With more than 240,000 employees, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the third largest Cabinet department, after the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
The Defense Department is charged with military actions abroad. DHS is responsible for protecting the United States inside and outside its borders.
Its goal is to prepare for, prevent and–if prevention fails–respond to man-made accidents, natural disasters and terrorism.
Among the agencies now operating under its mandate:
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection
- U.S. Coast Guard
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- Transportation and Safety Administration (TSA)
- U.S. Secret Service
- Science and Technology Directorate
- Domestic Nuclear Detection Office
- Office of Intelligence and Analysis
- Office of Operations Coordination and Planning
Some of DHS’s agencies–like FEMA and the Secret Service–are well-known. Others–such as the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office–are not.
Yet each has a vital role to play in protecting the nation. A nation whose security Republicans are willing to threaten to get their way on a matter of domestic policy.
Consider the implications if there is no
- Secret Service to protect the President;
- TSA to ensure the safety of airline passengers;
- FEMA to respond to national emergencies (such as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy);
- Domestic Nuclear Detection Office to prevent nuclear terrorism;
- Coast Guard to save those in ocean peril and defend our maritime borders.
Right-wing Republicans argue that even if DHS’s funding were stopped, most of its employees would stay on the job.
That’s because they perform work considered necessary to protect human life and property. But while those employees were safeguarding the country, they wouldn’t be paid until the shutdown ended.
It’s hard to give your full attention to protecting the lives of others when you have to worry about paying a mortgage or feeding your family.
Of course, the Republicans responsible for this shutdown would continue to receive their hefty paychecks.
And there is something else to consider.
DHS is best-known for its mission to prevent terrorist attacks on America. And America may well be in the crosshairs of North Korean terrorism at this very moment.
On November 14, 2014, Sony Pictures came under relentless attack by cyberterrorists, who the FBI has linked to North Korea.
The reasoon? Sony’s production of “The Interview,” a comedy depicting the assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
Calling themselves “Guardians of Peace,” or GOP, they shut down the company’s computer system and revealed employees’ personal information such as salaries, addresses, and Social Security numbers.
(Ironically, “Guardians of Peace” appropriated the same abbreviation–GOP–used by the Republicans for “Grand Old Party.”)
Warning issued by “Guardians of Peace” (GOP)
On December 17, 2014, Sony Pictures cancelled the Christmas Day premier of “The Interview” after the nation’s five largest movie chains refused to show the movie, following a terror threat posted online.
And then on February 5, 2015, Anthem Insurance announced that its database had been hacked–and sensitive medical information on up to 80 million customers and employees accessed.
According to an anonymous source, the hackers used malware that’s been used almost exclusively by Chinese cyberspies.
* * * * *
As the Third Reich came to its fiery end, Adolf Hitler sought to punish the German people for being “unworthy” of his “genius” and losing the war he had started.
His attitude was: “If I can’t rule Germany, then there won’t be a Germany.”
In his infamous “Nero Order,” he decreed the destruction of everything still remaining–industries, ships, harbors, communications, roads, mines, bridges, stores, utility plants, food stuffs.
Fortunately for Germany, one man–Albert Speer–finally broke ranks with his Fuhrer.
Risking death, he refused to carry out Hitler’s “scorched earth” order. Even more important, he mounted a successful effort to block such destruction or persuade influential military and civilian leaders to disobey the order as well.
As a result, those targets slated for destruction were spared.
Since the election of America’s first black President, Republicans have waged a similar “scorched earth” campaign.
Their avowed goal–as stated openly by Kentucky’s U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell–was “to make Barack Obama a one-term President.”
Literally during his first Inauguration, Republicans, in a secret meeting, agreed to block every effort he made to repair the economy.
Acting as extortionists, they have repeatedly threatened to shut down the government if they didn’t get their way in legislative matters.
And just as repeatedly, they have blocked legislation that would have helped the poor, unemployed, women, elderly, disabled or middle-class.
At the center of their fury has been the Affordable Care Act, providing medical care to all citizens. Even after Congress passed it and the Supreme Court affirmed it, House Republicans shut down the government in October, 2013.
By doing so, they hoped to pressure Obama into killing his signature piece of legislation. The effort failed.
Like Adolf Hitler, their attitude has been: “If I can’t rule America, there won’t be an America.”
It remains to be seen whether a Republican Albert Speer will step forward to save America from the self-destructive excesses of this Nation’s own fanatics.