Department of Homeland Security
Department of Homeland Security
Sections within this essay:Background
September 11th Terrorist Attacks
Creation of the Office of Homeland Security
Passage of the Homeland Security Act
Restructuring of Federal Agencies into Directorates
Components of the Department of Homeland Security
Office of the Secretary
Border and Transportation Security
Emergency Preparedness and Response
Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection
Science and Technology
Office of Management
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
U.S. Coast Guard
U.S. Secret Service
State Offices of Homeland Security
Department of Homeland Security
Homeland Security Institute
As a response to terrorist attacks that took place on U.S. soil on September 11, 2001, Congress in November 2002 approved the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. This executive branch department aims to detect and prevent terrorist attacks in the United States by performing functions that were previously preformed by more than twenty federal agencies. The department has developed a series of broad strategic goals related to the fulfillment of its mission. These goals are as follows:
- Raise awareness of threats of and vulnerabilities to terrorist attacks
- Detect, deter and mitigate terrorist threats to the United States
- Safeguard the United States, including its people, critical infrastructure, property, and economy, from acts of terrorism, as well as natural disasters and other emergencies
- Lead, manage, and coordinate a national response to acts of terrorism, as well as natural disasters and emergencies
- Lead efforts among national, state, local, and private entities to recover from acts of terrorism, natural disasters, and emergencies
- Serve the public by facilitating lawful trade, immigration, and travel
- Achieve organizational excellence
The Department of Homeland Security facilitates communication between federal agencies as well as state and local government entities. Moreover, each state has developed its own office or commission to address security and terrorism within its own border.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, 19 terrorists, working in teams of four or five, hijacked four commercial airliners. The terrorists crashed two of the planes into the World Trade Center in New York City, which eventually destroyed the structure. A third plane crashed into and seriously damaged the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., while a fourth crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. The hijackings killed nearly 3000 people.
The investigation into the attacks focused almost immediately on the activities of Osama Bin Laden, leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Investigators determined that the terrorists who staged the hijackings had lived in the United States for several months prior to the attacks. Several U.S. agencies, such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Department of Defense, later fell under harsh criticism for failing to communicate effectively with one another in a manner that could have prevented the terrorism from taking place.
Nine days after the September 11th attacks, President George W. Bush in an address to Congress announced that he would create the Office of Homeland Security. The goal of this agency was to coordinate the efforts of more than 40 federal agencies in order to prevent further terrorist attacks. Bush created this office nearly a month after the attacks. Tom Ridge, the former governor of Pennsylvania, became the first director of the office, which fell within the Executive Office of the President.
The Office of Homeland Security served primarily as a coordinating body. In other words, the president charged the office with coordinating efforts of other agencies, in addition to the development of a national strategy to prevent terrorism. Because of its limited mandate, several government officials and commentators called for the creation of a stronger department that could be responsible for combating terrorism.
Within months of the creation of the Office of Homeland Security, Republicans in Congress in January 2002 introduced the Homeland Security Act. The House and Senate approved the statute in November 2002, and Bush signed the bill into law that month. The statute called for the largest restructuring of federal administrative agencies since the creation of the Department of Defense in 1947. The act created the Department of Homeland Security as a cabinet-level department, under which more than 20 existing agencies would merge.
The president nominates a secretary to lead the department. The Senate must approve the nominee. Bush appointed Ridge to be the secretary of this new department, and Ridge served in this capacity until 2005. On February 15, 2005, Michael Chertoff, a former federal judge in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, was sworn in as secretary, replacing Ridge.
The Homeland Security Act brought together 22 federal agencies to serve a myriad of functions. The department took control of such entities as the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Customs Service, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In order to fulfill the department's mission, the department was divided into five teams, referred to as directorates. These directorates include the following: Border and Transportation Security, Emergency Preparedness and Response, Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection, Science and Technology, and Management.
Several components make up the Department of Homeland Security. Most of the activities focus on fulfilling the responsibilities of the five directorates, along with the Office of the Secretary and other offices.
Staff members within the Office of the Secretary perform a variety of tasks that contribute to the overall mission of the department. The components of the Office of the Secretary include the following: Office of the Chief Privacy Officer, Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Office of Counter Narcotics, Office of General Counsel, Office of the Inspector General, Office of Legislative Affairs, Office of National Capital Region Coordination, Office of the Private Sector, Office of Public Affairs, Office of Security, and Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness.
The Border and Transportation Security directorate, the largest of the directorates in the department, brought together several agencies from such departments as the Treasury Department, the Department of Justice, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Agriculture. The mission of this directorate is to secure the borders and transportation systems of the United States and to enforce immigration laws. This directorate consists of four main agencies: the Transportation Security Administration, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.
The Emergency Preparedness and Response directorate oversees the federal government's national response and recovery strategy. This directorate works closely with FEMA in coordinating the first response to a catastrophe. This directorate is also responsible for the development of vaccines, antidotes and treatments in the event of a biological attack on the United States.
The Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection directorate assesses vulnerabilities to terrorist attacks in the United States. This directorate is also responsible for disseminating accurate information about terrorist threats to federal, state, local, private, and international entities. The three bodies that carry out these missions are the Homeland Security Operations Center, Information Analysis, and Infra-structure Protection.
Information disseminated by the Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection directorate is probably the most widely identified by the general public due to the public's familiarity with the color-coded terrorist warnings. This warning system, which consists of five levels representing the severity of the threat of terrorism, are frequently displayed on news broadcasts, in the print media, and on the Internet.
The Science and Technology directorate studies the use of scientific and technological resources to combat terrorism and protect the United States. The three entities that comprise this director include the Office of National Laboratories, Homeland Security Laboratories, and the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency.
The Office of Management oversees the budget and allocation of funds within the Department of Homeland Security.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) assumed many responsibilities previously carried out by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). The USCIS manages U.S. policy towards visitors, refugees, immigrants, asylum seekers, and new citizens, while also protecting against acts of terrorism, unlawful entrants, and illegal residents.
The U.S. Coast Guard protects U.S. ports and waterways.
The U.S. Secret Service protects the President, the leaders of the United States, and the country's financial and critical infrastructures.
In addition to the federal Department of Homeland Security, each state had developed its own department, office, commission, or task force responsible for overseeing homeland security within that state. The following is a listing of these state offices:
ALABAMA: Department of Homeland Security.
ALASKA: Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
ARIZONA: Homeland Security Planning Office.
CALIFORNIA: Office of Homeland Security.
COLORADO: Office for Preparedness, Security, and Fire Safety.
CONNECTICUT: Division of Homeland Security, Department of Public Safety.
DELAWARE: Department of Safety and Homeland Security.
FLORIDA: Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
GEORGIA: Office of Homeland Security.
HAWAII: Hawaii State Civil Defense.
IDAHO: Bureau of Homeland Security.
ILLINOIS: Illinois Homeland Security.
INDIANA: Indiana Counter-Terrorism and Security Council.
IOWA: Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
KANSAS: Division of Emergency Management.
KENTUCKY: Office of Homeland Security.
LOUISIANA: Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
MAINE: Emergency Management Agency.
MARYLAND: Governor's Office of Homeland Security.
MASSACHUSETTS: Executive Office of Public Safety.
MICHIGAN: Michigan Homeland Security.
MINNESOTA: Office of Homeland Security.
MISSISSIPPI: Office of Homeland Security.
MISSOURI: Missouri Homeland Security.
MONTANA: Disaster and Emergency Services Division.
NEBRASKA: Emergency Management Agency.
NEVADA: Homeland Security Commission.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Department of Safety.
NEW JERSEY: Office of Emergency Management.
NEW MEXICO: Office of Homeland Security.
NEW YORK: State Emergency Management Office.
NORTH CAROLINA: Department of Crime Control and Public Safety.
NORTH DAKOTA: Department of Emergency Services.
OHIO: State of Ohio Security Task Force.
OKLAHOMA: Office of Homeland Security.
OREGON: Office of Homeland Security.
PENNSYLVANIA: Office of Homeland Security.
RHODE ISLAND: Emergency Management Agency.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Law Enforcement Division.
SOUTH DAKOTA: Office of Homeland Security.
TENNESSEE: Office of Homeland Security.
TEXAS: Office of Homeland Security.
UTAH: Department of Public Safety's Division of Emergency Services and Homeland Security.
VERMONT: Department of Public Safety Homeland Security Unit.
VIRGINIA: Office of Commonwealth Preparedness.
WASHINGTON: Emergency Management Division.
WEST VIRGINIA: Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
WISCONSIN: Homeland Security Council.
WYOMING: Office of Homeland Security.
Homeland Security Law and Policy. William C. Nicholson, Charles C. Thomas, Publisher, Ltd., 2005.
Homeland Security Law Handbook. ABS Consulting, Government Institutes, 2003.
National Conference of State Legislatures: State Offices of Homeland Security, 2005. http://www.ncsl.org/programs/legman/nlssa/sthomelandoffcs.htm.
West's Encyclopedia of American Law. 2d ed., Thomson/Gale, 2004.
Washington, DC 20528 USA
Phone: (202) 282-8000
2900 South Quincy Street, Suite 800
Arlington, VA 22206 USA
Phone: (703) 416-3550