Counterterrorism's New Tool: ‘Metanetwork’ Analysis

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Science  24 Jul 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5939, pp. 409-411
DOI: 10.1126/science.325_409

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A decade ago, most research on social networks was abstract and academic. But in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks, interest in applying this research to warfare exploded. Many companies are now vying for a piece of the military funding. Academic network scientists are also diving in, competing for lucrative U.S. military contracts and grants. In spite of the boom, there is sharp disagreement about how effective social network analysis has been for counterterrorism. Some worry that in the rush to catch terrorists, the U.S. military has put too much faith in social network analysis. One former U.S. official even claims that applying these methods in war zones has led to unethical practices (see sidebar).