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Making the Nation Safer: The Role of Science and Technology in Countering Terrorism
new capabilities, some will raise new legal and ethical issues that must be addressed long before they are used. Sound systems research and analyses—involving operational, institutional, and societal dimensions—will better bring these issues to light.
To be sure, the restructuring of transportation security technologies, techniques, and procedures to form coherent systems will not be easy. It will require an ability and willingness to step back and define security goals and performance expectations, to identify the layered systems best suited to meeting them, and to work with many public, private, and foreign entities to implement them. Security planners must be willing to question many existing security rules, institutional relationships, tactics, and technologies. This will require much strategic planning, supported by well-targeted, systems-level research and analysis.
As noted earlier, the impracticality of eliminating all transportation vulnerabilities means that efforts to deter must be a key part of transportation security strategies. That reality, together with the likelihood that over the past decade deterrence has probably stopped many hostile acts against aircraft in the first place, put it early in the line of defense against transportation terrorism. But in such a large and open transportation sector, deterrence (or deflection of the hostile act to a less damaging or less protected target) may not be achieved simply by traditional means—guards, guns, and gates. Instead, it will require sound intelligence information related to transportation security and the innovative use of resources and capabilities, which together create high degrees of uncertainty among terrorists about the chances of defeating the system (that “curtain of mystery”).
The extent to which uncertainty can deter a terrorist from a specific target is a potentially important avenue of inquiry. How does the fear of getting caught influence actions? Even a terrorist intent on suicide does not want to be stopped before achieving his or her goals. Psychological studies have sought to model criminal attitudes by interviewing perpetrators, and similar studies could presumably be directed to terrorist types in order to better understand the factors influencing their decisions to attack or avoid targets. Such knowledge could prove useful in assessing the deterrent effects of specific tactics such as the use of chemical-sniffing dogs, the randomized deployment of surveillance cameras, and
As an example, civil-rights issues associated with automated passenger-profiling systems are discussed in the report of the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security (1997), which also offers recommendations for addressing them. Also, see CSTB (2002) for a discussion of the policy and technological issues associated with national identification systems.