Assessing the Benefits of Homeland Security Efforts Deployed Against a Dynamic Terrorist Threat

by Brian A. Jackson

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Because the management of risk is such a central part of the DHS mission, how to assess the benefits of policies aimed at protecting the nation from terrorist attacks is a primary focus in this area of policy analysis and debate. This working paper focuses on assessing the costs to terrorists of protective and security measures that either deter them from staging attacks or significantly degrade their ability to cause harm when they choose to do so. The author cautions that the risks posed by terrorist organizations must be viewed from a dynamic rather than a static perspective. When challenged by defenses that limit their operational effectiveness or threaten them, violent groups will change their behavior to reconstitute their capabilities and security.

The research described in this report was conducted by RAND Infrastructure, Safety, and Environment.

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