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On the morning of April 18, 2002 President Bush summoned his key advisors, Assistant Attorney General, FBI Chief Robert Mueller, Deputy Treasury Secretary and Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge to the Oval office to deliberate on the next line of action following a security threat. A new intelligence report had been received to the effect that a suicide bomber might attack a U.S. bank. A decision had to be made urgently on the next line of action.


The advisors had different proposals in regard to the action to be undertaken. The assistant Attorney General and the FBI Chief, Robert Mueller argued that banks should be warned and this decision was anchored on their belief that publicity brings prevention. On the other hand, the Deputy Treasury Secretary  and Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge contended that the threat was not credible enough, most intelligence reports are never shared with the public while others are shared with some law enforcement officials so as to be on high alert, besides, the fragile economy cannot afford banks closing. Four days earlier 150 banks in Washington had been closed following security threat that ended up to have been a false alarm.

Structured conflict model; cognitive conflict (C-conflict):

As stated above, the advisors appear not to have a unified approach as to the way forward. They are experiencing what in management is referred to cognitive conflict (C-conflict) in the structured conflict model. Cognitive conflict allows the teams to focus on issues that differentiate their approach to the problem at hand and forces team members to compare, do soul searching and reconcile these differences in order to optimize their final decision (Jordan 1996 p1). They normally have frank discussions, analyze assumptions, evaluate alternatives and motivate team members to come up with creative and innovative ideas.

Applications of the devils advocate method in this issue:

In this case the devils advocate method is used that is presenting arguments against the stated facts. U.S. has several banks and the threat of suicide bombing is to one bank while the credibility of the source of the threat is not convincing. This intelligence should only be accorded serious attention if the threat is confined to a particular area in the U.S. It is argued that publicity brings prevention but it can also cause anxiety not only to banks but also to the general public as some banks may cease operation altogether on that day in order to mitigate damage and claims incase the threat actually occurs. The Assistant Attorney General the FBI Chief must therefore furnish the team with sufficient evidence to justify issuance of the warning to banks.

The Deputy Treasury Secretary and the Homeland Security Director Tom Ridges argument that the threat is not credible cannot be sustained unless they have sufficient evidence that the previous intelligence reports received from that particular source had on past occasions found not to be credible. The notion that most intelligence reports are never shared with the public may appear to be obnoxious. What needs to be ascertained first is the credibility of the intelligence report before evaluating the merits and the demerits of sharing that information with the public. The security personnel are accountable to the public and must therefore inform the public an impending attack unless there is convincing evidence that releasing such information to the public will obstruct the security personnel’s ability to prevent the attack.

It is the duty of the government to ensure that the economic activities are not disrupted but the status of the economy cannot be used to justify whether a warning should be issued or not as the security normally takes precedence over all other considerations. An attack may take a few minutes but the consequences of that attack on the economy can be devastating.

 In conclusion, the advisor must give the President a recommendation that will ultimately demonstrate that they can be relied on matters pertaining to the U.S. security.


Jordan, Debra J. “Managing conflict in teams and examining hiring assumptions” Sports publications 1996. CBS International 2009,

<http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1249/is_n1_v69/ai_18951576>.    Accessed on 3 March , 2009.

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