Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

June 12, 2009

Other than war, pandemic, and murder… how was your week?

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on June 12, 2009


Important developments this week to which HLSwatch had hoped to give more attention:

On Tuesday Craig Fugate testified on FEMA’s FY2010 Budget.  Documentation and a video of the House Appropriations Committee hearing is available online.  The Administrator’s prepared remarks give particular attention to intergovernmental and public-private collaboration. “FEMA will work even more closely with our partners in other federal agencies, states, territories, tribal nations, local governments, first responders, voluntary organizations, business, industry, and individuals. Included among these will be key partners who, though often critical to an effective response at the local level, are often on the outside looking in during response planning: local charitable organizations and health care delivery organizations. We need to ensure that these critical grassroots organizations are effectively integrated into our response planning and strategies.”

The New York Times reported that FEMA  officials, “are struggling to calculate the fiscal impact that climate change could have on the nation’s troubled public flood insurance program, amid predictions of intensifying downpours and more potent hurricanes. The mission is proving extremely difficult, according to one researcher, who said the effort so far has failed to reveal even ‘squishy assumptions’.”

Drug (war)lords continue their fight against the Mexican government.  Shoot-outs involved scores of fighters in Durango, Mexico’s third largest city, and Acapulco, perhaps its best known tourist destination. According to AFP, “US border czar Alan Bersin warned Mexico’s brutal drug cartels Tuesday that threats to target law enforcement officials on both sides of the border would be met by a ‘significant response.’  Bersin said a recent call by one cartel kingpin to ramp up violence against US and Mexican law enforcement agents was potentially of ‘grave significance’ and was being ‘taken seriously’ by the administration.

The cartel’s threat to US law enforcement is of particular concern given the deep roots of the criminal gangs in the United States.  The Department of Justice estimates Mexican drug organizations operate in 230 US cities.

DHS and the Justice Department  have announced further plans for curtailing drug transport along the Southern BorderABC News explains, “The new strategy aims to combat these cartels by establishing new channels of communication between involved agencies and utilizing new personnel and technologies to expand the amount of information available. It includes a call for increased prosecutorial and disruptive efforts, including the assignment of attorneys from the Department of Justice’s Violent Crime and Gang Unit to the southwest border and additional resources for the offices of southwest U.S. Attorneys.” (More from the Washington Post and you can access the complete Counternarcotics plan from the White House website.)

Important judicial proceedings this week included the conviction of Syed Haris Ahmed, a former Georgia Tech student,  in Atlanta.  The Judicial Committee of the House of Lords, the so-called “Law Lords,” largely rejected the use of secret evidence in the trials of suspected terrorists.  According Deutsche Welle, “Four suspected Islamist militants on trial for plotting to kill Americans in Germany have told a Duesseldorf court they are prepared to confess.”

Jane Harman, Chair of the Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment  of the House Homeland Security Committee, has proposed legislation to close down the National Applications Office.

A Senate hearing was held Wednesday on the nomination of Dr. Tara O’Toole to serve as DHS Under Secretary of Science and Technology.  Some have criticized Dr. O’Toole as an “alarmist” regarding bio-terrorist threats. (More from HSToday.) But despite some sustained questioning by Senators, confirmation still seems likely.

FEMA has extended its comment period on Criteria for Preparation and Evaluation of Radiological Emergency Response Plans and Preparedness in Support of Nuclear Power Plants.

Last week HLSwatch reported on the appointment of a new Homeland Security Advisory Council.  Since then considerable attention has been given the — admittedly unusual — pick of Jeff Moss, a well-known hacker.  Less has been said about other appointees, including the Governors of Maryland and Georgia, the mayor of Miami, the Sheriff of Los Angeles County, the Police Commissioner of the City of New York, President of the Navajo Nation, and several other public and private senior executives. Much has been said about more actively seeking the counsel of State, local, tribal, and private sector leaders.  HSAC members have the experience and political weight to provide very meaningful advice.  What is worth watching is whether or not these senior leaders will make the sustained investment of time and energy that is necessary to be more than a typical blue ribbon panel.

Of course there was even more — much, much more — and if you consider something worth immediate consideration or ongoing coverage, please add your issues using the comment function.

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Pingback by Posts about the Drug Cartels as of June 12, 2009 | EL CHUCO TIMES_El Paso_News

June 12, 2009 @ 4:48 am

[…] about the Drug Cartels as of June 12, 2009 Friday, June 12, 2009 Other than war, pandemic, and murder… how was your week? – hlswatch.com 06/12/2009   Important developments this week to which HLSwatch had hoped […]

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 12, 2009 @ 7:51 am

Okay the last goes first! Virtually NO recommendations of the HSAC either when located under DHS (now) or previously advising the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (then) and the Executive Offices of the White House Homeland Security Office have ever been accepted. Why one might ask? Some may answer otherwise but I simply believe its the arrogance and hubris of the advisees. Could be wrong as always and hoping someone comes up with suggestions that were adopted.
The Jane Harman bill is not necessarily wrong but there needs to be a high level commission review how remote sensing and satellite products are made available throughout the civil government for a variety of purposes. This is long overdue. By the way the use of remote sensing by the NFIP mentioned above is expanding the average 100 year (actually 1% annucal occurrence) flood designation on FEMA maps by about 30%. Political uproar already started in implementation of the results of the $1.5 Billion remapping effort. Hey wait until they get the maps with the 3-11 meter sea level rise this century from FEMA. At the NAS meetings I go to they always tell me Bill–watch the melt rate on the Greenland and W. Antarctic glaciers. The ones over water make no difference. The ones over land however will have dramatic impacts and already proven to be retreating rapidly.

Comment by Peter J. Brown

June 12, 2009 @ 8:21 am

Hong Kong with 64 confirmed cases of novel H1N1 flu has closed all primary schools, kindergartens, childcare centres and special schools for 14 days, from today until June 25.


Comment by Arnold Bogis

June 12, 2009 @ 9:53 am

Regarding HSAC, it is important that senior leaders at DHS and the White House utilize these public servants.

During the last administration there was a sense that the contribution of the HSAC was largely discounted by the leadership at DHS. Whether or not that was true is hard to say (looking in from the outside), but the idea does underline the importance that to make the most of this construct it must be a two-way street.

Comment by Arnold Bogis

June 12, 2009 @ 9:55 am

So basically I agree with Mr. Cumming on the HSAC…

Comment by christopher tingus

June 13, 2009 @ 7:55 am

No organized homeland civil defense in place with a calamity whether natural or manmade and a government ill prepared to take care of its own citizens, however we are reaching out to the Muslim world and the German-led EU who intentionally snub us as they utilize their modern, fast deployment troops to march towards the Middle East to challenge the Iranians for Middle East oil.

There is no doubt that the Europeans are hoping to break their alliance with Putin’s KGB blackmail schemes of new oil pipelines serving Europeans holding them hostage.

It is obvious that Germany with its well known manufacturing base is out on a quest to secure their own oil and reorganize the EU into ten nations only with each dependent on Germany…let’s talk about the Vatican and its role in all this….It sounds to me that given the lessons of history, the Germans will be igniting another world war.

To the Islamic fundamentalists, you should be very concerned with the Europeans and Germany for it appears that the harshness of the Germans have little tolerance for at least you the fundamentalists and for that matter, anyone who is not German….In fact, be advised that over 275 million Europeans are fluent in German. Listen very attentively to German leadership…the pages of history are turning quickly these days…

Ahmed looks as though he will pull away with the votes among rural and other Iranian voters even though his policies have hurt the economy in Iran so drastically.

Imagine having such an enlightened population of proud Persians and they vote for a guy that not only talks rubbish, but continues to do his very best to put his thumb on individual freedom and rights to disallow such bright young men and women to utilize their creativity and promise….How proposterous….
You are in the 21st century and man’s scientific and other disciplines enable mankind to ponder the real ability to extend Life to 125 years and soon therafter to 150 years and so on and so forth.

With this technology and those that are disciplined and not stymied by narrow minded perspectives, devious in thought to use for control versus the good of mankind, the possibilities that are apparent for all and to see children smiling rather than being savagely abused. Get a Life!

As for our backdoor efforts in Iran, to the “experts” come on home for it is up to the women in Iran to change leadership from within. You will not!

By the way, I still demand a Congressional Hearing seeking charges of treason for James Carter holding closed door meetings with the Syrians without administration approval. His dastardly remarks towards the Hebrews and such secret meetings only foster more hatred towards the Jew and hate these days is quite apparent from reading the news.

The blood on this Iranian government’s hands will not wash off and will cast it into hell.

The US administration(s) have allowed the Iranians to murder at their whim so, so many as a result of (our) weakness in commitment to take on Tehran directly.

As a result of the present Tehran election and the reelection of these thugs, it is now open season and the Germans will address what is necessary….Give German a bit of time for it has had its eye on superceding our grat nation as the Middle East power broker face to face with the Iranians. It is only a matter of time and is already in the works. Do listen to the Pope as well for his words speak volumes.

By the way, what’s going on in Manila when an inexperienced journalist can write an article which is obviously influenced by the Israelis criticizing the Defense Secretary and how Philippine soldiers are dying in the field because they do not have enough ammunition. What nonsense and the journalist should be held accountable for his provocative and tainted article. The government of the Philippines has endured much and its people proud of their country and history are willing to stand against those that
threaten the fabric of its government who is doing its utmost to supply its troops and challenge those from within and outsiders.

From all accounts and a long distinct history of Love and compassion for the good people of the Philippines, this well known and respected Defense Secretary as well as a few select others in government there have been making every effort to nurture integrity in public bidding and within the government overall and this gentleman is acknowledged as having the best interests of the good people of the Philippines.

In reading a local newspaper article, Talon, the well known Israeli global arms maker, using the local press as a puppet to win its contracts riddled with suspicions raised by many locals, should stay out of the political arena for the Philippine people understand full well why recent contracts have not been granted to the Israelis and should not!

We here in the United States should continue to do our utmost to help the Philippine government remain strong against local rebels and outside influence….As far as the Israelis, manufacture and store your small arms and ammunition for defense of your own country against a growing number of countries in the Arab league seeking your demise.

With AfPak in peril, Egypt under much pressure from within, let no one underestimate the Taliban and AQ and any other for the fate of the world is very fragile.

Breaking news: North Korea capturing news headlines flexing its muscles never mind against a corrupt and useless UN, but in the face of China. I don’t think so…There is one nation in the global mix that should not be challenged by such a lightweight and that is China, however I wonder whether China is very much in favor of this political activity for after all government policy seems to be leaning towards strengthening the entire Pacific Rim, even bringing Japan into the loop and pushing the entire region away from the western powers.

I would not be surprised to see China impose a pan-Asian currency standard of its own soon…The Chinese cannot rely on a debt-ridden, corrupt and self-serving western way of Life…It knows inflation will spark new worries and more impoverishment for the US and western countries. China knows that the politicians here are mostly lawyers and not the trained scientists and engineers that comprise their leadership so they have little hope for a revival of the economy here in the States at least in the foreseeable future.

It is awesome to see one company in China very much supported by the government that has hired 128,000 scientists and engineers to develop batteries for automobiles as well as begin to design, manufacture and distrubute new creative ideas which will help the Chinese and pan-asian populations welcome the 22nd century, while the western powers fight over religion and old dysfuntional rivalries which will only compromise and frustrate Life for the individual and cause so much angusih for families and children who should be looking to the future respecting others, not imposing values and fulfilling self-agenda and promoting egos…Where are those like the Defense Secretary in the Philippines and few others in governments willing to stand tall for the interests of the majority and demand transparency and diligent commitment to principles. Many “entrusted” by precious vote seem oblivious onece elected to their pledge to serving the public interest. It is true that every government, no matter form, have failed the people since Babylon for the gred and lust in power make its so….

Indeed, a selfish world destined for more deprivation and hopelessness.

Yes, the news is discouraging.

Can we not encourage our similarities, respect our differences, and not necessarily embrace one another, however live together and clasp our hands in joy of mankind and his and her individual merits without imposing our values on another assuring that the majority interests are served.

Christopher Tingus
64 Whidah Drive
Harwich (Cape Cod), MA 02645 USA

Comment by Philip J. Palin

June 13, 2009 @ 8:10 am

I agree that communications requires both sending and receiving. The DHS and others will need to listen and actively engage the HSAC and similar panels. I share the perception that this was not the case in the past.

But I will again push the notion that, in many ways, the HSAC’s credibility, relevance, and influence depends even more on the proactive behavior of HSAC members.

Policymaking is like an everflowing stream. Any single study or collection of reports will only have so much impact. Whether a little ripple or big splash, the stream quickly resumes its flow. Very seldom is the crash big enough to cut a new channel.

Outside advice is much more likely to have a sustained impact if and when the advisors and advice flow along from the first bubbling of an idea in the mountains to where the policymaking stream meets the ocean.

Too often the expert advice comes too late, or untethered to core programs, or without full-time allies and advocates, or in other ways unconnected to the mainstream of policymaking.

Agreed — absolutely — there is a need for officials to listen. But there is also a need for the advisors to engage, encourage — even to seduce — such listening.

Takes two to tango, and the tango is not an easy dance.

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