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Responding to Terrorism: Is the New Department of Homeland Security the Answer?


National Center for Digital Government Lewis Branscomb, Harvard University Responding to Terrorism: Is the New Department of Homeland Security the Answer? – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Responding to Terrorism: Is the New Department of Homeland Security the Answer?

Responding to TerrorismIs the New Department of
Homeland Security the Answer?
National Center for Digital Government Lewis
Branscomb, Harvard University
Situation calls for new approach to policy
research design
  • New problems, poor fit to government experience
    and structure. Even to ways of thinking about
    roles of government.
  • High stakes, high levels of uncertainty.
  • Congress and administration are accustomed to hot
    and cold war in which policy research was thought
    to play a relatively minor role
  • What is needed is applicable social science
    knowledge, coupled with technology options
  • New structure is needed to design the new

Policy analysis vs Policy design
  • Analysis is necessary but not sufficient assumes
    existence of institutions for decision
  • Policy design focuses on effective action and may
    not be analytically optimum
  • Absent a receptor for advice, able to act, focus
    must be on case for action
  • Who were the receptors, post 9-11?
  • Jack Marburger?
  • Gov. Ridge?
  • Congress?

Critical Role of Information in Public Policy
  • Can diffusion of information about the new
    situation catch up with the need for decisions?
  • Can government organize to acquire, process and
    utilize a vast range of new kinds of information?
  • What will be the sources of this information?

  • 1 Nature of the threat
  • 2 Sources of vulnerability
  • 3 Technical responses to the threats
  • 4 Technical strategies
  • 5 ST priorities
  • 6 Structural Issues in government

1 Nature of the domestic, catastrophic
terrorism threat
Three Policy areas for Protecting Our Society
  • Foreign Policies
  • Policies to reduce poverty, injustice,
    authoritarian rule, religious zealotry, are the
    only long term solutions
  • Military strategies to discourage aid to
  • Domestic Policies
  • Trying to find all potential terrorists in the
    USA, risking denial of civil liberties at home.
  • Hardening Potential Targets
  • Mix of technical economic and behavioral isssues.

Asymmetric Warfare How might science and
technology help?
  • Cold War asymmetry of Soviet ground forces
    balanced by NATO technology.
  • Catastrophic terrorism is the ultimate in
    asymmetric conflict
  • Now the asymmetry is reversed.
  • Each terrorist threat is in some ways a new
  • Organized terrorism is the privatization of
  • To what extent can ST compensate for the
    reverse-asymmetry in terrorism threat?

The Terrorists Advantage
  • Stealth and patience
  • Operatives under deep cover inside USA
  • International base of operations
  • Possible type III terrorism non-state
    terrorists with rogue state support
  • Unknown and idiosyncratic objectives
  • Lack of clear political or military goals, thus
    lack of any clear end game.

Offsetting Terrorists Advantage with Technology
and Operations
  • Global intelligence and military presence.
  • Possibility of making targets less vulnerable,
    thus less attractive.
  • Possibility of damage limitation.
  • Possibility of enhanced recovery.
  • Possibility of forensic analysis.

Structural Problems Inhibiting Contribution of
  • State and municipal governments have the main
    responsibility for responding to attack,
    mitigating harm, recovery.
  • Severe deficits have received little federal
  • Have limited ST resources
  • Private industry owns many if not most of the
    targets Who will harden them?
  • Federal government is responsible for borders,
    intelligence and technology
  • But almost all of the technical experience and
    talent is outside the new Department of HS.

Terrorism threat does not fit the conventional
War Criminal justice
Foreign Domestic
Temporary Continuing
Federal State and local
High tech Low tech
Government Industry
LMB assessment of progress since 9-11-01 in
  • Large cities and states are very active, but have
    no money, little ST resource.
  • Private sector owns most targets, awaits Federal
    guidance on who is responsible.
  • Federal efforts stalled, awaiting new Department
  • No ST for CT strategy ready for implementation
  • FY 2003 Budget for CT RD only 0.5B
  • New Department has no budget yet
  • ST departments/agencies are initiating many
    small uncoordinated efforts
  • Fed. Govt is infatuated with Iraq and WMD
  • New department is not sufficient

Sources of Vulnerability
Sources of Vulnerability
  • Terrorists did not create them science and
    economics did.
  • They are a consequence of highly efficient and
    interconnected systems we rely on for key
    services -- transportation, information, energy,
    food, finance, and health care.
  • Calls for a new, more resilient political
  • Ecological Economics
  • Slide 2

Critical Infrastructures
  • 85 of US Infrastructure systems are owned and
    run by private firms not government.
  • They are deeply technically interdependent
  • Domino effects
  • Leads to threat of multiple, simultaneous attacks
  • What are government/industry responsibilities?
    How can government motivate industry investment
    in hardening?
  • How can the economy be both sustainable and

3 Varied nature of threats and technical
Dual-Use Strategy Imbedding ST strategy in
civil economy
  • Search for technologies that reduce costs or
    provide ancillary benefits to civil society to
  • increase likelihood that industry will invest in
    hardening critical infrastructure
  • more sustainable effort against terrorist threats
  • integration of HS RD with rest of societal
    research and engineering base

Possible Targets
  • Human health and food systems
  • Energy systems
  • Communications and information services
  • Transportation systems (air, sea land)
  • Cities and fixed infrastructure (buildings, water
    supply, tunnels bridges, people)
  • People and their response to terrorism
  • Institutions of government, real and symbolic

Terrorists Weapons
  • Nuclear and radiological attacks.
  • Biological weapons against human and
    agricultural health systems.
  • Military chemical weapons
  • Industrial chemicals toxic, explosive
  • Fuels
  • Cyber attacks on telecoms, data or controls.
  • Transportation systems used as weapons.
  • Inducing western govts to amplify terror

Response of People to Terrorist Threat
  • People to provide accurate and trustworthy
    information quickly and authoritatively.
  • Fear, confusion loss of public confidence in
    those responsible for protection.
  • Is government needlessly amplifying the threat,
    thus doing terrorists psychological job for them?
  • Need for meaningful warning systems.
  • Need for local leadership and resources.
  • Danger of virtual attack (biological or

Technical strategies
The system of systems technical challenge
  • Attacks are likely to involve multiple complex
  • Multiple critical industrial infrastructures
  • Federal state and local authorities and
  • Complex networks of sensors
  • Data fusion and data mining
  • Priority setting requires modeling and simulating
    attack and response, red teaming proposed

Analysis of technology strategies
  • Repair the weakest links in vulnerable systems
    and infrastructures.
  • Use defenses-in-depth (do not rely only on
    perimeter defenses or firewalls).
  • Use circuit breakers to isolate and stabilize
    failing system elements (soft failure modes).
  • Build security and flexibility into basic designs
  • Design systems for real people, behaving as they
    can be predicted to behave.

Civil Liberties vs Technology
  • Sensors may reduce need for personal package
  • Data mining could threaten civil liberties
  • Biometrics
  • much more reliable than drivers license
  • can also be used to intrude on personal privacy
  • Dont prove who you are.
  • Technical programs must evaluate balance between
    effectiveness and civil impact

Keeping Information from Terrorists
  • A very broad range of basic research information
    will be needed to counter terror threats.
  • Sensitive but unclassified has been suggested
    but is unworkable.
  • Science journals already being attacked for
    publishing science deemed useful to terrorists.
  • Military style classification based on clear
    criteria is the only workable answer

Setting Counter Terrorism Priorities
How to set ST priorities?
  • Vulnerability and value of the target
  • Ability of ST programs to harden target
  • Dual use value of the ST outcomes
  • Value of the target to terrorists
  • Satisfaction of terrorists goals
  • Capability of terrorists to attack it
  • Likelihood of success

Terrorists Priorities
  • Which would they choose if they had the
  • Spread disease germs among the population?
  • Destroy the Statute of Liberty?
  • Flood New Orleans?
  • Shut down the New York Stock Exchange?
  • US counter terrorism strategy requires predicting
    their priorities. This requires better
  • intelligence and understanding
  • of radical Islam.

Structural Issues in Government
Industry and States
  • Incentive structure for critical infrastructure
    industries and owners of key buildings and
  • State and city input to national ST strategy.
  • Funding ST development in response to state and
    municipal needs.
  • Giving states and cities resources for
    restructuring EOCs, training, deployment and
    exercising of new systems.

Department of Homeland Security
  • Law now provides for an Undersecretary Technology
    with broad technical authority.
  • Dept is assembled from the border control
    agencies none have a strong ST research,
    acquisition deployment experience.
  • New department has 6 ST institutions.

Relationship of DHS to ST agencies of federal
  • With almost all ST capability outside the
    Department, a strong national technical strategy
    is required.
  • Implementation of such a strategy depends on a
    strong effective OHS and OSTP in the White
  • Neither exists, nor seems likely soon.

Some Research Priorities Understanding the
  • Understanding Terrorists target priorities
  • Roots of terrorism and foreign policy options
  • Understanding peoples response to terror
  • Public Administration
  • New Department making it work
  • Fed state county city industry
  • Balancing domestic intelligence with civil rights

Some Information Science Research Priorities
  • Designing screening and data systems involving
    new technologies
  • Implications of universal identifiers
  • Designing and managing dining mining systems that
    protect civil liberties
  • Countering false-information attacks
  • Arranging for credibility by officials briefing
    the public about ST threats

A New Economics?
  • Policies for inducing private sector to harden
    critical infrastructure
  • Creating economic incentives to generate a more
    resilient infrastructure
  • Anticipating impact on economy and means for
    minimize it
  • Encouraging innovation when there are not
    quantifiable market incentives

A New Urgency for Education Reform
  • New role for social science in understanding
    roots of terrorism and routes to reducing demand
    for it.
  • Training first responders in use of high tech
  • Introducing a more mature view of the world and
    Americas place in it into K 16 education
  • Understanding how the media might be helped to be
    more balanced and constructive in reporting on
  • Dramatically expanding language skills

Problem of contributing good policy design to
  • Who wants the advice and will pay for it?
  • Who can implement the advice?
  • What institutional barriers prevent the advice
    from being taken?
  • How will the agenda for urgent matters evolve,
    with war in Iraq etc?
  • How can one get information on which to base the
    analysis and design?