This morning, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson delivered his first major address since being sworn in on December 23, 2013. During an event at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., Secretary Johnson outlined his priorities for the Department and elaborated on his first seven weeks as Secretary before an audience of DHS leadership and employees, the Aspen Security Group, friends of the Wilson Center, members of the media, and others in attendance.
Secretary Johnson discussed the complex, diverse missions of the Department including our continued vigilance in detecting and countering threats of all kinds.
During his remarks, Secretary Johnson also discussed the creation of this Department in the wake of the events of September 11, 2001, and how the Department has grown in its service to this Nation and its people. He said, “In my opinion the creation of a Department of Homeland Security in 2003 was long overdue. Many other nations who face threats similar to ours had Ministries of the Interior or a Home Office with the similar basic missions of bridging national and domestic security, counterterrorism, and border and port security. Perhaps because our own nation was protected by two big oceans from many of the world’s hot spots, we thought that one department of the United States government, devoted to the mission of “homeland security,” was unnecessary. That thinking obviously changed on 9/11.
“Further, consider where all the 22 components of Homeland Security existed before the creation of the Department in 2003 -- scattered across the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Justice, Treasury, Transportation, Defense, Health and Human Services, and the General Services Administration, including departments that do not have national security or law enforcement as their core mission.
“In just seven weeks in office as Secretary, I have already seen the wisdom of combining a number of these capabilities within one department of government: when I convene a meeting to discuss how the latest terrorist threats might penetrate the homeland, the participants include DHS’ Intelligence and Analysis Office, Customs and Border Protection, TSA, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Citizenship & Immigration Services, the Coast Guard and DHS’ National Protection and Programs Directorate. Put another way, with the creation of DHS, a terrorist searching for weaknesses along our air, land and sea borders or ports of entry is now met with one federal response – from me.”
After his remarks, Secretary Johnson also participated in a conversation with Jane Harman, President and CEO of the Wilson Center.
Watch the full video of today’s event at the Wilson Center here: