Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

April 30, 2009

The border is a distraction, says “left” and “right”

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on April 30, 2009

James Jay Carafano and Jenna Baker McNeil of the reliably rightist Heritage Foundation write, “The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is reporting that, as of April 28, there have been 40 cases of swine flu in the United States. The spread of this flu and the associated deaths in Mexico have left Americans frightened and concerned. While these concerns have led to calls to contain the outbreak by closing the border with Mexico or instituting travel restrictions, a border-centric strategy is not an effective solution for dealing with the swine flu.”

“Instead, local health departments should focus on educating Americans about common-sense precautions individuals can take to lessen the likelihood they will be infected. Both Congress and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should reinforce these prudent measures rather than exacerbating fears and advocating less effective measures.”

See their complete, Strategy for Swine Flu Should focus on Common Sense, not the Border at the Heritage website.

I wonder if they pounded out this WebMemo after watching yesterday’s Senate hearing with Secretary Napolitano and Rear Admiral Shuchat.  In response to questions from Senator McCain, Dr. Shuchat was crystal clear that in her scientific judgment closing the border would not contribute in any way to containing or mitigating spread of the virus.

The simple clarity of the uniformed physician/scientist seemed to shock some of the Senators.  But when she began to explain the science behind her judgment, Dr. Shuchat was cut off.   I perceived that Secretary Napolitano — wisely — intervened to move on to other topics.

It is almost as if JJ and JB felt compelled to follow-on from where the Admiral was not allowed to go.  But whatever motivated the attention, thank you.

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Comment by William R. Cumming

April 30, 2009 @ 6:13 pm

Interesting take on lack of Congressional interest in science! How many scientists and physcians and engineers are now in the Senate and House? I do think the President’s choice of Science Advisor is a good one and ever since Vannervar Bush science is always imbedded in federal policy one way or another. VA has its own much higher pay scale for physicians and wonder if CDC and HHS and Public Health System has the same! You do get what you pay for over the long term. It would be of interest to know what VA is circulating to its system about H1N1?

Comment by Arnold

May 1, 2009 @ 11:53 am

Watching the hearing I was struck by the time spent on both “let’s not call it swine flu because it hurts the pork industry” and “shouldn’t we consider closing the border or at least drastically increasing screening.”

The first argument was in defense of one particular industry, while implementation of the second would have a much wider and deeper negative impact on the economy as a whole without much benefit in slowing the spread of the flu virus.

Pretty amazing. Especially that there were few, if any, questions or discussion about readiness for mass care. Are local and states prepared? What current capabilities and capacity does the federal government have to surge to what could possibly be a geographically dispersed mass casualty incident?

It would have been reassuring to have heard such questions asked by the Committee.

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