Opaque communities: a framework for assessing potential homeland security threats from voids on the map
Speer, Matthew E.
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Opaque communities confound homeland security situational awareness and integration efforts, which generates pervasive threat perceptions that have often escalated into governmental interventions and violent confrontations. Governmental failures to effectively communicate with, and judiciously address past incidents involving opaque communities, have led to tactical response disasters; future inabilities to foster contact with such groups could present grave, unforeseen challenges to homeland security and surrounding community resiliency efforts. Utilizing a structured focused method, this thesis explores whether governmental entities adopt a common set of operational assumptions regarding threats emanating from opaque communities and, if so, whether alternative interactional frameworks for integrating such communities into homeland security efforts are available. This thesis presents case study analysis of interventions involving the opaque communities of the Branch Davidians at Waco, MOVE in Philadelphia, and FLDS YFZ Ranch in Eldorado and finds that ingrained default oppositional frameworks influenced governmental deliberations throughout each event. This inquiry concludes that targeted constructive communication strategies utilizing dedicated interlocutors knowledgeable about a given community will assist in preventing future unnecessary and costly official interventions.
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