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Created 20 years ago in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) tackles an assortment of threats to the nation. Ellen Gilmer, senior reporter at Bloomberg Government, asked of current and former DHS leaders, “are we safer now?”

  • Gilmer said the most common response was that the United States is safer in some ways, including prevention against mass-scale terrorist attacks, aviation security and intelligence sharing, but not in other ways, considering new threats that constantly crop up.
  • Former DHS secretaries disagree on what the biggest threat to the country is, with some concerned about white supremacy and domestic extremism and others more focused on international issues, said Gilmer.
  • The Biden administration will try to empower and resource local communities to police themselves to some extent to combat domestic extremism, but it is too soon to tell how the plan will work out, said Gilmer.
  • Based on previous secretaries’ advice, Gilmer said she would recommend current Secretary Mayorkas focus on getting a strong leadership team in place, noting that some major positions are still unfilled.

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