Instead Of Nominating New DHS Boss, Obama Should Look At Disbanding DHS

from the a-mistake-whose-time-has-come dept

As you may have heard, last week President Obama nominated Jeh Johnson, the former General Counsel of the Defense Department, to be the new head of the Department of Homeland Security. While he's certainly better than some other proposed candidates, he's not exactly known as a supporter for civil liberties. He's been a point person defending the use of drone-strikes, even on US citizens. He also has defended the collection of metadata by the NSA. Oh, and in his remarks after President Obama announced the nomination, he talked all about 9/11 and how he's spent his time since then trying to act in response to that.

Of course, many have questioned his qualifications to lead an organization like DHS, noting that it's a pretty big leap from his last job:
“I think it’s a stretch because you go from administering a relatively small and homogenous staff… to administering a huge and very diverse staff, with things like law enforcement responsibility, immigration and border control responsibility,” says one former Obama Justice department official who worked with Johnson. “It’s just a very diverse set of issues and set of people to manage, and he has no experience with managing any of them.”
But, really, there's a bigger issue here: why do we still have a Department of Homeland Security in the first place? It seems like the whole thing is a massive bureaucratic disaster. Over the years, we've covered how the crowning jewel of DHS, its so-called "fusion centers" that tried to bring together various groups for anti-terror purposes -- the very reason that DHS was put together in the first place -- were a colossal failure. They were incredibly wasteful of taxpayer funds, created no useful intelligence at all in the fight on terror, and were regularly cited for violating civil liberties. More recently, we've noted how Customs and Border Patrol has basically become a rogue agency that can do whatever it wants with what appears to be no oversight or consequences. We've similarly seen how Immigration and Customs Enforcement (another sub-agency within DHS) was involved in illegal censorship and questionable seizures of blogs, just because the RIAA complained.

And there's plenty more. Apparently, DHS only just figured out how to actually track its finances. And this is after it spent heavily on massive tech projects that didn't work.
Maurer says that the department has only just begun to keep adequate financial books. Several big DHS projects have been expensive failures. Billions of dollars were spent on technology to secure the southern border and screen cargo containers for radioactive materials. In both cases, the tech just didn’t work.
DHS was created in the hysteria following 9/11. It officially was created in 2003, and has now been in existence for a decade. In that time, it appears to have failed at a variety of key things, and it's entirely unclear if it's created any benefit at all. Matt Yglesias pointed out last week that rather than nominating a new boss, we should be admitting that creating DHS was a mistake. It seems like that would be a much more productive step at this point.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 11:47am

    Don't forget that combining all of these agencies under DHS has the effect of making them cover each others asses rather than provide an additional level of oversight. Perhaps if there was not a DHS, the FBI would be investigating the NSA revelations as it should be.

     

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  2.  
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    Orwell rolls and rolls and rolls (perpetual motion, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 11:57am

    So you don't want DHS ?

    You must be a terrorist

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 12:01pm

    DHS really doesn't have any specific job from what I can tell...

    Like you mentioned, I thought this was originally about "Homeland Security" that they failed miserably at. Then I get subpoenas from them about child pornography on a customer's network, (Welcome to my job, but why ?DHS?). There is the wonder offshoot of ICE which besides closing down a few thousand websites, some of them legitimate: (mooo.com, Dajaz1.com, Rojadirecta.com, et al) also loves to put unemployed people trying to earn a few dollars selling fake NFL jerseys.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 12:02pm

    But, really, there's a bigger issue here: why do we still have a Department of Homeland Security in the first place?

    Because the only purpose of a bureaucracy is to grow itself.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 12:08pm

    Disband an agency because it doesn't achieve anything, how ridiculous. Next you will be wanting to repeal laws that do not work or prosecuting political appointees who break them.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 12:16pm

    You're always hearing the GOP going on and on about fiscal reform. Here's one to throw right in their lap. They won't take it but it does prove one thing. The fiscal reform initive is about one thing only. Preventing the spending on social programs while military, security, and the political parts run at full ahead speed.

     

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  7.  
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    Jay (profile), Oct 21st, 2013 @ 12:22pm

    Yes, this is a Godwin Reference. Get over it

    Look, when Germany had their 1932 (33?) moment in Reichenstad(?) where a "terrorist" bombed a building, that was a moment when they needed to combine the efforts of all of their intelligence. Germany also had their prime minister nominated, not elected. And he kept doing things against the wishes of the people. When the SS was created, it had the exact same mission to protect the Homeland while doing more questionable things as the World geared up for WWII.

    We call it the SS now but that was their Department of Homeland Security.

    It's been a colossal failure to have all of the LEOs under one roof. It's more of a failure that this bureacracy hides so much information from its citizens while trying to stamp down on their rights.

    We're truly looking tyranny in the face and all it can do is ask for a standard 4-51C paper to file.

     

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  8.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Oct 21st, 2013 @ 12:42pm

    Re: Yes, this is a Godwin Reference. Get over it

    Godwin's law does not mean that it's wrong to reference Nazi Germany. It's just the observation that any debate that lasts long enough will inevitably include a Nazi reference. Sometimes that reference is necessary and correct.

    Such as with your comment.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 12:45pm

    You would've had an easier time convincing Chairman Mao to go easy on the Buddhists or the "bourgeois" than convincing Obama to give up even a piece of the military-industrial comp;ex.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 12:47pm

    Re:

    It doesn't prove that fiscal reform is about one thing. It proves the GOP is hypocritical on fiscal reform. There are plenty outside the GOP who tout fiscal reform and actually mean reducing spending on everything, entitlements and the military alike.

     

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  11.  
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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Oct 21st, 2013 @ 12:53pm

    On another planet maybe

    Instead Of Nominating New DHS Boss, Obama Should Look At Disbanding DHS
    Wouldn't it require the complicity of a multitude of politicians and bureaucrats, as well as their supporting corporations, who have grown fat in money and power from the DHS to make that happen?

    Yeah... that's likely.

     

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  12.  
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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Oct 21st, 2013 @ 12:56pm

    Re:

    You would've had an easier time convincing Chairman Mao to go easy on the Buddhists or the "bourgeois" than convincing Obama
    I suspect you're right. However, I also suspect that if Obama said, "I'm going to disband the DHS" tomorrow it would in fact make little difference.

     

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  13.  
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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Oct 21st, 2013 @ 12:59pm

    Re: Yes, this is a Godwin Reference. Get over it

    but that was their Department of Homeland Security
    It's not like the parallel is or ever was subtle. I can remember not long after DHS was formed Robin Williams among others making jokes about how "Fatherland Security" might be a little too on the nose.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 1:11pm

    Re:

    That all sounds reasonable to me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 1:12pm

    Re: Re:

    Entitlements = Social Security = My fucking money to begin with

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 1:16pm

    Re: On another planet maybe

    Disbanding DHS would be a good start in restoring my confidence in my country.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Stuart Gray, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 1:16pm

    It's so cute

    It's so cute that people think that government bureaucracies can ever go away.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 1:29pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Thank you. That is exactly the point. Your paycheck had the money taken out long before you got it. You paid for that and as such it is not an entitlement. It is a debt owed by the government they are now trying to welsh on.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 1:33pm

    Re: Re: On another planet maybe

    It will take far more than this for a good start. All I see them doing is throw good money after bad. Once it is all gone, they want to go back to the pool for more. I'm tapped out for more. It is time for them to make real concessions were it will actually do the most good.

    Eliminating the excessive costs for medical and making a method to cause them to lower costs would be a fine start there. Lowering the money the elderly gets will have no effect on that. It will have an effect on the economy though and not a positive one.

     

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  20.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Oct 21st, 2013 @ 2:17pm

    Re: Re: Yes, this is a Godwin Reference. Get over it

    To this day, I find it mind-boggling that they went with putting "homeland" in the name. It absolutely screams "fascist". I would have thought they'd pick something that would sound more innocuous.

     

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  21.  
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    Bengie, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 2:25pm

    Re: Re: Yes, this is a Godwin Reference. Get over it

    Debates don't last long afterwards because it's an instant "I Win" button when discussing unethical laws.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 2:26pm

    Re: It's so cute

    You're probably right, sadly. It's about as likely as out_of_my_mind making an intelligent comment.

     

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  23.  
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    MAC, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 2:29pm

    DHS

    “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends [life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness] it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government...”

    ― Thomas Jefferson

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 2:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Yes, this is a Godwin Reference. Get over it

    They had already used Patriot for the Patriot Act.

     

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  25.  
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    OldMugwump (profile), Oct 21st, 2013 @ 3:04pm

    Re: Re: if Obama said, "I'm going to disband the DHS" tomorrow

    If he did that, he'd be dead inside a month.

    Recall that Dwight Eisenhower felt powerless to stop the military-industrial complex. And that was in 1961.

     

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  26.  
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    any moose cow word, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 4:17pm

    It's much easier to create bureaucracy than disband it--that's nearly impossible.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 5:49pm

    Re:

    Child pornography? You mean like the kind collected by DHS employees?

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 5:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Yes, this is a Godwin Reference. Get over it

    Any law passed that ends in "Act" is a bad thing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    Brazenly anonymous, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 7:33pm

    Re:

    So, how do we change that? If you have no answer yet, ask yourself this question every day until you do. The more answers we have, the more likely one will actually work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    any moose cow word, Oct 21st, 2013 @ 9:30pm

    Re: Re:

    True fiscal accountability from our government institutions. This is why our federal, and many state governments, are so damn far in debt. When it comes between saving the public tax payers' money and saving their budgets, or even their jobs, you wouldn't believe the lengths bureaucrats will go in order to justify their existence. As it is now, the way finances are handled creates perverse incentives to waste money rather than use it responsibly. There needs to be a fundamental shift in how resources are allocated.

     

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  31.  
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    GEMont, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 4:04pm

    Like a well oiled machine

    Actually, the DHS has been a perfect success and has accomplished all of its original goals and much more and intends to continue to be an effective tool for those who created it, far into the future.

    It is simply that the DHS's real goals and the public's notion of its real goals, are two entirely different things.

    As always with the Fed, what you see is never what you get.

    For those interested, all that is necessary to discern its true goals, is to list its actual effects on the US constitution, law, public safety, national security and the bank accounts of its leadership.

    mmmmmm - smeall that coffee eh!

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    GEMont, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 4:34pm

    Clearance Sale!

    Just a simple note pertaining to the dis-establishment of the DHS, and any other federal government agency or operation, including the Fed itself.

    The federal government in all its myriad hats has been a fully obsolete construct for well over 50 years.

    As much as 90% of all Federal Government operations are designed to either appear to resolve crisis which the Federal Government, through its minions, has created beforehand, or to create crisis which it can later appear to be attempting to resolve.

    The members of the federal government - mainly men and women of vast wealth - are well aware of its obsolescence and uselessness and they endeavour every day in every way at their disposal to insure its continuity and their own ability to feed at the public tax trough eternally, primarily by manufacturing false crisis which make the federal governement appear to be essential and necessary and through destabilization via the many three letter agencies it maintains for this purpose, such as the DHS.

    All truly essential functions of the Federal Government could be easily handled by a pair of 13 year olds and a good computer.

    Eliminating the Federal Government and its myriad agencies would save the US tax payers - and the tax payers of any other nation supporting a similar parasitic organism - hundreds of billions of dollars annually, with absolutely no noticeable effect on international and domestic intercourse, save possibly, a greater fluidity and definitely a huge increase in personal wealth among the public at large.

    Like any large predator however, they will fight to the death to prevent their dissolution at the hands of their perceived prey.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Mason Wheeler, Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 11:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It certainly is an entitlement: I am entitled to it because it is mine and I paid for it.

    The real problem is people turning a simple statement of fact into a dirty word for political gain.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Mason Wheeler, Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 11:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Yes, this is a Godwin Reference. Get over it

    I was a bit shocked, to tell the truth, to see a Republican president pick a name like that without absolutely drowning in irony.

    For the less history-conscious among us, look up the translation of Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti (KGB) sometime...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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