Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

June 23, 2015

Another essay about eliminating the Department of Homeland Security

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on June 23, 2015

Matt Mayer, who worked at the the Department of Homeland Security nine years ago, wrote an essay for Reason  (Free Minds and Free Markets) called “Why We Should Eliminate the Department of Homeland Security. Let’s dismantle the Frankenstein monster and divide its responsibilities more effectively.”

After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack, President George W. Bush rightly resisted Congress’ urge to create a new federal department charged with the homeland security mission. Bush believed the federal government could protect America with a strong homeland security council managed by the White House, similar to the National Security Council. Following relentless pressure, he acquiesced and the federal government gave birth to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on March 1, 2003.

The new department largely consists of agencies and offices pulled from other existing cabinet departments. After twelve years of mediocre-to-poor operations and countless scandals, it is clear President Bush’s initial instinct was right. The core functions overseen by DHS can be managed more effectively elsewhere, especially where territorial battles undermine operational efficacy.

It is time to eliminate DHS and put the various components where they are a better fit. Eliminating DHS would result in annual fiscal savings of more than $2.5 billion, with 4,000 fewer employees. Those reductions, however, only represent part of the rationale for eliminating DHS. The other reasons to do so are that DHS is riddled with performance inefficiencies and that its existence creates inefficiencies in other federal entities due to the need to coordinate across organizational boundaries. America can’t afford more of the same as terrorist threats reemerge….

The essay is worth reading.

I’m guessing that somewhere in the editing process the original title of Mayer’s essay may have been changed.  The url link to the article is http:… president-bush-was-right-before-he-was-w

Free minds at work.

(h/t doc)

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Comment by John Comiskey

June 24, 2015 @ 5:02 am

Politics 101

Mr. Mayers’s conclusions and near all recommendations are rationale and reasonable.

Essentially, U.S. departments are means to organize the government.

Mr. Obama (or anyone else who succeeded W) was in a sense handcuffed by an in-place hard (impossible?) to undo means of HLS governance.

HLS governance (my term) is a way for the Nation to deal with large-scale catastrophic intentional, natural, and accidental threats, hazards, and events.

Some HLS progress (I will likely be attacked here, but that’s what blogging is about), the 2015 National Preparedness Report is IMHO a way forward.

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 24, 2015 @ 7:54 am

Government organization is always a complicated issue and the rise of the field of Public Administration is some evidence.

And that field/discipline has not abandoned its obligations when it comes to HS and EM and DHS and FEMA.

But perhaps in a STARTLING DEVELOPMENT I pin the entirety of DHS’ problems on the Presidents and DHS Secretaries who have so far been involved in its administration.

Elimination of DHS at this point will not fix anything and may well set back HS and EM and what I call CIVIL SECURITY for years.

The Congress has not helped by badly organizing itself for oversight of the DHS and FEMA programs.

But DHS incompetence is forcing some really tortured actions to be taken by OFA’s and the STATES.

What is wanting is an understanding of what I call FIRST PRINCIPLES!

To give out a couple that may promote discussion here goes:

The U.S. Constitution is a given and its twists and turns impact DHS as much as any Federal Department and Agency;

The DHS should contain the most expert analysts and thinkers on issues and policies of FEDERALISM in the entirety of the organization array of the 180 separate federal organizations that exist.

HS is a vital element of protection of the NATION-STATE SYSTEM now under intentional and unintentional attack largely by sub-state actors worldwide.

Last but not least the cultures in DHS are many and result in confusion and distrust between DHS elements.

CAN DHS BE FIXED? Maybe but maybe not! It is, however, not likely to be a campaign issue IMO for 2016. Why? The Washington Lobbyists like DHS just fine the way it is now!

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 24, 2015 @ 8:08 am


Comment by William R. Cumming

June 24, 2015 @ 8:19 am

HELP! Could anyone who hears any of the candidates specifically reference DHS please inform me? Many thanks! Use FFF to tell me please!

Comment by Quin

June 24, 2015 @ 11:41 am

Interesting how after decades of the “all hazards” folks being worried about being scarfed up by the civil defense/terrorism preparedness people, the shoe is now on the other foot. That said, short of an IND or some exotic WMD, there is no realistic terrorism threat that comes anywhere close to approaching the annual loss of life and property from natural disasters. But fear goes a long way.

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 24, 2015 @ 12:39 pm

Quinn! Historically it is all a question of occurrence, number and placement of domestic catastrophe as to the FEMA focus but as to DHS generally probably more of a case of in the kingdom of the blind the one-eyed man is king or rather a federal entity with huge discretion to spend federal bucks on the STATES and their local governments is again king. Some components of DHS withering on the vine while FEMA blooms.

And are retired Coast Guard officers so talented administrative they should dominate much of DHS and even FEMA?

And NO FIX for the NFIP for Brad Keiserman’s brief efforts IMO of course. Voluntary disenrollment from the WYO program not much of a disincentive to fraud, waste, and abuse.

I still blame James Loy for screwing up the National Response Plan. I hope some can brief in detail on the National Response Framework on short notice. And how it is implemented? Does DoD understand the NRF and its implementation? DoJ? EPA? Etc.?

Comment by Donald Quixote

June 24, 2015 @ 8:33 pm

I have always enjoyed Mr. Mayer’s writings. I just do not think that the monster can be divided without another 9-11 type failure in the search to connect the dots again. It is just too difficult and too profitable right now.

Comment by Arnold Bogis

June 24, 2015 @ 10:34 pm

Paul Light basically wrote this article in 2007:


And at least Light told the story that after first resisting a new department, it was the Bush Administration that went big with the reorganization plan. A little detail Mr. Mayer left out of his piece.

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 25, 2015 @ 6:54 am

Okay! If I had to make [or could] a single change to DHS it would be to return TSA back to DoT!

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 26, 2015 @ 6:53 am

And I would add DEA to the DHS portfolio.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

June 26, 2015 @ 12:24 pm


Many of certainly support TSA back to DoT! Maybe we can then truly address efficiency — Hope you enjoy the summer!


Comment by Donald Quixote

June 27, 2015 @ 12:17 pm

But how would moving TSA change TSA? The move would not make it any more effective or relevant for it is serving its purpose as homeland security theater. If it can fade a 95 percent failure rate at its basic and primary mission with no lasting media and public interest, it really does not appear to be a respected or relevant agency. Why move it or keep it?

Comment by Donald Quixote

June 27, 2015 @ 12:21 pm

Regarding other possible agency movement, is DEA really more involved in homeland security than FBI?

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