From the WashPost: DHS’s changing mission leaves its founders dismayed as critics call for a breakup. “Created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as a bulwark against further atrocities inside the American homeland, DHS had become a symbol of the government’s response to the national trauma, carefully projecting a staid, strait-laced image. It grew exponentially larger and more powerful on the strength of broad bipartisan support. Nearly two decades later, Trump has changed that.”
The Diva recalls that in the early years after the formation of DHS and the inclusion of FEMA, many critics were not pleased that FEMA as a small agency was buried in the large Dept. Today, the criticisms have to do with its law enforcement functions.
With all of the recent brutal and illegal things done by DHS, many people may have forgotten how FEMA, once a strong and effective agency, was essentially destroyed when it was merged into DHS in 2003. I worked at FEMA from 1979 until my retirement in 2008. When FEMA was merged into DHS, much of our staff and budget were drained off for DHS. In 2005, I was FEMA’s night shift Planning Section Chief in the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC) during Hurricane Katrina, and it was galling to receive our orders from DHS Executives who clearly knew nothing about disaster response. We all know how that turned out. By its nature, DHS is like a police department, out to thwart the terrorists. FEMA is like a fire department, out to fight the fire and rescue the survivors. Both functions are important and they must work together, but they are not identical, and having the police chief telling the firefighters how to do their jobs would not work well, no matter how well-qualified the police chief might be. Here’s hoping they break DHS up and reinvigorate FEMA.