Predicting and Preventing Terrorist Attacks.

Predicting and Preventing Terrorist Attacks

U.S. and foreign intelligence organizations have averted a number of terrorist plots, including several directed at the United States. Nevertheless, it is not good enough to foil most terrorist attacks; intelligence organizations are expected to foil all of them. Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the United States has reformed its intelligence organizations to make them better able to predict terrorist activity. These reforms include the establishment of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to coordinate intelligence activities, as well as the National Counter Terrorism Center to develop counterterrorism strategy and planning. Although reforms and new legislative actions can help provide a means to prevent terrorist attacks, the most important component to counterterrorism efforts is having accurate and timely intelligence. There are many challenges inherent to collecting data on terrorists and terrorist organizations. For instance, the extensive amount of data collected can make it difficult to distinguish useful information from irrelevant information. It is important to be aware of and consistently address challenges like this, because they can make predicting and preventing terrorist attacks very difficult.

To prepare for this assignment:

  • Review the online article “Strategic Choices, Intelligence Challenges.” Think about challenges intelligence officials encounter.
  • Read the article “Spies and Bureaucrats: Getting Intel Right.” Consider the difficulty related to monitoring and understanding intelligence data.
  • Review the assigned pages in Chapter 8 of the text Introduction to Homeland Security. Focus on intelligence challenges as well as post-9/11 reforms that have addressed these challenges.
  • Review the articles “Homeland Security: Progress in Implementing 9/11 Commission Recommendations,” “Final Report on 9/11 Commission Recommendations,” and “Legislation Related to the Attacks of September 11, 2001.” Reflect on the extent to which post-9/11 reforms have addressed the intelligence challenges related to forecasting and preventing terrorist attacks.
  • Think about how the difficulty of gathering intelligence affects the forecasting and prevention of terrorist attacks.
  • Consider the extent to which post-9/11 reforms have addressed the intelligence challenges to forecasting and preventing terrorist attacks.

The assignment: (1–2 pages)

  • Explain why it is so difficult to forecast and prevent terrorist attacks. Be sure to include brief descriptions of some of the major challenges.
  • Explain the extent to which post-9/11 reforms have addressed the intelligence challenges to forecasting and preventing terrorist attacks. Be specific and use examples to support your explanation.


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