Homeland security strategies involve a multitude of different agencies and approach some of which are less beneficial to the country than others. The United States government became increasingly involved in homeland security after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. The paranoid and xenophobic atmosphere of the period enabled a number of highly controversial policies to be approved, which allowed the government to perform unlawful actions without prosecution.
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Currently, economic implications for homeland security strategies are serious due to the size of the homeland security budget being higher than more beneficial programs such as healthcare and education. Socially implications of homeland security are also significant because it led to actions that verge on being unconstitutional. The legal implications of homeland security are complicated since the majority of harmful actions are performed without any consequences for responsible parties. Overall, strategies wildly differ in intensity, and some are indeed beneficial, which makes it impossible to clearly say whether they relate to Saint Leo’s core values of excellence and integrity.
The topic of homeland security strategies has dominated the political discussion over the last two decades due to exponentially increasing ways in which these strategies are affecting the citizens of the United States and their values. This issue is very complex and involves a number of strategies for the maintenance of homeland security that continue to be discussed and changed because ethical issues arise due to their implementation. Homeland security refers to the actions that various organizations perform to ensure safety and protection against terrorism as well as other hazards such as natural and man-made disasters to the public of the United States.
While these goals appear relatively normal and beneficial to the country, they have caused a great amount of controversy due to how these strategies are being implemented in the United States. Citizens expect to be safe, but they also expect their privacy to be protected. Unfortunately, privacy diminished greatly since the first homeland security strategy plan was put into action, and it is difficult to see the situation reverting to its original state despite the public outcry against it. This paper will provide an overview of homeland security strategies, their economic, social, and legal implications, as well as how they relate to Saint Leo’s core values.
History of Homeland Security
On September 11, 2001, the United States experienced the largest terrorist attack in the history of the country. Terrorists targeted the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon. This event shocked the world and changed it forever. It could be considered as the most significant event of the modern era, and it left its mark not only on the United States but on every country that changed its policies in response to the attack. The danger of terrorism was always present in the United States. In fact, the history of the country is steeped in terrorism, bombings, and guerilla-style warfare. The World Trade Center was even targeted once before the September 11 attacks.
In 1993, a man detonated a truck filled with explosives in the basement parking lot of the building. However, the event did not bring about a serious response from the government due to only six people being killed. In the public consciousness, it was mostly remembered in rap music with “blowing up like World Trade” becoming a popular lyric used to describe selling a lot of albums (Boys, 2018).
September 11 attacks completely changed both the response of the government on the topic of terrorism and the public opinion about terrorism. While terrorist actions were always feared by the public, in 2001, they became a constant topic of discussion and policymaking. The term “homeland security” became prominent during this time, as President George W. Bush created the United States Department of Homeland Security with the establishment of the Homeland Security Act of 2002.
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However, it is not the only organization that is responsible for cases concerning homeland security. Other organizations involved in homeland security include the Department of Defense, United States Department of Health and Human Services, FBI, and CIA. These organizations perform a variety of functions that include emergency preparedness and response measures, intelligence activities (both domestic and international), protection of the United States infrastructure, border control, child pornography investigation, biodefence, radioactive material detection, secure transportation, as well as research and development of new security technologies (White, 2016).
The atmosphere in the United States was extremely paranoid and xenophobic during this era, which led to a number of extremely controversial events not receiving enough pushback from the population. However, these events tarnished the concept of homeland security. These events included multiple cases of the country going against international law through the imprisonment of people without giving them appropriate conditions, breaches of privacy, and other situations. Such strategies have since been criticized by journalists, members of the military, and other people involved in homeland security. These issues partially come from the broad definition of the concept, which makes it possible to have such strategies as the implementation of better metal detectors in airports, to international intelligence gathering belong to the same department (Smyth, 2012).
Economically, just the Department of Homeland Security alone received more than $18 billion in 2018 due to the isolationist policies of Donald Trump. The majority of these resources were spent on U.S. Customs and Border Protection, as well as Federal Emergency Management Agency. These costs are exceedingly high, especially considering that the question of the federal budget is one of the larger topics of discussion in the current administration.
Constant attempts to decrease healthcare spending or any social programs that are sponsored by the government, including education and help for vulnerable populations, seem questionable when the least active homeland security organization (FBI and the CIA are much more involved in the matters of homeland security) receives almost $20 billion for one year of work, with almost all of it going to border control. However, this is not unusual, as the majority of organizations concerning this topic have often received very large budgets since 2002 (“FY 2018 budget-in-brief,” 2017).
The social implications for homeland security are two-sided. On the one hand, a portion of the efforts performed by homeland security agencies is extremely beneficial for the country since a number of potential terror attacks were prevented due to their actions. On the other hand, the remaining portion is highly unethical and caused a dramatic decrease in the reputation of the country and the quality of life of its citizens. In addition, the amount of information gathered by the authorities appears to be impossible to use effectively since it is too massive for any person or analysis algorithm to identify a specific case. Moreover, a number of terrorist attacks were not prevented in recent years even when the authorities were informed about the suspect’s dangerous activity. These results heavily damage the purpose of such organizations and show that the unethical outcomes that homeland security strategies brought to the United States did not help increase its security (Bro & Mermelstein, 2016).
Legal implications are also problematic due to the common use of gray area actions in intelligence gathering strategies to subvert the law and prevent any prosecutions of people responsible for them. Unlawful imprisonment, breaches of privacy, violent actions of the border patrols, and other issues are often left unquestioned, and even when the information about them goes public, no significant consequences occur for the guilty parties. Partially, these strategies are possible due to the establishment of the Patriot Act, which gave the government a variety of powers that are on the verge of being unconstitutional in their nature. Subsequent policies enforced similar allowances for unlawful actions performed by the government. These issues were widely discussed by the public, but no organized movement against them was able to be formed (McCarthy, 2015).
Saint Leo Core Values
Due to the wide range of activities and organizations that are involved in the development and implementation of homeland security strategies, they are partially related to the Saint Leo core values of excellence and integrity. It can be said with high probability that organizations such as the FBI prioritize excellence in their work and are almost entirely dedicated to their mission. Their standards are extremely high, and they are required to perform well consistently. However, the same could not be applied to all organizations and strategies at the same time. Some of the most controversial and unethical strategies were employed by the CIA and they involved torture. Therefore, it is impossible to say that all homeland security strategies relate to Saint Leo’s core values.
While the complete process of becoming an FBI agent is not publicly shared, it does involve an oath that includes a promise to support and defend the constitution of the United States from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. This pledge is publicly available and is respected by the organization. The defense of the constitution implies that agents must follow its contents, which means that they must operate justly.
The FBI does not have a spotless track record, but its actions mostly concern a positive change in the country since they are responsible for large-scale investigations, the fight against organized crime, and even social assistance in appropriate cases. FBI agents are respected by the public, and they do not share the same stigma that is attached to the CIA or even regular members of the police force.
I learned that the concept of “homeland security” has a very wide scope which makes its strategies differ wildly in their nature. The split between the beneficial and harmful strategies makes it very difficult to have a concrete opinion about them. However, the harm that the United States government brought to the country through such strategies appears to be irreversible.
Homeland security strategies are often the topic of heated debates. The balance of safety and civil liberty is difficult to achieve, and it cannot be said that the strategies utilized so far were beneficial for the United States. However, it should not be a blanket statement since some of the strategies were non-intrusive and in general, had no negative effects on the population. Nevertheless, the discussion concerning the homeland security strategies is not likely to disappear soon, and it is important to follow any new developments.
Boys, J. D. (2018). The Clinton administration’s development and implementation of rendition (1993–2001). Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 41(16), 1–13.
Bro, R., & Mermelstein, L. (2016). Big data, big deal. Scitech Lawyer, 12(2), 5.
FY 2018 budget-in-brief. (2017). Web.
McCarthy, M. (2015). American Psychological Association colluded with US officials to bolster CIA torture program, report alleges. BMJ, 350(4), 2380.
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Breen-Smyth, M. B. (2012). The Ashgate research companion to political violence. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
White, J. R. (2016). Terrorism and homeland security. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.