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Counterterrorism and the Engaged Citizen (by David Brannan)

Sunday, November 12th, 2017

It is time to recognize that terrorists are not constrained by our organizational mandates, lack of imagination or fixation with past tactics. They will continue to change targets and tactics which exploits our open society. Politicians continue to tell us how they will defeat terrorism and make us safe but a commitment to engaged citizenship and the fundamental American freedoms in the face of the threat is the bedrock of countering terrorism.

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Gray Terrorism (by Chris Milburn)

Saturday, November 11th, 2017

Mass shootings persist within the walls of American institutions. In a country church in Texas, an individual killed 26 unsuspecting worshippers and wounded dozens more on a Sunday morning. In the aftermath of these mass killings, Americans seek ways to make sense of the seemingly senseless violence in hopes of preventing more bloodshed in the future.

Whether the shooter is branded a domestic terrorist, a violent extremist, a lone wolf, a gunman, or a terrorist, the emergence and persistence of mass shootings present significant challenges for analysts and law enforcement professionals. Security analysts and law enforcement require the analytical tools to assess and categorize such events in hopes of preventing or minimizing future incidents. But as mass violence has become a part of the social vocabulary of the age, violence against large groups of innocent civilians has increasingly been used by individuals who do not meet the traditional criteria to be accurately deemed “terrorists.”

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Cop without a Client – a perspective on public safety in an age of unstoppable cars (by Aristotle Wolfe)

Monday, June 19th, 2017

I am a California highway patrolman, and this is what I know. I know that driving is dangerous, and I know that people are fallible, a combination that results in over 30,000 deaths a year on our nation’s highways. I also know that criminals drive those highways, and I know how to find them, even when I am just trying to keep the roads safe. I know that, when I do my job well, less people die and more criminals go to jail. I also know that this may change someday. In the future, cars will drive themselves, and when they do, our highways are going to be safer than I can make them today. I know that will change my job, but I don’t know how. I think driverless cars are going to save a lot of lives, and I think that is good. But I also think there is space in this new, safer world for criminals—and terrorists—to move more freely than they do today, to commit crimes we have not yet imagined, with fewer traffic cops out there to stop them. And I think we all need to do some thinking on that.

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Security in an Era of Uncertainty (by Chris Milburn)

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

The United States has new leadership. Among many notable changes made immediately by the new administration, the president has authorized religion-based immigration restrictions and has taken action to focus solely on Islam as a source of violent extremism within the United States. These early actions indicate a newly institutionalized “Islamophobia” that could prove to be disastrous for national security efforts if not addressed correctly by security practitioners.

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The Wicked Problems of Low-tech Terrorism (by Gregg Favre)

Saturday, July 16th, 2016

When ideology is primary, the “means” is a matter of access

In France, the investigation into the Bastille Day attack is in its infancy. During the nation’s declared days of mourning, specialists will confer to uncover the specifics of how this horrific event occurred. Over the coming days and weeks, details will emerge about the driver, his networks and, perhaps most importantly, his motivations. But what is known now is that a rented delivery truck evaded security measures and menacingly ran down innocent men, women and children. While many share the brutality of the attack, its lack of sophistication should come as a surprise to few.

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Security, Social Media and Encryption (by Joseph Campos)

Monday, May 30th, 2016

The November 13, 2015 attacks in Paris, France that killed 150 people and wounded more than 350, and the San Bernardino, U.S. on December 2, 2015, that killed 14 people, raise questions as to the conflation of security and democratic principles, especially that of privacy. Smart phones and other devices have an array of applications/tools that enable users to encrypt various forms of communication. The question for the security apparatus in democratic societies is how do we continue to promote ideals of freedom and privacy while ensuring security.

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Chasing Ghosts: The Policing of Terrorism (Book Review)

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

Author: John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart
Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2016

Reviewed by: Jack Anderson

Practically any educated European from 1480 to 1680 understood that civilization was besieged by a vast and malevolent hidden society of witches literally hell bent on destroying it. “The reality,” says sociologist Rodney Stark, “of these malefactors was beyond question.” Thousands had confessed to their crimes once apprehended. Faced with such a terrifying and indisputable threat, the only “reasonable and decent” thing to do, says Stark, was “stamp it out”–which he notes is tragically just what reasonable and decent people did. Historian Hugh-Trevor Roper observed that the “most ferocious of witch-burning princes, we often find, are also the most cultured patrons of contemporary learning.” Tens of thousands of “witches” were hunted, tried, and killed during this period.

Early in Chasing Ghosts: The Policing of Terrorism, John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart compare the contemporary struggle against terrorism to medieval witch hunts. While often painted as genocide or gynocide, the extermination of witches was not an act of prejudice or ignorance, but rather the terrible application of reason and capability to a false premise. Mueller and Stewart are not arguing that terrorists don’t exist, rather that we exaggerate their capabilities, and in doing so justify actions and expenses that are out of proportion to the actual threat.

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