Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

September 13, 2006

Terrorism prevention: the public gap

Filed under: Investigation & Enforcement — by Christian Beckner on September 13, 2006

Worth reading: a good post this week from fellow homeland security blogger David Stephenson on the gap in the government’s efforts to engage the general public on appropriately spotting suspicious activity and knowing what to do with this information. He laments the lack of broad public engagement on this issue by the FBI and DHS:

By contrast, when was the last time you were asked to help prevent another 9/11? When did you see information from the FBI to help you distinguish between benign activities of an unfamiliar immigrant group and a terror cell’s dry run — not to mention what information would be helpful to authorities and how to report it?

….There is NOTHING on this issue on the entire DHS web site — apparently, all they think the public is capable of is using the Ready.gov site to prepare ourselves to wait out the first 72-hours after a disaster — nothing more demanding than that.

And he notes how new personal technologies have changed the playing field for observing and reporting suspicious activities:

Equally important, the technological genie is out of the bottle now when it comes to cameraphones, videophones, and increasingly powerful smartphones. Reporting suspicious activities by the general public will become more and more common whether we like it or not, so the challenge is to set up workable programs to channel this information while preserving privacy and civil liberties, and make the general public into responsible eyes and ears to extend.

Read the whole thing.

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