DISCUSSION BOARD Ethics, Intelligence & Technologies in Homeland Security

Homeland Security efforts are ably reinforced by Homeland Defense and Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA), which are missions executed by the Department of Defense (DOD), most specifically by the Combatant Command, United States Northern Command (USNORTHCOM). In supporting the nation when requested by DHS, FEMA, or other lead federal agencies, or as directed by the president or the secretary of defense, DOD provides many unique capabilities for crisis response. One specific function used most notably during the post-Hurricane Katrina period was the use of airborne assets to provide damage assessments and to gauge the extent of the sea surge at various times during the recovery.

The function of deploying such assets is traditionally called intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR). Yet the U.S. military cannot legally collect intelligence on U.S. citizens. Consequently, the action, as performed during the hurricane recovery operations described here, is known as incident awareness and assessments (IAA). For some, the difference between these terms is merely semantics; for many, IAA differs both symbolically and practically from ISR, if not in how information is collected, then in how it is used and the motivation behind the collection. (The Web site for IAA reference is under Web sites references below.)

Assignment Guidelines

  • Address the following in 5–7 paragraphs:
    1. Do you believe the distinction between ISR and IAA lies simply with terminology (and therefore there is little or no difference) or that there is a separation between the concepts? Explain and defend your answer fully. You may choose to research the topic more fully.
      • Contemplating the ethics of using IAA in the homeland, list at least 3 benefits of its use where ethics might potentially be secondary.
      • List at least 2–3 costs or opposing views to its use and how IAA—or the information gathered—might be misused or abused.
        • What if criminal activity (like acres of tended marijuana) was observed during IAA missions intended to conduct damage assessments? How should such information be handled?
    2. Do you believe converting the term intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance to incident awareness and assessments for operations conducted in the homeland was wise or frivolous (or described otherwise)? Explain and defend your answer fully.
      • What is the value of using carefully selected terminology for operations in the homeland?
      • How does the symbolism of IAA potentially aid homeland security professionals in performing their jobs?
      • How does the symbolism of ISR potentially hinder homeland security professionals in performing their jobs?
    3. Among the Web sites listed for this unit, you will find the Air Forces North (AFNORTH) Incident Awareness and Assessment Handbook, June 2010.
      • Why do you think this manual on IAA is available from open-source sites?
      • Do you think there might be ethical considerations to publicizing the use and purposes of IAA? Name and discuss at least 1 of these.
      • Is this method of sharing details with the public something you would advocate for other agencies and the technologies they employ?
        • Give at least 1 example of an agency and a type or specific technology for which you would recommend they use a similar format.
  • Post a new topic to the Discussion Board that contains your responses to the above questions.
  • Comment on at least 2 other students’ posts.

In your own words, please post a response to the Discussion Board and comment on at least two other postings. You will be graded on the quality of your postings.

For assistance with your assignment, please use your text, Web resources, and all course materials.