Saturday, December 17, 2011

Arguments for abolishing the Department of Homeland Security

After September 11,200 1, the Department of Homeland Security [DHS] was created to improve federal counterterrorism efforts. David Rittgers, legal policy analyst at Cato [Institute], makes a compelling argument chat this was a mistake. In “Abolish the Department of Homeland Security” (Policy Analysis No. 683), Rittgers explains that the fundamental problem is the department’s structure. “Creating DHS resulted in an unwieldy organization,” he writes—one that failed · for three distinct reasons.

First, it has too many disparate subdivisions. The department’s “massive portfolio of responsibility” has created an oversight nightmare: as just one example, there are now 108 separate congressional committees and panels with jurisdiction over DHS operations.

Second, it is known for its wasteful spending. The grants that DHS has bestowed upon different localities are simply “an unequivocal handout to the states”—pork that includes funds for “unused biological warfare equipment, armored vehicles, and extravagant border checkpoints.”

Finally, DHS duplicates the work of other agencies. “Domestic counterterrorism is a law enforcement function,” Rittgers writes, and efforts to coordinate these activities under one umbrella have created bureaucratic redundancies. Rittgers traces the creation and expansion of DHS, carefully dissecting its appropriation of airport security, the rise of fusion centers, and the trend of politicized threat reporting. Ultimately, the reorganization was not only costly, but also unnecessary. “Terrorism remains a serious problem,” he concludes, “but a sprawling Department of Homeland Security is not the proper way to address that threat.”

From the Cato Policy Report (Nov/Dec 2011)

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