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Surprise, Again And Again

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Chapter Summary

An appropriate understanding of the probability and consequences of an attack is a key element of an accurate assessment of the threat environment, which in turn permits intelligence analysts to search for potential warning indicators. This chapter discusses the degree to which policy makers failed to perceive accurately the strategic threat environment, and the impact that had on intelligence collection. It explores the extent to which the typical factors in intelligence failure as well as failures of public policy leadership contribute to intelligence failure and surprise in counter-terrorism. The author also applies existing theory about warning, surprise, and intelligence failures to new realm mass casualty terrorism and tested it in a small set of cases. Perhaps most importantly, it has endeavoured to evaluate whether terrorist surprises are inevitable.

Keywords: counter-terrorism; intelligence failure; mass casualty terrorism; Oklahoma City; public policy leadership; terrorist surprises



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