The September 11 terrorist attacks in the USA brought about many changes in security implementation aimed at curbing the occurrence of such incidences in the future. The federal government has stressed immigration laws that governed immigrants within the United States of America. The previous enjoyment of privacy among the U.S. citizens was cut short as their personal rights were infringed for security purposes of the nation. This was aimed at preventing any possible loopholes that would award terrorists an opportunity of attacking the U.S. citizens. The federal government also enacted laws that focused mainly on curbing and eliminating further terrorist attacks in the USA. This led to the adoption of the Aviation and Transportation Security Act (ATSA) in 2001 that led to the establishment of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The TSA was given the mandate of ensuring security at all transportation terminals in the USA. It was after the 9/11 commission enquiry that the report recommended the implementation of new security measures by the Department of Homeland Security in order to limit the occurrence of such attacks in America and across the globe.
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the USA, the question about the credibility of the level of homeland security raised concerns among U.S. citizens, the federal government and other stakeholders in security agencies. This resulted in the implementation of stricter security measures at all U.S. airports. However, the same was not fully applied in the USA ports, which are also entry points that could be used by terrorists (Poe, 2005). The borders and ports are more likely to be used as an alternative for smuggling of illegal arms and terrorist infiltration. The federal government put emphasis on the security at airports, through its budgeting was viewed as the main target by terrorists.
Homeland Security Research Question
To examine the imbalance of homeland security measures in the USA, despite the intense security measures that have been instituted by the TSA at U.S. airports, there are several weaknesses of security in the U.S. ports, which in turn limit efficiency of the homeland security program.
- Alternative hypothesis: the intensification of security measures at the U.S. borders and ports is critical for filling insecurity loopholes that exist in the provision of security by the Department of Homeland Security, especially at airports.
- Null hypothesis: homeland security is not guaranteed by intensifying border and port security.
In the research process, descriptive research design was used because of its transparency in the provision of personnel’s dependent and independent variables that facilitated the collection and scrutiny of data. The design was effective as the research focused on imbalances that exist in homeland security provision programs in all fields. In our research, independent variables include overall living standards of U.S. citizens, economical outcomes from budgetary policies and all homeland operations at airports, borders and ports.
Data Collection and Analysis
The research involved primary statistical data that were collected at U.S. airports, borders and ports in regard with the level of security that has been instituted by homeland security. The statistics on airlines surveillance was acquired from the TSA. Researchers also conducted interviews and questionnaires on the personnel at ports, borders and airports using a random method. The adoption of questionnaires and interviews is aimed at insuring that the researchers have effectively collected and analyzed information in order to meet research objectives.
Quantitative &Qualitative Methods
Structured and unstructured data collected on the homeland security department were analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively. The statistics was presented in a tabular form with the use of percentages and other descriptive statistics that included pie charts, bar and line graphs. The statistical package for the social sciences (SPSS) was also used to make graphic statistics and formulate the relationships between dependent and independent variables in the research.
The researchers studying homeland security relied much on the existing statistics and responses from different personnel in various departments at the borders, ports and airports. In most cases, the responses received from the survey on questionnaires and personal interviews may be biased, as a respondent is at liberty to provide his/her personal views. It is normally difficult for respondents to provide a systematic response on the issue under analysis. The researcher has faced the task of determining whether the information provided is actual or bias. Secondly, the research covered relatively a large area of study. Statistical data were collected from different departments, including the airport, port and border authorities. The issue of geographical diversity may have distracted the data collection process. The research relied much on the comparison of data collected. The information collected from questionnaires and interviews was based mainly on substantive understanding of the research objective. In most cases, respondents are normally influenced by the style of response failing to bring out a true phenomenon of the study.
The occurrence of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the USA revolutionized the American security system in many means. The role of homeland security in relation to its citizens was highlighted and its credibility was questioned by the majority of its citizens. It was at this juncture that all security stakeholders and citizens called for proper communication channels and coordination in the management of homeland security. This was aimed at ensuring that a firm was well-equipped in handling disasters at any given moment. It is also at this moment that the federal government directed the U.S. National Security Council to formulate security measures that would prevent the reoccurrence of terrorism activities in the USA. It was clear that the Council formulated measures that mainly focused on the airport and aircraft security without considering that at the U.S. borders and port entries. New security measures that were instituted by the Council included:
- Hardening a cockpit door: according to the Federal Aviation Administration, 2003, all USA airlines operators were called upon to speed the installation of hardened cockpits before the end of 2003. The main target was to safeguard cockpits from any form of infringement from unauthorized people during flights. It was also aimed at protecting a cockpit from attacks by small arms conflagration normally done by terrorists on board. The federal government also recommended for the implementation of the policy by all foreign airline service providers for U.S. citizens. This designation served the purpose of resisting any unauthorized fracas by terrorists, who may be on flight as hardening covered a pilot’s entry and the whole cockpit area.
- Federal Air Marshal Services: Meckler &Carey, 2007, state that the Federal Marshal Service agency is a group of train air marshals, who operate in the USA. The personnel should be prepared with skills and knowledge about dealing with terrorist attacks in situation, when terrorists are on board. There are more than 3000 trained air marshals in America. It is a mandate of marshals to accompany flights to and from the USA to the respective destination (Poe, 2005). However, according to Hudson, only 10% or less of all flights are normally equipped with marshals. This is a result of high amounts of budgets allotted to an agency, where the management minimizes its output in order to meet the resources available. This is caused by the fact that marshal seats must be reserved in the VIP section next to the cockpit.
- Baggage Screening Procedures: these were one of the measures introduced at U.S. airports, as it were initially not observed by the airport authorities. According to the data released by the Transport Security Administration in 2002, most passengers’ belongings were thoroughly screened at all airports in the USA. The baggage policy on screening was put into practice after the 9/11 attacks, where all passenger’s belongings either from or to the USA were examined. The airport security used various methods for screening at airports. Some of the methods used were Explosion Detection Systems (EDS), Explosion Trace Detection (ETD), technological devices, bomb-sniffing dogs or manual searching of bags.
- Passenger screening: the process of federalization of passenger screening operation was fully implemented in 2002 by the TSA. The TSA was handed over the authority of controlling all screening activities at airports. Passengers on transit were screened comprehensively in order to ensure that they did not possess illegal arms or tools that could be used by terrorists on board (Transportation Security Administration, 2002).
- Crew and passenger resistance: the crew and passenger resistance is a measure aimed at creating total awareness of possible means of terrorism attacks and a possible reaction that passengers could put in place as resistance before accessing a back-up. The deficiency of enthusiasm on the side of crews and passengers’ aptitude on handling aircraft hijackers was a key focus of an intelligence group at U.S. airlines. Crews and passengers are normally equipped with tactics on dealing with terrorists on flight (Schneier, 2006). The initial perception regarding crews and passengers was changed, and most of them were motivated to take actions upon forms of hijacking after the suicide attack on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon in the USA (9/11).
Some of the border measures that were put into practice included the construction of 18-foot steel fencing at the border with a high-tech surveillance system, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), the regulation of immigrants and the deploy of the security border patrol 24/7. Later the Council also incorporated the services of the U.S. military, when the guards were deployed at the borders. The military also participated in teaching civilians living along the borders enforcing the law on the nation’s entire security.
The data collected indicate that there exist loopholes in security provision by homeland security at the U.S. borders and port entries. Security loopholes have in turn provided room for the transaction of illegal activities at the U.S. borders. Human trafficking and drug smuggling into America are some of the illegal activities at the U.S. borders, especially at the Mexican border (Torobin, 2002). The federal government has not established strict policy that will aid in curbing the occurrence of activities at our border. This acts as a threat to the national security as human trafficking process may be used in bringing in terrorists, who in turn attack the USA. This is an avenue for terrorists, thus, a need for homeland security to formulate more security measures that focus mainly on stopping these acts.
Immigration is another key area that has not been fully addressed within our borders by homeland security. The use of passports to enter the USA is a policy that needs to readdress other possible documents recommended for the entry. There are many cases of forgery concerning immigrants’ passports in order to acquire an easy entry. This will play a critical role in preventing human trafficking activities. Homeland security needs to establish technology that will detect forged passports and take legal actions on the persons involved. Homeland security should also meet its promise from the Security Council on the construction of an electronic fence with the 24 hour surveillance system at all its borders. This will be useful for screening of all persons entering and living in the USA. Screening will also be done on their belongings: this will assist in minimizing smuggling of illegal drugs in our country.
The research discovered that some seaports of the USA were used by terrorists for smuggling biological weapons that could be used for their terrorism activities. This is an abuse to homeland security at our ports, since such incidences must not be allowed within the U.S. territory. Homeland security is called upon to institute a 24 hour electronic consignment data device that will be used to screen all cargos at ports before they are loaded and offloaded from ships (Torobin, 2002). Homeland security should formulate a maritime intelligence system that will operate along U.S. sea ports to monitor crews, passengers and cargos along its territory.
Homeland security is critical in its entirety and selective application of control measures and only harms efforts of the overall system. It is important to address points of danger and give them priority, but terrorists keep a tab on these efforts and will always seek alternative ways to complete their evil mission. Orange alerts at airports are examples of measures, which cost the country a lot in terms of unrealized revenue and direct expenses associated with the measures adopted for a successful standby environment. It is crucial to have continuous investment in all aspects of homeland security, which means that the sensitization of the public can be made through an emphasis on legislation, such as the Gun Control Laws. A specific focus is to be laid on those measures that restrict ownership and ensure stringent vetting processes in awarding an arm carrying license. This should replicate in all areas of the private life of a citizen.