The New Homeland Security Apparatus: Impeding the Fight against Agile Terrorists

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The terrorist attacks of September 11,2001, not only sent seismic shockwavesthrough American society, they jolted theU.S. government into action. One of theactions taken was to create the WhiteHouse Office of Homeland Security. Butthe office lacks the statutory authority andbudgetary power to fulfill its mission. Toremedy those problems and take action inthe wake of embarrassing revelations ofglitches in information sharing in theCentral Intelligence Agency and FederalBureau of Investigation prior to September11, President Bush plans to create a newcabinet department that cobbles togetherparts of some of the many agencies involvedin homeland defense. Strangely, however,none of the president's "reforms" is likely tosolve the problems of information sharingbetween organizations.

The presidential directive that institutedthe office also created the HomelandSecurity Council. Intended to addresshomeland security issues, the council is acarbon copy of the existing NationalSecurity Council, which addresses nationalsecurity concerns. But the NationalSecurity Council has statutory responsibilityfor coordinating national securityissues--which the fight against terrorismseems to be--whereas the new HomelandSecurity Council is essentially an emptyshell. Thus, the government already had themachinery needed to coordinate homelandsecurity prior to the president's initiatives.Creating new bureaucratic organizationsdoes not correct existing problems of inefficiency,bureaucratic inertia, and failure toshare information.

Instead, efforts for increased securityshould focus on timely intelligence sharing,threat recognition, and action. Withoutdramatic improvements in those areas,coordination and implementation of policyby the new offices and department will likelyremain problematic.

Eric R. Taylor

Eric R. Taylor is an associate professor of chemistry at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He served in the Chemical Corps of the U.S. Army.