WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) highlighted the 10 year anniversary of the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Chairman Carper commended the Department’s employees for their dedication to its critical mission, noted the progress DHS has made over the past decade, and reiterated his commitment to ensuring that the Department continues to improve.
“Ten years ago today, the Department of Homeland Security opened its doors and ushered in a new era in our ongoing effort to enhance our nation’s security,” said Chairman Carper. “It’s been no easy task, and there have been growing pains, but the Department has made remarkable progress in making Americans safer. Some of the most significant accomplishments include making major improvements to our aviation security system, enhancing border security, improving our preparedness for and response to disasters, and effectively taking on evolving threats like cybersecurity. I congratulate and sincerely thank the Department’s leadership over the years, especially Secretary Napolitano and former Secretaries Ridge and Chertoff, and the current and former employees of the Department for their hard work and dedicated service. I look forward to working with Secretary Napolitano and my congressional colleagues, most notably my friend Dr. Coburn, as we partner together to make our country safer and more secure.
DHS was stood up in 2003 in response to the tragic events of September 11, 2001. At the time of those events, there was no single agency in the federal government that was responsible for ensuring the protection of the country and its citizens from terrorist attacks and other disasters on U.S. soil. The creation of the Department was intended to bring together in a one place the key agencies and resources dedicated to preventing, protecting against, and recovering from terrorism and other disasters.
Since its establishment, the Department has implemented numerous measures to better protect our nation, making us safer than we were 10 years ago. Some of the Department’s major accomplishments over the years include:
- Enhancing international security efforts so passengers are screened against an array of national security databases starting 72 hours before they board an airplane bound for the United States, and utilizing a biometric entry system to verify passengers’ identities when they arrive.
- Significantly improving the security of our borders, including more than doubling the Border Patrol, constructing more than 650 miles of fencing, and deploying advanced technology to better detect illegal border crossers;
- Implementing the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, which substantially decreased the number of documents that can be used to enter the country—one of the core 9/11 Commission recommendations;
- Greatly enhancing coordination with and the preparedness of state and local governments;
- Playing a key role in a number of terrorism investigations, including identifying David Coleman Headley, one of the planners of the Mumbai attacks, and arresting Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bomber;
- Creating a targeting system to better identify high risk travelers and goods;
- Forging and strengthening relationships with key allies to dramatically improve international and domestic security through cooperative international security programs;
- Deploying explosive detection systems for passengers and baggage at all U.S. airports;
- Increasing the security of our land and sea ports of entry by deploying radiation detectors and advanced imaging technology to better screen people and goods;
- Greatly improving our nation’s preparedness for and response and recovery from both natural and man-made disasters; and
- Becoming the leader in cybersecurity to protect our critical infrastructure and federal “.gov” networks.
As the Department observes its 10th anniversary, Chairman Carper announced that he and Ranking Member Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) will hold a series of oversight hearings over the next year focusing on how effectively the Department is accomplishing its mission 10 years after its establishment, highlighting progress made and the challenges that still remain. The Committee will examine the Department’s management efforts and the status of the Department’s work in critical areas, including but not limited to disaster response and recovery, border security, cybersecurity, and establishing a productive relationship with state and local governments.