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Terrorism, Homeland Security and the National Emergency Management Network

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On September 11, 2001, officials and agencies that are part of the national emergency management system orchestrated the responses to the collapse of the World Trade Center towers and the fires at the Pentagon. The efforts of local, state, and federal emergency agencies were augmented by nonprofit organizations, private firms, and organized and unorganized volunteers. The system reacted much as it would have for a major earthquake or similar disaster. In the rush to create federal and state offices to deal with the threat of terrorism and, ultimately, to create a Department of Homeland Security, the very foundation of the nation's capacity to deal with large scale disasters has been largely ignored. Although the human and material resources that the emergency management network provides may again be critical in a terrorist-spawned catastrophe, the new Homeland Security system may not be capable of utilizing those resources effectively. The values of transparency, cooperation, and collaboration that have come to characterize emergency management over the past decade seem to be supplanted in the new command-and-control-oriented Homeland Security system. If that occurs, when the resources of the national emergency management system are needed most, the capacity to utilize the system may be severely damaged and cultural interoperability will be a serious problem.

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Waugh, W.L. Terrorism, Homeland Security and the National Emergency Management Network. Public Organization Review 3, 373–385 (2003).

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