Department of Homeland Security: Definition, History & Agencies

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  • 0:02 Homeland Security
  • 0:40 Homeland Goals & Missions
  • 2:34 Homeland Agencies
  • 3:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Schubert

Jessica is a practicing attorney and has taught law and has a J.D. and LL.M.

Learn about the history of the Department of Homeland Security in this lesson. Discover the origins of the Department and its agencies, and see how the Department aims to fight terrorism and protect the United States.

Homeland Security

On September 11, 2001, the United States experienced something never before seen in its entire history: a massive international terrorist act on its own soil, taking the lives of thousands of Americans. The shocking events that transpired left no one unaffected. Consequently, the United States government acted quickly to ensure that no such act would happen again. In order to accomplish this, the government created the Department of Homeland Security to try and address the new and dangerous threat presented by terrorism.

Homeland Goals & Mission

Less than two weeks following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge was appointed to be the first Director of the Office of Homeland Security. Then in November of 2002, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 established the Department of Homeland Security. This Act made the Director a formal cabinet member of the White House. Furthermore, the Department of Homeland Security officially commenced its operations on March 1, 2003.

The Department of Homeland Security was created in direct response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The goal of the department is to ensure that the country is safe from terrorism and other hazards within its borders. In addition, there are three primary goals of the Department of Homeland Security, which include the following:

  1. The prevention of terrorist attacks.
  2. The prevention of the unauthorized acquiring, importing, moving or usage or chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear materials and capabilities within the United States.
  3. The reduction of the vulnerability of key infrastructure, resources, leadership, and significant events to terrorist attacks and threats.

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