Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

April 15, 2015

Oklahoma and Boston

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Arnold Bogis on April 15, 2015

The 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing of the Murrah Federal Building seems to be approaching with little interest (outside of this blog, of course).

The second anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombing seems to be have passed with little interest outside of New England.

What do they have in common? What differentiates the two events?

Chris did a superb job of expressing the assumed role of Muslims in the Oklahoma attack:

The betting here is on Middle East terrorists,” declared CBS News‘ Jim Stewart just hours after the blast (4/19/95).

What does that matter regarding Boston, since the attackers were Muslim?

Nothing, actually.

What concerns me most about the current discussion centered on terrorism is the central role that religion plays.  If the perpetrators of some violence are Muslim, terrorism is assumed.  If they are Christian, (or fill in the blank with some non-Muslim demonitation here)


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Comment by William R. Cumming

April 16, 2015 @ 7:03 am

Few American academics with tenure on 9/11/01 were willing to divert their interest to TERRORISM IMO. And few government grants available from NAS on the subject. In American university life the CLOSING OF THE AMERICAN MIND still rules IMO. Alan Bloom.

But hey HS studies have blossomed since 9/11/01 with students hoping to find a job.

Arnold would be interested to links to BELFER CENTER and their studies related to HS since 9/11/01 and which have withstood the test of time? Links?

I became aware of Juliette Kayyem when housed at Harvard’s Belfer Center she led a seminal report on HS communications issues that gave important analysis of communications policy, problems, and issues many still not addressed a decade and 1/2 later.

Comment by Arnold Bogis

April 16, 2015 @ 10:29 pm

First off, if anyone else is reading this post and comments I’d just like to apologize for it’s abbreviated nature. Honestly, I began the post (and published it just before midnight), with the intent of finishing it. Along the way I made the poor tactical decision that a few minutes sitting on my couch would be a good idea. A few hours later when I woke up…well, the game was up. I will return and finish my thoughts, not that they are particularly groundbreaking.

Bill, the Belfer Center has seen a lot of talented terrorism scholars, if not HS in general, go through. I’d like to think that much of their work is still worth reading. You can generally search at http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/publication/

Re Kayyem, I’m guessing that you are referring to her time as Executive Director of the Executive Session on Domestic Preparedness. That was an outstanding program and ahead of its time. In my opinion, the government and no think tank have replicated the cross section of expertise across the local, state, and federal level that this program brought together. At the time it was funded by a DOJ grant. When it wasn’t renewed following 9/11, there was much head scratching. But looking back it was likely a casualty of DHS being formed and much of that funding being transferred to a new agency.

You can read the non-book products at this site: http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/project/4/executive_session_on_domestic_preparedness.html?page=1

The person whom Kayyem replaced? Richard Falkenrath. The homeland security expertise may have switched parties, but certainly not depth.

Since that time there have been a number of scholars who have made a stop at the Belfer Center. I think all have been terrorism focused (in terms of this discussion), but Arn Howitt and Dutch Leonard have carried on in a more cross disciplinary approach to disaster response scholarship at the Kennedy School. You can access their work here: http://www.hks.harvard.edu/programs/crisisleadership

Some of the ones worth following who have made a stop at Belfer, at least in my opinion, are Kendall Hoyt of Brown University on bioterrorism; Emma Belcher of the MacArthur Foundation on nuclear terrorism; Tom Bielfeld on radiological threats; Erica Chenoweth at the University of Denver on terrorism; Erik Dahl at NPS on terrorism; and Thomas Hegghammer on jihadism.

Google will lead you to all of their work. Let me know if you want anything specific.

Comment by Tom Russo

April 17, 2015 @ 3:41 pm

I’m playing catchup here Friday pm but always appreciate these look back perspective on where we were and what we do today(or believe that we should be doing…or were doing but not today).

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