Letter to the editor
The following are responses from an FCW.com poll question that asked (beginning April 13): Should the Office of Homeland Security be replaced by a cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security?
This is purely political. Congress wants to make it a Cabinet-level position SOLELY to be able to control what it gets, who gets it and how it gets done.
We watched Congress "manage" Vietnam. See where that got us?
As a 24-year Defense Department civilian, I say please leave the business of defense to those who are trained to do so, not those who are politically motivated.
Raising homeland security to a Cabinet-level post would solidify any current and future reduction in levels of freedom and constitutional rights.
Cabinets and agencies have a tendency to grow into empires. We will have a very difficult time in returning to the level of freedom that we had before Sept. 11.
A Cabinet position will give the department visibility, make it part of Cabinet decisions, have it work as a team with national security, all with Congress as an approver. It will give the department more credibility and allow it to form teams with the North American allies on security. Also, it is more difficult to dissolve a Cabinet position.
The president should retain control of that office without interference by Congress, such as we recently witnessed when they wanted him to testify.
I think that homeland security should be the PRIMARY mission of the Defense Department — not security for Afghanistan, Bosnia, etc. After all, isn't defense a synonym for homeland security? If this were the focus, the missions of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine services would be clearer. Also, the Coast Guard should be included in this group as a defense service and should be managed by DOD.
We shouldn't need another organization — office or department — to handle or duplicate the defense of this nation. And we shouldn't have a person in charge of homeland security who is inexperienced in defense methodologies.
I vote "NO" to establishing the Office of Homeland Security as a Cabinet-level department.
One of the difficulties we face within the federal structure is standardization based on the needs of those using the systems. Too often political issues drive the decisions for how systems will be structured or used. A Cabinet-level office will place the decision-making authority too far removed from the front-line users.
Because of the threat of international terrorism, I believe homeland security should be made part of the CIA.
All names withheld by request