***** Homeland Security and Terrorism: Readings and Interpretations. By Russell D. Howard, James Forest, and Joanne Moore; published by McGraw Hill, www.mcgraw-hill.com (Web); 400 pages; $39.95.
Remember the legal flap between Bill O’Reilly and Al Franken over the use of the phrase “fair and balanced?” With today’s punditry being largely polemical, “fair and balanced” is more often an ideal than a reality.
That’s why this book is a remarkable achievement. It actually presents an even-handed, contemplative debate on homeland security, terrorism prevention, and terrorism response. The book is a collection of essays written by distinguished experts in their chosen fields. If insightful commentary leads to productive problem-solving, then this book is a catalyst for solving national security challenges.
The book is smartly organized in five sections. One of the strongest sections is the first, which lays out the framework of the new face of terrorism. It covers the evolution of terrorism, strategic challenges in counterterrorism, and the disconnect between government and policy.
Sections two and three address U.S. infrastructure vulnerabilities and national and local threat response. Particularly intriguing is a standout chapter on improving intergovernmental coordination by use of a theory called auto-adaptation.
Section four presents a spirited debate on the U.S. Patriot Act and civil liberties. Recently reauthorized by Congress, the Patriot Act gives the government expanded authority to track down terrorists. Some say it’s too much authority, others not enough.
Finally, section five concludes the book with lessons learned from past responses to communication failures during disasters, epidemics, and bioterrorism threats. The key chapter covers risk communication, a must-read for public agencies and large employers given the current threat of pandemic.
Reviewer: Brian Strong, CPP, CBCP (Certified Business Continuity Professional), is a business continuity planning consultant for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida. He is a member of ASIS International.