HLS-355: CRITICAL THINKING FOR HOMELAND SECURITY Final Project
The fight against Hurricane Katrina in a political environment set on fighting terrorism
Improving security can be a particularly challenging mission and this makes a critical thinking technique particularly useful for a person or a community to effectively strengthen their position and legislations. One of the first things that someone dealing with the concept needs to consider is the fact that security can never be one hundred percent foolproof. Even the most advanced security systems can be defeated and caring for such a system thus entails having to be in constant alert and to attempt to improve it every minute. The better a security system is, the harder it is for a criminal to defeat it and the more successful the individuals benefiting from it are.
Many individuals have a limited understanding of the idea of security, as they only tend to associate it with either things leaving an environment or things entering it. However, a situation can actually involve both and it can be much more complex. Something as seemingly irrelevant as sentiments can play an important role in threatening a security system, to the point where a person is able to influence individuals within the security system to behave in a certain way. Through introducing malicious ideas in the respective environment someone can thus disrupt balance in the community and can play an active role in causing significant problems to occur.
The very idea of homeland security demonstrates that society is limited in being able to remove terrorist threats. This contributes to the belief that acknowledging one's problems is the first step to resolving them. Terrorism and a series of other criminal acts occur because society provides them with an environment where they can thrive. The fact that criminals resort to engaging in terrorist acts stands as proof that these respective individuals are encouraged to do so by the circumstances they live in. Being a country such as the U.S. provides people with a paradoxical situation -- they have the power to intervene in crisis areas in order to save innocent, but this leads to other communities directing their attention toward the country and wanting to discourage its attempts to install peace in those respective areas.
Truth is a relative concept and in order to be able to actually understand it a person would have to simply accept the way that the majority of individuals accept it. Even in this situation, there is no guarantee that this form of truth is actually the cleanest form of the concept. The power to interpret comes with great responsibility and in order to be able to address critical situations efficiently individuals would have to focus on trying to understand them first. Things like the U.S. Patriot Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act) of 2001 made it possible for the whole world to observe the degree to which Americans were willing to prevent events such as the 9/11 World Trade Center terrorist attacks from happening.
Even with the fact that the PATRIOT act was a perfectly understandable response to the 9/11 events, the action also distorted the way that many individuals perceived reality. "Arguably, provisions in the 2001 Patriot Act discriminate against certain ethnic and religious groups (Middle Easterners and Muslims) because of their alleged connections with terrorist organizations." (Shally-Jensen 2010, p. 537) In many cases discrimination can make the difference between a successful terrorist act and one that fails. In order to be able to detect and prevent a terrorist act, law enforcement officers have learnt to identify potential terrorists and to disarm them.
The way that the masses interpret reality can often be the key to preventing terrorist acts. As a consequence, individuals who are familiarized with suspicious behaviors and attitudes are more probable to identify a terrorist and to take action that can prevent him or her from performing a terrorist act. However, a terrorist does not necessarily have to fit stereotypes in order to want to perform terrorist acts. The confusion around terrorism in general relates to how it is especially difficult for the authorities to identify a terrorist cell. In many cases terrorists are able to hide their activities and to influence others into thinking that they are perfectly normal members of a community. Through infiltrating the respective community and by influencing people to trust them they can significantly increase the probability that their actions are going to be successful and can thus demonstrate that one does not necessarily have to be a typical terrorist in order for him or her to engage in terrorist acts.
The 9/11 events obviously disrupted balance in one of the most powerful nations on the planet and influenced many Americans to be confused with regard to how this was actually possible. Factor such as the establishment of the Homeland Security agency and the implementation of the PATRIOT act were both responses to the terrorist attacks and attempts to make people feel safer. Even with this, these actions only emphasizes the difficulty associated with fighting invisible criminals. "The 21st century has also recorded huge natural disasters that, along with the problem of terrorism, necessitate a rethinking of emergency management and business continuity." (Purpura 2013, p. 20)
The very idea of an invisible terrorist is the reason why the Department of Homeland Security (and other U.S. initiatives) failed to efficiently mobilize the masses into fighting threats that the U.S. has come across during recent decades. Initial responses consequent to the 9/11 events mainly involved stereotypical terrorists and this influenced a great deal of people to turn their attention away from things that also mattered. As a result, many preferred to direct their resources at trying to fight terrorism that presumably had the form of Muslim individuals who originated in an Arab country.
Stereotypes are one of the primary reasons why Hurricane Katrina caused a great amount of damage across the U.S. While trying to fight invisible terrorists, the masses failed to acknowledge the need to address other problems -- issues that could not be avoided and that they still had to prepare for. Instead of using the 9/11 attacks as a means to construct a safer environment for Americans, the authorities preferred to focus on a series of other issues that did not actually contribute to protecting the American public, both from terrorist attacks and from natural disasters. "Hurricane Katrina exposed the U.S. Government's failure to learn the lessons of September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, as leaders from President Bush down disregarded ample warnings of the threat to New Orleans and did not execute emergency plans or share information that would have saved lives." (Kiltz 2009, p. 2)
The purpose of a security system
In order to be able to create an effective critical thinking model that would have a positive influence on homeland security, one must first consider the reasons why security exists in the first place. Individuals have trouble reaching an agreement with regard to this concept, as they tend to focus on a primary form of action when they come across it. However, the topic is much more complex and security can be used in a series of ways, as it can deter criminals, it can delay their actions, it can detect them, deny them access to an environment, or destroy their attempts to access the respective environment. While it would be especially difficult for a security system to do all of these efficiently, in order to be successful, a homeland security system would have to put great emphasis on each of them.
The simple fact that there is a homeland security system in place is, in many cases, enough to discourage criminals from going through with their actions. A homeland security system can largely be likened to an aura around a particular environment -- the respective location is less exposed to criminal actions. By having warning signs into place with the purpose to intimidate criminals, a security system can have a positive effect on the place it is meant to protect. Even with the fact that they are determined, criminals can interpret warning signs as pointers regarding the risks they take on by performing their activities. By being bombarded with constant reminders concerning both the moral nature and the penalties associated with what they want to do, individuals are less likely to actually become criminals.
In order to be effective, a homeland security system would have to be able to address a series of elements regarding crimes. This national effort would have to detect terrorist threats and consider the wide range of options they have consequent to detecting them. While in some cases an overall campaign can both make these threats ineffective or can destroy them, in other cases they can only be delayed.
One of the primary reasons why the homeland security system works is the fact that it brought together a series of departments that previously had…