Well, they’ve done it! After only a decade in existence the Department of Homeland Security has given us a reason to wonder if it’s time to shut them down.
Appearing on a panel at the Rising Seas Summit, Caitlin Durkovich, Assistant Secretary for Infrastructure Protection at Homeland Security, said that protecting our infrastructure from the effects of climate change is rising on the agenda of the agency.
The agency that has proven it cannot protect our borders from being broached by tens of thousands of unaccompanied children has decided to focus on the weather.
FILE - In this Nov. 8, 2005, file photo, Inupiat hunter Karlin Itchoak coils the rope of a subsistence net after pulling in a beluga whale at Cape Nome near Nome, Alaska, at sunset. Global warming is rapidly turning America into a stormy and dangerous place, with rising seas and disasters upending lives from flood-stricken Florida to the wildfire-ravaged West, according to a new U.S. federal scientific report released Tuesday, May 6, 2014. Climate change's assorted harms "are expected to become increasingly disruptive across the nation throughout this century and beyond," the National Climate Assessment concluded. (AP Photo/Laurent Dick, File)
The Department of Homeland Security was formed by an act of Congress in November 2002 in response to the terrorist bombings of Sept. 11, 2001. The purpose was to organize, in one agency, protection against further terrorist attacks. It was doomed from the beginning.
Typically, Congress overreached and included every organization having anything to do with protection within our borders. The Border Patrol and the National Immigration Service were a natural fit. Unfortunately, that is the one responsibility DHS has proven to be incapable of managing.
Additionally, the Coast Guard, the Secret Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Transportation Security Agency and 17 other agencies were cobbled together creating the third largest federal department.
The recent resignation of the Director of the Secret Service over multiple unmet threats suggest that they are failing that job too.
During Katrina the entire executive structure of DHS was in New Orleans overseeing the work of FEMA. Cleaning up after storms should not be confused with protecting us from terrorists.
Now, in addition to cleaning up after storms, they intend to take on climate change. Most government agencies take more than a decade to lose their focus and become irrelevant. Homeland Security is an exception.
America always fights the last war. Years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Army brass is still longing for tanks. Years after 9/11, the intelligence community is still having difficulty sharing information. TSA is still looking for box-cutters.
We spend one out of every eight dollars of our Homeland Security budget on airlines. While there is still a risk that an airliner can be blown up killing everyone on board, the Christmas incident over Detroit in 2009 showed us that passengers will not let it hit a target.
In response to a London incident where terrorists were caught trying to bring onto airplanes liquids that could be mixed to create bombs, TSA outlawed bringing more than 3 ounces of after-shave -- or any other liquid -- onto a plane.
After every new challenge to an airliner we add to the list of prohibited items and increase the screening procedures causing delays for tens of millions of travelers. Meanwhile, the terrorists move on to another technique.
Recently some misplaced vials of smallpox were discovered at the National Institutes of Health. If terrorists got a sample of that virus they could infect themselves, board airplanes and cough. (Suicide coughers?) Would the TSA require us to show our small pox vaccination scar to board an airplane? No one below the age of 40 has been vaccinated.
Terrorists seek to instill fear and inflict financial damage. A low-grade nuclear device in lower Manhattan would cause us to empty the area and spend many years and a trillion dollars cleaning up. Radioactive material is found in every hospital and medical research facility in the United States and is often poorly secured.
A terrorist could go to any developing nation and wipe a cloth on the nose of a cow that has foot and mouth disease. He could bring that cloth to America and wipe it on the nose of a cow in North Texas infecting every cow in the lot. Most of our beef is fed out between North Texas and Kansas. Moving them by train would spread the disease for 40 miles in every direction affecting the entire meat industry. We would kill all of the infected animals, causing a several hundred billion dollar event and destroying the meat markets for years.
To prevent these catastrophes from occurring we must intercept the execution of any event before it reaches our shores. That requires a robust intelligence effort. We spend less than two percent of our Homeland Security budget on intelligence.
It all comes down to this: Climate change is not a terrorist threat. Radical Islam is.
There are an infinite number of things to use to kill Americans. There are a finite number of people willing to do so and we know a lot about who they are. It is time to stop focusing on things and start focusing on people.
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