There has been a rise in global acts of terrorism over the past three decades. This rise has culminated in increased threats to the lives of citizens and potential attacks on critical infrastructures of most countries that are perceived an “enemies” by the target groups. According to (Radvanovsky & McDougall, 2016) one of the most notable target groups is the Al-Qaeda, which has been blamed for the 1998 U.S embassy attacks and the September 2001 attacks. In the wake of these increased threats to both local and global security, the United States witnessed restructuring with respect on how the country prepares for incidences that can be caused by terrorists (Bullock, Haddow & Coppola, 2012). The restructuring that took place in the United States resulted in the formation of an umbrella department called the Department of Homeland Security.
With its headquarters in Washington, DC, the DHS creation made it the 15th cabinet department in the federal government. Its creation has been hailed as the most transformative imitative of the U.S government since 1947. According to International Business Publication (2006) the DHS represents a similar consolidation as that done by Harry S. Truman when he consolidated the various units of the United States Armed Forces into the present Department of Defense. This consolidation was done into order to create a good coordination of the country’s defense against military threats. In a similar manner, the Department of Homeland Security was formed from 22 disparate agencies that existed prior to the September 2001, in order to protect the country against the homeland threats. Among the departments that were transferred into this directorate include the U.S Customs and Border Protection Agency, U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Federal Protective Service, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.
The consolidations of the 22 agencies that formed the Department of Homeland Security, made DHS one of the largest departments in the U.S government headed by the homeland security secretary (Bullock, Haddow & Coppola, 2012). According to (International Business Publication, 2006) there are more than 87,000 governmental jurisdictions at the federal, state and local levels possess the responsibilities of homeland security. The DHS consists of various components and agencies which oversee the activities of the federal, state, local and private agencies in collaborative efforts to safeguard the country’s borders, provide intelligence, protection infrastructure, create response and recovery and enhance the use of technology to counter weapons of mass destruction.
The homeland security secretary is appointed by the President of the United States and approved by the Senate. Within this office are other offices that work to contribute to the overall mission of the DHS. These offices are office of Chief Privacy Officer, the Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, the Office of Counter Narcotics, the Office of the General Counsel, the Office of Inspector General, the Office of the Legislative Affairs, the Office of the National Capital Region Coordination, the Office of the Private Sector, the Office of Public Affairs, the Office of the State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness and the Office of Security. All these offices perform different roles to ensure the security of the country’s borders and protect the citizens from terrorist threats and attacks.
The major responsibility of the Department of Homeland Security is to improve as well as safeguard the security of the citizens of the United States. In order to perform this major responsibility, it has to protect citizens from threats, secure the country’s borders, facilitate legal immigration and help in the development of sense of readiness for any disaster (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2009). All these have been made possible with the powers that have been vested on the department, who now can monitor border movements, immigration and customs. The department is also involved in the response to the emergencies that are manmade or those that result from natural calamities. They are also involved with the monitoring of cyber crimes through advanced data snooping and monitoring systems.
Although the Department of Homeland Security has been credited with great job of enhancing security of the citizens, it has been blamed for an intrusion into personal space. According to (Bullock, Haddow & Coppola, 2012), the operations of DHS mean that their agencies have to snoop into the private lives of people and businesses. The Homeland Security employs a data mining tool called ADVICE, which has been pointed by the Government Accountability Office that wrong data could lead to severe consequences if such data is wrongly used to implicate businesses or people as agents of terrorism. Moreover, the creation of fusion centers has been met with criticism of use of private information without the consent of the owners of such data. In the face of modern security concerns, the DHS continues to play an integral part in the security of the Americans. The department’s intelligence is invaluable in thwarting threats to national security. However, there is need for urgent measures to be put in place so as to address the challenges that faces the department.