Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

September 13, 2010

Assessing the terrorist threat

Filed under: Strategy,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Philip J. Palin on September 13, 2010

Access this link for a copy of the report: Assessing the Terrorist Threat by Peter Bergen and Dr. Bruce Hoffman.

From the Bipartisan Policy Center’s September 10 news release:

“The threat that the U.S. is facing today remains significant and dangerous, but has developed since the 9/11 Commission presented its report six long years ago,” said Congressman Hamilton. “The changing nature of the terrorist threat makes it necessary for America to constantly reexamine its counterterrorism assumptions and approaches. The level of threat posed by al-Qaeda and its allies is not fading into the past.”

Key findings of the report identify an increase in homegrown terrorists in the United States, underscoring how much the threat has changed since September 11, 2001. Al-Qaeda leadership is becoming increasingly ‘Americanized’ and U.S.-based jihadist militants do not fit any particular “ethnic, economic, educational, or social profile,” according to the assessment.

“We are seeing more Americans turning on their country, going abroad and making common cause with terrorist groups,” said Dr. Bruce Hoffman, one of the report authors. “The array of perpetrators and the nature of their plots against America are remarkable and there is no single government agency responsible for deterring radicalization and terrorist recruitment. The terrorists may have found our Achilles heel – we have no way of dealing with this growing problem.”

“Al-Qaeda has made a strategic shift away from spectacular attacks, like 9/11, to less sophisticated, more frequent attacks,” said Dr. Stephen Flynn, a member of the NSPG, at today’s press conference. “The smaller-scale attacks are almost impossible for the national security and intelligence communities to detect and intercept.” As the attempted Christmas Day bombing in Detroit and foiled plot in New York’s Times Square illustrate, “the national security community, local law enforcement and the American public need to adapt to the increasingly domestic nature of the threat.”

“We are here to remember, but also look forward and reassess, reexamine and look at what the threat is today,” said Governor Kean. “The American people have lost their focus on the threat and while we’re not trying to make people panic, this report reminds us that we cannot be complacent,” said Congressman Hamilton.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

September 13, 2010 @ 12:29 am

Well these guys should know! But if there conclusions are correct then perhaps its time to determine precisely what trends, technologies, and techniques in American society both aid and detract from these developments. We do know that the sinews of preparedness are often weakened by accident, or misfeasance, nonfeasance, or even malfeasance. Is it money or skills or education or training or what they makes the domestic terrorist such a likelihood to be a substantial problem? Is this peculiar to US for reasons not yet documented or is this a world wide phenomenom as rising populations increasingly find their futures foreclosed not by their own decisisons but by the economic structure of society? AJP Taylor, the British historian after a lifetime of study concluded that revolutions occur during periods of rising expectations not declining expectations. Is there a corollary here? Why does the academic, think tank, and governmental world produce so little of real value on what can clearly now be labeled a major theme of the 21st Century. Is the decline of the cohesion of nation-states propelled by the midnight cash and transaction flows of bytes and bits in reality the driver as money and technology refueses to be capatured and controlled in any regulated manner mostly on the basis that the Free Market must be the end goal always. What is the best open source study of the financing globally of terrorism? I know questions questions. More than the ability to answer by wisemen and women from those a fool may ask. Let’s try and figure out though where the real brain power and effort on terrorism is being sourced, and also the opposition to those sources. Why is Treasury for example so underfunded and staffed for tracking terrorist financing and has so little help from a DHS that continues to think this mission is its own. Hey perhaps an HSPD or Executive Order might help or even more legislation.
And a question, how much terrorist financing of domestic elections is occurring? What has the FEC done about terrorism? Could the fight against terrorism drive the 2012 elections like the past several, although sometimes counterintuitively?


September 13, 2010 @ 3:45 am

All-gone…No funds no luck. Good-bye good luck if you can hack it and there are lots of hacks on payrolls doing nothing and getting early retirements out of it. Once a technique has been discovered by the enemy it should be discarded without waste of time, so we are always in need of new techniques and plastique. Antique thinking isn’t going to get the job done and they are counting on a swollen bureaucracy to create better security. Swell.

They must be reading Mein Koran, getting State Dept. funds to share information. Wildly flimsy and paying off old scores with Uncle Sams dough, calling it tolerance. The sick still need tended to and they have bureaucracy for that. Be patient and keep ice on it.

Some special chemical that cost the government 18 bucks a bottle was used to kill clunkers for cash. Poured it in guys Ford V-8. Could of pulled the drain plug and ran the engines without oil to do the job. Wouldn’t fit in with the fraud posing as security. Some die faster than others.


September 13, 2010 @ 4:36 am

Federal scrap age.

A study published after the program by researchers at the University of Delaware concluded that for each vehicle trade, the program had a net cost of approximately $2,000, with total costs outweighing all benefits by $1.4 billion.

Blinder argued that a cash for clunkers program would have a tripartite purpose of helping the environment, stimulating the economy, and reducing…Common Sense.

Back to school: “Students at a new green themed school named for noted conservationists Rachel Carson and Al Gore don’t have to go far for a lesson in environmental contamination: Their $75 million campus was laden with toxic soil.”

Local cops are carrying BB guns far and away and we have speed humps to slow down the fire apparatus. Guy got a school fraud scam, so millions will be lost. I hear a shout from the bottom of the pit. He wants to tell me about his so far brief operational career. Heard it all before, don’t care to listen. It can get sporty and the airshow was another smashing success. The kids were all smiles, so thanks a million Tactical Wing. I baptized a bomb, so nos sense arguing with them. Drop it!


September 13, 2010 @ 5:49 am

Bar’s Leaks Introduces a Clunker Killer: New DiFM Rendering Chemical Sodium Silicate Disables Cash for Clunkers Program …I’ll stick with bourbon at my bar and no leaks. Call me crazy! Still changing the oil in the clunker and the Gulf needs a water change. Fish need fed and then I’ll know that’s done. Suicide ain’t victory ladies and gentlemen. The enemy doesn’t know that. They don’t know a lot from a little. You build on a lot.


September 13, 2010 @ 6:53 am

Blinder than bats, hire more bureaucrats. We have plenty of ammo and scrap metal. So deal with it or don’t. Fate is bolder than you might imagine. If you are fighting monsters, don’t become a monster. Our radar is better than yours. You got a bigger crisis. Cache is in the haystack, needles are in voters so the junkies have a big voice in Washington. I hit a few too many potholes and shocks need replaced. Send shocks and wave good-bye.


September 13, 2010 @ 7:23 am

Guy says wash windshield with VO-5 shampoo to prevent fogging. I need a shot of VO. WD-40 your canopy hinges. Don’t come unhinged, the dangerous part is always ahead.

Comment by Dan O'Connor

September 13, 2010 @ 9:47 am

It’s a difficult thing; assessment. If accurate, the assessment formula is a good one; if inaccurate, there is at best unmitigated risk and at worse, catastrophe. The politicization of the threat is a threat as well. Missile gaps, iron curtains, and evil empires aside, the proxy wars and real wars fought over the last 60 years prove, unfortunately, that the perception can be reality and the reality, deadly. Moving past hindsight history and revisionism, one thing’s for certain; the world is complicated, growing more complex, and has bad actors and markets with self interests. Does that mean we have self interests as well that may impact others negatively? Most probably, yes. And in this self interest lies the purported Al Qaeda narrative; to remove American hegemony and so forth.

So are we safer? http://tinyurl.com/332j5c2 I’d say we’re more risk averse. I’d say we’re fiscally imprudent. I’d say we’re overextended, but are we safer? There is such a degree of theatre and bravado to our current posture. What is the measure of safety? Is it resilience or posture? Is it lack of attacks or new weapon systems deployed in the lower Manhattan subway system? Is our domestic surveillance program preventing and/or identifying threats while walking the ever thinning line of civil rights?

Is the radicalization of Americans a crisis or simply a matter of population? With 330M +/- we’re bound to have some loons. Does our penchant for political correctness inhibit a more rapid identification of radicalization?

As Bill said, many, many questions. One of the unintended consequences of intense assessment periods is what to do with all the identified and often unfunded deficiencies. We’ve identified gaps, vulnerabilities, shortfalls, and critical nodes of failure, but we cannot afford to remediate. Our foreign policy and foreign aid packages need to be contracted and our entitlement appetite curbed if we are to attempt to tackle the critical infrastructure shortfalls. Again, to the main theme, has assessing the terrorist threat created a safer Nation? If war is an extension of politics, than politics is an extension of economics. If and when we are attacked again and that attack is perpetuated through a porous border or delivered via an identified gap, what will we do then?

Our safety must move from hardening to resilience based. I hate that the term and idea has become an overused aphorism, but by definition the ability to absorb and bounce back is more important than trying to defend against everything identified and yet to be. We must decentralize and mitigate our vulnerability with nimbleness and variety, not size. In biology, species that become genetically uniform leads to increased vulnerability to insects and disease (novelty).

Our food system, our monetary system, our energy system, our water system, and our response to crisis are, in general terms, very similar to genetically uniform. What kind of blow could these systems take and bounce back from effectively without large systemic disruption? I am sure it’s debatable. While AQ may be unable to pull off grandiose attacks it is still a threat. Perhaps we should spend more time building variety and nimbleness into our systems instead of focusing on about 1/100,000,000 or so radicalized citizens. In this light, context is everything.


September 13, 2010 @ 1:30 pm

Guys should know that this lifestyle doesn’t require a lot of money. A little common sense goes a long way. I think they’d be better off with a jail than a bailout and I wish I could help them to build it. I’m going to tinker with the Skylark and have an iced tea. Serve extra cold. Gas valved seized and can’t shut it down. Besieged with computer issues and shut them up. Is there a chemical for that? No hot water on tap and lots of surplus gas pipe. They got a chemical to crack shale and I got a canteen to hold water. Need plastique for gas well job. Back to engine work.


September 13, 2010 @ 4:05 pm

A criminologist once observed that a woman who made the best impression was one who poisoned her two children for the insurance money. Impressions can be fatal. Comment and let the readers make up their own minds. Terrorists are impressionable and suicidal. The assessment by the first examiner should never be accepted by the second. I can’t tell you everything. Our methods and tactics change so they are doubtful. Our resolve is always the same. Some people would doubt U.S. resolve. Those people would be mistaken. Doubtful things are uncertain and people get wasted. They started it and we need to finish it, so clean your plates kids. I am a thief and I rob terrorists. Business is great. You get older and the bank jobs get more interesting. With faster get away methods you can do bigger jobs far and away. Whole world is going bust and you guys got a plastic gun and your puds in your hands. Tact without humor is rude gentleman. Any old lady knows as much.


September 13, 2010 @ 4:22 pm

Public debt is public robbery, so you people are being robbed by school directors and other various forms of political life. Then the cops show up and play point-no point. When you’ve gone as far as you can there is No Point. Then there you are committing virtual suicide all because no company is better than bad company. I’m buying impressionist paintings, so I have my art and you got a whole lot of nothing. I got a job to plan so leave me alone. Send the old lady a couple of million and don’t tell her where it came from. Big Ben is getting seeing eye dogs for cops in Pittsburgh. Georgia can get rough. Stuff goes wrong all the time. They’re treating women like dogs and dogs like dinner. I’m a stealer.

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