This Day in the Law
October 8

Office of Homeland Security and Council Announced in Executive Order 13228 (2001)

On October 8, 2001, President George W. Bush issued Executive Order 13228 to create the Office of Homeland Security (OHS) and the Homeland Security Council (HSC) to regulate homeland security policies. Bush also announced his intention to create a separate Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to oversee national security issues. In short, the OHS and HSC acted as the precursor to the creation of the DHS.

In February 2001, the U.S. Commission on National Security recommended comprehensive changes within the government to meet future national security challenges such as in the fight against terrorism and natural disasters. However, Congress failed to take any further action.

Then, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 occurred – and forever changed the United States and the world. Less than two weeks after the terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush stated he would create a new Office of Homeland Security to oversee and regulate national security in effort to fight terrorism. Bush also said he would appoint Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge as the director.

On October 8, 2001, Bush passed Executive Order 13228 in his first official act to combat terrorism. The Order created the Office of Homeland Security (OHS) and the Homeland Security Council (HSC) to regulate homeland security policies and set the foundation for the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security. Tom Ridge also began as Director of the OHS on October 8, 2001.

Before Bush created the Office of Homeland Security, over forty different government agencies and around 2,000 separate Congressional appropriations accounts regulated homeland security issues. This was obviously a problem.

Here’s a brief except of Executive Order 13228 that Bush issued on October 8, 2001:
Executive Order 13228 of October 8, 2001

Establishing the Office of Homeland Security and the Homeland Security Council

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Establishment. I hereby establish within the Executive Office of the President an Office of Homeland Security (the "Office") to be headed by the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security.

Sec. 2. Mission. The mission of the Office shall be to develop and coordinate the implementation of a comprehensive national strategy to secure the United States from terrorist threats or attacks. The Office shall perform the functions necessary to carry out this mission, including the functions specified in section 3 of this order.

Sec. 3. Functions. The functions of the Office shall be to coordinate the executive branch's efforts to detect, prepare for, prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks within the United States…

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The actual Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created on November 25, 2002, and became effective (i.e. operational) on January 24, 2003. The DHS constituted the largest government reorganization in American history!

Today, the DHS is the third largest Presidential Cabinet with over 200,000 employees. Only the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs are bigger.

NOTE: The Department of Defense (DOD) differs from the DHS. In short, the DOD overseas the U.S. military and international security threats, while the DHS is comprised of 22 agencies (e.g. Coast Guard, FEMA, Secret Service) to protect the United States within and around its borders.