Terror, Security, and Money: Balancing the Risks, Benefits, and Costs of Homeland Security

By John Mueller; Mark G. Stewart | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1
Assessing Risk
Akey problem in much homeland security analysis is the tendency to take a selective approach to risk assessment, focusing almost exclusively on imagining hazard scenarios (mostly rather extreme ones) and then analyzing the prospective consequences. There is relative neglect of several steps that are crucial for risk assessment to have any real credibility:
Establishing and trying to quantify threat likelihood
Evaluating risks
Setting risk acceptance criteria
Establishing how much risk is likely to be reduced as a result of new security measures

There is also a tendency to neglect costs and to engage in conceptual clutter.

This chapter considers these issues. It then presents and explains the approach to risk analysis that we will apply throughout the book.


PROBABILITY NEGLECT

A recent book by Gregory Treverton, a risk analyst at the RAND Corporation whose work we have found highly valuable at various points in this study, contains a curious reflection:

When I spoke about the terrorist threat, especially in the first years after
2001, I was often asked what people could do to protect their family and

-13-

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