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 • 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!
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 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?
OUTLINE •  Nature of the threat •  Sources of vulnerability •  Technical responses to the threats •  Technical strategies •  S&T priorities •  Structural Issues in government
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.
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?
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 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.
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
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
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?
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
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 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
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)
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.
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 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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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 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
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?