The Department of Homeland Security is charged with protecting the country against terrorist attacks, but its strategies have too often targeted minority communities and protest movements with scant evidence of effectiveness. Twenty years after its creation, a comprehensive review of the department’s practices and tactics finds that a toxic combination of broad authorities, weak safeguards, and inadequate oversight have allowed problems to fester. To date, Congress and DHS leadership have taken only limited steps to address these failures.
The reports below begin with a top-down look at the execution of DHS’s counterterrorism authorities, recommending actions to improve performance and remedy the accumulated mistakes of the last two decades. Additional reports tackle specific aspects of the department’s counterterrorism functions, including protections against profiling, the operation of federally funded fusion centers, shortcomings within DHS’s Office of Intelligence & Analysis, the agency’s collection of large volumes of data to drive opaque risk assessments, and the department’s oversight mechanisms.
We urge leaders within the department and in Congress to take up our recommendations for concrete reforms to ensure that DHS can carry out its mission in line with American values.