From the October 2001 Idaho Observer:

The Homeland Defense Agency: Tyranny's New Central Command Post?

by Hari Heath

In a well coordinated effort, taking full advantage of our new national psych-op, otherwise known as the war on terrorism, President Bush announced a new Cabinet-level Office of Homeland Security. The Office was created by Executive Order and apparently did not need “the advice and consent of the Senate” to fill this Cabinet position. The position was already filled before the new office was announced. Pennsylvania's Governor Tom Ridge resigned as governor to assume this new position, which Bush said, will, “lead, oversee and coordinate a national strategy to safeguard our country against terrorism and respond to any attacks that come.”

As dissent, sedition and terrorism become joined as synonyms, used in the government's war on the Bill of Rights, the real question is, which “terrorism” will Ridge be responding to? Is this the beginning of the American SS?

There have been some efforts to create a single agency responsible for homeland defense. Under some proposals, the Border Patrol, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Customs Service, the Drug Enforcement Agency, The Coast Guard, FEMA and other agencies would be combined in one super-agency. House Resolution 1158, introduced March 21, 2001, proposes to establish the National Homeland Security Agency. It remains in committee, awaiting congressional consideration.

The Hegelian problem solvers in Congress proclaim the need for this new agency: “The security of the United States homeland from nontraditional and emerging threats must be a primary national security mission of the United States Government. Attacks against United States citizens on United States soil, possibly causing heavy casualties, are likely during the next quarter century, as both the technical means for carrying out such attacks, and the array of actors who might use such means, are proliferating despite the best efforts of United States diplomacy.”

If Congress bothered to look, they might find that United States diplomacy was the problem in the first place. Rather than solve the root problem of how we conduct our affairs in this world, they focus on a different problem: “Despite the serious threat to homeland security, the United States Government has not yet adopted homeland security as a primary national security mission. Its structures and strategies are fragmented and inadequate. The assets and organizations that now exist for homeland security are scattered across more than two dozen departments and agencies, and all 50 States.” The solution, according to Congress, is to blend everything into one super-agency, as if that will somehow make everything better.

“Guaranteeing that homeland security is achieved within a framework of law that protects the civil liberties and privacy of United States citizens is essential. The United States Government must improve national security without compromising established constitutional principles.” Constitutional principles are compromised whenever an agency exists. The framework of law, otherwise known as the Constitution, requires the separation of powers, that agencies, by definition and conduct, routinely violate. All hope of liberty or privacy evaporates when agencies begin to act on the public.

“Through the National Homeland Security Agency, the United States Government will improve the planning and coordination of Federal support to State and local agencies to rationalize the allocation of resources, enhance readiness in order to prevent attacks, and facilitate recovery if prevention fails.” Simply put, this is yet another bureaucratic make work program to siphon more federal funds into state and local coffers in trade for the collection of more federal powers. If such “rationalizations” fail to defend the homeland, then the agency can throw more money at the problem to aid the victims recovery.

How does Congress propose to solve the problems created by our failed foreign policy efforts? By having this new super-agency's Director, “plan, coordinate, and integrate those United States Government activities relating to homeland security, including border security and emergency preparedness; work with State and local governments and executive agencies; support State officials through the use of regional offices around the country; conduct exercise and training programs and establish effective command and control procedures for the full range of potential contingencies regarding United States homeland security, including contingencies that require the substantial support of military assets; and to annually develop a Federal response plan for homeland security and emergency preparedness.”

The authorities, functions, personnel, and assets of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the United States Customs Service, the Border Patrol, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the United States Coast Guard, the Critical Infrastructure Assurance Office, the Institute of Information Infrastructure Protection of the Department of Commerce, the National Infrastructure Protection Center and the National Domestic Preparedness Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation would be transferred to the National Homeland Security Agency.

The Director would also ensure “the maintenance of a nucleus of cyber security experts within the United States Government to enhance sharing of information regarding cyber security and physical security of the United States, tracking vulnerabilities and proposing improved risk management policies.”

The proposed agency would oversee Federal, State and local emergency preparedness training and exercise programs and provide a single staff for Federal assistance in any emergency (including emergencies caused by flood, earthquake, hurricane, disease, or terrorist bomb). By creating a National Crisis Action Center it would act as the focal point for monitoring emergencies and coordinate Federal support for State and local governments and the private sector. The proposed agency would establish training and equipment standards, provide resource grants, and encourage intelligence and information sharing among the Department of Defense, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Central Intelligence Agency, State emergency management officials, and local first responders, coordinating and integrating activities of the Department of Defense, the National Guard, and other Federal agencies into a Federal response plan.

The agency would coordinate activities among private sector entities and manage a single response system for national incidents in coordination with the Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Centers for Disease Control, while maintaining Federal asset databases and supporting up-to-date State and local databases. The Director shall also establish and maintain strong mechanisms for the sharing of information and intelligence with United States and international intelligence entities. What part of the Bill of Rights won't be trampled by all this federalized activity?

Congress has designs on our future liberties but that doesn't matter. Our fearless leader, President Bush, has made an end run around the Constitution and Congress by creating the Office of Homeland Security with a stroke of the executive pen and appointing his new Homeland Defense Czar without even consulting the Senate. Isn't Federal Emergency Government grand?

Little mention is made of what Bush's Homeland Defense Czar's new duties will be. But they certainly will include the unaccountable, unconstitutional and unrestrained exercise of federal emergency powers. Make no mistake, this is just another camels nose under the tent. Our history provides ample experience that the trap of tyranny, laid for benevolent purposes in one generation, will lay in wait to be sprung on the next. Our children will lose their liberty for our bureaucratically provided false sense of security.

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Hari Heath

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