Position paper, Department of Homeland Security
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This paper addresses the issue of the creation and impact of homeland security laws and presidential directives and executive orders. In the wake of the attacks in 2001, the president acted quickly to put in place a regime, which he believed would awake streamline security on the home front. I will use multiple sources that have directly influenced my position to dispel the myth that this regime known as Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been effective. Despite the president’s intentions, there are verities of reasons the results are far from cohesive. The paper will enable the reader to understand how policymakers have failed to advance a “shared” vision of homeland security. While the potential was there after the attacks,the steps that could have allowed this regime to be strong were neglected, leading to a weak entity that has minimal foothold on protection. The facts suggest that America was led asunder by a government eager to unite the front of protective resources in this country, but ill equipped to grasp the overall depth that was needed to achieve this at a high level.
Keywords: Department of Homeland Security, Regime, Unity
The construction of Homeland Security 3 The construction of Homeland Security:
An anemic ineffective regime
The idea of homeland security was the result of the White House, federal government, and U.S. Congress’s reaction to the events that fateful September day. Even though terrorists have attacked American interests, both at home and abroad for decades, the spectacle of 9/11 brought the issue to the forefront of the agenda’s that belong to the government, media, and private sectors. Even though it was acknowledged that a congressional review would be needed in the face of such a mandate for change, nine days after the attacks, President George W. Bush announced that an Office of Homeland Security would be established in the White House by executive order. This would be the first of many executive orders, and after a little over a year, in November 2002, the Department of Homeland Security was established, (Bullock, Haddow, Coppella, p. 1-5). In theory, DHS was to provide the United States with a huge law enforcement capability that would deter any future attacks. Since its establishment, there has been a failure to build a strong infrastructure able to combat both natural and man-made hazards. Instead, policymakers and divisions have failed to foster cohesion, mobilize efforts of key players, and focus the attention and authority of multiple subsystems in support of a common goal, (May, Ashley, Joshua, 2011). Literature Review
Problem: In May et al.’s Constructing Homeland Security (2011), the strength of homeland security policy regime is analyzed in full. The text states, “while all the ingredients for fashioning a powerful regime were in place after the terrorist attacks of September 2001—a common purpose, engaged stakeholders, and institutional redesign. But for a variety of reasons that we discuss, the results are far from cohesive.” The idea of Homeland Security is not the problem it is the definition that has left to much room for interpretation. Experts such as John Cohen, cop-turned-homeland-security-consultant states, The construction of Homeland Security 4
“What’s needed is to reorient the philosophy at the federal level. Until we move away from this flawed philosophy that homeland security is something adjunct [to] or separate from the day-to-day public safety or public health activities, we’re not going to truly benefit from all these millions of federal dollars”, (Gorman, 2003).
. Instead of working with the state governments to develop a focused and systematic approach to tackling homeland security, the federal government works to separate day to day activities from homeland security. Everyday activities provide the foundation for all homeland-security efforts, Cohen says. “How can you expect that Washington, D.C.’s emergency responders will be able to don their new protective gear and run off to the site of a terrorist attack when the 911 emergency response systems are repeatedly on the fritz?”, (Gorman, 2003).
Supporting Evidence: One of the main focuses of May et al.’s (2011) article is the concept that if ideational uptake of the ideas that were “established” by the standards of DHS. The reason for this is that it is hard to measure the strength of DHS, due to how broad it is. Instead, this text opts to gauge the strength of the underlying forces, ideas, interests, and institutions that in combination contribute to the strength of the homeland security regime. Ideational uptake is defined as, ‘the extent to which witnesses in different subsystems embrace the organizing principles of “homeland security” and “all-hazards” preparedness’. To measure this, they collected and examined the testimony of 575 witness appearances of federal officials who held senior policy making positions, or had direct impact on operating functions. Included, were the eyewitness accounts of 97 appearances for individuals representing key intergovernmental organization.
The purpose of this was to see how many times these leaders of their respective departments focused either the attention of their speeches on immediate subsystem, homeland security, all hazards or any combination of the three. The findings revealed that ideational uptake was limited therefore rendering communication lines ineffective leading to weakness in infrastructure, (May et al., 2011). The construction of Homeland Security 5
Instead of addressing the lack of common goals, communication, and funding, Policymakers avoid the need for unity and commence to finger-pointing when the system fails. A perfect example of the Department of Homeland security’s weakness to carry out its mission is Hurricane Katrina, which was the department’s first real test. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which was integrated by the passing of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, was late, uncertain, and ineffective repeatedly. The man who effectively strong armed the bill for DHS into existence was on vacation during, what may be considered by many, the worst natural disaster in our nation’s history. Instead of doing his duty and returning to lead the charge, Bush stayed on vacation and left Michael Brown (FEMA emergency director) to drown along with Michael Chertoff (Homeland Security Chief). Both Vice President Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were on vacation that week too for good measure, (The Center for Media and Democracy).
President Bush, Congress, and other important policymakers rushed headlong into reshaping the security measures and taking the war to the enemy. What was lost during this rush was diplomacy and conservative thought. Expanding government is not usually the forte of the Republican Party, but President Bush bucked that trend. In doing so, he formed a weak regime as a sort of Band-Aid to appease the masses. It has been over a decade since those attacks, and still the infrastructure of Homeland Security is shaky at best. In trying to do much, little has been accomplished in the way of purpose, support, and unity. The foundation of our homeland security is unstable, and it will continue to be so.