The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is hampered by personality conflicts, bureaucratic bottlenecks, and an atmosphere of demoralization, undermining its ability to protect the nation against terrorist attack, the Washington Post reports. The department remains a second-tier agency in the clout it commands within President Bush’s Cabinet. Pockets of dysfunction are scattered throughout the 180,000-employee agency.
The agency has made strides in establishing high-speed communications links with state and local authorities, researching sensors to detect explosives and biopathogens, and addressing vulnerabilities in the aviation system. Weaknesses include scant progress in protecting thousands of U.S. chemical plants, rail yards and other elements of the nation’s critical infrastructure. Less well known are the turf battles, personal animosities, and bureaucratic hesitancy that have limited the headway made by the amalgam of 22 federal agencies that Congress merged after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.