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    Events of Interest: Cato Institute Conference on Counterterrorism Strategy (Jan. 12-13)

    From the press release:

    With a new administration in the White House, January 2009 will be the starting point for a new approach to U.S. counterterrorism efforts. This conference presents solid, immensely practical analyses of strategic counterterrorism policies based on the lessons and experiences of the past eight years and earlier, and on what proven strategies will yield the most beneficial results for the United States. In addition, the conference focuses on defining realistic objectives and allocating military, federal and state government expenditures according to these goals. To accomplish this, an outstanding group of national and global experts has been assembled to share their insights, accomplishments, and strategic recommendations for the coming administration.

    This Conference is made possible through the generosity of The Atlantic Philanthropies.

    Registration fee: $50. Registrations must be received by noon Friday, January 9, 2009.

    Conference Schedule

    Monday, January 12

    8:00 – 9:00 a.m. Registration and Continental Breakfast

    9:00 – 10:30 a.m. Panel I: How Overreaction and Misdirection Play into the Terrorism Strategy

    Terrorism seeks to weaken strong powers like the United States by goading them to overreact and waste their own blood and treasure, give sympathy and recruiting gains to terrorists, and come loose from their ideological moorings. Beyond avoiding war and misdirected homeland security efforts, counterterrorism strategy requires some subtle awareness of the different ways a victim state’s actions can play into terrorists’ hands. Countering the strategic logic of terrorism will require the new administration to adopt some very disciplined responses and deny superficially appealing impulses toward overreaction.

    Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies, Cato Institute
    Paddy Hillyard, Professor of Sociology, Queen’s University, Belfast
    Michael German, Policy Counsel, ACLU
    Robert Hutchings, Diplomat in Residence, Princeton University

    Chair: Christopher Preble, Director of Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute

    10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Panel II: Terrorism’s Causes: Grievances, Goals, or Gang Membership

    Much effort has gone into discovering terrorism’s causes, but the roots are as diverse as the groups that adopt terrorism as a tactic. Terrorists are not homogenous from place to place, or even within organizations. Some may regard themselves as geopolitical actors with articulated grievances, and others may be disaffected youth drawn to a thrill-kill cult. Understanding all the motivations that animate terrorists can help to frame a proactive and comprehensive counterterrorism strategy.

    Mia Bloom, Assistant Professor of International Affairs, University of Georgia
    James Forest, Director of Terrorism Studies and Associate Professor, Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, US Military Academy
    Robert Pape, Professor of Political Science, University of Chicago
    Max Abrahms, Predoctoral Fellow, Stanford University

    Chair: Walter Reich, Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Professor of International Affairs, Ethics and Human Behavior, George Washington University

    12:15 – 1:00 p.m. Lunch

    1:15 – 1:45 p.m. Keynote Address

    Steve Coll
    President and CEO, New America Foundation, and author of Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (2004), and The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century (2008).

    1:45 – 3:15 p.m. Panel III: Terrorist Groups: A Status Report

    Following more than seven years of enormous pressure brought to bear on al Qaeda and similar groups after the 9/11 attacks, it is important to assess its status, and the status of other terrorist groups. While some networks and groups have suffered serious setbacks, they have also been tenacious. Meanwhile, other groups and networks may have formed. How has al Qaeda central evolved since 9/11? What role do self-starters play? And how have other terrorist organizations adapted their operations to circumvent counterterrorism measures?

    Andrew Mack, Director, Human Security Report Project, Simon Fraser University
    Marc Sageman, Principal, Sageman Consulting, LLC
    Audrey Kurth Cronin, Professor, National War College

    Chair: Christopher Preble, Director of Foreign Policy Studies, Cato Institute

    3:30 – 5:00 p.m. Panel IV: Assessing Terrorists’ Capability to use Weapons of Mass Destruction

    According to most analysts, the greatest national security threat Americans face comes from terrorists armed with weapons of mass destruction. Yet most analysis of such threats tends towards worst-case scenario creation rather than careful net assessment of terrorist’s capability to employ these weapons. How do we judge the odds of these attacks? What are the policy implications of this analysis?

    John Mueller, Professor of Political Science, Ohio State University
    Randall Larsen, Director, Institute for Homeland Security
    Daniel Benjamin, Director of the Center on the United States and Europe, Brookings Institution
    Milton Leitenberg, Senior Research Scholar, Center for International and Security Studies, University of Maryland

    Chair: Benjamin Friedman, Research Fellow, Cato Institute

    5:30 – 6:15 p.m. Reception

    Tuesday, January 13

    8:00 – 9:00 a.m. Continental Breakfast

    9:00 – 10:30 a.m. Panel V: Domestic Security: Risk Management and Cost-Benefit Analysis

    The cost of terrorism comes largely from the government’s response to it. Risk-based security policies attempt to weigh the risk of terrorism against the risk of the policies designed to confront it. Is it possible to build such considerations into the institutional design of our domestic security bureaucracy? What changes are needed in the way we make and budget for homeland security policy to make it risk-based? What can we learn from the Department of Defense and regulatory agencies?

    James Lewis, Senior Fellow, Center for Strategic and International Studies
    Jeremy Shapiro, Fellow and Director of Research, Brookings Institution
    Bruce Schneier, Chief Security Technology Officer, BT Counterpane
    Cindy Williams, Principal Research Scientist, Security Studies Program, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    Chair: Benjamin Friedman, Research Fellow, Cato Institute

    10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Panel VI: Military Force: Proactive Counterterrorism or Provocation?

    President George W. Bush launched two major military operations—in Afghanistan and Iraq—in the name of combating terrorism, but many critics declared the war in Iraq to have been a dangerous distraction from the fight against al Qaeda. Although the Bush administration achieved some of its greatest successes in operations that did not involve the use of conventional military power, the Iraq war largely confirmed the terrorists’ narrative that the United States is determined to occupy Muslim lands. These widespread beliefs are likely to cast a pall over U.S. counterterrorism efforts in the next administration. This panel will examine the role that military force should play in counterterrorism strategy, and explore the risks that a military response could be counterproductive.

    Steven Simon, Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations
    Jim Carafano, Assistant Director, Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, Heritage Foundation
    Seth Jones, Public Policy Expert, RAND Corporation
    Dan Byman, Associate Professor, Director of Center for Peace and Security Studies, Georgetown University

    Chair: Paul Pillar, Visiting Professor, Georgetown University

    12:15 – 1:00 p.m. Lunch

    1:15 – 1:45 p.m. Keynote Address

    1:45 – 3:15 p.m. Panel VII: Responsibility for Protection: Federal, State, Local, Private, and Personal

    Though the federal government has principle responsibility for domestic security, what is true of all politics is true of terrorism: All attacks are local. Most day-to-day security measures are local. The federal government is uniquely suited for some counterterrorism work, starting with intelligence collection and dissemination, but state and local officials are often better positioned to weigh investment in counterterrorism against competing demands. Private actors often have incentive to pay for their own security, especially when liability is correctly assigned. The panel will discuss what division of labor among the national government, states, localities, and the private sector will best provide domestic security in the most cost-effective ways.

    Matt Mayer, Chief Executive Officer and President, Provisum Strategies
    Edward Flynn, Chief of Police, Milwaukee Police Department
    Robert Ross, Chief, Risk Sciences Branch, Special Programs Division, Department of Homeland Security

    Chair: Veronique de Rugy, Senior Research Fellow, Mercatus Center, George Mason University

    3:30 – 5:00 p.m. Panel VIII: Communicating about Terrorism and Terrorist Attacks

    With fear acting as a “force multiplier” in the terrorism strategy, careful communications are an essential part of strategic counterterrorism. The way that political leaders and the media talk about terrorism, and how they might communicate with the public in the event of a terrorist attack, can have a tremendous effect on whether terrorism “succeeds” or fails. What are the messages, words, and media strategies that the new administration should incorporate into its communications strategy to secure the country against fear and overreaction?

    William Burns, Research Scientist, Decision Research
    Shaun Waterman, Homeland and National Security Editor, United Press International
    Jeff Eller, President and CEO Public Strategies, Inc.
    Ben Goddard, Partner, Executive Creative Director, GCSA

    Chair: Jim Harper, Director of Information Policy Studies, Cato Institute

    5:30 – 6:15 p.m. Reception

    Date: Monday, January 12, 2009 at 8:00 am
    Location: Cato Institute; 1000 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.; Washington, D.C. 20001
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