• United States



Anti-Terrorism Research: Science Is Golden

Oct 07, 20022 mins
Critical InfrastructureCybercrime

Many of the nation’s leading scientists and engineers say what’s missing in the fight against terrorism is research.

“Making the Nation Safer: The Role of Science and Technology in Countering Terrorism,” a report by 118 leading researchers associated with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), serves as a sort of call to armsor more specifically a call to labs. The group urges new research into updating everything from IT systems to defenses against threats like “dirty bombs.”

That is where the proposal of a “homeland security institute” comes in. The paper suggests that a full-fledged research facility be created in the proposed Department of Homeland Security, complete with an undersecretary of science and technology to coordinate between the White House, the National Academies and the National Institute of Health.

There are two ways to look at the NAS paper: Either we have an honest effort to clarify the nation’s goals for the purpose of making us safer, or we have an honest effort to create a coherent research strategy that actually creates more bureaucracy and will be hard to pay for.

The NAS proposal could be either, or both. But in a telling moment, it calls for serious cooperation between the private sector and government researchers. The challenges that kind of cooperation has posed in the IT sector with efforts like the Electronic Crimes Task Force and the ISACs, indicates that this is no small task.

But credit NAS with ambitious thinking, even if its efforts lead to naught.