Homeland Security Effects of Terrorism Term Paper

Pages: 6 (2000 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Level: College Sophomore  ·  Topic: Terrorism

Homeland Security

Effects of Terrorism on Homeland Security and Local Law Enforcement

The Homeland Security Program is supposed to work hand-in-hand with local law enforcement officials to instill national security and protection from the acts of terrorists. If one looks for a broad definition of Homeland Security, this definition would include air, land, and sea defense of the United States, countering the effect of attacks by weapons of mass destruction on U.S. soil (called "consequence management"), adding military support to local civilian authority, missile defense on the national level, worldwide web network defense, operations of counter-terrorism, operations to counter drugs, and border security by immigration control. In many of these areas law enforcement has worked with the federal agencies during the history of the United States (Center, p. 1).

History of the Program

Even though it loosely assisted in local enhancement of programs, ever since 9/11, the federal government has made a concerted effort to work with local law enforcement agencies throughout the country in order to create security against terrorists in America. As part of a larger, global effort the State Department has spent time and money funding and organizing upgrades of local security programs throughout the country.

However, since the program was hastily drawn up, much disarray resulted, but failures are being dealt with and improvements are being made. Andrew Grant, Acting Director, Office of Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism, gave a speech at a conference on combating nuclear terrorism at a Law Enforcement Conference on the subject in 2007, in which he said that the U.S. was conducting 25 activities in 2008, covering the initiatives he listed. Along with the Russian Federation and other partner countries, a series of field and table exercises to test capabilities, find weaknesses and develop new operations concepts will be done (Grant, p. 2).

The initiatives he spoke of were as follows:

Develop and improve accounting, control and physical protection;

Enhance the security of civilian nuclear facilities;

Research and develop national detection capabilities that are interoperable;

Enhance search, confiscation, and safe control capabilities;

Deny safe haven and financial resources to those facilitating nuclear terrorism;

Ensure adequate civil and criminal legal frameworks to deter nuclear terrorism;

Improve response, investigation, and mitigation capabilities; and Promote information sharing among participants. (Grant, p. 1).

Grant said his agency included dispersal of radioactive material and other contaminations as part of nuclear terrorism. There are many opportunities for terrorists to use medical, industrial and other common materials to augment conventional weapons. He stated law enforcement should take steps to keep local and low-impact terrorism at bay locally. Many local law enforcement organizations see "homegrown" threats to be more likely than global threats, thinking terrorists will find national or international crimes too difficult.

Terrorists are opportunists" says Grant, and are very practical, and so where there is material which remains uncontrolled or unguarded, there lies opportunity. The role of the Office of WMD Terrorism is to work with local industry and government to control and knock out nuclear terrorism to the extent that a terrorist will be disappointed by business costs and by the impetus of the attacks (Grant, p. 3).

Grant names three threats law enforcement faces as the U.S. winds down martial law in Iraq:

First, I would be gravely concerned if it were determined that the leader of a known and capable transnational terrorist organization had a decisive role in the development of a nuclear terrorism capability.... Secondly, and as part of the overall project, I would also be concerned if a terrorist organization placed strong emphasis on figuring out how to preserve and then transform their acquired material and expertise into a weapon.... Finally, as part of the organization's overall capability development process, it would concern me to see indications that a terrorist organization developed the sophistication to draw lessons about the use of nuclear or radiological material from its often widely dispersed activities and to be able to impart that knowledge across a greater span of its organization" (Grant p. 4).

To manage the three threats of nuclear attack, Grant urges all agencies to increase their partnerships with the State Department, establishing new ties with those in local governments and ministries to keep relationships focused on the gaps in defenses (Grant, p. 5).

Recent progress in technology and advancements in communication are assisting local law enforcement agencies to thwart potential threats of terrorists against people in the U.S. Reorganization arrangements for emergency management functions on a federal level have been put into place. One major change was implemented by secretary Chertoff in 2006:

These functions are presently centered in two components of DHS. FEMA, which was previously headed by an under secretary as the chief component of the Directorate of Emergency Preparedness and Response, is now a freestanding unit, headed by a director, within the department. The FEMA Director, who also holds the title of Under Secretary for Federal Emergency Management, reports directly to the Secretary and directly oversees three divisions (Response, Mitigation, and Recovery) and numerous offices (Hogue, p. 2).

Successes/Failures of the Program

Clark Kent Ervin, hired in 2004 (but not officially appointed by Congress) as Homeland Security Department's Inspector General, said airport security is not tight and "little has been done to safeguard other forms of mass transit." Terrorists were able to bring weapons in or out of the country, Ervin found. Customs and immigration officials were finding it difficult to track illegal immigrants "because they often lack gas money for their cars" (Hall, p. 1).

Ervin cited "chaotic and disorganized" management, as shown specifically by tests in 2003, in which undercover investigators were able to sneak weapons and explosives past screeners at fifteen airports. In 2002, federal air marshals, hired to provide a last line of defense against terrorists on airlines, slept on the job, lost weapons, tested positive for drugs or alcohol on duty, and gave false information. Since the department was created in 2003, Homeland Security leaders have not taken aggressive roles in an effort to combine terrorist watch lists created by multiple departments in the government. In 2003, executive bonuses to Transportation Security Administration managers ($16,477 given to 88 of 116 senior managers) were one-third higher than any ever given to executives in any federal agency. In November 2003, nearly $500,000 was spent on the awards banquet for TSA employees. Included were $3.75 (each) soft drinks and three $1,500 cheese displays.

Though the government said that Ervin's observations were out of date and fired him (perhaps for making his findings public), the indications of mismanagement and inadequate surveillance still linger. The inadequacies, such as failure to install card readers at vessels and facilities, are being addressed, as noted in the transcripts of hearings by the Overview Committee on Homeland Security held by the House of Representatives in 2007. "Internal guidance documents for training, implementation, and enforcement for Coast Guard and TSA personnel continue to be developed" said Rear Admiral Brian Salerno, of the U.S. Coast Guard (Committee, p. 3).

Legal Issues or Constraints

As a response to 9/11, specific measures have been enacted by Congress, the House of Representatives and the White House for enhancing homeland security. But legal issues have arisen in areas of interrogation of detainees and establishing too broad an interpretation of concepts and issues of the Constitution in areas such as privacy and First Amendment rights.

In testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in 2004, Larry D. Thompson discussed law enforcement under the Patriot Act. He found that Homeland Security agencies have used the power, implicitly given to them by the government, to obstruct activities and plans by terrorist and terrorist supporters. He stated that under Section 203 of the Patriot Act, law enforcement officials must share with other agencies the information found in criminal investigative containing counterintelligence or foreign intelligence with personnel in protective, intelligence, nation defense, immigration, and national security agencies. The Department of Justice has taken steps to realize the potential of information-sharing and increased coordination between law enforcement officials and intelligence officers. However, not only are there legal issues in privacy involved, but agencies may be legally hampered in some provisions of the Patriot Act in areas of electronic surveillance and that telecommunications technology advancements might thwart the efforts of surveillance teams (Texas, p. 4).

Organizational Concerns

June 2006 report to Congress on Homeland Security organization stated that:

In the aftermath of the Katrina disaster, administrative structure issues remain a matter of contention. Pending legislation before Congress (H.R. 3656, H.R. 3659, H.R. 3816, H.R. 3685, H.R. 4009, H.R. 4493, S. 1615, S. 2302, H.R. 4840, H.R. 5316, and H.R. 5351) would make further changes. The release of reports by the House, Senate, and White House on the response to Hurricane Katrina may lead to further examination of the issues (Hogue, p. 3).

Obviously, much correction of the disastrous failings in organization of the agency still remained to be done. Congress "rethought" the structure of the program. Incorporation of FEMA into the Homeland Security umbrella structure had… [END OF PREVIEW]

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