Reasons for Creation of the Department of Homeland Security Act of 2002

and its Subsequent Changes
Abstract
The increase in the rate of security threats has been increasing with
advancement in the level of technology. This can be countered by
development of the regulatory measures to improve security now and in
the future. The main regulatory measures include the restricted
possession and transportation of nuclear and radioactive material and
related facilities, enhanced research functions among the security
departments, and application of computer aided screening techniques at
the points of entry. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 was formed to
seal the security gaps identified in the United States. The terrorism
attack of September 2001 agitated the insertion of several sections in
the bill before its enactment. Objectives of the act include enhancing
border protection mechanisms, to enhance preparedness for an emergency,
information analysis functions, and regulation of weapons of mass
destruction. Since its enactment, the act has gone through several
amendments to ensure that it achieves the intended objectives.
Key words: Security agencies, legislative measures, security
directorates, security threats.
Research efforts to identify the new regulatory measures to counter the
emerging security challenges should be a continuous process. This is
because the perpetrators of crime are continually incorporating
technology in the crime operations. Acts of terrorism illustrate
misappropriation of technology by human to harm human. Identification of
new regulatory measures is necessary to counter the techniques of crime
perpetrators. Legislative measures (such as the Homeland Security Act of
2002) can effectively help in coordination of security agencies to reap
the benefits of synergy. This helps in effective training of staff and
equipping the security directorates with suitable equipments to detect
and prevent crime. In addition, integration of security agencies helps
in improving the research based research efforts. The advance in
security measures enhances the borders control to regulate entry and
exit of weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, stringent security
measures at the airports are necessary to protect air passengers and
aircrews from crime threats.
Regulatory measures to improve security in future
The range of security threats has shown an increasing tread with
advancement in the level of technology. According to International
Atomic Energy Agency (2011) the ease of access to new means of
communication through the internet has accelerated the growth rate for
positive and negative operations. Currently, the cost and accessibility
of computers and phones have improved, thus easing the means of
communication of the criminals. Since the technological development
cannot be stopped, regulatory mechanism is the most suitable means of
ensuring that technology is used for the right purpose. There are
several regulatory efforts that can be applied in reducing the
appropriation of technology by the wrong people to destroy the human
race. First, nuclear technology can be safeguarded against misuse by
regulating access to radioactive materials and their refining facilities
(IAEA, 2011). This can be achieved by preventing sabotage and theft of
nuclear materials and related facilities. The mobility of radioactive
materials and their passage through international borders can be
regulated through international co-operation and enhancing the
individual nations’ capacity. In addition, countries with nuclear
capacity should comply with international regulations provided by the
professional bodies such as the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Secondly, the security organs should be equipped with facilities and
research professionals to enhance research functions to enable them
catch up with the emerging technology. According to Bendal (2009)
certain categories of technology such as white collar and cyber crimes
are conducted by experts of given professions. Cyber criminals are
capable of breaking the privacy barriers including those of the security
agencies. To safeguard against such threats, the security dockets should
be technologically empowered through research facilities and personnel
to enable them seal the security gaps emerging as a result of
technological advancement. Registration of lines of communication is an
effective method of identifying the criminals by retrieving their
commutation from the systems of their service providers. Although this
technology has been opposed by civil society for breaching the privacy
rights, it can help in easy identification of crime perpetrators and the
motive of the crime (Bendal, 2009). However, the effectiveness of this
regulatory measure depends on whether the security agencies are able to
analyze the information and data obtained, which in most cases is
available in coded system.
Third, development computer aided devices to detect weapons in the
luggage and bodies of the passengers especially at the international
airports are necessary to reduce the flaws in the current x-ray devices.
Several attacks have taken place in the past despite the high level of
screening at the ports. Additionally, the x-ray devices violate the
privacy of the passengers, which can be rectified by using software that
auto-check the passengers. Moreover, the computer-aided detectors will
improve the accuracy and speed of screening passengers at airports and
other ports of entry (Berrick, 2004).
The Department of Homeland Security Act 2002
The Department of Homeland Security Act was formed as a result of an
identified security gap, which made the United States of America
vulnerable to terrorism attacks. Reforms in the security structures of
the United States are a normal process. However the terrorist attack of
September 11, 2001 established a demand for a radical restructuring of
the security machineries in order to enhance their capacity in detection
and prevention the global terrorism threats (Bush, 2002). The main goal
of the Act was to streamline the security agencies such as the Central
Intelligence Agency and FBI. This was intended to create their synergy,
thus improving the domestic security mechanisms (Harper, 2003). The
spirit of the Act was to defend the citizens of the United States from
internal and external threats of terrorism attacks. The United States
have made several interventions against in other countries such as
Afghanistan, which have exposed it to terrorism threats.
The Department of Homeland Security Act was enacted on November 25, 2002
after the former president George W. Bush signed it into law. Following
the enactment of act, two top security offices were created (the United
States department of Homeland Security and the office of the Secretary
of Homeland Security, which was ranked at the cabinet level) to
spearheads the domestic security affairs in the United States (Congress,
2002). The provisions of the Act joined three security departments
namely the Coast Guard, the United States Secret Services, and the
Customs Service. The initial bill was presented before the senate on
March 21 2001 to establish the National Homeland Security Agency.
However, significant changes were made on the Act after the September
11, 2001 attack to address the emerging security threats. During this
process, the provisions for four main security measures were
incorporated into the Act. This resulted in formation of several
departments such as the Department of Homeland Security, the Critical
Infrastructure Information Act 2002, Directorate for Information
Analysis and Infrastructure protection, and the Cyber Security
Enhancement Act of 2002.
Significance of the Department of Homeland Security Act of 2002
The United States of America is one of the main targets of terrorism in
the current world (Rex, 2003). Consequently, the review and reform of
the security structure have been an ongoing process. Under normal
circumstances, reforms are done after the evaluation of the existing
security mechanisms. This helps in sealing of the gaps identified, thus
increasing the effectiveness of the security agencies. Similarly, the
Department of Homeland Security Act of 2002 was established to fill the
gaps the emerging security challenges through reinforcement of internal
security mechanisms. The main objectives of the act were to protect the
people of the United States from terrorism by increasing the efficiency
of the security agencies to detect and prevent the occurrence of
terrorism attacks. In addition, the spirit of the act was extended to
cover the interventions in cases of tragedies such as hurricanes. This
would be achieved through four main channels as considered in this
section.
The border protection mechanisms
Acts of terrorism are in most cases organized by perpetrators from
countries with weak governments and the plans carried out in different
countries perceived to be the enemies of some groups (Rex, 2003). To
this end, the formation of strong border protection agencies was found
necessary and incorporated in the Department of Homeland Security Act of
2002. This was accomplished by integration of the Border and Transport
Security directives to enhance their effectiveness. The security
agencies that were joined to form the Border and Transportation Security
include the Border Patrol forces and the Immigration, Naturalization
Service (INS), and the Justice department of the Department of
Preparedness (Harper, 2003). The act charged the resultant division with
the mandate of protecting the transportation systems and the United
States borders including the oversea territories (Congress, 2002). The
act charges the division with responsibility of regulating the entry and
exit of goods and persons in and out of the United States through its
borders. The act regulates illegal immigration by combining the
immigration, naturalization, and visa services into one division.
Moreover, the act gives sufficient authority to the secretary of the
homeland security to either deny or grant the United States visas to
non-citizens (Congress, 2002). The act has helped the government of the
United States to reduce entry of illegal immigration and movement of
illegal goods across its borders. This has been achieved through
synergistic mechanisms and assigning of responsibility and
accountability to agencies and individuals.
Preparedness for emergencies
There is a wide range of tragedies both natural and man planed ones,
which creates the necessity for preparedness for efficient response in
case they occur. By the term preparedness, the act implies to the
formation of strong agencies, training of staff, and provision of
adequate facilities to counter the repercussions of tragedies (Harper,
2003). The Department of Homeland Security Act of 2002 boosted the
process of enhancing preparedness for emergencies by the formation of
the Emergency Preparedness and Response division. The Homeland Security
Act of 2002 charges the directorate with the responsibility of training
and equipping the members of staff of the emergency response teams
(Congress, 2002). In addition, the directorate organizes the emergency
plan for both the natural and human organized tragedies. To achieve
these functions, the act integrates several federal agencies (such as
the Energy Department’s Nuclear Incident Response team, FBI’s
National Domestic preparedness office, and the Federal Emergency
Management Agency), which operated separately before the enactment of
the act. The Emergency preparedness and Response division oversee the
development of streamlined emergency response plan and crisis management
system. These measures have played a leading role in enhancing the
effectiveness of the emergency response teams. The rapid and effective
response of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) during the
Hurricane Katrina is an illustration of effectiveness of the act
(Harper, 2003).
Information analysis and protection of key infrastructural facilities
The main infrastructural facilities such as large business premises,
bridges, and places of worship are the main targets of terrorism attacks
(Rex, 2003). The Homeland Security Act of 2002 resulted in the formation
of a directorate referred to as the Information Analysis and
Infrastructural protection. The directorate was formed to detect and
prevent the terrorism plans targeting the infrastructural facilities.
The act authorizes the directorate to collecting and analyzing the
intelligence data and information obtained by several divisions that
form the Department of Homeland Security (Congress, 2002). This helps
the directorate in identifying the potential threats and formulates the
appropriate response mechanisms in advance. The response plans are
effectively communicated to both the federal and state governments to
warn them of the potential hazards. Other functions of the directorate
include the protection of the high target units such as the water
system, food market, banking infrastructure, information and
telecommunication. The analysis of information and data from
communication systems helps in easy identification of the culprits,
intention, and time of the plan for a given catastrophe.
Guarding the United States against the weapons of mass destruction
Modern technology can be tapped by groups of individuals with ill
motives of mass destruction. Some of the technologies that can be
misused for human and property destruction at large scale include
chemical, biological weapons, radiological and nuclear weapons.
Provisions of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 resulted in the
formation of Science and Technology directive, which develops plans to
safeguard the United States against catastrophic attack (Congress,
2002). The act charges the directorate with the responsibility of
establishing the emergency strategies and guidelines for the state and
federal government. In addition, the act gives the directorate the
mandate of developing vaccine, antibiotics, antibodies, and diagnostic
kits to prepare the United State for any WMD attacks. This has been
accomplished by the formation of various institutions of research
including the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory among and the Plum Island Animal Disease Center among others
(Congress, 2002). The institutions of research help the government in
keeping adequate reserve of drugs and other equipments that can be used
in case of emergence resulting from attack with mass destruction.
Amendments to the Homeland Security Act of 2002
The Homeland Security Act of 2002 was initially intended to protect the
local citizens of the United States through reorganization of internal
security organs. However, following the September 11, 2001 attack,
several changes were made to the bill. According to Lieberman & Daschle
(2003) the insertion of additional sections into the bill and its
subsequent passage without much review by the senate may have been
influenced by emotional feelings following the attack. To this end,
Senator Lieberman and Mr. Daschle introduced several amendments on
January 7, 2003 to ensure that the act captures the original spirit of
the bill. The amendments include the insertion of guidelines for the
selection of colleges and universities to be used by the Department of
Homeland Security for research. The new provisions require the secretary
to apply the highest level of expertise and interdisciplinary skills in
the selection process. The sections ware inserted to section 308 (b) (2)
of the act (Lieberman & Daschle, 2003). The main objective of this
amendment was to ensure that the Department of Homeland Security
conducts high standard research that ensures accurate and reliable
results. Similarly, other amendments were made to sections 871, 890,
1907, 1714, and 1715 among others to facilitate the establishment of
reliable advisory groups that would oversee the enforcement of
technology laws at both the state and federal levels (Lieberman &
Daschle, 2003). This would ensure that the security agencies are not
overwhelmed by the high rate of technological advancement.
On March 11, 2004, some significant amendments were made on the FY 05
Homeland Security Budget. According to Lieberman (2004), the Homeland
Security Act of 2002 had played a role in ensuring the people of United
States were secure. Establishment of the Department of Homeland Security
improved the level of the airport and air security. To this end, the new
recommendations would add a financial resource of $ 6.8 billion to the
annual budget of the Department of Homeland Security (Lieberman, 2004).
This would contribute to the targeted $ 96 billion to achieve total
security of the United States at the port and borders, thus improving
the transport security and border protection.
Importance of passenger and aircrew security in a high threat
environment
Tight security in the air transport system is necessary because
currently a significant potential target for terrorism (Stengel, 2002).
There are several security threats in the air security system, which
include small arm crimes and bomb detonations. The key targets areas in
the airline transport system include the highly concentrated airports
and large passenger planes, which have the potential for the high death
rate in case an attack occurs. From the previous experience, terrorism
attacks can take place in the air transport system through two means.
First, terrorist can use explode the aircrafts and airport facilities
from a distance using missiles and other projectile weapons. Other
weapons can be used to hijack the passenger planes by misdirecting the
pilots. The second and the mostly used mean are an entry of terrorist
into the aircrafts and airports with weapons of mass destruction. These
weapons are then exploded either inside the aircrafts in motion or the
densely populated sections of the airport (Bloom, 2010). These risks
potential attacks in the air transport system expose both passengers and
air crew to risks that result in serious injuries or death. Adequate
measures are necessary to ensure high standard aviation security
especially in the high threat environment.
Currently, there are several process used to screen passengers to
prevent their entry with weapons into the airports and aircrafts. Metal
detectors (including the X-ray machines and explosives traced-detection
portal machines) are the mostly used gargets to screen the passengers
and non-passengers entering the airports (Stengel, 2002). Passengers and
non-passengers entering the aircrafts should be screened at the entry
points and moved to the “sterile” (a place confirmed to be free of
any device potential to mass destruction) space to avoid screening.
Recent developments include the use of weapon detection system based on
fiber optic intrusions. Although this technology is at the early stages
of development, it has the capacity to locate threats within the airport
and produce real-time results (Bloom, 2010). This allows the airport
security staff to engage the security measure in time, thus preventing
the risk occurrence.
Despite the technological measures that have taken place, the aviation
security systems have failed in several incidents thus resulting in
successive terrorism attacks. For instance, the aircraft attack that
occurred in Rome in 1985 resulted from the failure of the aviation
security systems to detect the threats. This gave an opportunity for
armed men to access and throw grenades to passengers at the ticket
counters, thus resulting in death of 20 travelers (Bloom, 2010). Many
other incidents of security failure have taken place, the occurrence
that suggest the need for effective security measures to ensure the
security of passengers and aircrew in high threat environment.
Conclusion
Security threats are an issue of international concern especially the
hazards of terrorism attack. Efforts to research on the most suitable
methods of handling the emerging security threats are inevitable.
Certain security threats that involve the movement of weapons across
borders require concerted efforts of both national and international
agencies to reduce trafficking of weapons. This can only be achieved
through effective international cooperation and enhanced capacity of
individual countries to protect their borders. The national security
agencies can be strengthened through legislative measure that target at
streamlining security operations. This can be accomplished through the
legislature as in the case of the Homeland Security Act of 2002.
Adequate regulatory measures should also be applied to ensure the
security of passengers and aircrew at high threat environment. The need
for well researched security measures in air transport system arises
from the fact that the air transport sector is currently a principal
target for terrorism.
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