Homeland Security

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) refers to a department within the cabinet of the US federal government whose primary responsibility is to oversee the provision of security to the US territory specifically from the terrorist attacks and it also engages in humanitarian response to natural disasters. There is no conflict of interest between the Department of Defense (DoD) and the DHS since the DoD is charged with external military activities whereas the DHS performs its duties in civilian spheres in an effort to protect the US from both within and outside the borders with an emphasis on terrorism. It also has the responsibility to respond to other domestic emergencies including natural disasters. The safety of the citizens should come as a priority wish of any President in the world. It is therefore imperative that the US President has to do anything in bid to ensure the safety of the citizens. The aim of this paper is to provide a compelling analysis of the Homeland Security in an effort to assure the President of the support the majority citizens have regarding this department.

The President of the US has to prioritize the security of the American citizens before anything else after all, he assumed the office courtesy of the electorate whom he has the obligation to serve. The President has to show commitment in ensuring that the US lives to its values and ideals while offering protection to the citizens. The 21st century has come with new challenges daring the security of the American people. Terrorism in particular has opened a new chapter that has forced the government to review its security policies to adapt to the new requirements of the 21st century. Terrorism coupled by other emerging threats against America in general, needs proper preparations and planning for any eventualities and this requires investment in strong responsive and recovery units. To safeguard the nation, all the stakeholders have to be brought on board meaning that the federal government has to work in conjunction with the states and local governments in coming up with preventive, responsive, and intervention approaches to emergent issues. Also to be included is the private sector which is to be encouraged to work in close proximity with the authorities to address the problem (Whitehouse.gov, 2010).

Historical background of the DHS
Following the coordinated September 11th terrorist attack on twin towers and the Pentagon, the American people and the political leaders became well aware of how the terrorists can be a real threat to the US. The political class had to devise for a way of protecting the American citizens from the destructive attacks and prioritize the matter at the national security policy level. President Bush established the Office of Homeland Security (OHS) that was meant to coordinate homeland security immediately after the September 11 attack. The OHSs primary goal was to secure the US from any terrorist threats and attacks and the official date of commencement of its duties was on 8th October, 2001. This was followed by the creation of the Department of Home Security (DHS) through the Homeland Security Act (HAS) of 2002. The creation of the DHS was seen as the biggest overhaul of security policy in the US and the most significant reorganization that touched on the federal agencies. The Act aimed at the consolidation of the United States executive branch agencies relating to homeland security into one agency (Horowitz, 2004).

Composition and structure
Being a cabinet portfolio, the DHS is headed by the Secretary of Homeland Security assisted by the Deputy Secretary. The Department encompasses several agencies and advisory groups among other components. Among the agencies that are incorporated by the DHS includes the US Citizenship and Immigration Services the US customs and Border Protection Transportation Security Administration the US Coast Guard Federal Emergency Management Agency and the US Secret Service among other state agencies. Each of the agencies performs different function related to security matters that affect the American people. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services for instance is concerned with the processing of citizenship, residency, and asylum requests from non-citizens. The US Customs and Border Protection on the other hand deals with border control and the collection of tariffs. The transportation Security Administration is responsible for the general transport security issues including air, land, and water transportation. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has the role of ensuring disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. As we can see, each agency has designate security duties that are essential for the protection of the citizens to be guaranteed with some certainty. All the agencies under the DHS are vital in their contribution to the general security of the American citizens (DiscoverTheNetwork.org, 2009).

The other wing of the DHS consists of different advisory groups that are equally essential for the realization of the security to all Americans. Such advisory groups include the Homeland Security Advisory Council composed of the local and state government, first responders, individuals from the private sector, and the academicians. The National Infrastructure Advisory Council has the responsibility to advice on security matters relating to both private and public information system. There is the Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council that coordinates the infrastructure protection incorporating both the private sector and the other government levels. Another important advisory group is the Task Force on New Americans which is an inter-agency attempt in aiding immigrants in their integration in the American society. There are other several advisory groups that are worthy mentioning including the Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Committee and the Interagency Coordinating Council on Emergency Preparedness and Individuals with Disabilities. The functions of all these advisory groups cannot be wished away considering that security issue can not be comprehensively dealt with unilaterally (DiscoverTheNetwork.org, 2009).
Other components of the DHS includes the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, the National Protection and Programs Directorate, the Directorate for Science and Technology, Directorate for Management, Office of Health Affairs, Office of Operations Coordination, the National Cyber Security Center, and Office of Policy among other departments. In general, the DHS is composed of many agencies and other components that were initially incorporated in other Departments including Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Service, Justice, Transportation, and Treasury or in independent bodies (DiscoverTheNetwork.org, 2009, Para 1). The coordination of all these departments and components is necessary as security is a multi-faceted component that cannot be dealt on one front. With a combined workforce of more than 200,000 the DHS is among the largest Cabinet Departments in the country (DiscoverTheNetwork.org, 2009).

The Patriot Act
The integral part of Americas security program is to be found in the Patriot Act which was enacted in the 2001. The main objective of the Patriotic Act was to provide the necessary tools that are required in intercepting and obstructing terrorist activities (Fincen.gov, 2010). The Patriotic Act is known for having removed the various restrictions of the Clinton era that had insulated each of the intelligence officials and the law enforcement officials making the sharing of information between the two unrealizable. This was weird because even if the two were trailing the same suspect, they were not eligible to share the available information on the culprit. Such restrictions were responsible for the crippling efforts in the fight against terrorism and one cannot hesitate in pointing a finger to the disastrous results of the 911 attacks as the outcome of the restrictions. Some quarters have squarely blamed the restrictions for hampering the aversion of the dreadful attack (DiscoverTheNetwork.org, 2009).

The Patriot Act made it possible for the Treasury Department to disrupt terrorist financial networks thereby dealing the terrorists a financial blow in terms of financing their activities. The Act also gave the Attorney General some authority in detaining and deportation of aliens suspects of terrorism. Under this Act, the law enforcement agents are to obtain just one search warrant that covers any andor all the locations suspected to be prone to terrorist activities. The Act also raised the penalties for the convicted terrorists and their accomplices including those harboring them. Though the Patriot Act has been harshly criticized by civil liberty groups, the Act provides the baseline unto which the security of the US has to be founded (Fincen.gov, (2010). Those opposed to the Act have argued that it infringes on their political rights and freedoms as provided for in the constitution all in disguise of national security, and further upsetting the democratic values that are fundamental in the US through the consolidation of immense powers in the executive. They further hold that by allowing for the sharing of the information between the criminal and intelligence operations, there will be a resurgence of increased domestic spying activities from the Central Intelligence (DiscoverTheNetwork.org, 2009). As much as these groups are concerned about the freedom and their constitutional rights, national security is not a debatable concept and cannot be projected to serve the interest of a few. The security of the Americans is at stake and we better put first things first to avoid regretting when a tragedy strikes and wish we had taken certain steps when it will be too let.

Homeland Security is also closely associated with immigration issues, with an emphasis on illegal immigration. From estimates, it is argued that illegal immigrants in the US are well over the twenty million mark. According to the Census Bureau, an approximated 78,000 illegal aliens came from the countries with a special concern on the war against terrorism. Homeland Security has the duty to fore-see the implementation of immigration laws. With increasing number of the illegal immigrants in the US, terrorists may take the opportunity and enter the US to carry out their attacks. It is therefore necessary to have the Homeland Security actively involved in the enforcement of the immigration legislations (DiscoverTheNetwork.org, 2009).

There has been a perceived misconception about the whole concept of the Homeland Security by the public. This follows the protracted media propaganda that many individuals seem to pay keen attention to. A conscious mind will be able to identify the 911 attack as an act of war waged by foreign enemies against the US. The media and political elites have to avoid spreading of the propaganda that is aimed at derailing the effort on campaign against terrorism. This spirited propaganda can hamper access to very important civilian intelligence information that could be relevant in tackling the terrorist threat.

Homeland Security initiatives are crucial in the realization of the security targets by the government. Security is a multifaceted issue that cannot be addressed single handedly and the DHS has actually risen to the occasion incorporating the various agencies, advisory boards, and the various components that are relevant to the matter. It is therefore imperative that the projected propaganda aimed at criticizing the war on terrorism be demolished if the DHS is to achieve its objective with relative ease. When one takes a closer look at the accusations of the civil liberty groups it is easier to dismiss their allegations as the civil liberties of the Americans are fully intact. The legal changes that led to the establishment of the DHS only updated the law to reflect the challenges of the 21st century. In situations where the government has expanded its mandate under inevitable circumstances as the case with war-times, the rights of obedient citizens are usually protected by crucial judicial and statutory safeguards. It may appear that the citizens rights have been violated when they are detained for being terrorist operatives with no access to an attorney on the contrary, this action by the government is fully justified under the legislations governing war. Campaign against terrorism has to be viewed as full war and not merely crime issues. Terrorism is a worldwide problem and therefore the US has to bring on board the other countries with interest in the subject so as to combat and defeat the vice to make the world a safe place to live. I stand to be corrected on this that in the fight against terrorism, no rights have been eroded and if so, then it is worthy the course.


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