Saturday, April 05, 2008

Securing the HOMELAND

On September 11, 2001, life as we knew it forever changed. The terrorist attack of the pentagon and the world trade center prompted government officials after intense scrutiny to implement higher security measures in an effort to prevent terrorism. Government officials were alarmed that significant evidence prior to the attacks were never linked and apparently ignored. Concerns that the terrorists involved in the attacks had entered and remained in the United States without raising suspicions sent an eerie chill down the establishment’s spine. On October 1, 2001, to manage counterterrorism efforts President George W. Bush established the office of Homeland Security, which would dwell in the Whitehouse.

Several members of congress held reservations that the newly created office would not be effective and “argued that the office, created by executive order and without budgetary authority, lacked sufficient power to alter the procedures and priorities of other federal agencies involved in fighting terrorism”. Leaders in Congress wanted to make the office a cabinet level agency, but President Bush had initial reservations. The Hart-Rudman commission recommended the creation of the Homeland Security Agency before the attack. President Bush increased his support over time and before the last quarter of 2002; President Bush fully supported the idea. On November 25, 2002, President Bush signed The Homeland Security Act of 2002 creating a law establishing the Department of Homeland Security.
The Homeland Security Agency would merge dozens of federal bureaucracies into one division, the agencies responsible for the security of the nation would be streamlined and have one coordinator. The mission and primary purpose of the Homeland Security Agency is to protect the United States against terrorist attacks, to lessen the country’s susceptibility to terrorism, and to minimize damage and aid recovery in case of attack. The Homeland Security Act encompasses several other acts and commissions as well as agencies. Some of those acts include the Critical Infrastructure Information Act, Freedom of Information Act, Whistle blower protection act, and the Antitrust Civil Process Act to name a few.
There is concern by the media and information gurus that there will be a roadblock placed in front of anyone requesting information from the DHSA that should be public information. Civil Libertarians and advocates of open government opposed the new Security Act testifying that the exemptions held within the act would jeopardize the ability to obtain information about abusive government practices. Their concern was that the agency would have a huge shroud of secrecy surrounding their practices and accountability would be nil.

In my opinion the elevated concerns the media outlets have is somewhat paranoia. The protection of our country should be greater in their mind than the all mighty story that might possibly get them a Pulitzer. It is necessary in the time in which we are living to trust the men and women whom we have elected into office. It is their job to see after the security of our nation keeping us in a non-vulnerable position. If they do not do, their jobs then fire them and elect new leaders who can be trusted. Having confidential information is sometimes vital to the safety of our country it would not be feasible to allow a reporter to have whatever information they requested under those circumstances