Essay Questions

Essay Questions


Mid-Term Essay Exam

Follow the instructions below:

· Please include a cover sheet with the course title, a sub-title of “Mid-Term Essay Exam,” and the date of submission.

· Make sure to indicate which questions you selected by using the same, corresponding numbers with your responses (e.g., #2, 4, 6, 7, 9) so that I can easily match up your responses with the proper questions. Please don’t repeat or restate the questions.

· Your responses should be clear, complete, succinct and substantive, addressing all of the main themes, elements or sub-questions in each overall question selected.  

· Your own critical thinking and analysis should be supported by evidence of research in appropriate sources such as assigned or supplementary sources used in this course, or from other scholarly/authoritative sources found in your own research, with source attribution and in-text citations in your responses in proper APA format for all conclusions, statements of fact, quotations, ideas or other supporting content.

· This is not a research paper, so please don’t overdo it in terms of direct quotes, reproduced lists or tables, or citations. At the same time, while I want to see what you think about these topics, I’m not looking merely for opinions; rather, well-reasoned arguments or assertions supported by evidence with at least a few citations from authoritative sources. The challenge is to maintain a high proportion of original work and limit the use of material quoted or paraphrased from the sources you cited.

· Please include a single overall list of References or Works Cited at the end of the exam rather than piecemeal after each response, with full citations in proper APA format.

· Make sure to follow a single, correct, consistent citation style for both in-text citations in your responses and full citations in the list of References or Works Cited; don’t “mix-and-match” APA with other styles in the same exam.

· Do not reproduce lists, tables, charts, graphs, figures or images to include in the essay exams.

· Proofread and edit your replies for organization, coherence, sentence structure, grammar and spelling.

· Your responses should be in Times New Roman, size 12 font, double-spaced.  

· Please include pagination (i.e., insert sequential page numbers).

· Your completed exam should total 10 pages, (a minimum of two pages per response), excluding the cover sheet and list of References or Works Cited.  

· Please do not plagiarize. Turnitin will be used to check for originality. Select and respond to five of the following ten questions, one from each week or session:

Week 1: Introduction to Homeland Security and Critical Infrastructure. (Select and respond to one question for Week 1)

1.) Based on your review of the DHS document Civil defense and homeland security: A short history of preparedness effort, which presidential administration do you believe did the most to improve or advance civil defense, emergency management or homeland security, and which did the least? Explain and support your selection with specific examples.

2.) What is your assessment of the “truth” about the definition of homeland security? In other words, do you believe homeland security does, or should, focus exclusively on the threat of terrorism, or should it be genuinely “all-hazards,” including other man-made or natural disasters? Which (if any) of the alternate definitions proposed by any of the sources discussed in the Week 1 Overview and Introduction presentation seems most accurate or convincing, and why? Is there a better definition you would prefer? What is your understanding or assessment of the problems caused by lack of a single, consensus definition of homeland security as described by Reese in his CRS report, and how can those problems be addressed? Do you agree with President Obama’s preference for equating homeland security with national security more closely, rather than emphasizing a distinction between them as President G.W. Bush did? Why or why not? What is your sense thus far about how President Trump views this issue?

Week 2: The National Critical Infrastructure. (Select and respond to one question for Week 2)

3.) What is your assessment Riedman’s thesis in his journal article? Make sure to provide a balanced assessment, evaluating specific points or elements (if any) that you find accurate or reasonable, and those (if any) that you consider misguided, unrealistic or objectionable. Overall, do you agree that terrorist groups lack the capabilities or incentive to attack our national critical infrastructure? Why, or why not?

4.) Considering that many sources estimate that about 85% of our nation’s critical infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector, what do you believe are the appropriate roles and responsibilities of the federal, state and local governments and the private sector, respectively, in terms of security for critical infrastructure key resources? Are there any appropriate, practical and defensible incentives that the government should offer private industry to enhance security, or are strict mandates and regulation the answer? What, if any, circumstances would require the government to assume the full responsibility—and expense—for protection of any particular CI/KR sector, system or facility? If you were a senior industry representative (e.g. executive director of a trade or industry association or chamber of commerce, etc.) called to testify before a Congressional committee about enhancing security in any of the CI/KR sectors, what would you recommend in terms of national policy?

Week 3: Critical Infrastructure Elements and Sectors (Part 1). (Select and respond to one question for Week 3)

5.) In your assigned readings and the discussion forum topics, a number of initiatives (behavioral profiling of passengers, cargo container inspections, background checks for airport workers, etc.) for improving aviation security were discussed. Some observers have cast doubts on the effectiveness of many of the TSA procedures. In terms of technology, “puffer” devices were tried at airports to detect explosives residue, but later abandoned. There has also been controversy regarding “backscatter” body scanners or full body imaging technologies (often referred to as “virtual strip search” scanners), or intensive pat-downs implemented by TSA. There has also been controversy about the TSA’s Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques (SPOT) program for behavioral detection, about the effectiveness of the Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS) or Federal Flight Deck Officer Program, and about the TSA Pre✓® program. There have also been media reports about firearms or other weapons being smuggled or accidentally carried aboard aircraft despite security measures. A couple of years ago, the TSA generated controversy by announcing a new policy that passengers would now be allowed to carry small knives and some sports equipment when boarding planes. If you were a senior TSA official, how would you defend the current level or type of procedures, and this apparent reversal of previous security restrictions regarding small knives? What would be your top three priorities to improve security for passenger flights for the next year? Provide some specific references to support your choices.

6.) What do you believe are the most significant vulnerabilities, threats, hazards and challenges regarding maritime port and cargo security? What mitigation, prevention and protection measures would you recommend as most effective to deter, detect or defend against possible terrorist attacks or the smuggling of WMD in cargo containers? Can technology applications such as X-Ray screening devices, the use of specially trained canine teams, or other methods and technologies solve the problem? What should the respective roles and responsibilities of the federal, state or local governments, as well as the private sector owners, operators or shippers, be for implementing these measures? What do you see as the main points or issues concerning international or bilateral agreements or initiatives, and the security responsibilities of other nations from which cargo is shipped to the United States?

Week 4: Critical Infrastructure Elements and Sectors (Part 2). (Select and respond to one question for Week 4)

7.) Which of the areas or “drivers” of change in the strategic environment, and the prevailing strategic challenges that will drive risk over the next five years described in the 2014 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review (2014 QHSR), pose the greatest concerns regarding critical infrastructure protection in your view, and why? Considering the concept of “Black Swans” described in the 2014 QHSR, how does this concept relate to changes in the strategic environment or prevailing strategic challenges? Do you agree with the four Black Swan scenarios presented there, or are there different low probability/high consequence scenarios that should be anticipated and considered instead? Explain.

8.) One of the assumptions listed in the original 2010 Quadrennial Homeland Security Review concerning the security environment was that “there is a danger of complacency as major crises recede.” Do you believe this actually happens—that Americans become complacent after even catastrophic or traumatic events such as the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina? Why or why not? Is there a difference between emergency responders and the general public in this regard? Did the experiences of Superstorm Sandy or the Boston Marathon Bombing reduce complacency and revive our national commitment to preparedness, or did there appear to be a high degree of complacency leading up to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria making landfall? What would you propose be done to prevent or limit this backsliding into complacency? How, if at all, does the problem of complacency affect or relate to the concept of resilience?

Week 5: Protecting the Water Supply. (Select and respond to one question for Week 5)

9.) Much of the water infrastructure is managed and controlled remotely via SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems. Typically, these are connected to networks, such as the Internet, where hackers might engage in malicious activity. Recent news reports reveal that hackers have been very aggressive in their efforts to seize control of these systems in power plants and other vital infrastructure facilities such as water treatment plants. Do you think private and local authorities understand and have prepared for this potential threat of a cyber attack on the water system? Provide at least three specific actions or measures you believe would be necessary and effective to enhance security and mitigate or protect against this particular threat, and defend your recommendations.

10.) Considering the familiar axiom, “the solution to pollution is dilution,” do you believe that the water sector is highly vulnerable? If so, which specific elements, systems, facilities or processes seem most vulnerable? Or, do you believe the threat to our water systems or supplies is exaggerated, and that this CI/KR sector is not really vulnerable, or that terrorists would not be attracted to those targets because it would be too difficult to create mass casualties or actual terror through attacking the water system due to the sheer volume of water diluting any potential contaminants? What about wastewater systems? How, if at all, would interdependencies between the water sector and other CI/KR sectors affect your view? Support your assertions and conclusions with logical arguments and evidence from research in authoritative sources.



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