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Homeland security is

a concerted national effort to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce America’s vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur.[1]


The concept of "homeland security" emerged in the 1990s, as the United States adjusted to the security environment following the end of the Cold War. The basic idea was that the United States would be facing increased threats from asymmetric attacks such as terrorism and cyber attacks.

The term is almost exclusively used in the United States; elsewhere, the activities of "homeland security" fall under a combination of national security and associated security services or the customs services of the country (for example, HM Revenue and Customs in the UK).

The term arose following a merger of several U.S. governmental agencies to form the U.S. Department of Homeland Security after the attacks on September 11, 2001. It encompasses the combined efforts of government agencies, non-government organizations, and the private sector to protect a nation-state, either offensively or defensively, against violent attacks. If attempts at protection fail, homeland security then focuses on the management of and the response to such attacks.

Constitutional basis[]

The fundamental justification and broader context for homeland security activities arise from various provisions of the U.S. Constitution, including the Preamble, Article I, §8; and Article IV, §4.

The Preamble includes the basic right of the federal government to "insure domestic tranquility" and "provide for the common defense":

[In] Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.

Article I, §8, addresses the circumstances in which the military might be domestically employed:

Congress shall have Power to provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections, and repel Invasions.

And Article IV, §4, expands upon this authority:

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against domestic Violence.


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