Homeland Security

In the April 12th edition of the comic strip Non Sequitur there was a question asked that I’ve been wondering about for a while.
Joel Pyle, one of the main characters has his own radio show, and a caller called in and asked: “Why do we need the new Homeland Security office? Isn’t homeland security the reason we spend about a half trillion dollars on the military, F.B.I and C.I.A?”
Anyway, I’ve wondered the same thing myself. Why do we have it?

The Army, INS, CIA, Navy, FBI, Marines, IRS, Air Farce, DEA, Coast Guard, NRO, DIA, Secret Service, and other military, intelligence, and law enforcement bodies often have parallel missions. Also, they often find themselves working at cross-purposes. It is my understanding that it is the mission of the Office of Homeland Security to coordinate all these various agencies’ activities, at least where the national security aspects of their missions intersect.

Most everything else I can think to say about this subject right now probably belongs in Great Debates, or possibly the Pit (do we need this office, is Ridge the right person to run it, security versus civil liberties, et cetera and so forth . . . those kind of things).

What happened to the “Civil Defense” folks? You know the guys that back in the 50s ran the nuclear war drills and were supposed to help us when the “godless communists” decided to invade? How’s come they’re not the ones handling homeland security.

Yeah, I’ve heard that he’s supposed to be a co-ordinator. But I’ve also heard that he has no budget to work with and no real authority either.

Well people wont believe anything is happening with just the normal agencies stepping up their awareness. The creation of a new agencies lets the public see something ‘new’ that makes more headlines than the bazillion terrorist plots that have been foiled by FBI/CIA etc.

Oh, you mean he’s (Tom Ridge) mostly a figure head right? The various other agencies do most of the work, and he gets most of the credit (or something like that)?

Well this may sound cynical, but Im truly not all that cynical, its just a fact. The President used it as a way to reassure the public that things were being done. By adding this “homeland security” thing, Bush shows visible change to the public. Its the same sort of phenomenon with creating new legislation to addreess public concerns when there could already be unenforced laws on the book that already do nearly the same thing. In order for the public to percieve change, the public needs to see something new, and not just internal changes to an already existing infrastructure.