- The Washington Times - Monday, August 1, 2005


By Mark A. Sauter and James Jay Carafano

McGraw-Hill, $69.95, 484 pages

Homeland security is at the top of America’s priorities, with the Department of Homeland Security mandated to ensure that the country will never again be attacked by a September 11 catastrophe. Homeland security is also big business, with billions of dollars expended annually on new technologies and equipment to enable the response communities to detect, prevent and as a last resort mitigate the impact of attacks. Even the academic community is extensively involved in homeland security, with new research centers, courses and degree certificates proliferating across the country’s campuses, but with mixed results.

In fact, until the publication of Mark Sauter’s and James Carafano’s “Homeland Security: A Complete Guide to Understanding, Preventing, and Surviving Terrorism,” there has not been a single volume that comprehensively covered all the components of terrorism and homeland security in a way that was both theoretical and practical. By being both academic and practical, this book fills much of the knowledge gap for these communities on these issues.

Mr. Sauter is chief operations officer of the Chesapeake Innovation Center, an incubator of homeland-security technologies, while Mr. Carafano is a senior fellow on homeland security at the Heritage Foundation. They possess the expertise to produce such a comprehensive volume on the nature of the terrorist threat to the United States and the policies, programs and institutions required to protect America.

The book is divided into three main sections: the emergence of homeland security as a modern concern, how to understand terrorism and an overview of America’s homeland-security system. September 11 served as a watershed in America’s response to terrorism, with the reorganization of the federal government ushering in the modern system of homeland security. This reorganization has been accompanied by a stronger emphasis on understanding the mind of the terrorist. This is the precondition, as the authors explain, for devising and executing strategies to defeat the threat.

Unlike other books on homeland security that primarily focus on foreign threats, Mr. Sauter and Mr. Carafano remind us that domestic terrorist groups represent “the forgotten threat.” Their profiles of significant domestic terrorist groups conclude with a section that discusses their interest in — and even possession of — rudimentary weapons of mass destruction, such as materials for a cyanide bomb. Adding to the significance of the threat posed by domestic groups is the fact that since the poisonous anthrax letter campaign following September 11 is still unresolved — it is not known whether a domestic or foreign group or individual carried out the attacks — the interest in WMD is prevalent.

Another danger posed by these domestic groups is their “leaderless resistance” type of organizational structure, which is difficult to track and penetrate. The same organizational formation is also employed by al Qaeda affiliates, and although not mentioned by the authors, future terrorist attacks in the United States may be conducted by an indigenously generated “bunch of guys” inspired by the virtual Pan-Islamic Caliphate that has already been created on the Internet.

Other noteworthy chapters discuss the planning and execution of attacks, how terrorists might employ chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-explosive weapons, the digital battlefield of cyberterrorism and how the U.S. is organized bureaucratically at the federal, state and local levels to protect its critical infrastructure. It should be noted that since the book’s publication the Department of Homeland Security has begun to be restructured, but the essence of the authors’ discussion of these issues still remains valid.

While much of the appendix contains useful reference sections on emergency services, including the role of media in homeland security, the profiles of significant Islamicterroristgroups adapted from the Department of State’s 2003 report on terrorism are out of date and would have benefited from the authors’ use of information from other sources.

Although primarily written as a textbook for the academic market — with each chapter beginning with an overview and learning objectives and ending with a chapter summary, discussion topics, notes on sources and even a quiz — “Homeland Security” is much more than a textbook. It is an indispensable reference resource for those seeking to understand how terrorists operate and the structures and mechanisms that have been developed to respond to the magnitude of the terrorist threats confronting us.

Joshua Sinai is a Washington-based writer and consultant on terrorism issues.

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