The Historical Development Of Homeland Security Criminology Essay

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The foundations and principles of homeland security are rooted deeply in American history. The preamble of the Constitution, as written by Gouverneur Morris (1776), references the need to "insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense", which are basic tenets of homeland security. Prior to the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2002, the vehicle used to insure this tranquility and common defense was the U.S. military. Three factors have significantly contributed to the development of this field: Executive Orders, legislation enacted in the wake of 9/11, and bringing the mission of ensuring domestic safety of United States personnel and assets under the aegis of one unified agency: the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Executive Orders have long been a method for a President to de facto create law or further define the powers of the Executive branch. The first Presidential proclamation issued in response to domestic unrest was the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, done by President Abraham Lincoln on April 27, 1861. This influential proclamation would pave the way for future Presidential action with regard to saboteurs, terrorists, and enemy combatants. During World War II, the Supreme Court upheld the right of the President to suspend habeas corpus (Ex Parte Quirin, 1942). It is worth noting that this event preceded the Geneva Convention, otherwise the saboteurs could have been treated as prisoners of war.

Later Executive Orders have formed the Office of Emergency Planning (an office dedicated to crisis management and seeming precursor to the Department of Homeland Security), the creation of the Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA), and managed changes within the Intelligence Community. Post 9/11, Executive Orders were the driving force that created the Office of Homeland Security and removed barriers to information sharing as it pertains to counter-terror activities. Executive Orders remain a powerful tool of the Executive branch and make an indelible mark on the history of homeland security.

While the overall vision for homeland security remains with the Executive branch, the details fall to the legislative branch. In the post 9/11 world, several key pieces of legislation were passed. Chief among these are the U.S. PATRIOT Act, and the Homeland Security Act of 2002.

The U.S. PATRIOT Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) is arguably the most important. What makes the US PATRIOT Act so very essential is the fact that it increases inter-agency cooperation for intelligence collection and sharing. Breaking down this barrier has contributed significantly to the protection of the United States. Additionally, it recognizes that the advent of new technology necessitates updating laws and has enabled better prosecution of offenders. Lastly, it has expanded and strengthened existing terrorism laws, reflecting situations that did not exist previously. These things make the PATRIOT Act an invaluable addition to the law enforcement/homeland security toolbox.

The Homeland Security Act is another landmark piece of legislation. The most important element was the fact that multiple crisis management agencies were grouped under one unified command structure and then tasked to work with law enforcement agencies nation-wide, as noted in section 101 of the Homeland Security Act (2002):


(a) ESTABLISHMENT.-There is established a Department of

Homeland Security, as an executive department of the United States

within the meaning of title 5, United States Code.


(1) IN GENERAL.-The primary mission of the Department is to-

(A) prevent terrorist attacks within the United States;

(B) reduce the vulnerability of the United States to terrorism;

(C) minimize the damage, and assist in the recovery, from terrorist attacks that do occur within the United States;

(D) carry out all functions of entities transferred to the Department, including by acting as a focal point regarding natural and manmade crises and emergency


(E) ensure that the functions of the agencies and subdivisions within the Department that are not related directly to securing the homeland are not diminished or neglected except by a specific explicit Act of Congress;

(F) ensure that the overall economic security of the United States is not diminished by efforts, activities, and programs aimed at securing the homeland;

(G) monitor connections between illegal drug trafficking and terrorism, coordinate efforts to sever such connections, and otherwise contribute to efforts to interdict illegal drug trafficking.

While bringing all the federal agencies responsible for Homeland Security under the aegis of one distinct command structure has benefits, it has also allowed the departments responsible for seemingly less important aspects of homeland security to suffer slightly as the focus remains upon terrorism, even though it runs counter to the stated mission.

The historical development of homeland security has been shaped by the forces of Executive Orders, post 9/11 legislation, and a unified crisis management Department responsible for the protection of U.S. people and assets. Formally instantiated through necessity and forged by the experiences of a nation under siege, homeland security is a developing, multi-faceted field that bears a great responsibility, as reflected in its long history.

Describe and discuss in detail the asymmetric threat of terrorism. Define and categorize the threat as well as describe the actions that the United States must take to counter the threat we face today.

Asymmetric threats are a not a new phenomenon. At the most basic level, an asymmetric threat is one that exploits vulnerability in an enemy, using tactics that their enemy cannot or will not adopt. Dr. Charles A. Primmerman (2006) makes a convincing argument that determining whether a threat is asymmetric is best determined by satisfying three criteria.

Dr. Primmerman (2006) writes:

"First, it must involve a weapon, tactic, or strategy that a state or non-state enemy both could and would use against the United States. Second, it must involve a weapon, tactic, or strategy that the United States would not employ. Third, it must involve a weapon, tactic, or strategy that, if not countered, could have serious consequences." (p.10)

What is terrorism? Thirty years ago, the answer would have likely have revolved around terrorism being viewed as a matter for police, no different from a criminal grabbing a gun and spraying ammunition into a crowd. As reported by Heather Zarka,(2006), the FBI defines terrorism as "the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives" (Judicial Administration, 28 C.F.R. 0.85)". To paraphrase, the key elements of this definition are the use of force to intimidate a government or population to accomplish objectives.

The current threat of terrorism, both domestic and international, faced by the United States today is greater than it has ever been in the past. Al-Qaeda in particular has shown a willingness to strike the civilian population on American soil. While the security measures enacted have done an excellent job of protecting Americans post-9/11, nullifying future threats, such as terrorist action against U.S. critical infrastructures, will require constant vigilance.

Much progress has been made in developing mechanisms to protect the general populace. Even the failed Total Information Awareness project headed up by DARPA stimulated the growth of new technologies that can be used to better protect the American public at large. David Bates reports in his article, Fingerprints and more: New biometric tools help first responders secure facilities and incident scenes, (2006):

'Technology developed by Jackson, NH-based Animetrics, Inc., for instance, can create complete, three-dimensional facial images from two-dimensional pictures and video images. This facial recognition technology can significantly enhance the capabilities of video surveillance and access control systems, says Lisa Ludwig, vice president of Animetrics' marketing and business development. 

When integrated with video systems, the firm's FACEngineâ„¢ ID application can create complete faces from partial images captured by security cameras. The application can then match those enhanced 3-D faces against images stored in a database.' 

When combating terrorism, governments can employ defensive anti-terrorism measures to reduce vulnerability, or go on offense to prevent terrorism. Negotiation is not a viable option. While it is often said that the best defense is a good offense, the truth is that while a good offense can remove a threat, a good defense prevents the need to do so. Active measures stressing operational security fit this category nicely. No system is perfect though, and retaining a capacity for both capabilities is paramount. In the end, maintaining solid anti-terrorism measures to reduce vulnerability while being prepared to use force to combat terrorism is the key.

Describe and discuss in detail the United States homeland security strategy and policy from 2004 to present. Include the effect it has had on protecting our homeland.

U.S. homeland security strategy and policy from 2004 until the present is marked by the creation of new strategies designed to correct deficiencies in the overall security posture of the nation. In total five new strategies were created, and per Module two, Section three of the HMLS 302 courseware (2010) they are:

The Strategy for Homeland Defense and Civil Support, June 2005

The National Strategy for Maritime Security, September 2005

The National Intelligence Strategy, October 2005

The National Counterintelligence Strategy, March 2007

The National Strategy for Aviation Security, March 2007 (2010)

Each strategy lists strategic objectives that can measure the effectiveness of their purpose of materially shored existing weaknesses in each respective area. As strategies, they have been employed with success over the past 3 years.

Two other legislative Acts were passed into law in this timeframe: The Intelligence Community and the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA) and The Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act. The IRPTA became a law December 17, 2004. Many of the recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission were incorporated into this law, changing the head of the Intelligence Community (IC) from the Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) to the Director of National Intelligence. Additionally, the National Counter Terrorism Center was created. As a focal point for a counter terrorism activities, it integrates all intelligence gathered on terrorism and serves as a clearinghouse for such matters. As an entity, it has contributed significantly to the successful defense of this nation.

The Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act was enacted October 4, 2006. It rectified some of the atrophy that had afflicted FEMA since its absorption into the Department of Homeland Security, as was ably demonstrated by FEMAs basic inability to manage the crisis caused by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. From the DHS website (2010):

The Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act transfers, with the exception of certain offices listed in the Act, functions of the Preparedness Directorate to the new FEMA. This transfer includes:

The United States Fire Administration (USFA)

The Office of Grants and Training (G&T)

The Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Division (CSEP)

The Radiological Emergency Preparedness Program (REPP)

The Office of National Capital Region Coordination (NCRC)

The net effect of these changes was to increase the overall emergency preparedness of FEMA, which enhances the nation's readiness for natural or man-made disaster. Additionally, it gave the professionals who work in the disaster preparedness area the assurance that while the predominant mission of the Department of Homeland Security was terrorism, equal effort would be devoted to maintaining the necessary capacity for emergency response.

These two Acts were keystones in shoring up existing weak points in the U.S. national defense structure. Restructuring the IC and upgrading extant emergency preparedness capabilities were integral elements to promoting better homeland security.

Describe and discuss in detail the 9/11 Commission Report's general findings and recommendations. Include the effect it has had on protecting our homeland.

The 9/11 Commission was tasked with delving into the events and circumstances surrounding the terrorist attack of 9/11. The Commission focused on general findings and a list of 41 recommendations.

The top finding was one of lack of imagination on the part of the government agencies; no one believed, incorrectly in hindsight, that such an attack was possible. To quote the finding of the Commission (2004), "We believe the 9/11 attacks revealed four kinds of failures: in imagination, policy, capabilities, and management." (p.339)

While imagination is often identified as the primary reason behind the failures leading to 9/11, it is the safe answer- no one has to accept responsibility for a lack of imagination. The more correct answer lies in the field of capability, particular in the domestic realm; multiple agencies had information pertaining to the terrorists involved in 9/11, but no capability to act on it. If they did have the capability, it may have not been used due to the jurisdictional boundaries that existed prior to 9/11. Inter-agency rivalry seems to hamstrung some of the ability to truly utilize any intelligence gained.

The Commission had 5 major recommendations and 41 recommendations in all. The Commission wrote (2004):

The United States has the resources and the people. The government should combine them more effectively, achieving unity of effort. We offer five major recommendations to do that:

• unifying strategic intelligence and operational planning against Islamist terrorists across the foreign-domestic divide with a National Counterterrorism Center;

• unifying the intelligence community with a new National Intelligence Director;

• unifying the many participants in the counterterrorism effort and their knowledge in a network-based information-sharing system that transcends traditional governmental boundaries;

• unifying and strengthening congressional oversight to improve quality and accountability; and

• strengthening the FBI and homeland defenders. (p.399)

Of the 41 other recommendations given, critical infrastructure risks and vulnerabilities assessment stands out as incredibly important. Long before you can make changes to policy, the critical infrastructure risks and vulnerabilities must be identified. This translates directly to funding and allows the Department of Homeland Security to prioritize and allocate funds to cost-effective protective measures. Put plainly, it means supporting the most effective solutions to protect the most important things. It is a fiscally responsible, risk-averse way of planning policy, but it represents a viable method of setting priorities.

The past six years have seen the implementation of a great number of these recommendations; given time, all will be implemented. As shown on the Open Congress Wiki, the battle to enact the necessary legislation continues. From the Open Congress Wiki: (2007)

" On July 22, 2004, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (often referred to as the "9/11 commission") issued its final report on the events leading up to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The commission, which was chaired by former New Jersey Governor Thomas H. Kean and former Indiana Rep. Lee H. Hamilton, made several recommendations which they believed would help the U.S. better protect itself from the threat of terrorism. It was not until the 110th Congress that both houses of Congress passed measures intended to implement most of the recommendations. On August 3, 2007, President George W. Bush signed H.R. 1, which implemented many of the recommendations, into law."

This has strengthened and improved homeland security, but it is a far cry from complete. It is imperative that review of our policies and capabilities be a continuous process, and not just a circumstance of terrorist attack.