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More than 16 years after the 9/11 attacks led to dramatic reform in American counterterrorism and intelligence agencies and procedures, the terrorist threat remains high both within the United States and around the world. Many experts, in fact, believe that the threat today is at or near the level it was immediately after 9/11.

Much of the debate over counterterrorism today concerns questions about intelligence, such as: is the American intelligence community as effective as it can be in preventing terrorist attacks? And, how can intelligence agencies preserve Americans’ civil liberties and personal freedoms, while collecting the information needed to keep us safe? This symposium will examine these and other questions about the state of American counterterrorism and intelligence today. The presentations will discuss topics including the development of state and local intelligence fusion centers, the use of law enforcement intelligence tools such as predictive policing, and the challenges that social media intelligence and big data analysis offer for homeland security.

In addition, Dr. Erik Dahl will also discuss the lessons learned from one of the greatest intelligence successes of recent years: the ten-year search for Osama bin Laden following the 9/11 attacks.


Dr. Erik Dahl -  Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California

DahlErik Dahl is Associate Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, where he is also on the faculty of the Center for Homeland Defense and Security at NPS. In addition, he is a Research Fellow with the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland. His research focuses on intelligence, terrorism, and international and homeland security, and he is the author of “Intelligence and Surprise Attack: Failure and Success from Pearl Harbor to 9/11 and Beyond” (Georgetown University Press 2013). His work has been published in Political Science Quarterly, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Intelligence and National Security, Homeland Security Affairs, The Journal of Strategic Studies and The Naval War College Review, among others.

Dahl received the Naval Postgraduate School’s LCDR David L. Williams Outstanding Professor Award in 2013, and in 2014 he received the Carl E. and Jessie W. Menneken Faculty Award for Excellence in Scientific Research. Before joining the NPS faculty in 2008, Dahl was a pre-doctoral fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He received his Ph.D. from The Fletcher School of Tufts University, from which he also received an M.A. in law and diplomacy. In addition, he holds master’s degrees from the Naval War College and the London School of Economics, and he received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard. Dahl retired from the U.S. Navy in 2002 after serving 21 years as an intelligence officer.

Download the Powerpoints (Current Challenges and Finding Bin Laden)

Watch the Symposium Webcast

Part I: Current Challenges by Dr. Erik Dahl
Part II: Finding Bin Laden by Dr. Erik Dahl


Research in Brief
After-Action Report




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