agency was created by an act of parliament: Homeland security Act of 2002. It was a deliberate action meant to consolidate United States executive branch organizations linked to homeland security, into a single cabinet department. It saw the incorporation of twenty two agencies into new and distinct department. Its mandates are two folds; that of protecting United States territories from terrorism attacks as well as responding to natural disasters. DHS, unlike the department of defense, works in the public sphere to protect the U.S within and outside its territorial boarders. Its stated objectives are to prepare for, prevent and offer response to domestic emergences, particularly in case of terrorist attack (Haulley, 2006).
After September 11 terrorist attack, when three of the four hijacked commercial planes were crashed into near Washington D .C and New York's World Trade center, it became obvious that United sates domestic soil was not the protected place it had been thought to be for a long time. The catastrophic events were not the initial sign of United States vulnerability to terrorism. Nevertheless they were the first attacks to cause Americans realize that their lives would drastically be changed for the worse by terrorist insurgents. The list of casualties was enormous and called to question the entire United States defense system. It also left not only the American government but also the common citizens wondering where next terrorism attack could come from and what rather peaceful place could be turned into a carnage scene. After investigation it was found that more could have been done with the information that the FBI and Central Intelligence Agency, the major intelligence gathering Agencies in the United States, had collected prior to the event. Instead the two agencies failed to share the information which would have provided a warning of the up coming event and possibly put in preventive measures. The investigation carried so far attributed the incidence to the agencies' disorganized bureaucracy and lack of open communication between them.
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This prompted the government in the leadership of George W. Bush to come with ways to face the previously unimaginable and frightening questions of insecurity (Haulley 2006). Within a fought night after the attacks, George W. Bush announced the creation of office of Homeland security designed to protect United States territories from terrorism attacks as well offer efficient and effective response to natural disaster. It was then put under the leadership of Tom Ridge. Boarder security, counterterrorism Immigration, disaster preparedness, response and recovery are key areas DHS influences. DHS brought in twenty two security, law enforcement and intelligence agencies under one roof.
Immigration issues are central to united sates internal security. On 1, Mar 2003, therefore the department adopted the Immigration and Naturalization Service thereby assuming its duties. This move led to the division of the enforcement and service functions into two distinct agencies: Citizenship and Immigration and Immigration and Custom Enforcement services. ICE proposed and implemented a more detailed information gathering system about the person who leaves or enters the US as well as a quicker system that allows for faster cross checking of databases.
In addition the wider enforcements function of U.S Custom as well as Animal & Plant Health inspection services were consolidated into a new Agency namely United States Customs and Border Protection.
CBP, a new DHS agency consolidated department of Agriculture, Custom Service and Immigration and Naturalization functions; its primary mission being that of avoiding terrorist weapons and terrorist from entering the US territory. It is also responsible for stemming illegal drugs flow, protecting U.S Agricultural and economic interest from pest and diseases and protecting the businesses from intellectual property theft .It is also responsible for illegal immigrants. By engaging in initiatives such as Container Security Initiative, it seeks to address the threat posed on boarder security and international trade by terrorist potential to make use of maritime containers in delivering weapons.
As far as threat preparedness, rescue and recovery is concerned, the ready government website as was created as informative tool about terrorism threat and the preparatory measures that one ought to take. Ready government with partners in the public, private and voluntary sector has been engaged in promotion of three basic steps that families as well as individual ought to take to be prepared for a terrorist incident. That is- Get a kit, be informed and make a plan. It also includes information for business preparedness and information for children (Bullock et al, 2006).
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From the website citizens people reminded that terrorism is a real phenomenon and thereby are needed to be ready and not afraid for such attacks. There is information about biological threats, Chemical threat, Explosions, Radiation threats as well as Natural disaster. In ready for the above eventualities people are advised to obtain a kit of emergency supplies which should contain essentials such as food and water and first aid kit. They are also advised to have a plan in place for what one would do in an emergency situation, for example deciding whether you will stay or go, what one would do incase one is in a in a high rise building, a moving vehicle, work or school. This is important information given that terrorism is a real phenomenon.
On the Agricultural sector perceived Agro-terrorism have led to greater oversight investigation being carried out by government agricultural inspectors. I addition ensuring prevention and preparedness as far as food security is concerned, department has liaised with other departments to strengthen food security through actions that enhance knowledge as regards threats to foods .DHS partnered with Department of Agriculture as well as National Center on food Protection at the University of Minnesota. The priorities of the national association of academics, industry partners and the public sector is to cut down the possibility of intentional contamination of food along the food chain as well as improve impact mitigation in risk communication and economic response(Haulley, 2006).
USCIS the citizenship and Immigration which as seen earlier is a bureau of Homeland security performs most of the administrative functions formally done by Immigration and Naturalization service (INS) which had been part of the Department of Justice. It stated priorities are to eliminate immigration case backlog, promote national security and improve customer service. USCIS is headed by the director who report directly to the Deputy Secretary for DHS. The bureau has an official website as well as online appointment scheduling service, INFORPASS, which offers a platform for people with immigration concern to air their views.
On disaster responsiveness, DHS absorbed FEMA (Federal Emergencies Management Agency) after its establishment in 2003, following the need to streamline disaster preparedness and response, whether natural or emerging from terrorist attacks. FEMA was established in 1979 to offer United States a comprehensive plan for federal emergency response as it was in inexistence. By 1996, the agency had developed framework, Guide for all Hazard Emergency Operation plan, for states to develop individual Emergency Operation plans. However 9/11 attack required a complete overhaul of the system and pointed to the fact that there needed to be a more coordinated system.
National response Plan was superseded by National Response Framework in 2008 two moths following its publication in the Federal register. In The National Response framework presents the guiding principles that enable domestic response partners at all levels to not only prepare for but also provide a integrated national response to emergences and disasters. It builds upon National Incident Management System and Incident Command System standardization. According to Tom Ridge, NIMS all offers relevant bodies identical framework for incident management and puts the concept of one: mission, team and fight into full practice
It provides doctrinal direction for event management for, natural disasters, acts of terrorism and other emergencies among various local, states and federal agencies. For example it recommends Standardized communication and prescribes interoperable communication systems incident and information management. Preparedness is another principle. It recognizes that responders readiness to manage incidents action is enhanced if those involved have worked together prior to an incident. Recognizing this fact NIMS thereby defines advance preparedness measures for example training, planning, equipment and certification as well as publication management. NIMS Incident Command System is a standard incident organization that establishes five functional areas including; Logistics, Planning, command, Operations, Finance/ Administration for handling all major incidents. The principle of unified command ensures coordination during incidents involving multiple agencies or jurist\diction. It also guarantees joint decisions on Strategies, priorities plans and public communication and objectives.
Computer protection is also of concern to DHS. With advancement in internet technology and cyber crime, Security concerns have been central to the U.S given that any kind of information can be exchanged efficiently via the web. However Computer security experts differ when it comes to whether an extensive coordinated attack on the cyber system by terrorist is a long term or near term possibility. Nevertheless terrorist have frequently demonstrated a readiness to not only plan but also launch attacks against targets with numerous vulnerabilities which in this case is facilitated by easy accessibility. With technology advancement the capability and reliance of the computer systems are likely to become more vulnerable to cyber attack tools which are also becoming faster and complicated. It is also a reality that terrorist may also be developing relations with cyber criminals intended to give them high level computer expertise. With the world becoming more digitized, cyber attack may present terrorist means to attack even if level of success is indefinite. Also akin to reconnaissance carried by terrorist of physical target in order to asses the security level before an attack, it have been suggested United States may experience a number of cyber intrusion, in small scale prior to a major more devastating attack of their system. Aware of this reality, DHS has endeavored to strengthen computer security for both the private sector and federal agencies the National-Cyber Security Division which is responsible for cyber security (Linden, 2007). In July 2005, the position of Assistant secretary for cyber security was created acknowledging the inefficiencies and vulnerabilities of modern technology upon which the entire society depends. It is also supporting efforts to encourage U.S computer system to adjust to new more secure 1pv6 internet protocol (Linden, 2007)
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Its science and technology Directorate aid both federal and private entities transition to new cyber securities abilities. It also funds Cyber security research center which in turn identifies and prioritizes development for NCSD. The center is also mandated with detection cyber crime like identity theft which terrorist could use to gain entry not only to American soil but also wreck havoc the computer system.
Department of homeland security is thus an entity whose functions have social, political and economic impact. Among other areas its tentacles are spread in trade, immigration and infrastructures. Its mandate to ensure security for the mainland as well as offer efficient responses incase terrorist or Natural disasters. Seven years on since DHS creation it has remained true to its integrated result based operation despite being criticized as being over bureaucratized and wasteful.
More often than not American response to internal threat has gone past the legal confines hat that the constitution of the United State imposes on the government. Both Immigrants and private citizens have at times been unjustly denied their rights and freedoms in times of heightened national security. National security comes at the fore which at times causes the American government to be looked upon in bad light. It is an intricate task for the Homeland security to protect the public from attack and at the same time safeguard their individual freedoms and rights the very ones that United States was founded upon.