As clearly detailed in an hour-long news special released several years ago and featuring agents from the CIA, the FBI, and the NSA, the DHS was created to bridge the communication gap clearly identified in the failure of the CIA, FBI, and NSA to stop the 9/11 attacks. They failed to coordinate their efforts in a timely and effective manner. They each possessed key pieces of the puzzle which, had they been brought together, would enabled them to descend on the terrorists their Maryland hotel from which they staged the attacks, if not earlier, and arrest them, stopping the attacks.
These three agencies came VERY close, but failed, in large part because of “empire building.” They treated information as a commodity in power-brokering, rather than as the life-saving asset it is.
Unfortunately, our government put people in charge of the DHS, created on November 25, 2002, who were good at building empires, rather than bridging gaps. Furthermore, Congress has repeatedly added fuel to the fire by throwing more money at the DHS year after year.
So, did the DHS meet it’s objective? Did it bridge the information gap between the intelligence agencies as planned? Heck no. In that respect, it’s a colossal failure, an utterly worthless $60.8 Billion annual drain on the U.S. economy. The U.S. would have far ahead of the curve had they instead supplied assault rifles and training to every able-bodied adult citizen who A) wanted one, B) successfully passed a stringent background check, and C) successfully passed the stringent training course. Owning firearms is our right, but being entrusted with homeland defense and stewardship (temporary custody) of the accompanying assault rifle would have been a privilege, something earned.
As for the three primary intelligence agencies, the solution was clear and staring our government in the face: The NSA is clearly the leader when it comes to collecting and categorizing intelligence information, as well as protecting it from unauthorized disclosure. Give them the resources to be the intelligence information clearinghouse for our government, with the clear mandate they would be required to SHARE that information, at least with the top four agencies: CIA, FBI, NSA, and DoD. They would work with those agencies to ensure their own distribution channels remained commensurate with well-established security protocols. The NSA would be custodians of all intelligence information, regardless of source, and would analyze it commensurate with its original charter.
Similarly, the CIA, FBI, and DoD would keep their charters as well, with the sole exception they would be required to SHARE that information with the NSA for custodial recordkeeping. They would continue to conduct their own in-house analyses commensurate with their original charters, as well.
Finally, establish a “fire alarm” criteria that would require any of the top four agencies to share either raw information or intelligence analysis with the other three.
Protecting our national security has no room for empire-building.
Thus, “reforming the DHS” isn’t the issue, much less the solution. It takes decades for an intelligence agency to develop. The DHS should never have been created in the first place.