Is the U.S. prepared for another terrorist attack?


INTL652 Terrorism: Assessing the Past to Forecast the Future

Assignment #3 Research Paper
Is the United States Prepared for Another Terrorist Attack?


29 December 2013

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, securing the country has become a national priority. The events of 9/11 were the first attacks on the United States (U.S.) since Pearl Harbor which catapulted the U.S. into World War II. As of the writing of this paper, the U.S. has been engaged in the War on Terrorism for 13 years. During this period of time the U.S. has been kept free from terrorist attacks by changes to laws, technology, and investigative methods to combat terrorism internationally. Although there have been a number of changes to U.S. law and American citizens have been kept safe, the threat of terrorism has not abated. With the continued threat of terrorism to the U.S. and its citizens, there is a high probability that the U.S. will suffer another 9/11 type of event. The U.S. has shown its resolve in recovering from 9/11 and the many natural disasters that have occurred since and is preparing for incidents in the future. There is a plethora of information and studies conducted after 9/11 that, in great detail, informed us to the extent we failed to prevent the events of 9/11. Ironically, in the years after the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) many academics feel we are no safer now than we were prior to 9/11. In a historical context, the U.S. has been reactive in nature to every major catastrophe it has endured. The cycle of disaster events has repeated itself over and over throughout our history. The U.S. experiences a major response event, fails in the initial response and recovery efforts, endures congressional investigations, obtains funding to fix the failures, execute the recovery effort, and return to a complacency mentality until another major event occurs. The purpose of this paper is to address the question of the U.S. readiness in the event there is another terrorist attack. I plan to focus on the aspect of preparation, reforms, and interagency coordination before and after the next terrorist attack. This paper will argue that the preparation for a terrorist attack is required; it’s not a question of how an attack is orchestrated. The question is the U.S. prepared for another terrorist attack and recovery? Literature Review

In Perry’s (2001) analysis he explains the actions that the U.S. needs to take in preparation for the next attack. The articles’ publication is under the premise of a worst case scenario as it pertained to terrorism in 2001. The primary focus of the article was the U.S. preparation for any delivery method terrorist organizations could provide. There was a concern that terrorist organizations could/would buy nuclear weapon platforms from rogue Soviet BLOC nations. The only way these attacks could be thwarted was by the mix of three strategies: deterrence, prevention, and defense. The ability for the U.S. to use conventional forces to deter enemies needed to be maintained as well as the intelligence community with an aggressive campaign against nations that sponsor terrorism.

In the article, The Next Attack, Flynn (2007) provides a framework in which terrorist organization detonates a bomb at an oil refinery, near Philadelphia’s Citizen Bank Park, that results in the release of a chemical cloud comprised of chemicals used in the refinery process. The cloud kills thousands over a ten day period as a result of breathing the fumes. In the aftermath of 9/11 the U.S. government concluded there was no way they could protect every essential asset and chose to specifically defend critical infrastructure networks. It was believed that terrorists would only attack large targets that they could get the biggest return on investment.

Flynn took a very critical view of the U.S....

References: 9/11 Commission. The 9/11 Comission Report. July 26, 2004. (accessed 12 29, 2013).
Abouo-Bakr, C. Managing Disasters through Public-Private Partnerships. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2013.
Carafano, James, and David Heyman. DHS 2.0: Rethinking the Department of Homeland Security. Special Report SR-02, Washington: The Heritage Foundation, 2004.
Carter, Ashton B,, John M. Deutch, and Philip D. Zelikow. Catasrophic Terrorism: Elements of a National Policy. Visions of Governance for the Twenty-First Century, John F. Kennedy School of Government, 1998.
Governement Accounting Office. Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: Department of Hoeland Security. Series Report, Washington: United States General Accounting Office, 2003.
King, Peter, et al. "Keep FEMA within Homeland Security." January 14, 2009. (accessed December 29, 2013).
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