Department of Homeland Security. The Consequences of 9/11 Essay Example



On September 11, 2001, four airplanes were hijacked by Al Qaeda militants in the United States. This group carried out suicide attacks with the intention to kill Americans. Two of the planes flew into the Twin Towers in New York City, one plane flew into the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and the last plane was a failed attempt as the civilians on the flights fought the hijacker leading to a crash in a field in Pennsylvania. This attack ended up killing over 3,000 people, which made the United States government quickly realize the lack of security in our country, in particular, U.S. ports and the maritime industry as a whole.

It soon became an issue that Americans believed the need for a government agency to ensure the security of the United States was the only solution. Due to the concern in safety, congress passed the Homeland Security Act in 2002 which established the Department of Homeland Security. The Department officially began on March 1, 2003. Soon after, U.S. ports and maritime security were revolutionized by the Department of Homeland Security due to the addition of the United States Coast Guard, international unity to ensure safety from terrorist attacks, and advancements in technology to defend against cyber and nuclear warfare. 

After the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. Congress was quick to act on starting the Department of Homeland Security. Tom Ridge, Secretary of Homeland Security, addressed the seaport in Los Beach, California (2004) to discuss the steps in order to obtain port security. Ridge focused on the large scale issue of ensuring port security by highlighting the diverse culture in the maritime industry and the vast amount of flags that enter our port every day. As he stated, “Shipping is a global industry; terrorism is a global problem; and our collective security requires a global solution” (Voyages II 415). Ridge addressed this global solution by introducing the U.S. Coast guard to the Department of Homeland Security and the procedure they will follow to provide safety before a vessel even enters the port. Along with that, he touched on the advancement of technology in our ports for security. For instance, the U.S. now receives information on every U.S. bound container and has the ability to flag the ships for the Coast Guard to inspect. The speech details the solution the Department of Homeland Security made to stop the war on terror by increasing the USCG’s security before the enemy enters a U.S. port.

With the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the United States Coast Guard became assigned to the Department of Homeland Security, transitioning from the Department of Defense. Previously, the USCG had a small scale mission in charge of port security and coastline protection. This transition was a big switch for the Coast Guard proving to be far more challenging and technical than predicted. With the U.S. having a total, on average, 21,000 containers a day come into the spread of 361 U.S. seaports, it deemed a large role to assign to the Coast guard to enforce inspections of ships and security of all ports. Along with that, the Coast Guard was tasked with supporting the Department of Defense overseas. That being said, Homeland Security tackled this problem by increasing funds. 

This allowed the USCG to acquire eight 110-foot Island Class patrol boats. By doing this it allowed the Coast Guard to have a layered defense pushing out our forces to sea to meet that threat. The Deepwater project is another key twenty-four billion dollar system that is set to replace all of Coast Guard equipment including ships, boats, helicopters, etc. over a span of the next twenty-five years. In the Coast Guard hearing before the subcommittee on oceans, fisheries, and coast guard on the committee on commerce, science, and transportation on February 12, 2003, JayEtta Z. Hecker states, “So there is challenge of balancing this new and urgent security mission with the traditional missions that continue to demand resources.” Hecker goes in depth to describe how the sudden change can affect the Coast Guard’s previous jobs such as search-and-rescue, marine environment protection, and fisheries enforcement. This diversion to tackle security, Hecker believed, would neglect the other missions of the Coast Guard.