May Questions Congress' Bill Creating New Department
WASHINGTON, D.C. - If it becomes law, the legislation being debated by Congress to create a new Department of Homeland Security runs the risk of diminishing civil liberties, without increasing security from the threats posed by terrorists and rogue nations. That is the view of Progress & Freedom Foundation Senior Fellow and Director of Communications Policy Studies Randolph J. May expressed in a column published in the latest edition of Legal Times, “Will We Be Safe at Home?” He is calling for a “considerably smaller and more focused” agency than the one being debated in Congress.
May acknowledges the threats faced by the U.S. from terrorists and rogue states, but believes “we are just as likely to be able to protect ourselves, and more likely over the long haul to preserve our fundamental liberties, if we don’t create a massive new bureaucracy whose principal mission is as all-encompassing, amorphous and alluring as ‘homeland security’.” He says the new department “would just be too big and unwieldy to be effective, at least for a fairly long period of integration, and especially if Congress refuses to grant the president enough flexibility…”
Citing “worrisome tactics” already employed or considered in the war on terror, including “prolonged secret detention of suspects free from judicial involvement” and the Operation TIPS program (which would augment federal surveillance programs by encouraging mail carriers and other workers to watch and report on possibly suspicious activities of citizens), he warns of the dangers and likelihood of “mission creep.” Saying that bureaucracies are genetically predetermined to expand their power, May maintains that putting so many functions under one roof “may disproportionately enhance the threat to civil liberties that necessarily inheres in any comprehensive internal security program.” He concludes “we must go about the serious business of protecting our homeland in a way that also protects our traditional freedoms.”
May writes a regular column on regulatory affairs for Legal Times. The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.