How is Homeland Security handling the growing homegrown terrorist threat (White Supremacists/Nationalists, ANTIFA, Islamic Terrorists, Lone Wolves) within the US?
Strengths: Better communication amongst agencies. After the terrorist attacks on 9/11, it was discovered how bad the communication and intelligence sharing between law enforcement and intelligence agencies was. This is one of the reasons many believe why the attacks were even able to occur (Johnston, 2003). Because of this blunder, an emphasis on sharing vital information and intelligence was put forward. To this day it is something that is practiced and will likely continue to be common place within the homeland security industry.
Better intelligence gathering throughout all level of agencies. This also led to an emphasis on intelligence gathering in general. Knowledge is power and within homeland security intelligence is knowledge. This is something that has trickled down from the higher up agencies all the way down to your state and local ones as well. Throughout my education path in Homeland Security, I have seen how much intelligence gathering processes have increased over the last 10-15 years.
Weaknesses- Cyber security. With the reliance on cyberspace and the internet in critical infrastructure and people’s everyday life, cyber security is something that needs to be a top priority. This is something that we are still trying to catch up to and combat in not only homeland security, but also the DOD. One of the worst parts about a cyber-attack, is that it can come from anyone. A rogue nation like Russia or North Korea, or even a lone wolf at home with his PC.
Homegrown terrorism/Mass Shootings. In the time since I have begun taking classes for my degree, there have been too many homegrown terrorist attacks or mass shootings in the US. The list of attacks is long: Ft Hood, Pulse Night Club, San Bernardino, Journalists Shootings, Sandy Hook, Boston Bombing, Recruiters Shooting, South Carolina Shooting, Charlottesville Car Attack, Sikh Temple Shooting. These attacks were either conducted by lone wolves or groups of people who were influenced in some way by terrorist groups. Whether that was Islamic terrorists using the internet to gain sympathizers and radicalizing these people, or White supremacists/Nationalists being radicalized by groups here in our own country. There is also the idea that some of these people were just mentally unstable. Either way this is something that is a glaring weakness in securing the homeland. This is so much of an issue, that the FBI has stated recently that white supremacists are as much of a threat to the homeland as ISIS (Buncombe, 2017).
RQ- How is Homeland Security handling the growing homegrown terrorist threat (White Supremacists/Nationalists, ANTIFA, Islamic Terrorists, Lone Wolves) within the US?
TS- If Homeland Security focuses more on the threat of homegrown terrorism, then the threat from these homegrown/domestic terrorists will be greatly reduced.
Buncombe, A. (2017, September 28). FBI considers white supremacist groups as much of a threat as Isis. Retrieved from https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/fbi-white-nationalists-isis-threat-nazis-alt-right-trump-muslim-groups-terrorism-report-a7972136.html
Johnston, D. (2003, July 24). 9/11 Congressional Report Faults F.B.I.-C.I.A. Lapses. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/24/us/9-11-congressional-report-faults-fbi-cia-lapses.html
This question could really be opinioned based. I will do my best to bring some facts to the strengths and weaknesses mentioned. The first strength the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has is intelligence. Many believe the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) make up the intelligence agencies. However, seventeen agencies make up the United States intelligence committee (IC). The Office of the Director of National Intelligence leads the other 16 agencies and organizes efforts. These agencies are located across the globe to ensure the collection meets requirements. The IC working together have thwarted countless terror attacks. According to The Daily Signal, there have been 104 foiled terror attacks (Inserra, 2017, para 1).
The second is very close to intelligence, information sharing. As we know, one the biggest recommendations in the 9-11 Commission Report (2004) was the lack of information sharing (pg. 79). There were numerous intelligence organizations working for the same goal, but the term “need to know” was overly executed, thus potentially, leading to the 9-11 attacks. Since then, information sharing has been a priority and there have been numerous initiatives to improve the sharing of information. There have been huge virtual reorganizations and shifts of cultures within the government, state, local, and private sector to share information.
The first weakness within our DHS is cyber security. I do not believe there has a week that has gone by where the news has not had a story in the US lack of cyber security. One headline that has been in the news is the Russian meddling in our 2016 presidential elections. Each day our government is going more towards automacy, cloud services, and many of these services are contracted out. In an interview with NBC General Pual Nakasone, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of the National Security Agency, stated the US is struggling to attract and maintain cyber security specialist (Nadi & Abou-Sabe, 2018, para 9). As one can imagine, if this continues, the US will continue to fall behind.
The second weakness the DHS has is the confidence from the American people. Many feel the government, specifically DHS, has violated their privacy, spied, and collected personal information when there was no authorization to. And how can you not believe this when it is across news channels. Having to combat terrorism and intelligence mission is huge matter when DHS appears to overreach its efforts and roles in the IC.
Thesis: If the Department of Homeland Security increase operations in cyber space and ignores the threats, then America’s infrastructures will be vulnerable
Research Question: Critical Infrastructure provide us the luxuries of our day to day live, however, what role is DHS taking to protect the critical infrastructure from cyber threats
Looking forward to any feedback or advice on my thesis and question.
Inserra, D. (2017, September 11). Foiled Virginia Attack Brings Total US Terror Plots to 97 Since 9/11. Retrieved July 5, 2018, from https://www.dailysignal.com/2017/09/07/foiled-virginia-attack-brings-total-us-terror-plots-97-since-911/
Nadi, A., & Abou-Sabe, K. (2018, June 29). CyberPatriot trains kids to protect America from hackers. Retrieved July 7, 2018, from https://www.nbcnews.com/news/education/cyberpatriot-trains-kids-protect-america-hackers-n887611
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States., Kean, T. H., & Hamilton, L. (2004). The 9/11 Commission report: Final report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States. Washington, D.C