This week I am resuming my series on the 15 federal departments in the executive branch. I was going to save this department for later in the series, but since it has been in the news this week let’s just take a look at it now. I am speaking of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This is the 3rd largest department, started in 2002 in the wake of 9/11. DHS was voted into being under dubious circumstances as a kneejerk reaction to the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
DHS basically took 22 other agencies from other departments that dealt with “homeland” issues and merged them together to form a new bureaucracy. Fun fact, this was the first time the word “homeland” was used to describe domestic policy, or the US in general. Agencies were taken from the Department of Agriculture, Defense, Energy, Transportation, Treasury, Justice, and others.
To learn more about DHS follow the link. Here is the mission statement:
The Department of Homeland Security has a vital mission: to secure the nation from the many threats we face. This requires the dedication of more than 240,000 employees in jobs that range from aviation and border security to emergency response, from cybersecurity analyst to chemical facility inspector. Our duties are wide-ranging, but our goal is clear – keeping America safe.
A noble goal to be sure, keeping America safe. The starting budget in 2003 was 20 billion dollars, this year it will be close to 70 billion dollars. DHS controls everything from FEMA to the Coast Guard, from Customs to the TSA. Did we really need a new bureaucracy in the aftermath of a tragedy? I don’t think so. Are we safer today because of this new bureaucracy? I can’t say we are.
Surely since they took all the homeland agencies and put them under one roof that everything became more streamlined and efficient right? No, if there was a stronger word that meant “no”, I would use it here, but I can’t think of one so I’ll stick with, no. DHS is notoriously wasteful with its money. Government report after government report shows this. They have given away billions of dollars that just go missing. The Coast Guard is a good example of that. Then there’s the new DHS headquarters that is up to 4 billion dollars and is years behind schedule. The list goes on and on.
Are we safer now that we have this huge new department? There is no evidence that we are. The truth is that the attacks on 9/11 took years of planning, saving and coordination. They pretty much blew their wad on that attack, but the assumption was that it could happen again at any time. Those assumptions were nullified when we obliterated Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the wars that started soon after the attacks. The need for an invasive bureaucracy to battle a threat that just isn’t a real domestic threat is simply not justified. The agencies like the FBI and CIA that actually do the work of rooting out threats do not fall under the purview of DHS. The department is unnecessary.
In the research I did to write this blog if found dozens of articles stating why we should get rid of the Department of Homeland Security. I could not find any in defense of it. Non-political people will wonder why we should get rid of something that is supposed to keep us safe at home. What those people need to remember is that there is no part of DHS that was not here before it came into being in 2002. This was not a whole new layer of protection, just a new layer of bureaucracy.
The bottom line is that we don’t really need it. We could save tons of money and jobs, and be just as safe without the DHS. The majority of people employed under the DHS would just go back to whoever they reported to before they were taken away. I’m sure their old employers were just as inefficient with money as DHS is, but any reduction in government is good.