02 September 2011

9/11 Revisited: The Future Homeland Security Practitioner...

We are approaching the 9/11 anniversary and the images and memories will be revisited.  Many of us will shed a tear and millions will recall where they were and what they were doing, on that unforgettable Tuesday morning in September, 2001.

The education of "Homeland Security" is taking place on a daily basis in the popular press and on the new social media platforms that have risen and now dominate the digital content since 9/11.  The academic and government institutions have strived for improving the standards, processes, rule sets and protocols for anti-terrorism policy.  By education, we also need to explore what we are doing to collaborate at the academic institution level on a global basis, not just on a government basis.

The "Homeland Security" curriculum at universities in the EU and the United States will soon be converging on several fronts and for good reason.  The generation that will be starting their 1st year (freshmen) in college were only 8 or 9 years old in 2001.  Their perception of what Homeland Security is and the future for a life long career must be designed on a global basis, because this is a global issue.

The students who pursue an education in languages, political science, international affairs, history and science have just as much a stake in the future of Homeland Security as others.  Those who are getting a degree in emergency management, criminal justice or risk management, or information security are well on their way, yet still may lack the knowledge and tools their liberal arts colleagues have learned to be better analysts, targeters or linguists.

A flash back to this blog post on "Homeland Security Intelligence" (HSI) last February, reminds us that regardless of the university education one receives, the future of effective strategies across the world will stem from intelligence:

27 February 2011HSI: Homeland Security Intelligence... 
What is the modern definition of U.S. Homeland Security Intelligence (HSI)? Many would differ on the jurisdiction, sources and nexus with specific intelligence that falls outside U.S. borders. The future of sharing relevant pieces of the vast mosaic of information may well lie with the definition and the interpretation of Homeland Security Intelligence.
One thing is certain about this topic of debate. If the information is being utilized to determine the nature of a threat within the confines of the U.S. Homeland, then that information will be treated according to the laws of the United States. This brings us to the next question. Are the current laws an impediment to more effective Homeland Security Intelligence (HSI) processes, methods and outcomes? The following areas must be addressed in order to get closer to the truth.
  • Governance
  • Policies
  • Regulatory and Statutory Concerns
  • Civil rights and Liberties

Yet the question begs the discussion on the structure and the purpose of the Intelligence Community (IC) itself.

Whether the homeland security incident is a natural catastrophe or a man-made threat, there are several components that all people pursuing a profession in the discipline should be developing with increased competency, including risk mitigation, legal framework, ethics, communication/collaboration, alternative analysis, supply chain, critical infrastructure, emergency/crisis management and terrorism.

Those kids who were 8 years old on 9/11, may have a different perspective on what might be important these days in order to detect another attack of the same magnitude during these times of heightened digital and mobile awareness.  They grew up with the Internet and they don't need a class in Social Media 101 or how to use BBM.  They might however, also need some training in NGiNX, Miranda IM, Trillian or Jabber Servers, if they want to support the HSI infrastructure, or understand the adversaries modus operandi.

The definitions of Homeland Security Intelligence and what comprises the spectrum of relevant and legally obtained information may differ from country to country and state to state.  Is it legal to perform digital triage on a cell phone that has been part of a lawful search and seizure in the State of Ohio, USA?

As cell phones have become more sophisticated, courts might be expected to treat these devices differently than other containers. With a couple of notable exceptions, this has not happened. Courts, relying on the container cases, have permitted law enforcement to search the contents of the phone incident to the defendant's arrest. These courts have concluded that cell phones are containers and therefore, subject to a review by the search incident to arrest doctrine. In this view, although they are more sophisticated, cell phones are just like a cigarette packet, a wallet, or a pager.
Some courts are, however, starting to treat cell phones differently. These decisions have suggested that the application of traditional rules to modern cell phones may be inappropriate because of their unique ability to hold vast amounts of diverse personal information. The most notable decision was by the Ohio Supreme Court in State vs. Smith, 920 N.E.2d 949 (2009). In that case, the court held that the search of the contents of an arrestee's cell phone violated the Fourth Amendment.

And because so much data is now in the clear, or otherwise public information on open web sites on the Internet, 80+% of open source information is what analysts are using, to add to their HSI case files.  Does your local department have a listening strategy?

In partnership with the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, the IACP launched its Center for Social Media in October 2010. The goal of the initiative is to build the capacity of law enforcement to use social media to prevent and solve crimes, strengthen police-community relations, and enhance services. IACP’s Center for Social Media serves as a clearinghouse of information and no-cost resources to help law enforcement personnel develop or enhance their agency’s use of social media and integrate Web 2.0 tools into agency operations.  
 Why should law enforcement care about listening online? There are many benefits to listening on social media channels, especially for law enforcement agencies. It is important to be aware of what is going on in and around the community and what people are saying on the Internet about the agency, its municipality, its officers, or its events. Monitoring can be incredibly valuable during a disaster or other large event, by providing law enforcement with situational awareness. Listening can also provide information to guide resource allocation and other service or response efforts. Listening through social media channels can also assist in the mitigation of a criminal event or disaster. 

The education for Homeland Security professionals beginning with the university must take into consideration the requirements that exist for collecting, analyzing and sharing relevant and legally obtained information.  The next step is to determine the correct skills that must be developed, before the newly minted student is filling out their first job applications or interviewing for their first internship.

As we reflect on the 9/11 ten year milestone, we can all admit the journey has not been easy.  It is still far from over.  Let the next ten years produce the next generation of Homeland Security professionals who may decide that Social Media and Internet expertise is just as vital to the curriculum as privacy and civil liberties.  Watch this area to converge dramatically over the course of the next few years and for the Supreme Court in the United States to make some landmark decisions.

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