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

Responding to Terrorism: Is 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.

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

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  1. Responding to Terrorism:Is the New Department of Homeland Security the Answer? National Center for Digital Government Lewis Branscomb, Harvard University

  2. 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 structure!

  3. 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?

  4. Critical Role of Information in Public Policy Formulation • 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?

  5. OUTLINE • [1] Nature of the threat • [2] Sources of vulnerability • [3] Technical responses to the threats • [4] Technical strategies • [5] S&T priorities • [6] Structural Issues in government

  6. [1] Nature of the domestic, catastrophic terrorism threat

  7. 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 terrorists • 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.

  8. 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 conflict. • Organized terrorism is the “privatization of war.” • To what extent can S&T compensate for the reverse-asymmetry in terrorism threat?

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. Structural Problems Inhibiting Contribution of Technology • State and municipal governments have the main responsibility for responding to attack, mitigating harm, recovery. • Severe deficits; have received little federal money • Have limited S&T 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.

  12. Terrorism threat does not fit the conventional categories

  13. LMB assessment of progress since 9-11-01 in preparedness • Large cities and states are very active, but have no money, little S&T resource. • Private sector owns most targets, awaits Federal guidance on who is responsible. • Federal efforts stalled, awaiting new Department • No S&T for CT strategy ready for implementation • FY 2003 Budget for CT R&D only $0.5B • New Department has no budget yet • S&T departments/agencies are initiating many small uncoordinated efforts • Fed. Gov’t is infatuated with Iraq and WMD • New department is not sufficient

  14. Sources of Vulnerability

  15. 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 economy: Ecological Economics Slide 2

  16. 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 resilient?

  17. [3] Varied nature of threats and technical responses

  18. Dual-Use Strategy: Imbedding S&T strategy in civil economy • Search for technologies that reduce costs or provide ancillary benefits to civil society to ensure • increase likelihood that industry will invest in hardening critical infrastructure; • more sustainable effort against terrorist threats • integration of HS R&D with rest of societal research and engineering base

  19. 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

  20. Terrorists’ Weapons • Nuclear and radiological attacks. • Biological weaponsagainst 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 gov’ts to amplify terror

  21. 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 radiological)

  22. Technical strategies

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

  24. 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.

  25. Civil Liberties vs Technology • Sensors may reduce need for personal & package inspections. • Data mining could threaten civil liberties • Biometrics • much more reliable than drivers license • can also be used to intrude on personal privacy • Don’t prove “who you are.” • Technical programs must evaluate balance between effectiveness and civil impact

  26. 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

  27. Setting Counter Terrorism Priorities

  28. How to set S&T priorities? • Vulnerability and value of the target • Ability of S&T programs to harden target • Dual use value of the S&T outcomes • Value of the target to terrorists • Satisfaction of terrorists’ goals • Capability of terrorists to attack it • Likelihood of success

  29. Terrorists’ Priorities

  30. Which would they choose if they had the capability: • 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.

  31. Structural Issues in Government

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

  33. Department of Homeland Security • Law now provides for an Undersecretary Technology with broad technical authority. • Dep’t is assembled from the “border” control agencies; none have a strong S&T research, acquisition & deployment experience. • New department has 6 S&T institutions.

  34. Relationship of DHS to S&T agencies of federal government • With almost all S&T 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 House. • Neither exists, nor seems likely soon.

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

  36. 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 S&T threats

  37. 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

  38. 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 systems • Introducing a more mature view of the world and America’s place in it into K – 16 education • Understanding how the media might be helped to be more balanced and constructive in reporting on terrorism • Dramatically expanding language skills

  39. Problem of contributing good policy design to authorities • 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?

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