The Department of Homeland Security is a bureaucratic monster spawned by 9/11. The blame usually goes to the Bush-Cheney administration but Slate’s Fred Kaplan has a better memory than most of us:
The DHS was a sham from the get-go. It was the brainchild of Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who proposed the new department in late 2001, just after the 9/11 attacks, as a way of showing that the Republicans in the White House weren’t the only ones trying to tackle terrorism. President George W. Bush opposed the idea, seeing it as burdening the government with another bureaucratic layer. But then, the 9/11 Commission hearings revealed that al-Qaida succeeded in toppling the World Trade Center in part because the FBI, CIA, and other agencies hadn’t shared intelligence about the hijackers’ movements prior to the attack. Coordination and consolidation were suddenly seen as nostrums to our problems.
So, under pressure, in late 2002, Bush signed Lieberman’s idea into law. DHS wound up subsuming 22 agencies from eight federal departments—with a combined budget of $40 billion and a payroll of 183,000 employees—into one hydra-headed behemoth.
The creation of this unwieldy behemoth was the result of partisan politics. This was before Lieberman became a renegade McCainiac. Back then. Holy Joe had his eyes on the 2004 Democratic nomination. He wanted the Dems to look as tough as Team Bush. We’re still paying for his folly in 2020. Fuck you, Joe.
The very name Homeland Security has creeped me out from the beginning. It sounds like something Goering and Goebbels might have cooked up. Americans *never* referred to our country as the homeland before 9/11. It’s one of the manifold ways those attacks adversely impacted our politics.
There’s been much talk of Nixon’s 1968 Law & Order campaign. I’ve done it myself. We should not, however, forget the GOP’s “the terrorists are coming to kill you” campaigns in 2002 and 2004. Anyone who opposed the Iraq War was derided as “soft on terrorism.” Those scare campaigns are also precursors to Trump’s 2020 scare tactics.
If anything, Homeland Security has made the country less secure. It has damaged the mission of the agencies involved including FEMA:
In fact, it made the government less efficient. For instance, before the consolidation, the head of FEMA had been a Cabinet-level official—a member of the National Security Council who attended interagency meetings and enjoyed direct access to the president. Now this official is an undersecretary of DHS. The secretary of DHS can closely follow only a few of the dozen or so issues the department covers. If emergency management is one of the top priorities, then that particularly undersecretary at least has indirect access to the top; if it isn’t, the mission goes largely ignored. This may have been one reason the Bush administration responded so sluggishly to the great natural disaster of 2005, Hurricane Katrina.
Right said, Fred.
It’s time to abolish the Department of Homeland Security and scatter it to the four winds. The advent of the Chaos Squads has made abolition imperative. There’s too much power concentrated in hands of the DHS Secretary and the current creep, Chad Wolf, is the acting secretary. He’s acting in a way that makes us insecure, not secure.
The last word goes to Otis Redding: