Homeland Insecurity: Thinking about CBRN Terrorism
Mauroni, Albert J.
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As the U.S. government has seen a change of administrations, there is an opportunity for a constructive review of how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has addressed the threat of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) terrorism in terms of policy development and execution to date. Our current homeland security approach to CBRN terrorism seems to have its basis in the incidents of 9/11 and the U.S. anthrax attacks in October-November 2001. However, our history of homeland defense goes back to 1941 (at least); to understand from a policy perspective how the government ought to address domestic CBRN terrorism, we need to put it all in context. This essay examines the issues of how DHS has prepared for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear terrorism incidents. DHS should address these threats in a consistent and holistic manner, but instead the federal government has developed singular hazard-based approaches to each threat. DHS has not assessed its efforts to address CBRN terrorism or identified where DHS could improve, and as a result we see merely the continuation of previous initiatives. The essay concludes with some recommendations on how DHS could improve this area with better policy practices.
This article appeared in Homeland Security Affairs (September 2010), v.6 no.3
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