Homeland Security Act of 2002 Term Paper

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Homeland Security Act

The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center last September 11, 2001 highlighted the growing need to safeguard domestic security. One of the Bush government's responses was the passage of the Homeland Security Act during the 107th Congress. This law provides the Bush government a legal and executive basis to respond to terrorism.

This paper examines some of the effects of and changes that have taken place since the passage of the Homeland Security Act of 2002. The first part of the paper looks at how the passage of the law has affected the federal bureaucracy. The second part then looks at the more specific effects of this federal law on the state of Texas. In the last part, the paper examines some of the economic effects the Homeland Security Act of 2002.

Federal law

The most immediate change wrought by the Homeland Security Act of 2002 was the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). With an estimated 170,000 employees, this department is the largest federal bureaucracy ever created. The department is currently headed by Secretary Tom Ridge ("ASSE Summary of Homeland Security Act of 2002").

In addition to the establishment of the DHS, key provisions of the Homeland Security Act include the establishment of the Directorate for Information Analysis and Infrastructure. This Directorate is headed by a Department Under Secretary, under the authority of Tom Ridge.

An important provision -- the Critical Infrastructure Information Act -- also provides for exemptions from the Freedom of Information Act. These exemptions allow government and federal agencies to share information previously protected under privacy laws (ASSE Summary of Homeland Security Act of 2002").

Proponents of the Homeland Securities Act laud the new measure for providing the federal government the flexibility to create its own personnel department, without undue influence and delay from the ongoing politicking in Congress. Corollary to this, the new DHS will also ensure that the fledgling department will have the necessary financial resources to allow the government to address the changes brought on by terrorism (Scardaville).

Prior to the passage of the Homeland Security Act, federal responses to such tragedies have been, at best, fragmented. As illustrated by the confusion after the World Trade Center attacks, federal response to such emergencies have been chaotic and fragmented.

This confusion hampers the government's ability to respond swiftly and effectively (Scardaville).

For these supporters, the Homeland Security Act thus provides the government with an invaluable tool for both protecting against terrorism and providing for the American public's needs should another attack take place.

However, opponents of the Homeland Security Act challenge the notion that the law is an effective weapon against terrorism. Instead of improving government response, critics charge that the law only contributes to an already-bloated government bureaucracy.

Furthermore, analysts charge that by creating an umbrella cabinet bureau, the new law undermines state and local authority.

Analysts like Jennifer Van Bergen further cite the Homeland Security Act's potential to promote a form of "federal militarization." These include the Act's measures to establish Military Tribunals outside the normal constitutional protections. Already, "unlawful enemy combatants" like the detainees in Guantanamo are denied hearings and legal representation. Many immigrants are additionally detained for indefinite periods, even if they are not identified as dangers to the country (Van Bergen).

Critics thus charge that these measures have the effect of eroding the checks and balances that regulate the federal government.

By expanding the powers of the government beyond those already provided in the Constitution, the federal government's mandate is significantly changed.

Instead of protecting the American populace, many analysts find that the Homeland Security Act has the potential to erode the civil liberties they are mandated to protect.

Local effects

Like many state governments, the Texas government has used provisions of the Homeland Security Act to further build on emergency measures that have already been set in place. Prior to the passage of the law, Texas Governor Rick Perry has funded the Division of Emergency Management (DEM), under the auspices of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). This program was created to provide the state with a way to address emergencies such as the September 11 attacks.

The passage of the Homeland Security Act allowed Texas to…

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