It is human nature to be a hypocrite, but not every human succumbs to this irreverent tendency. However, in the National Security world hypocrisy is a fact. Never more so than in its effort to define or more specifically characterize threats to our national interest.

National Security experts will often find a threat where there is none and deny a threat exists where there is one. This tendency can and does have a drastic effect on the decisions made by policy makers and doctrine writers, national vulnerability assessment and risk management efforts, and those who implement, manage, operate and test security measures related to the effective protection of national assets.

In what should be a linear approach to threat determination (i.e. intelligence collection, then information analysis, then threat definition) the National Security establishment is subject to considerable outside influences, such as political and non-political agendas, budgetary excesses and constraints, or organizational rice bowls (not an official term). Understanding and properly characterizing threats are how we effectively defend ourselves and protect our interests. When a threat is not clearly defined and properly understood, we afford our adversaries an opportunity to not only attack us, but to complete their intended objectives.

Admittedly there is no easy solution to this multifaceted problem because it is part of our National Security culture. Consequently, 11 years after the attacks of 9/11 we are still struggling to properly identify and communicate threats. This has never been better illustrated than in the aftermath of the attacks on the consulate in Libya on September 11, 2012, as we continue to discover an appalling trail of indicators that an attack was eminent.