Year
2002

Bush unveils strategy for homeland security

On this day in 2002, President George W. Bush announces his plan for strengthening homeland security in the wake of the shocking September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., in which nearly 3,000 people had been killed. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, in an attempt to prevent further bloodshed on American soil, Bush launched a massive overhaul of the nation’s security, intelligence and emergency-response systems through the creation of the White House Office of Homeland Security. Later in the month, the Department of Homeland Security was established as a federal agency. It was part of a two-pronged effort, which included pre-emptive military action against terrorists in other countries, to fight the war on terror.

During a White House press conference that day, Bush gave the American public a preview of the changes to come, including, but not limited to, a color-coded warning system that identified different levels of threat, assessing which industries and regions were vulnerable to attack. He also proposed changes in laws that would give the president increased executive powers, particularly with regard to anti-terrorism policy.

On the day of his announcement, it appeared that Bush and Congress formed a fairly united front in favor of the new policy. However, as soon as the Department of Homeland Security was established, critics who feared the potential abuse of presidential powers and the abandonment of civil liberties in the name of national security raised their voices. Bush tried to reassure them that the changes were constitutional and open to Congressional oversight. However, over the next few years, his administration faced accusations of flagrantly violating the Constitution and creating a political culture of secrecy and cronyism.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Amazon opens for business

On this day in 1995, Amazon officially opens for business as an online bookseller. Within a month, the fledgling retailer had shipped books to all 50 U.S. states and to 45 countries. Founder Jeff Bezos’s motto was “get big fast,” and Seattle-based Amazon eventually morphed into ...read more

JFK Jr. killed in plane crash

On July 16, 1999, John F. Kennedy, Jr.; his wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy; and her sister, Lauren Bessette, die when the single-engine plane that Kennedy was piloting crashes into the Atlantic Ocean near Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jr., was born on ...read more

Apollo 11 departs Earth

At 9:32 a.m. EDT, Apollo 11, the first U.S. lunar landing mission, is launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a historic journey to the surface of the moon. After traveling 240,000 miles in 76 hours, Apollo 11 entered into a lunar orbit on July 19. The next day, at 1:46 p.m., ...read more

Atom bomb successfully tested

On this day in 1945, at 5:29:45 a.m., the Manhattan Project comes to an explosive end as the first atom bomb is successfully tested in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Plans for the creation of a uranium bomb by the Allies were established as early as 1939, when Italian emigre physicist ...read more

McNamara visits South Vietnam

Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara conducts a fact-finding mission in South Vietnam, and Henry Cabot Lodge arrives in Saigon to resume his post as ambassador. Lodge had previously held the ambassadorship, but resigned in 1964 to seek the Republican presidential nomination, ...read more

Durocher leaves Dodgers to manage Giants

OnJuly 16,1948, Brooklyn Dodgers Manager Leo Durocher announces that he will be joining the New York Giants, the Dodgers’ archrival. The move was the swiftest and most stunning managerial change in baseball history. Leo “The Lip” Durocher was a brilliant shortstop and mediocre ...read more

Earthquake wreaks havoc in the Philippines

More than 1,000 people are killed when a 7.7-magnitude earthquake strikes Luzon Island in the Philippines on this day in 1990. The massive tremor wreaked havoc across a sizeable portion of Luzon, the country’s largest island, with Baguio City suffering the most devastating ...read more

Draft riots continue to rock New York City

The draft riots enter their fourth day in New York City in response to the Enrollment Act, which was enacted on March 3, 1863. Although avoiding military service became much more difficult, wealthier citizens could still pay a commutation fee of $300 to stay at home. Irritation ...read more