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Homeland Security policies of President George W. Bush & Harry S. Truman

Tasheika Fulmore

Strayer University

Professor Shelly Taylor

Homeland Security Policies of George W. Bush and Harry S. Truman

Over the years the citizens of the United States have had to either sit or seethe when a policy was passed by a president or they benefited from the policy implementation. We find examples in the civil rights act or most recently Obama care when it comes to looking at highly protested policies. However, no matter the feeling or benefit, presidents are expected to make policies. This paper will focus on two specific polices that deal directly with homeland security and will focus in on the presidents that created and enforced these policies. According to Robert Harvey (2008) ever since post WWII the U.S. has had a conflicted attitude towards safety. The author of this paper will coagulate a time line of two presidents and their desire to appease the safety view of Americans.
For example, President George W. Bush and his homeland security act which grew out of the issues that arose after the 9/11 attacks. And also President Harry S. Truman’s national security bill which established the Department of Defense during the cold war. Each president had his own motive for signing these national security bills, but each bill grew out of similar problems that they each faced during their presidential areas. Both, presidents were under huge public pressure to make a decision and to keep the country safe and then make emergency presidential decisions.
This paper will focus on the: 1.) Historical perspective of the time when each policy was discussed or implemented. 2.) The context or the problem of the day and the urgency for the policy.3.)Analyze the social, economic, and political environments for the times the policies were discussed or implemented.4.) And will then criticize each policy for its effectiveness of the time. There will also be a comparison and contrast of the “War on Terrorism” and for all intensive purposes the “War of Communism”; this focus is important because there has been no other time than these two time periods that the country has been on edge for fear of international threat.

Historical Perspective of Harry S. Truman
“The War on Communism”
In 1949 Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act, this act like its successor the Homeland security act was implemented under great strain. The country was in the middle of a cold war and the fear of communism spreading was the culture of the country at the time. President Truman and his administration saw a need to unify the armed forces and administrative branches, especially after the dealings with the Soviet Union. In an almost eerie resemblance of the post 9/11 speeches the public was informed that the that the world was rapidly becoming a much more treacherous place, due to the new technology of air power and the growing popularity and vitality of authoritarian ideologies (Stuart,2003).
Interesting enough Brigadier General Billy Mitchell and Alexander de Seversky, argued that airplanes would soon place American cities in direct jeopardy (Sherry, 1987:30); one would only need to glance back at the twin towers and agree. Meanwhile, political scientists like Harold Lasswell (1950:10), Hans Morgenthau (1973:139), and Harold Laski(1937:11) were cautioning that the modern authoritarian state posed an extraordinary threat to democracy. These warnings that brought to the attention of the public helped to give birth to the National Security Act. The president had to act fast and smart and look at what was working at the time and what was not working. Two majors issue that helped to establish the NSA was that the country wanted to be better prepared. During WWII the country realized that the lack of Military forces unification created an uncoordinated front because at the time the country was running a War department and a Navy department, posing danger and defeat for the country. Next, Pearl Harbor persuaded most Americans of the need for central reform of the agencies responsible for extraneous and defense affairs. For the Washington policy community, the occurrence highlighted three specific flaws in the system. 1.) It demonstrated how variances in procedures, cultures, and priorities weakened the ability of the army and navy to work together to prepare for, and respond to, a military attack. 2.) it strengthened the arguments of those policymakers who favored the creation of a Central Intelligence Agency and a Director of Central Intelligence. 3.) The attack influenced most experts of the need for a new system of civilian-military coordination at the top of ‘‘policy hill’’ (Nelson, 1983).
Analytically speaking the changes that the NSA implemented especially in the war department help to create one of the most powerful military forces in the world. However, the clarity of the roles of central intelligence agency (CIA) left a lot to be desired, there was no depth to the role of the CIA and the federal bureau of investigation( FBI). The CIA though unclearly defined was used overseas one year after the NSA implementation to conduct covert operations in other countries to help eliminate looming threats of communism (Stuart,2003). The creation of the NSA with the complete umbrella of extreme central intelligence, military organization and administrative organization gave the public the sense that the government was doing something about the spread of communism and to prevent future attacks. However no policy is ever perfect.
Historical Perspective of George W. Bush
“The War on Terrorism”
In 2001 the United States experienced the most horrendous terrorist attacks the world has ever seen. In 2003 President W. Bush signed the homeland security act that established the department of homeland security within the Whitehouse; the first of its kind since the implementation of the national security act enacted by President Truman. The creation of home land security from George Bush’s point of view was a direct response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. However, to Bush critics the creation of home land security was a direct response to soothe public fear, terror, and confusion of terrorism towards the United States.
The idea of home land security HLS was originally opposed by George Bush, but once the idea picked up momentum in the senate, Bush changed his mind ( The strategic object of creating homeland security was to: 1.) Prevent terrorist attacks within the U.S., 2.) reduce America’s vulnerability to terrorism, and 3.) Minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur. However, this was the exact purpose that the National security council was created to do, although with more limitations than homeland security. Historically, the U.S. was dependent upon the CIA to gain access to possible threats towards the U.S. This branch of intelligence was established by the National security act. Many issues arose in regards to this agency that left the United States blinded. The main issue was that the job of the CIA was to focus internationally and not domestically, this unilateral focus is what possibly left the U.S. unprotected.
Moreover, President Bush found himself in the position to come up with some idea to placate the American people to make them feel safe again, after such a betrayal of border destruction. Bush and his administration had to yet again knit the blanket of nebulous, to ensure that Americans felt safe, and that was to create our own superhuman protection to keep the country safe. Taking a look back post 9/11 Americans feared riding airplanes, opening the mail and going to New York. President Bush and his administration had to push a policy to change the culture that had stagnated the country after 9/11.
Analytically speaking homeland security encouraged a culture of fear. The U.S. has become “safety freaks” all one has to do is look at how policy has impacted the airports and all modes of public transportation all in the name of safety. It can be compared to a first time parent that installs barriers and all types of safety gadgets to keep their child safe from any possible harm whatever it may be and whenever it might happen. Home land security is a what-if preventative method for this country and we are yet again nebulous, even with the threat of more possible terrorist attacks looming overhead. However, fastidious this act may seem it was a perfect safety blanket for the country after 9/11.However, if one would view the home land security act economically they would find that the U.S. spends $100 billion per year on home land security ( I do not think that there is any way a country can protect itself from outside forces. Why put ourselves in billions of dollars debt to protect invisible borders? However, financially burdening the HSA presented itself as the answer to protect the U.S. from the threat of terrorism.
Bilateral criticism of Bush vis-à-vis Truman National security policies
Bush home land security: First, Bush and his administration did what they could in a time when the country was under extreme distress and turmoil; however, the homeland security act lacked bureaucratic effectiveness in its implementation. When reviewing the homeland security remarks made by president Bush, one might get the idea that a lot of the responsibilities of the Home land security council ( HSC) were more internationally focused rather than domestically focused . When HSC was implemented the NSC was still in full force. The two agencies were almost exact replicas of one another and the overlapping caused a lot of confusion especially during the antrax breakout. Neither agency was aware of its responsibility, leaving the people defenseless (Cohen, D.K., Cuéller, M.R., Weingast, B. R.2006). According to Crawley 2004 unbeknown to the public because of the lack of coordination within departments after a year of the policy’s implementation not much had been done or could be done until proper roles were defined. There are so many that believed creating a homeland security department was a mistake, for instance former secretary of homeland security Michael Chertoff (Flynn,2009). Flynn poses that DHS was a failure and the author of this paper is inclined to agree. This policy was enacted during a critical time period in our country, but nevertheless it was not effective and efficient during a time when the country needed it the most. Now the department is just a Frankenstein standing in the way of bureaucratic progression; in the sense that the department is obsolete, and standing in the way of other federal agencies that are effective. However, ineffective the HAS did answer some of the questions that the NSA did not, but there should have been some policies surrounding Truman’s act that remained since they were effective.
Truman National Security: The first problem that critics agreed upon was that the National security act did not have a home front perspective, there was more central intelligence focusing on international affairs and not domestic affairs (Stuart, 2003). This posed a problem because the concern was that communism would begin to spread in the U.S. and there was not enough attention at home. Truman used too much government to run the NSC. The responsibility should have been handled at the state and federal level, because attacks are on the people not the federal government. During a time when the country was vulnerable to attacks like pearl harbor the national security act should have provided some help to secure our borders not just the seas. Overall, every president has in some way shape or form tried to change the way national security works, but as history and research has shown us that type of policy has to be over a certain time period and not just all at once.

1.LASKI, H. (1937) Liberty in the Modern State. New York: Pelican.
2. Crowley,M. (2004). Playing Defense. (Cover story). New Republic, 230(9), 17-21.
3.Flynn,S.E. (2009). Homeland insecurity. American Interest, 4(5), 19-26.
4.LASSWELL, H. (1950) National Security and Individual Freedom. New York: McGraw-Hill.
5.MORGENTHAU, H. (1973) Political among Nations, 5th ed. New York: Knopf.
6.Staurt,D.T. (2003). Ministry of Fear: The 1947 National security Act in Historical and al context. International studies perspectives, 4(3), 293-313.
7.White House office of Homeland security report: “National strategy for homeland security”. (2003).

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