NSA tries outsourcing “terrorist behavior

One Question, Three Research Teams: Diversity
of Viewpoint and Redundant Systems
The research approaches the faculty took were unique. For
the American Foreign Policy class, the faculty decided to
have students research eight different countries as potential
transit points and three major pathologies that could be associated with potential transit
countries. Some students approached the question with
the nation as the object of analysis, while others made a specific pathology the object of
analysis, following the trouble wherever the research led. The
eight countries were: the Bahamas, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada,
Georgia, Romania, Serbia, and Turkey. The three pathologies
were weapons smuggling, nuclear materials smuggling,
and human trafficking. Students were divided into country study teams and pathology
teams. The teams were expected to provide weekly
reports to their professors.
For the Tracking Terrorism class, the professor changed the
definition of a key term, and then organized teams of students to conduct research. The
professor thought that the term transit country was not particularly well defined. He developed a new term: “terrorist node of operation (TNOP).” He defined a TNOP as “a physical area possessing certain geographic, structural, and sociopolitical characteristics making it useful for a terrorist organization to operate.” The professor thought the term transit country implied a subset of countries that was too small and the term itself was too narrow to answer the question fully.


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