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  • Author: Carrie Cordero
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: In November 2002, 14 months after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS or the department) was created by Congress to make America safer from terrorism.1 At the time, the policy focus was on international terrorism, in particular al Qaeda. Since then, not only has the terrorism landscape evolved—from al Qaeda and its affiliates to ISIS to the present increased attention to domestic terrorism linked to white supremacist violence2—but the scope and complexity of national security threats have evolved. The new department centralized border security, immigration enforcement, transportation security, emergency management, and critical infrastructure protection, plus additional functions, with an intent to protect against future terrorist attack. The fundamental activities of the department, however, have always been broader than terrorism. And over the years, attention to the department has quickly shifted depending on the critical events of the time, whether a natural disaster, such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005, or persistent cyberattacks and other malign cyberactivity since the mid-2000s, or the emergence of a global pandemic.3 Meanwhile, due to a variety of factors, the size and complexity of DHS’s law enforcement functions have grown, while recent attention has focused primarily on the border and immigration functions. The department is arguably the most operational agency in the federal government in terms of its routine activities that affect and directly touch millions of people each day. These varying and disparate missions across the department are focused domestically and therefore require substantial attention to whether and how they are carried out in accordance with law and respect for constitutional protections. This report, issued as part of a Center for a New American Security (CNAS) project4 on enhancing DHS oversight and accountability, posits that 18 years into the department’s existence, the functions of border security and immigration enforcement, as well as the law enforcement functions of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in particular, have grown disproportionately large in size and broad in scope, without the necessary oversight and accountability structures that must accompany such activities.5 And DHS’s border and immigration functions are under tremendous strain as they are tasked with increased policy directives, humanitarian challenges on the southern border, intense political pressure, and growing public scrutiny about these functions. The department is in severe need of legislative attention and policy coordination. If it does not reform to address the issues identified in this report, it is likely the department will face calls for partial or full dismantlement under a future administration.6 Such a result would undo nearly 20 years of effort to better protect the nation from terrorism and emerging homeland threats, and risk returning to a pre-9/11 era of dis-jointed homeland security coordination.
  • Topic: Security, Terrorism, Homeland Security, Accountability, Oversight
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ellie Maruyama, Kelsey Hallahan
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: Terrorist financing entails the raising and moving of funds intended for terrorist causes.1 The number and type of terrorist groups and the threats associated with them have changed over time, but the fundamental need for terrorists to raise, move, and use funds has remained constant.2 Terrorists have displayed adaptability and opportunism in meeting their financing needs, which vary but can be substantial.3 For example, al Qaeda relied on many sources of funding and its pre-9/11 annual budget was an estimated $30 million.4 The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), one of the best-funded terrorist organizations in modern history, approved a $2 billion budget for 2015
  • Topic: Terrorism, International Security
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michele Flournoy, Richard Fontaine
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for a New American Security
  • Abstract: In the 11 months since President Barack Obama committed the United States to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS), the group has expanded its international reach, metastasized to form offshoots across multiple regions, and increased its perceived momentum. Although U.S. government officials cite a reduction in the overall size of the group’s sanctuary in Iraq and Syria and the killing of thousands of ISIS fighters, the fall of Ramadi and much of Anbar province to the Islamic State served as a wakeup call that current efforts to counter ISIS are not adequate to the task.2 Meanwhile, the threat posed by the terrorist group to Americans at home and abroad appears to be growing as ISIS-inspired individuals conduct attacks targeting Westerners around the globe, including here in the United States.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Civil War, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries