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The Department of Homeland Security has a mission of leading a joined effort to secure the country and safeguard the freedoms (U. S Department of Homeland Security, 2012). These efforts include; coming up against terrorism and enhancing security; enforcing and administering immigration laws; securing and managing borders; ensuring resilience to disaster; safeguarding and securing the Cyberspace among other hazards. This paper discusses the roles and approaches by the department in counterterrorism.
Functions of the Department of Homeland Security
Preventing Terrorism and Enhancing Security
The highest priority to the Department is protecting the American people against terrorism. The three main focuses in preventing terrorism and enhancing security as per U. S Department of Homeland Security (2012) are to: “prevent terrorist attacks; prevent the unauthorized acquisition, importation, movement, or use of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear materials and capabilities within the United States; and reduce the vulnerability of critical infrastructure and key resources, essential leadership, and major events to terrorist attacks and other hazard.”
The department has identified areas of attacks and implemented policies in each of them. Global Aviation Security strategies have been put in place in collaboration with the international bodies consisting of over 190 countries (Alperen, 2011). The bodies have implemented policies that govern the passenger safety through governmental watch list carriage security through threat based intelligence and real time cargo monitoring; provision of airline information before its departure and enhancing technology to bring down terrorists.
In addition to the global aviation security, the cargo is also potential import grounds for terrorists and terrorism. The department, therefore, provides cargo screening using the multilayered approach to enhance security. In collaboration with the World Customs Organization, the department has launched Operation Global Shield to enforce laws to battle illegal diversion and trafficking of arms (Bullock, Coppola & Haddow, 2012).
Protecting the infrastructure is also delegated to the department. The department surveys and assesses the nation’s most vulnerable infrastructure identifying the potential gaps and provides recommendations to mitigate the susceptibilities.
In addition to the above, terrorism and security provision functions the department national preparedness, and supports state and law enforcement. It also provides training on the laws.
Enforcing and Administering U. S. Immigration Rules
To achieve this mission, the Department employs three strategies, namely: smart and effective enforcement, facilitating legal immigration, combating human trafficking and smuggling.
For the smart and effective enforcement strategy, the Department applies tools, such as biometric information and services to remove and identify criminal aliens in the country. It has improved and expended the e-verify system to add some functionality to it, in order to achieve more of its fraud monitoring and ensuring compliance, while fostering the ease of use. The department works hand in hand with the Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE); it is aimed to foster the continued reforms of the immigration and detention.
In facilitating legal immigration, the department has a role in maintaining the policy it formalized on speeding up and rationalizing the citizenship procedure for men and women working in American armed forces. It works with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to avert counterfeiting and interfering and smoothing the progress of swift and accurate authentication through consultations and admissive screening.
In combating human trafficking and smuggling, the Department launched the Blue campaign which advocates for new computerized trainings for the citizens and enforcement officers, enhancing victim assistance materials and providing antihuman trafficking and smuggling shop through the governmental website. The three efforts help in fighting terrorism, entry and sizing the potential grounds.
Safeguarding the Cyberspace
The department is truly aware of the technological risks that are imposed to the peace of the citizens of the states. It, therefore, carries out activities to scrutinize and lessen Cyber threat vulnerabilities; share out threat warnings on discovery; and coordinate the responses to Cyber incidences to ensure the network, computers, and Cyber remain potentially safe. It works to facilitate the Cyber security coordination and resilience, expand the Cyber security, and create and maintain Cyber security awareness (achieved through awareness campaigns).
Securing and Managing Borders
The Department of Homeland Security thwarts and inspects the unlawful movements across the U.S. borders together with the smuggling of drugs, weapon, people and cash. It works hard to secure the South West borders to disrupt the smuggling activities that facilitate the cartels by adding more manpower and technology to it. It secures the sea, land and air borders to ensure that no illegal activities are practiced, while ensuring safe travel and trade (Alperen, 2011). To carry out this operation, the Department focuses on effective secure of the U.S. air, sea and land points of entry; safeguarding and streamlining lawful travel and trade; and doing away with the transnational criminal and terror groups. These activities are involving; hence, the collaboration with the international organizations and governments is to curb the crime. The tools deployed in such kind of activities include the mobile surveillance units and biometrics programs among other technological tools.
Ensure Resilience to Disaster
The Department has a helping hand when it comes to calamities. It has provided awareness to the American citizens and trained them in preparation for the disasters. It keeps the country informed, in case of terrorism, while specifying the kind of attack and the impacts. It makes use of the National Incident Management System (FEMA) to manage disasters (Kraft & Marks, 2011). The department has a ready team spread across the country to act in the event of a disaster. This helps with the readiness to protect the citizens against the effects of disasters and their occurrences.
It offers trainings at schools through the provision of funds, and advertises through a national public campaign, known as the ready. The efforts ensure that the communities get up-to-date information on community awareness topics and resources.
The Department utilizes the computing and intelligence network resources to monitor and control operations within the country, hence, countering terrorism.
Interaction with Other Agencies
The Department closely works with the U.S. Department of Police and FBI to bring down the criminals. The FBI investigates into the cases that are presented to them by the Department and other potential incidences. It provides information to the Department regarding the kind of operations that are suspected to be potential risks to the government. The Department of Police ensures that there is peace by curbing the activities that are potential risks to the country’s peace. Its functions include; arresting the criminals and arraigning them in courts to charge them. These activities, among others, are carried out in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security to promote security in the country.
A significant tool used by the Department to counteract terrorism is the Criminal Justice System. This tool has proved to be incredible, as it helps the Department and the Department of Justice not only to gather valuable intelligence from the terrorist but also about them (Alexander, 2006). The system provides the powerful incentive for criminals to provide more accurate and reliable information. This implies helping the Department of Justice to get access to more criminals, minimizing and finally destroying their operations altogether (Alperen, 2011). The criminals are arraigned in the courts and are charged with their corresponding criminal acts. The systems help the Department to do away with terrorist activities. Those who can be detained are given the judgment, while the foreign terrorists who can be detained in their countries are deported. The Department of Justice comes in to implementation of laws governing the crimes.
In collaboration with the Department of Justice, it has implemented various tools to combat domestic war on terrorism. These include the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), Patriot Act, Material Support Statute, the Attorney General’s Guidelines, Enemy Combat Designation, Extreme Measures, FISA Court opinion and FISA Court of Review Opinion. Under the FISA, laws were enacted as the response to a public scandal over the increase of domestic spying. This limited the government’s power break into citizens’ homes and spying on them. Later it helped to limit information getting into the hands of the terrorists (Rabkin & Rabkin, 2005). The Patriot Act was implemented to clear on the information sharing between law enforcement and intelligence agencies. It gives authority to the law enforcement to the intelligence agencies. The laws ensure that the level of terrorism is low, and the risks are unquestionably curbed.
There are many emergency responders in the U.S.A. The American Medical Responders (AMR); National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA); Council on Foreign Relation (CFR); Emergency Response Massage International, Inc. (ERMI); St. John Ambulance Patient Care Divisions; the Canadian Coast Guard; the Canadian Ski Patrol System; Campus Response Teams; and the Volunteer Fire Departments are just, but a few to mention.
The Department can work close with these responders to educate citizens (through computerized systems and conducted workshops) in an effort to make them aware of the hazards of terrorism and how to react in the terror scene. This can help reduce exposure to more terror problems, as well as avoiding the long-term effects of exposure.
They can also help to provide first aid and cancelling forums for the victims of terrorism to ensure that they are back to their normal lifestyles, even after experiencing the worst. The responders have the duty to provide fast response to calamities resulting from the terrorism acts providing services, such as firefighting, assisting victims with medication services, detonating the explosives and investigating into the matters that arise (Alexander, 2006). They, therefore, have a helping hand to counterterrorism, and therefore, must be considered.