VCU professor discusses Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness after foiled Christmas Day jet bombing attempt
University Public Affairs
On Christmas Day 2009, a 23-year-old Nigerian tried to set off an incendiary device in his underwear to blow up a passenger jet as it prepared to land in Detroit, according to the FBI. Though the man was stopped by fellow passengers, the incident raises new concerns about the effectiveness of homeland security and emergency preparedness efforts.
Despite the close call over Detroit, Americans are safer now than they were before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to Dale Jones, Ph.D., associate professor, Public Administration, and director, National Homeland Security Project, L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University.
“We are safer in America over these last nine or so years since 9-11. And we’re safer because we have a number of extensive systems in place to protect the American people,” Jones said.
Jones said unifying the intelligence community under the director of national intelligence, promoting greater cooperation and collaboration between security and police agencies and improving information sharing are all steps taken by the government since the 2001 attacks to make the country safer.
“There are technologies. There are watch lists. And it’s possible that at any one of these steps, an individual might get through, and what we hope is that overall with a layered system of defense are measures in place, that the person will not successfully get all the way through,” Jones said.
Even so, Jones said terror groups continue to look for weaknesses in the system.
“We did have sufficient intelligence information in this case. We had streams of information. What happened here was all of the streams of information were not followed up as thoroughly as they could have been and consequently, we did not connect the dots,” Jones said.
Jones teaches courses in the principles of public administration, organizational behavior and executive leadership in the Master of Public Administration program and teaches courses in homeland security and emergency preparedness.
The VCU-based National Homeland Security Project conducts research on state government homeland security and emergency preparedness programs.
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