Notes from the Editor (Vol. VI, Iss. 1)

Download the full issue. Risk, preparedness, intelligence, public health — these are just a few of the issues facing homeland security in the past year and addressed in this issue of Homeland Security Affairs.

In “Changing Homeland Security: Twelve Questions from 2009,” Christopher Bellavita examines hundreds of news headlines as a way of reviewing the past year. He presents these as “puzzles,” using this word as Thomas Kuhn did to describe what spurs progress in science. In this case, what puzzles — as demonstrated by these headlines — will spur progress in homeland security? Some of these puzzles, including those concerning strategy, terrorism, information sharing, recovery, and risk management are addressed by our authors.

Philip Palin argues that homeland security in the U.S. lacks a “grand strategy” similar to the Cold War’s strategy of containment. Resilience as been suggested as an over-arching goal, but what, asks Palin, does this mean? Modeled on George Kennan’s “Long Telegram” (credited with originating the idea of containment as a grand strategy), Palin’s essay “Resilience: The Grand Strategy” offers one approach to tackling the homeland security puzzle.

In “Jihad Dramatically Transformed?” author David Tucker questions one assumption that may drive strategy, challenging Marc Sageman’s claim that use of the internet has transformed Islamic jihad as it relates to terrorist activity. Sageman believes the internet “has dramatically transformed the structure and dynamic” of terrorism by “changing the nature of terrorists’ interactions.” Analyzing the available research, Tucker challenges this assertion.

Another assumption is challenged by S.Y Chen and Thomas Tenforde: that the early phase of a nuclear event (initial response and rescue) is the most critical when establishing guidelines for response. In “Optimization Approaches to Decision Making on Long-Term Cleanup and Site Restoration Following a Nuclear or Radiological Terrorism Incident,” Chen and Tenforde suggest the most difficult task following an event may be the eventual recovery of affected areas. To this end, the authors analyze the recently published DHS Protective Action Guides, which provide guidance for long-term recovery issues, and evaluate the need for further research in this area.

Gary Cordner and Kathryn Scarborough suggest another area for future research with the study presented in “Information Sharing: Exploring the Intersection of Policing with National and Military Intelligence.” Posing six hypothetical scenarios to fourteen police/intelligence experts, the authors identify some of the issues that inhibit the sharing of information between police and national and military intelligence operations. Chief among these are uncertainty about what should be shared and inconsistency in how information is shared.

But what if the available information can neither prepare for nor prevent catastrophic events? This is, in part, the question posed by Ted Lewis in “Cause-and-Effect or Fooled by Randomness?” Drawing on decade-old ideas from a variety of disciplines, Lewis develops an unconventional theory of infrastructure criticality and suggests that catastrophic incidents (often) occur because of randomness — not strictly cause-and-effect.

Regardless of cause, one effect of potential catastrophic events is to generate worry and dread on the part of Americans. In “Factors Affecting the Amplification or Attenuation of Public Worry and Dread about Bioterrorist Attacks,” Lulu Rodriguez and Suman Lee present the results of their study of what variables — technical/rational or normative/value — predict public worry and dread. Data from a national sample suggests the need to provide the public with information, through the most effective channels, to maintain a sense of trust in the ability of government and individuals to provide protection in the event of a bioterrorism attack.

The responsibility for providing this information — and for dealing with the many issues facing homeland security in 2010 — will fall to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In “Same Priorities, Different Perspectives: Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff on Homeland Security,” Stephanie Cooper Blum offers a comparative analysis of books recently published by the first two secretaries of DHS.

Finally, in this issue, we offer a counterpoint to Robert Harney’s “Inaccurate Prediction of Nuclear Weapons Effects and Possible Adverse Influences on Nuclear Terrorism Preparedness” (published in the September 2009 issue of Homeland Security Affairs) in a Letter to the Editor from Rocco Casagrande and others.

As always, we welcome your contribution to the ongoing debate at

The Editor

No Comments

Post a Comment