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Policy Making and Decision Analysis in Counter-Terrorism and Security Studies CRIM 731 (3)

Decisions involve trade-offs among optimal rationality, legal and political acceptability, and managerial and operational feasibility. The incomplete, ambiguous, and at times contradictory nature of information forms a growing challenge given the often fluid developments of threats in this policy area. The values and interests at stake for the decision maker constitute a second layer of challenge as threats blend between domestic and international and values compete among security and democratic liberty. The cognitive, small-group, and diverse organizational environments that manage these layers of challenge are themselves subject to bias and competition and may add potential distortions at both the policy and implementation levels. Impediments to optimal decision making include insufficient range of alternatives considered, false consensus, selection bias, rigid option selection, outdated standard operation procedures, conflation of parochial and policy goals, analogical reasoning, wishful thinking, bureaucratic rivalry, and low-probed choice.