has proved true to its word as it efficiently and effectively carries out its intention. Securing the Homeland is one of the nation’s top priorities; their goal is to keep a secure America, have a confident public, and have an overall strong and resilient society/economy (One Team 4). However, it was a long haul for this act to make it to the President’s desk. The Homeland Security Act started as Bill S. 1534 when Senator Joseph Lieberman introduced it to Congress. It created the National Office for combating terrorism inside the office of the President, but after 18 hearings, it was not passed. The Bill was then amended and became Bill HR 4660 and S. 2452. These were introduced by Senators Lieberman and Thornberry and called for the creation of the US Department of Homeland Security, which would control the Coast Guard, Border Patrol, Department of Commerce, Federal agencies, and customs service. Still, the Bill did not pass. Then, former President, George W. Bush, proposed Bill HR 5005, whose core values were duty, respect, innovation, and vigilance, and it was passed on July 26th 2002 – 295 in favor, 132 against (Olsen 16). The newly created Department got to work at once and promised to protect US borders, improve intelligence and info share, and prevent and respond to potential terrorist attacks. By protecting US borders, it would be harder for foreigners who intend to use the freedoms they are granted in the US against it and who intend to harm the nation’s people. For example, Border and Port Security, directed by the Department of Homeland Security, has proposed INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) regulations to eradicate the six-month admission for B-2 visitors with a “period of time that is fair and reasonable for the completion of the purpose of the visit” (Rabkin 2). This will prevent those such as Mohammed Atta from staying in the country too long. In addition to this, the government plans to improve their overall intelligence. Unlike the years previous to 9/11, there is no legal wall preventing the CIA from sharing information with the FBI. This sharing of information will enable the FBI to enforce the laws, which will prevent the second occurrence of an attack.

Because the Homeland Security Act provides the American public with several strategic plans each year, citizens are more informed, prepared, and can therefore participate in the organization and avoidance of an emergency. For instance, in 2004, the Department of Homeland Security helped NYC form an emergency response plan. When disaster strikes, first responders will be sent out and monitored form one or two combined agencies. This creates control, clear demand, common training, and undoubted trust in that training. In addition to this, the 1993 bombing in the garage of the World Trade Center gave the Department the idea of detecting explosives in public areas, transport networks, agents of biological warfare, and protecting critical infrastructure and cyber network attacks (DHS 4). By minimizing these threats, the Department has gained the support of info sharing partnerships with local and state law enforcement. This new security has also aided the TSA (Transport Security Administration) go from screening 50% of air cargo to screening 95% and helped create the Secure Flight Program, which is designed to improve flight watch lists and prevent people from the “no fly” list from boarding. In addition to this, the Department has implemented new training for both pilots and flight crews in the event of a hijacking situation. However, the most important way the Homeland Security Act has affected the US is the implement of the USA Patriot Act. The Act enhances technical communication, and its purpose is for financial institutions to verify the identities of people opening accounts, reveal suspicious transactions, grant pardon to financial institutions, and increase the punishment for money laundering (DHS 1). Lastly, in the 2008-2013 strategic plan, the Department has pledged to secure our nations borders while welcoming lawful immigrants, visitors, and trade (One Team 1).

After former president George W. Bush passed the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the US became a more efficient and responsive nation when it came to an emergency. As the devastation of 9/11 and the regret of not passing the previous domestic security bills sunk in, the newly created Department of Homeland Security took on the role of connecting the Departments, coordinating, planning, and preparing for the nation for an emergency, and preventing the occurrence of potential terrorist attacks. Not only has the Security Act allowed its Department to use an all-hazardous approach to counter-terrorism, capitalize on emerging technology, and work as an integrated response team, but protect US citizen’s constitutional rights and American values. In brief, the US department of Homeland Security has allowed citizens to not hide in constant fear of attack, but live in incessant preparedness.





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Dude said...
Jun. 8, 2010 at 10:38 am
This is really good.  Well research and well written.  I learned a lot about a the DHS I never knew.  You do excellent work.
 
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