President Barack Obama has repeatedly failed to learn the lessons of history and the advice of Niccolo Machiavelli. As a result, he has once again allowed Republicans to place the nation in mortal peril.
On December 13, the U.S. Senate passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill to fund almost the entire government through the September 30 end of the fiscal year.
But one Federal agency was pointedly exempted from full funding: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
President Obama had requested $38.2 billion to fund DHS through fiscal year 2015. Republicans have ensured that its money will run out on February 27.
In 2015, Republicans will hold both the House and Senate. And that’s when they will hold the security of the United States as a hostage–to force Obama to rescind the changes he has made in American immigration policy.
It will be Homeland Security that’s charged with implementing that policy. And Republicans intend to strip it of funding to implement that policy.
And if that means allowing DHS to “twist slowly, slowly in the wind” (to use a phrase made infamous by the Nixon administration) while Republicans play out their latest power-game, so be it.
This is no small matter.
With more than 240,000 employees, 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 these agencies–like FEMA, the Coast Guard 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.
Ironically, it was a Republican President–George W. Bush–who launched DHS after the catastrophic 9/11 attacks.
It’s become fashionable in both Democratic and Republican parties to bash “Washington,” as though it’s a foreign entity waging war on a helpless American populace.
But 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.
President Bush learned–the hard way–what it means to have an ineffective FEMA. The disastrous response to the 2005 flooding of New Orleans severely crippled Bush’s popularity for the rest of his term.
Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina
By contrast, FEMA’s effective response to Hurricane Sandy in 2012 went a long way to ensuring the re-election of President Obama.
But 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 December 17, 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.
The movie chains were Regal Entertainment, AMC Entertainment, Cinemark, Carmike Cinemas and Cineplex Entertainment.
“The Interview” is a comedy satirizing the assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un by two American journalists.
Poster for “The Interview”
Since November 14, Sony Pictures has been under relentless attack by cyberterrorists, who have been tentatively linked to North Korea.
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.
Warning issued by “Guardians of Peace” (GOP)
Five unreleased Sony films–including Brad Pitt’s World War II epic “Fury”–hit the web on copyright-infringing hubs.
Then, on December 16, GOP released its most vivid threat yet:
“We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places ‘The Interview’ be shown, including the premier, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to.
“…The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001.
“We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)”
Interestingly, “Guardians of Peace” has appropriated the same abbreviation–GOP–used by the Republicans (for “Grand Old Party”).
If the American GOP has its way and manages to indefinitely suspend the funding for DHS, North Korea’s own GOP may well take full advantage of the situation.
And then the United States will discover that “GOP” spells “terrorist” in both English and Korean.