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Homeland Security: Technology and Technological Issues Case Study

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Updated: Sep 16th, 2019


Homeland security technology forms one of the most effective methods of addressing terrorism and other types of human rights violation in the United States and the globe at large. It sets a clear platform for data access, analysis and prompt reaction needed to deter terror-related activities.

The September 11 commission report brought out intelligence sharing through technology as an environment that brings stakeholders into active participation by facilitating rapid and more effective connection of differentiated indicators that are well orchestrated for terror (Benthasahel, 2006). Though most authors appear to be in agreement that technology has always remained the ultimate tool for defeating terror, quite a significant number of the same authors are sounding warning on the various issues that affect its optimum application.

Owing to the immense threat of terrorism that faces the United States as well as the current issue of ineffectiveness in the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) fusion center in sharing information, this study provides an intrinsic evaluation of the challenges associated with intelligence sharing efforts that are regularly articulated by the United States’ Homeland Security. In particular, the case study critically examines efforts that are being employed by the DHS as well as the effectiveness of the same inputs.

Statement of the Purpose

An understanding of a nation’s security operational environment has been noted by security strategists as a key requirement in developing technological systems that are relevant to the goals that are being sought. The role played by technology in the current security environment makes it an important operational variable bearing in mind that there are several nations which have been intending to curb the spread of terrorism without much success.

Such nations are often left with minimal options to pursue in regards to fighting acts of terror. By developing a clear picture of the nature of threats posed by the technological issue on violation of civil liberties in the fusion centre of the DHS, it will be quite easy for the US Homeland Security to deal with the emerging threats that are being faced with in operations which is important in ensuring that they retain customer confidence and their reputation.

An understanding of the security issue and dynamics that affect its implementation in the practical environment is thus important in ensuring that the goals of the case study and its mechanics in seeking to address the problem are well developed.

Description of the Subject

There is no doubt on the importance of the role played by technology in ensuring efficiency in handling security. It is apparent that information security plays an important role in developing the confidence that stakeholders have on their internal security systems and may also play a role in ensuring that an organisation gains reputation in the segment within which operations are carried out.

Numerous terrorism-related threats exist in the United States. Therefore, the understanding as well as sharing of these threats is of great significance in developing a clear picture of what is required in ensuring security of the American public, their property, families, tourists and neighbours.

This understanding is central towards numerous development and researches that have been conducted in seeking to determine the best approaches of ensuring effective application of technology in curbing challenges posed by terrorism.
However, the fact that the Homeland Security is suffering from security breaches with regard to information sharing, this practice has not been embraced or appreciated for a considerably long time.

Moreover, the dynamism that defines national security against terrorism from a technological point of view clearly demonstrates that any security entity that is dependent on technology must be willing to change its systems regularly in order to accommodate changes that are presented by technology. It is thus evident that over reliance on the fusion centres to gather information from people in private sectors as well as the government tends to place the Homeland Security in a position where its application of technology is highly dynamic.

For instance, absorption into the existing organisational system has become a problem in the recent past. Critics of the practice of gathering intelligence without conducting a privacy impact assessment have pointed out that organisations have lost information since their databases have been defrauded and leaked with considerable damage of their reputation (Maguire & Okanda, 2010). The latter practice also goes against section 208 of the existing e-Government Act of 2002.

Chronology of the Case Study

Report by the September 11 commission in 2004 brings into perspective the need to gather every bit of intelligence on possible terrorist threats. According to the report, all the four planes were hijacked simultaneously during the morning incidences. Hence, it could not be easy to identify them let alone preventing the occurrence of the ordeal (Benthasahel, 2006).

By indicating that the system was “blinking red”, the commission pointed that though the correct procedures were followed, the link between indicators and actual incidence of terrorism was lacking. Terrorism was only perceived from a narrow perspective, yet it is a highly changing and widely executable factor when involved parties have strong determination of attacking the enemy.

While two of the four hijacked planes crashed on the twin-towers in New York City, the third and fourth ones crashed in Arlington and Shanksville respectively (Benthasahel, 2006). Proponents of using technology to gather any form of information without restriction are of the opinion that if the latter could have been done, information gathered from private communication could have shed some light on the impending security threat.

There is need to pose the most important question at this point. For instance, why was it impossible to cite the possibility of terrorists in all the four different yet highly related cases? It was noted that the enemy is not just patient. Terrorists are known to be also sophisticated and lethal. The commission equally identified the disturbing search for redress in political grievances. It is pertinent to explore terrorism from a historical point of view.

This explains why the commission saw the declaration of war on United States by Osama Bin Laden as a careful and effective effort that was not losing any bit of determination (Maguire & Okanda, 2010). In spite of the counterterrorism efforts that had equally undergone transformation over time, overtones of the cold war on being highly secretive obscured critical “connection of dots” because they were not effectively imaginative. How could one imagine an airplane loaded with thousands of jet-fuel being used like a self -propelled missile?

While intelligence sharing is indeed not a new concept, its application prior to September 11 terrorist attack was largely seen as the responsibility of intelligence community only. However, even various intelligence units could not fully share their information. For instance, the Federal Bureau of Investigation information was rarely accessible to local police while in their operations (Roger, 2004).

Intelligence sharing as observed by the September 11 commission required holistic cooperation between systems that allowed access to particularistic data and information that could leverage the capacity to identify terrorists’ motives and prevent them before striking (Roger, 2004). Therefore, it is a complex system that demands intensive and highly secretive information within the intelligence community and other stakeholders who are strategically positioned in completing the whole picture of dealing with terrorists.


The September 11 commission’s report created a new understanding of terrorism. For example, even though it is largely projected from outside, local communities in the US are very important so that its execution can be effective. The United States created major fusion centers which brought the Department of Homeland Security and that of justice to a convergence point by strongly supporting acquisition of terrorism-related information from both the public and private sectors (Reveron, 2006).

Authors argue that fusion centers have been highly effective by making individual states feel and amplify their contribution towards the fight on terror (Maguire & Okanda, 2010). For instance, a local fire fighter knows to directly confirm or relay critical information as opposed to previous hierarchical reporting system that caused key delays and ultimately made terrorists execute their plans with ease.

However, this has not gone without a considerable share of problems largely due to the technology of information gathering that takes place in fusion centers. Reports from the Missouri Information Analysis Centre made in 2009 points towards privacy risks and intentional targeting of Islamic militia groups, conspiracy theorists, pro-life activists, Anti-war activists and third party supporters (Benthasahel, 2006).

This has been regarded as a misuse of technology creep into individuals’ privacy, gather incorrect and incomplete information with a mission to obtain terrorist information.

Lessons Learned and summary

Though efforts to bring on board community contribution have significantly been improved, its involvement still appears to be highly peripheral. Besides, the US citizens and individuals from other nations feel that their privacy has been breached through the technology being used by the DHS. In both cases, the highly hierarchical structures create the sense that terrorism is a fight between the police and terrorists.

It is important that public identify more with the established technological initiatives and make the whole process self-propelling. In a residential estate, people should form important cooperative links which would make them treat with suspicion non-cooperative members until they are cleared by intelligence units. Intelligence community should extend their tentacles to all sectors of the community in-order to be sure of total safety against terrorists’ initiatives.

One cannot fail to cite the immense appreciation by the US administration that it is not just the United States which is being faced by the problem of terrorism. The entire world is under the daily threats of terror. Therefore, intelligence sharing creates localized force that improves the overall fight against terror. However, I agree with some analysts who differ with this view by indicating that intelligence sharing and localized capacity enhancements if not controlled will lack public support thereby creating a loop hole.

This will ultimately be used by terrorists to overcome the efforts being put in place by the government of the day. Therefore, this calls for additional precaution in order to avoid deterioration of the current security standards that are already in bad state.


Benthasahel, N. A. (2006). Coalition of Coalitions: International Cooperation Against Terrorism, Studies in Conflict and terrorism, 29(1), 35-49.

Maguire, D. & Okanda, D. (2010). Critical Issues in Crime and Justice: Thought, Policy, and Practice. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Sage.

Reveron, D. (2006). Old Allies, New Friends: Intelligence Sharing in the War on terror. Orbis, 50(3), 1-15.
Roger, Z. (2004). Mixing the Problem of Analytical Mind-Sets: Alternative Analysis. International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, 17(3), 385-404.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Homeland Security: Technology and Technological Issues." September 16, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/homeland-security-technology-and-technological-issues/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Homeland Security: Technology and Technological Issues'. 16 September.

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