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The Concept of the Homeland Security After the September 11 Incident Research Paper

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Updated: Aug 20th, 2019


Following the glaring terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the homeland security became a key national concern. Law enforcement bodies and their respective roles changed at the federal, state, and local levels. The United States’ Congress responded to the attacks by enacting the U.S.

Patriot Act, which sought to restructure the federal, state, and local bureaucracies coupled with disseminating powers to law enforcement bodies across various agency departments (Davis 2010, 44). Even though most of the traditional security policies changed drastically, law enforcement personnel is yet to understand how to adapt to these new roles and powers towards curbing terrorism.

In many respects, many people may perceive the Homeland Security as a recent policy area developed to react to the terrorist attacks of September 11. However, it is not a new idea since the U.S. government has been dealing with domestic invasions for a long time.

In addition, much attention since the World War I has been given to safeguarding the home front from internal and external enemies. However, the concept of the homeland security shaped as an internal policy after the September 11 incident.

Research question

Several national intelligence issues continue to pose threat to the future of the Department of the Homeland Security (DHS) including strict bureaucratic structures, inadequate finances, lack of coordination, reluctance to share intelligence information, fragmentation as opposed to integration, and lack of accountability (Jenkins, Liepman, and Willis 2014, 19).

In addressing these issues, this article will be answering the question on the challenges that the DHS will continue to face in the future. These areas will continue to pose challenges because the decision makers seem to be contented with the existing bureaucratic organization.

Second, the same bureaucratic leadership is tasked with the allocation of finances meaning that considerable time will be wasted while trying to distribute funds to the security bodies. Furthermore, due to the bureaucratic systems, information sharing is highly restricted to a few people, thus leading to mistrust and further fragmentation of intelligence bodies (Goldstein 2013, 11).

Purpose statement

The most prominent future intelligence challenges encountering the DHS are much attributable to the September 11 attacks. Most notably, the immediate response issued by the George Bush administration was an enforcement of strict bureaucratic systems across the national intelligence community.

This approach did not solve the problem, but it created differences since many workers were demoralized due to working under highly bureaucratized structures. This system has been reflected in the current Obama administration not only in the security systems, but also in other departments that influence the performance of the security agencies.

Currently, the process of recruitment, training, and firing of workers is strictly bureaucratized. For instance, the incumbent Secret Service Permanent Chief, Joseph Clancy, has often expressed his regrets over the complex system deterring him to take swift actions to security agents and other officers who engage in mischievous and unacceptable behaviors (Rogers 2014, 337).

Following the intensive consultations in decision-making, achieving timely interventions has been in vain. In addition, lack of adequate finance has led to poor service delivery and yet the government looks reluctant to utilize soft power to mitigate this issue.

Literature Review

Even before the September 11 attacks, intelligence analysts had explored the risks and threats of terrorism in a bid to fill the gaps that persisted within the US security system (Hymans 2006, 457). The experts repeatedly identified the lack of cooperation and poor coordination as the eminent concern amongst the several bodies linked to the Homeland Security.

Prior to these attacks, the law enforcement system was majorly divided and bureaucratized. For example, the CIA addressed foreign threats while the FBI handled internal threats. This fragmentation encouraged division and different versions of intelligence operations. In most cases, the National Security Agencies (NSA) dealt with similar problems, thus overlapping each other.

Before the attacks, the US government lacked a clear framework for pulling its intelligence expertise together to offer protection against terrorism. Apparently, insufficient information sharing by key federal entities remains the primary indicator in the security gaps in the US.

Most of the post-attack responses made it common knowledge that the U.S.s security efforts suffered poor coordination. This aspect led to the formation of the DHS to foster coordination among all security entities with a mission of preventing future attacks together with enhancing preparedness and response (Kamien 2006, 31).

In a bid to mitigate the foreseen challenges facing the DHS and the American fraternity as a whole, this review will address various issues that are seen as weak ends destabilizing the homeland security framework. For instance, the bureaucratic system is still acting as a barrier to implement the recommended changes.

The main national intelligence challenge facing the DHS is poor coordination and this aspect brings forth the possibility that attacks will continue to happen if not controlled. Coordination does not only involve the intelligence entities, but it also extends to the Congress, which passes budgetary allocations coupled with enacting key security laws.

The current workforce in the DHS is inadequately equipped in terms of resources, empowerment, and training. For example, after the September 19 2014 White House incident in which a man managed to jump over the White House fence, Cummiskey, a former DHS agent, argued that the security flaw was purely attributable to the lack of funds (Shear and Schmidt 2014).

Further investigations backed this claim by showing that several agents on duty had no appropriate skills to handle the situation. In addition, the majority had no idea on how White House Communication radio operated under such circumstances. This assertion holds due to the lack of enough financial resources, which should not be a reason to expose prominent leaders such as the president to any sort of security threats.

Despite the evident commitment and progress demonstrated amongst government agencies, this review notes that there has been lacking professional exchange of intelligence information amongst security agencies. Furthermore, military and law enforcement training is yet to upgrade to the standards of the 21st Century technology that can assist in promoting the US security level (Rychnovska 2014, 27).

It is about 14 years down the line since the September 11 attacks, but the US government continues to delve into research and forums to develop strategies to enhance the homeland security. It has become increasingly evident that the U.S. security entities are suffering due to the lack of interconnectedness.

In light of this impasse, President Obama, in a directive to evaluate the DHS and its efforts towards counterterrorism, retaliated that the DHS is inseparable from other security agents and they should be functionally thought as a unit rather than separate entities (LaPira 2014, 230).

Contrary, the federal state still faces conceptual and functional differences. This aspect has weakened integration, efficiency, and cohesive approaches that promote the national security since the bureaucratic system inhibits the formulation of ways that reflect this reality.

In a bid to address the underlying mission of the homeland security, it is good to understand that the burgeoning campaign against terrorism is a multifaceted endeavor. The federal machinery has to deploy every tool at its disposal to wage this fight; for instance, international training, law enforcement, finance, diplomacy, as well as the new tools that are being invented.

In this regard, it is noteworthy to review the works of Joseph Nye, viz. Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics. Soft power is a concept developed as an alternative to use of force, coercion, or monetary compensation to persuade others to adhere to what one wants (Nye 2004, 74).

Nye (2004) had keenly observed how the American society was struggling with hard power, yet enemies were in a position to not only hit, but also hit hard regardless of the alleged preparedness of the US security agencies. Nye’s conviction of power as possessing the ability to lure others to get to the preferred destination is currently given a chance albeit in part by various security entities across the world (Nye 2004, 98).

The US Congress has shown reluctance in allocating more money to cater for security matters. In the last decade, in spite of the security concerns, the budget allocation to ensure a more secure homeland has always fallen short. Consequently, planning and implementation have overlooked key security factors that gradually continue to affect the homeland security negatively.

The US government can adopt soft power and save chunks of taxpayers money used on hard power like the military. Soft power and hard power should be used alongside each other, but the former should be granted much attention in terms of implementation and financing.

It is evident that soft power is hugely overlooked, and this aspect contributes partly to the current fall in the US power influence over the past five decades. The old image of the US as the representative of democracy and a symbol for others to emulate has declined dramatically. The use of hard power by the US has doubled the fear rather than instilling optimism.

The US security entities have developed an old versioned tendency of using tactics employed in past wars to address current concerns. While there are positives to be drawn from history, facing the 21st Century terrorism requires a paradigm shift. Since the case is new, security agents should adapt quickly to new measures and act in new ways.

So far, the existing partnerships encouraged by President Obama’s administration are yet to materialize, as there is still overlapping of critical roles by different intelligence partners. The CIA’s chronic failure prior to the September 11 attacks to inform partner agencies about the names of the alleged terrorists in the country enabled them to stay and orchestrate the attacks.

Therefore, information- sharing continues to suffer from significant flaws. In order to learn from past events, it is necessary to change the bureaucracy that encourages information hoarding and empower experts to take full responsibility for their roles with less closed systems.

This hindrance can be overcame by developing a paradigm shift whereby experts have the power to react to an urgent situation at best of their knowledge instead of waiting for commands from the top, which are time wasting and uninformed in most cases (Puyvelde 2013, 142).

Despite the many advantages of soft power, it has some shortcomings. Americans are scientifically oriented, and thus they resist soft power because they find the design behind it difficult to trace and research. As a society, the US is used to quick answers and it seeks immediate satisfaction. Unfortunately, soft power is a long diplomatic investment with no assured outcomes.

This aspect explains why the US government prefers hard power even though it is expensive. In addition, soft power is not purely owned by the government like the case with hard power. Many public and private entities engage in soft power, thus making it hard to collect information together.

After evaluating the social learning theory, one is in a position to identify that not all cultures are receptive of other nations’ strategies and ideas (Lieven and Hulsman 2006, 61). In this regard, these theorists challenge soft power as not many cultures find the US values and ideologies admirable to follow. Therefore, there is a possibility that soft power can backfire especially when in control of the wrong people.

Cultural exchanges have developed to serve as measures to control national security. Through cultural exchanges, different people are in a position to gain better understanding of others. Similarly, other individuals get the opportunity to acquire greater understanding of the US mainstream culture.

For instance, some scholars attribute the fall of the Soviet Union to social exchanges gained after visiting the US the international relations theory advocates for multilateral relations between the state and non-state actors. Developing mutual understandings is one way through which the DHS can achieve its mission of ensuring security at both domestic and international levels.

This theory further suggests that mutual relations are difficult since every state has its own ambitions and if they fail to reciprocate with those of the other state, then cooperation is not possible.

So far, the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) appraisal of the federal government and its security agencies indicates that there has been positive progress yet not enough to guarantee sustainability.

For example, in a report done on September 2013, GAO reported on the activities that DHS had taken in regard to the use of resources outside the US. The GAO established that the DHS had not identified strategic plans like target zones to combat crime and secure the US borders. The DHS also lacked mechanisms to capture resource deployment neither did it have a reliable cost data to make informed resource-allocation decisions.

This aspect implies that the DHS is failing significantly in planning since it does not consider data monitoring and analysis on expenditure abroad. Without this data, it is hard to disseminate funds on future programs.

In addition, this aspect manifests poor intelligence planning and data collection gaps, hence poor analysis. In a bid to avoid this issue, the DHS must inform its resource deployment outside the US as well as encourage screening.

Theoretical analysis

Following a review of the past literature, this theoretical approach seeks to test the hypothesis that poor gathering and utilization of intelligence data will continue to hinder the performance of the DHS in the future.

Looking at the state of affairs in the US intelligence community, it is largely generalizable that the US law enforcement and intelligence bodies depict the overarching problems of coordination and sharing of intelligence information based on baseless assumptions.

Although the US Congress and the Obama administration have shown efforts to eradicate some of the misunderstandings that hinder coordination, there is still no confidence in sharing of critical intelligence information.

Nevertheless, the social learning theory offers an appropriate approach to learn the changing social context of the American Society as well as its potential enemies concerning the significance linked to the national intelligence community. This theory claims that learning is a cognitive process that prevails in a social environment through provided directives or observation.

In this case, according to the GAO, the US security services have shown the desire to learn through observation of past attacks, but that desire has been jeopardized by the slow rate of behavior change and adaptation to new trends in the management of security affairs.

Some of the stringent measures adopted by the US Congress and the George Bush administration following the September 11 attacks have failed to impede security threats. Critiques posit that the bureaucratic measures have led to a string of security gaps even in the White House. To critics like Hummel, tight bureaucratic measures foster a circular sluggishness in decision-making.

The policymakers have been reluctant to initiate a paradigm shift in security affairs. On the contrary, they keep on twisting old strategies to solve emergent problems. For instance, the DHS and the Secret Service require strong and flexible leadership, which is open to criticism and ready to share security information with relevant bodies.

Working under strict bureaucracies is discouraging for workers and if it proves hard to avoid the protocols, then it is also difficult to enhance performance and coordination.

Bureaucratic values discourage teamwork and decrease trust among security machinery, thus meaning that information sharing is minimal if any. This approach has proved inadequate particularly after the September 19, 2014 invasion of the White House by a stranger who managed to jump over the fence without being noticed.

Models that influence leadership

In a bid to understand the research on human intelligence, it is crucial to explore the triarchic theory of intelligence. In this theory, Sternberg defines human intelligence as mental activity focused on a specified goal and shaping of real world events influencing one’s life (Sparks and Sulmasy 2006, 34). This assertion implies that intelligence entails how effective a person can handle changes occurring throughout life.

His model entailed three components including problem solving, performance, and knowledge acquisition. The combination of all the three components completes tasks that entail selective choice of information from irrelevant sources or unforeseen events. In addition, these components assist in putting together the several pieces of information collected and analyzed to establish any possible cues.

Different people have disparate abilities to learn new information depending on training. The DHS has expertise with the potential to utilize these three components fully and come up with useful intelligence information. The challenge comes in when experts seek to change the norms to suit the situation.

The bureaucratic machine fails to acknowledge change from outside since all decisions come from the top. Even though the DHS is willing to adapt to new environments that contend with real world situations, the pace is too slow and it might keep on playing catch-ups with its enemies.

The policy regime theory holds that in the policy world, major attacks are rare and in most cases, unpredictable, but they have huge effects. Unexpected external disruptions often influence routine policy goals and government activities. Policy theorists refer to these events as ‘shocker moments’ that force some drastic shifts in government concerns to issues that had for a long time been overlooked.

The September 11 attack is an example of these trigger events. Such moment causes dramatic focus by government machinery, but the attention quickly fades away soon after. The issue may not be completely forgotten as it was the case before the attack, but it fails to keep the heightened concentration that was employed amid the attack.

The government seems to assume that the adversaries disappear entirely, and thus get reluctant once again (Thachuk 2007, 71). Contrary to these views by the policy regime theorists, this paper affirms that government security agencies such as the DHS have enough intelligence to foresee attacks and neutralize them before they hit the targets.

The fact that large-scale attacks are rare should provide enough time for the intelligence community to organize and identify all security loopholes that may be exploited by terrorist groups. In addition, the work of the DHS is to ensure security, and thus there should be heightened attention continuously irrespective of whether there is a looming attack or not.

The government demand-oriented theories for interest representation argue that the government itself engages in activities that encourage groups to foster political action merely by orchestrating concerns that those groups will benefit. In other words, the government demand theory advocates the idea that groups as well as individuals react to policy agendas determined by only the government institutions.

This theory fails to consider the efforts of non-governmental agencies. This aspect is reflected in the lack of cooperation as experienced by the US security agencies. This view is different from the Truman’s classic pluralist disturbance theory, which claimed that different groups, both governmental and non-governmental, should come together in response to some foreseen threats in the society.

This aspect implies that problems outside and inside the government motivate like-minded people to respond cohesively to try to find a permanent solution.

This model influences the leaders’ behavior as the government shows attention to factors that might affect a group like the DHS, and thus it is more likely that the DHS will work towards government objectives (Stana 2003, 84). When leaders in the DHS get financial support from the government, they feel obligated to perform effectively.

Future threats to the homeland security

Military researchers and defense technologists are recently exploring possible challenges that face not only the US, but also the entire global security. This review gives a forecast of four potential traditional and non-traditional security challenges that may catch the US unawares in the near future. This assertion holds because the pace of research is slow and it may not match that of the terrorists.

First, there is the possibility that biological weapons will be used in large scale in a terrorist attack. In 2009, the White House came up with a National Strategy for Countering Biological Threats with an assumption that such weapons might be used for major attacks (Robinson, Xinsheng, Stoutenborough, and Vedlitz 2013, 715).

With these insights, the US government has acted too slowly to identify ways to ensure that it can prevent deadly viruses from being used as weapons of mass destruction.

Due to the lack of coordination and bureaucratic structures, it is hard to attain timely insight on possible attacks as well as taking swift measures in case one is detected. Since this phenomenon is new, researchers need to anticipate widely by closing all potential gaps that might be useful to terrorists.

The second issue is the eminent threat of cyber-attacks. Cyber warfare is a traditional security threat to global peace that has persisted for years. Terrorist networks are using the same technologies that propel developments to sabotage the critical structures, which are necessary for public safety (Thachuk 2007, 99).

The US intelligence community has embarked on cyber security activities to ensure timely fixes, but it is now evident that the sophistication of attacks is outdoing the available security measures.

Therefore, solutions should surpass the traditional approach, which requires more funds to upgrade the system and catch up with the enemy. This assertion holds because in the near future, attacks on computer systems are about to cross the line from mere theft and disruption to serious terrorist attacks. These attacks will be controlled remotely and devastating damages will occur if such circumstances happen.

These postulations are within the realm of the possible given what has been witnessed when hackers overwhelm networks. The National Security Agency and the Cyber Command have a wide array of expertise, but they lack the commitment to share classified information.

The private sector in most cases is not ready to reveal attacks for the fear of losing clients or facing lawsuits. The lack of enough network security personnel remains a concern in the private sector as well as the government (Sun 2008, 170). Therefore, it is time to create incentives and issue bonuses as a way of retaining and motivating experts.

The third aspect is the existence of the transnational crime. The US intelligence community views transnational terror as a key global security challenge (Nakaya 2005, 93). These groups lead to instability and blackmail to governmental organizations through corruption. These groups are very well organized without strict bureaucratic systems.

They generate funds through engaging in illicit activities such as human and drug trafficking. Much of the US efforts to counter terrorism have been concentrated in the Middle East, thus forgetting that al-Qaida sympathizers are located everywhere (Murray 2003, 66). The last aspect is the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

For at least the past five decades, the US has spent huge sums of money and time trying to find, monitor, and impede all means through which they are developed. Non-state actors such as terrorist groups are hiding nuclear weapons deep in the ground.

Finding and destroying these weapons has remained an increasingly complicated endeavor. Thus, the US government will need weapons that can unravel these mysteries. Due to lack of adequate finance and poor coordination, it will be hard for the US to destroy nuclear weapons in the possession of terrorist groups any time soon (Mullins 2010, 102).


Based on the reviewed articles, there are clear signals that the frequency and intensity of attacks on the US and its allies will escalate. Since terrorism is a strategy that can be used by any enemy, the DHS must be ready to react to foreseeable and unforeseeable threats coming from expected as well as unfamiliar origins.

As technology evolves and becomes readily available to a larger population of actors, potential attackers are motivated to use terrorism. This aspect has been attributable to the gaps left in the innovation of these technologies. For instance, computer manufacturers should redesign their products in a way that it is hard to manipulate its functioning to suit the terrorists’ desires.

The movement of people across borders has also increased the ease of movement by terrorists. The Internet has served as a key platform for terrorist activities ranging from recruitment and training to planning and attacking.

Of huge concern is the spread of religious radicalization, which is taking root in the Muslim society due to different reasons. These tensions have become widespread via the Internet even to countries like the US, which have a better understanding of the Muslim populations (Maxwell 2004, 94).

Increased funding is now needed than ever to advance training and purchase sophisticated facilities because threats continue to evolve. The DHS must be in a stable financial state to cater for learning programs and ensure good pay for security agents to ensure that they are motivated to perform well (Marion and Cronin 2009, 22).

The enemies are proactive, innovative, adequately funded, always learning, and adapting to the dynamics of a globalizing world. The DHS must be in a position to surpass the adversary tactics and reflect the evolving threat environment. The DHS has so far issued analysis of possible future occurrences, but it is yet to demonstrate its capabilities to counter those threats.

Furthermore, effective collection and utilization of intelligence data will only be achieved if the DHS is allocated enough money to cater for its extensive activities (Walker 2007, 74). The increase in funding should also target all avenues of international cooperation to bolster the existing and create new alliances to create and sustain international networks that embrace information sharing.

The Sternberg’s intelligence theory helps in answering the research question as it shows what the DHS lacks and the consequences it has to face for its ignorance. For instance, Sternberg talks of divergent thinking, which is brought by activities like task switching and domineering management. The DHS must learn specific skills to help in coping with the ever-changing environment.

Strategies to impede future threats

The primary strategy is impudent leadership. Combining tools of soft power with selected hard power can transform the National Security apparatus greatly. Leadership is a common tool that the US has embraced for decades. The question is how this leadership has influenced matters of national security.

From previous reviews, it is evident that the American leadership both at home and abroad has suffered poor coordination, thus leaving gaps for terrorists to exploit. Adopting the soft power model brings forth leadership styles that mobilize people with an objective and the leader helps the people in attaining those shared targets.

It is time for the US leadership system to abandon the hierarchical leadership pyramid and shift to what Nye (2004, 106) refers to as leading from the center of a circle. The current leadership model in the DHS is a rigid one because information flow is often slow from top to the bottom or from bottom to the top. In addition, information is subject to distortion amid intended or unintended additions and omissions.

The second model is more flexible because leaders at the center of the circle find it easy to coordinate large groups via persuasion and influence. Leaders are in a position to link straight to the subordinates, and thus their influence is felt on a wide scope.

In a fast globalizing world, the US should ensure that it encourages leadership from the center since it is the way to impertinent leadership. The former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, echoed these sentiments by reaffirming the need to embrace civilian power in line with military power as essential pillars in enhancing global security.

The role of international training and cultural exchanges by the DHS can be a starting point in a bid to make a huge effect on both national and global security by utilizing soft tools as opposed to hard power. Given that the homeland security has a direct link to the global community, embracing intercultural literacy is paramount. Leadership in the homeland security has to understand the dynamics of culture.

This aspect can enable them to act as pioneers of transformational leadership that motivates individuals from various diverse origins to fight global criminal cartels and ensure national security. These changes can only be possible if improvements are done on communication both within the DHS and within other agencies.

Evidently, the homeland security has failed to speak a common language on various occasions, and thus increasing communication is necessary. Communication should not only focus on the security agencies, but also engage the public since security is everyone’s responsibility. The DHS should collaborate with learning institutions, media, and religious bodies to sensitize the public on terrorism.

As the US adopts a new paradigm, civil rights and individual freedoms must be observed. Even though some risks have to be taken, this move will ensure that the process does not interfere with human dignity. The DHS in partnership with the media should embark on instilling trust in the public by keeping the society well informed with accurate and timely information (Caponi and Belmont 2015, 17).


After the September 11 attacks, homeland security has gained national interests with key projects focused toward promoting the safety of the US citizens. This review has established that the US Homeland Security faces many conceptual, structural, organizational, and functional problems that are posing threats to security.

A review of several cases shows that even the White House has become vulnerable to attacks due to poor coordination and training of security agents. These dysfunctions have been directly linked to the lack of enough funding and rigid leadership that discourages innovation as well as employee motivation. Cultural diversity has also been identified as a possible problem impeding interagency cooperation.

Consequently, this paper has predicted various challenges that ought to face the DHS including cyber attacks, biological weapons, nuclear weapons, and transnational crimes. The DHS in partnership with other bodies of the intelligence community has a chance to prevent these attacks from happening.

As indicated earlier, the application of soft power is a major way forward since it does away with bureaucratic systems, whilst keeping the critical values of that system. However, through proper coordination and information sharing amongst security agencies, the US will stand a better position to promote homeland security.

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