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The horrific events of September 11, 2001, overshadowed much in all of our lives for many months following. Many in the science and technology community have held that while advanced technology often is used as an instrument of terrorism, technological tools can also be a vital source of prevention and deterrence of, and defense against, acts and agents of terrorism.

The National Academies responded to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, in several ways. First, the presidents of the National Academies at the time, including National Academy of Sciences (NAS) President Bruce Alberts,3 National Academy of Engineering (NAE) President Wm. A.Wulf, and Institute of Medicine (IOM) President Kenneth Shine,4 convened a meeting of leaders from the science, technology, and health care communities with leading former government officials to consider initiatives that might be carried out by the National Academies that would benefit the nation. This meeting, the Presidents’ Meeting on Countering Terrorism, was convened on September 26, 2001, just two weeks after the terrorist attacks.

A number of key activities resulted from the presidents’ meeting, the most prominent of which was the initiation of a major National Academies’ fast-track study, A Science and Technology Agenda for Countering Terrorism, aimed at defining very quickly (within six months) a research agenda for enhancing the role of science and technology in countering terrorism in the United States. That study resulted in the previously mentioned landmark report, Making the Nation Safer: The Role of Science and Technology in Countering Terrorism. That report was used prominently in developing the legislation establishing the mission, structure, and other features of the Science and Technology Directorate in what was to become the U.S. cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As the U.S. government began to implement various measures for homeland security, the implications for the scientific and engineering community became clearer, and in October 2002 the presidents of the National Academies issued a statement on behalf of the National Academies, “Science and Security in an Age of Terrorism.”5

In addition, as federal agencies began reorganizing activities in waging the war on terrorism, including the 22 agencies that would ultimately comprise DHS, the new focus in government precipitated a variety of other activities across the National Academies. These complemented the significant number of relevant


Bruce Alberts’ term as NAS president was from July 1, 1993–June 30, 2005, and he was succeeded by Ralph J. Cicerone on July 1, 2005.


Kenneth Shine’s term as IOM president concluded on June 30, 2002, and former Harvard University Provost Harvey Fineberg was appointed the IOM’s seventh president, beginning a six-year term on July 1, 2002.


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