Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

January 10, 2011

Homeland Security Begins at Home

Filed under: Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Jessica Herrera-Flanigan on January 10, 2011

The tragic shooting in Tucson this past weekend that left six people dead and fourteen others, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, wounded should remind us all that homeland security begins at home.

This blog has addressed in the past what defines a terrorist and when the line between a crime and an attack of terrorism is crossed.  While as a legal issue, it may matter; as a homeland security issue, such a definition does not.

This weekend’s events shocked America,  leaving the media befuddled as it attempted to report on the status of the Congresswoman, and causing the U.S. House of Representatives to cancel its scheduled votes this week.

Successful attacks on our political leaders are not that common.  A quick search of Wikipedia(maybe not the best resource, but one nonetheless) shows that there have been three incidents of “wounding” attacks on Members of Congress.  In 1856, there was the attack on Senator Charles Sumner with a cane by Representative Preston Brooks on the Senate floor.  In 1954, five Members of Congress were wounded in the Capitol by Puerto Rico nationalists.  Then there was yesterday’s event – Away from the Hill. Away from Washington D.C.  At Home.  At a busy supermarket on a Saturday morning.  A place any or every American could be.

There has already been and will continue to be much debate over what lead to the attack. In many ways, all of the possible causes are right. And wrong.  The attack of this past weekend reminds us that political vitriol – on all sides – is not good for homeland security and exposes our nation’s weaknesses to the world.  So does the continual rush to judge motives too quickly and respond with anger and hate.  Sadly, one of those brought down in this weekend’s attack was a nine-year old girl born on September 11, 2001.  A coincidence that just reminds us how much an attack can affect our nation.

In the end, this weekend’s events should remind us all that homeland security begins at home. It happens when we put aside our differences and recognize that opinions can vary and as Americans we have the right to express ourselves but also the obligation to do so responsibly.  Let’s hope, as the days continue, we remember that as we pray for the survivors and grieve those killed this weekend.  Otherwise, we have made ourselves more vulnerable than any enemy ever could.

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Comment by Claire B. Rubin

January 10, 2011 @ 6:34 pm

I would like to raise two additional aspects: the need for gun control and the need to take violence prevention seriously. Congress can do something about both of them.

See “Could the system have prevented rampage?” CNN, Jan. 10th. http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/01/10/cornell.tucson.threat.assessment/index.html?hpt=C1

Comment by william R. Cumming

January 10, 2011 @ 8:03 pm

Hannah Arendt discussed several times in her writings the impact of poisonous political “dialectic” on estranged elements of human society and its acting as a precursor to authoritarian rule.

Why can drug users purchase weapons?

Comment by dan oconnor

January 11, 2011 @ 12:14 am


I’d ask you to amplify how you believe gun control needs to be addressed. I am not trying to provoke you, but I am curious what argument you would make.

As late as 2009, a CNN poll found low levels of support for gun laws: in this poll, only 39% favored more restrictive gun laws.

Roughly 12,000 homicides occur annually with firearms. Roughly 40,000 people die in vehicles each year. Should we be more concerned with vehicles than guns?

In March 2006, Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, an Iranian-born American citizen, confessed to intentionally hitting people with a sport utility vehicle on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

I use this to make the point that given the opportunity, there are many criminal actions that can be perpetrated against innocents.

I am keenly sensitive of and about this issue and its timing. And I want to ensure you and all readers that I am not simply arguing with you.

But this blog is supposed to inspire new ideas and answers; so lets hear some.

Comment by william R. Cumming

January 11, 2011 @ 1:29 am

Strangely rightwing politics in the US are built on oil riches not guns but recognize that Homeland Security is NOT built on possession of Glocks by each individual or family! But hey the Mexicans love guns also! The real problem is that those who should not be trusted with guns can easily acquire them! AND who cannot be trusted? The psychotic and untrained and criminal. But hey how is that system going to be designed and who will administer it? Suggest reading the “History of the GUN” discussing the Kaliskinov (sic) and weaponization of the world with fully automatic weapons. One thing to be given a single shot .22 at age 12 and taught gun safety and another to be given an automatic weapon and used to assault politicians and the “other”!

Comment by Freedomand Leadership

January 11, 2011 @ 6:31 am

From the local politician where here in New England, some of our local Selectman’s political races see candidiates spending upwards of $20k+ in campaigns to become a Milton (MA) Selectman for instance, a lcal governing post which is shared w/at least three others and pays about $50 annually. The politics is fearce and often offensive and dare one to make inquiry of those so empowered by holding the reigns, often the same people for years sitting in the chair as voter has become so indifferent and believing that their one vote will make no difference – though finally w/this last election, maybe enlightened to the fact that every vote does cunt and can send a meainingful message.

We see the same in our State legislature and we especially here in good ‘ol Taxachusetts see the same ‘ol getting elected and the same holding the reigns even if a few newcomers get onboard…

As an elected Town Meeting Member for decades, I was first appalled by a fellow Town Meeting Member rising to speak on behalf of his precinct’s constituents and those in the audience, fellow Town Meeting Members yelling and making noises stating that this gentleman should sit back doown as he has only resided in the Town for ten years …Imagine…what arrogance!

Since this Cold blooded killer in Arizona the other day made a planned and intentinal and criminal decision to kill a 9 year old w/bullet to the chest and take aim at a Congresswoman and shoot her in the head and all the other victims he chose by pulling the trigger to kill in cold blood or victimize and by the way..how outragious and disregard for Life and in witness by the Lord…

We have heard so much about the public and threats from the public on politician that I truly believe it there is more to the story evolving and is time for term limits to be imposed and whether local, state or national, We do not need long term politicians as they threaten our well being in becoming far to powerful and seemingly rising above the peoople they serve in such arrogance and often hearing their expressions in condescending manner of the same constituents who have “entrusted” them to serve their pledge to help the people.

You bet people are angry. Look at the gas pump and it is not even July…Look at the failed fireclosure program of this Goldman Sachs administration, unemployment hanging arund 9%-10% and local fees and taxes going uowards and a $14 trillion deficit which was certainly not $14 trillion when this administration took office.

A growing number of us on Main Street USA are Not Republican or Democrat, We are independent voters. We are responsible to ourselves, to family, to employer and t protecting our beloved Republic and to stand firm n behalf of the laws and principles of the land and our US and respective State Constitution.

We believ in the Right to carry a firearm for all lawful purpose.

Who shoots another person? Who shoots a 9 year old? How can one possibly even think about such evil and criminal act, killing another, harming another in any way? It is so difficult to comprehend.

Like the politician, We here on Main Street USA are sickened by such evil and cowardly manner.

Surely We here on Main Street USA are tired of the broken promises, the same ‘ol, same ‘ol and truly the lack of leadership. People see their social security under attack, their homes under water, the bankers getting away with raping the public and corporate America with trillions hidden away and no jobs, no really meaningful work w/hundreds applying for a job at Staples in floor sales often the applicant with advanced degree and in their 50’s…

We cannot even talk to one another any more. Has Congress read Lamentations and what is in store for us if we do nt repent and share in common concern the state of our beloved Republic with jbs and manufacturing fund in China because greedy politicians who to this day cannot balance their books and will not publicly display their local budgets and line by line expenditures on the internet so everuone in the community can readily see clarity and openness and cncur and dispute government spending…Far too much monies in these federal reserve notes, not dollars backed by gold and silver, federal reserve notes which the politicians feel free to spend at their whim…

Democrats and Republicans, your perks are far too good. Sure the crowds are angry and all such anger should be expressed at the polls, yet “Mr. Barney” is still in office despite he and Bernanke not being able to tell us where the $750 billion in bail out monies were appropriated to…

Discourse, clarity, openness and honesty, character, not Kerry avoiding taxes on his new boat or Sanford leaving his post and the people of South Carolina in direct affront to the people to scurry off and hold hands with a lover in South America.

The list is endless – the MA/DOR abusing its taxpayers despite internal and Cnstitutional and due process…the list goes on and on and these are people who have taken pledge in oath with hand over heart and hand over Bible and we are being enslaved into poverty and third world status and America is ur nation and its charitable people, once a beacon of hope where here on Main Street USA, people are cncerned, they see the void in leadership, the broken promises and We expect more…for We care for family and neighbor and it is our precious youth who are serving in lands far away and its is their blood being spilled daily to protect civilization, humanity from such self-agenda and lawlessness and blantant corruption…

God Bless America!

Comment by Claire B. Rubin

January 11, 2011 @ 6:57 am

Controlling the type of gun is my point — why does a citizen needs a semi-automatic weapon or a huge magazine of bullets for self defense or for hunting animals?

Also restricting the mentally ill and those with criminal records from obtaining guns.

The US had a law regarding the first-mentioned and let it lapse, I am sorry to say.


Comment by Claire B. Rubin

January 11, 2011 @ 7:20 am

See today’s NY Times Editorial for more reasons to restrict guns:


Comment by dan oconnor

January 11, 2011 @ 9:11 am

Clair and Bill;

I think there are constructive points in both of your views. And I find the dialogue as much cathartic as constructive. I do think that those who choose to commit violence will not be assuaged or prohibited by restricting magazines, types of weapons, and/or behaviors.

One could make the case that the “system” did indeed fail in this case because the individual in question was flagged, identified, and isolated, multiple times, but all for naught. And, we’ve spent quite a bit of time over the years discussing complexity and systems analysis in some aspect on this blog.

With regard to the NYT editorial; “. . . they should recognize that the true public menace is the well-dressed gun lobbyist hanging out just outside their chamber door. . .”. Aren’t all the folks on K street menaces?

The ability of individuals, groups, and corporations to lobby the government is protected by the right to petition in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. So the bankers, investors, big pharma, labor unions, food, alcohol, contraband, and firearms/guns. . .name it, there has an “advocate” and are all “menace” represented.

Lobbyists use time spent with legislators to “explain the goals” of the organizations they represent and the obstacles elected officials face when dealing with issues, to clients.

This is akin to changing the verbiage from bribe to stipend, but I digress.

Since 1998, 43 percent of the 198 members of Congress who left government to join the private sector have registered to lobby using the “revolving door of influence”. So roughly half of Congress is paid to “influence” the other half… and vice versa.

Again, its easy to point out how bad the gun lobby is, but if all the special interests have lobbyists, who is to say which one is worse than another?

I can find validity in both your points in terms of why do citizens need or desire different weapons, designed for far more than sporting and recreational activities. But unfortunately, I also can see merits to the counter argument and those who mistrust government both for its performance and motivation.

Hence, the coming full circle with regard to partisan politics, the extremes, and many wanting specific entitlements and representation.

Perhaps this instance was a tragic cross roads of two separate and isolated incidents; an extremely vitriolic political environment perpendicular to a mentally ill, deranged young man not touched by the politics, but bent on destruction. Their confluence netting tragic, tragic consequences.

Comment by Responsible Governing; Renewed Cnstituent Confidence

January 11, 2011 @ 11:18 am

There is more than sufficient evidence that those with license to carry a weapon, an inherent Right for each citizen if he/she chooses, to indeed sport as some 600,000 men and women have done recently without incidence and – most who carry lawfully – portray themselves as indeed quite responsible.

This dastardly act in shooting innocents in Arizona should not in my opinion bring renewed focus to citizen’s Right to carry a gun, an issue which has had many a discussion, but discussion which shuld focus on government and governing, “big Banker bonuses” here and in the UK and elsewhere which is at the root of so much unrest in America and elsewhere and ensuing discussions should talk about the distrust not only of Washington, but the local school committee. Where is the accountability, the respect for citizen paying taxes whether federal or local and seeing very little in responsible governing which lends itself to self agenda, accolades of one another and little embarassment for the “Charade of Politics!”

If one only knew how many – illegal – weapons are on our streets you would shudder as I do every time I see a police officer, our first responder who I (we) hold in much esteem for such dedication and willingness to serve and protect the public, each of us, when we see a police officer pulling a vehicle over for traffic violation, never knowing what to expect. Disrespect for proper authority depicts an erosion of morality. To demand respect, it must be reciprocal and local law enforcement who I (we) hold in high regard need no help from the President of the United States and his intervention without fact even if to help another elistist pal and a beer on the White House lawn does not mend fences, yet an apoloy by the exceutive branch as anther example of utter inexperience would have gone a long way.

It is time the rhetoric among politicians ceases to be so arrogant…so condecending towards citizen. It would also be helpful to stop attacking political opponents is such degrading manner spending millions and millions to dig up the dirt when the camel obviusly does not see its own hump as exemplified by the deplorable ratings this country has when comparing to other nations in healthcare, education and so on and s forth. Something is wrong w/government, very wrong and while the “bankers” continue to write – bonus checks – house values fall and the grandiose promises to save Americans and the asspciated devastation to the American family by this executive administration has failed so miserably, an utter sham..

The 911 calls of Americans from Arizona, to Texas, to Michigan to Massachusetts see little response.

When I say I fly my American flag on the porch upside down to depict the peril we see our nation besieged from within and from so many outside, the ensuing discussions resulting from Arizona should be the realization as evidenced also by the most recent elections that America is unhappy, quite distrustful of any words a politician speaks.

Th problems we are encountering are manmade. Even the brightest scholars did not see how America, our beloved Republic would unravel so in this 21st century.

The politician, the special interest groups, big corporate America..heartless it seems for when we call customer service, we must discuss our respective concerns/inquiries with someone in Bangladesh, not Tulsa or Tucson, Carlsbad or Chicago and one who can speak English w/some fluency.

From my perspective, We will Not make the transition necessary to prevent us from further losses in employment, in the obvious erosion of asset and quality in Life. It is quite evident that government is nearly void of true leadership and the spiralling deficit of this Goldman Sachs administration which likes to point back to former Presidents holding little credibility for its own actions….. Barry’s wife, it is reported, replaced the bust of Winston Churchill and placed Martin Luther King’s bust in good ‘ol Winston’s spot which provides good insight as to the priorities of the White House inherent in past history, slaves and the ugliness of America which has made great strides for the most part as depicted by the election of a Black President whether with birth certificate or not, when the same states who elected Barry were states where a Black man was treated with less regard than animal, often hung from a tree simply because of skin color. We know the history and in this 21st century, We need more, much more.

The bankers, ya know..Hanks’ pals, the Wall Street fellas and big business besiege us from within and our vulnerability is further evidenced by our unwillingness to deal with Iran directly and waiting for the “Brutes of Tehran” to pull their own trigger to cause shocck and awe from saudi Arabia to the UAE to Amman and erntrapping far many mre in its agenda…

This is Not about guns. Look at the rally where this sitting President was speaking and folks were carrying assualt weapons and the like. There was not an incident.

This is about folks like Teddy Kennedy, Uncle Teddy we call him here in Taxachusetts and John Kerry, “Mr. Barney” and “Smug-smiled Pelosi” and even “Sarah Palin” who…who do not care to truly listen to the constituent and do not hear what it is We want on Main Street to change health care, to demand accountability among law makers and large corporate entities, for substantial decisions to be placed on national referendum for ballot to enable us to speak as it is obvious that many of us distrust you as we should given this ongoing “beltway charade”.

Yet you refer to us as terorrists if we dare question you. How dare you? It is you who have gun pointed to our heads, abusive in your person and your disregard for our American family and its well being prostituting yourselves to bankers and special interest groups only to enslave us to poverty. You have no plans which will ever place us on even keel as $14 trillion in bankruptcy is reality and you expect us to he joyful subjecting this grat natin to secnd class status – a conspiracy many say!

If one is responsible, he and she should carry concealed weapon if one chooses. This is Npt the discussion. It is the irresponsibility and the transgression of government into our Life making us further dependent on the blind leading the blinded ones who have been subjected to such abuse as you have no transparency, no character. Barry, you cannot even salute the flag, sing the Nationbal Anthem or wear a flag pin, but you know how to run to Cairo and appease those which will inevitably transform Egyptian government into one more adversary in the Middle East. An Egpypt or an Iran rich with history, good people w/rich blood and seeking harmony, not as the supposed leaders, seeking disruption, lusting for power and the gold in the national coffers all such despots manipulating the Quran for their own interest quite contrary in the Quran’s teachings of Love and Respect towards fellow man.

As a proud 3rd generation American of Hellenic heritage and a Greek Orthodox Christian, I see our beloved America as a Judeo-Christian nation with many others welcome, however it is these principles we were founded and must abide by, Blessed by the Creator and expected to act accordingly especially thse we have “entrusted” to honpr their request to serve the public, the good of this great nation and those so challenged by oppression in distant land who have looked to us as a beacon of hope, yet now look with dismay….

The US constitution is very clear as it is a citizen’s Right to carry weapon if one’s choice and statistics prove that gun ownership does not promote crime, rather it deters such. It is a citizen’s Right to carry a weapon for all lawful purposes and if misused or abused, all rescindered.

With budgetary pressures everywhere as a result of the ineptness I refer to, the void in leadership, police officers, the men and women who serve us, our first responders, police, firefigheters and EMT’s cannot be expected to serve unless properly trained and manned and as our economy wanes and our nation is challenged by even more financial hardship, it remains my contention as well as many others that the federal government should be directly assisting with at least 25% supplement of budget to helping the larger metropolitan areas with direct federal financing. This will take burden off local budgets so overbudened and without transparency to citizen taxpayer and will help keep our street safe from criminal behavior.

These are days of desperation for many, often referring me to the history pages of 1939, yet this go around, the “Brutes of Tehran” having no more civilized manner about them than the SS, either we and the global civilized community thwart the agenda of Tehran or the Middle East will be engulfed by a shock and awe show never seen before and it will not be the oil corporations ripping us off here in January at $3.50 gal, but $8.00 gal and far, far worse…

Without bi-partisan leadership whether from Washington, to the state capital to the local selectmen and school superintendent and his/her over spent budgets, we will find ourselves standing in long soup lines whether on Washington Street here in Boston or Park Avenue in New York!

We have an substantial army of loyal, good citizens who have guns whether for hunting and/or for all lawful purpose. We need not fear our citizenry as much as We fear that those with pledge to serve the community, “entrusted” by precious vote where in some countries, innocent good people are murdered in cold blood waiting to simply cast a ballot!

Let’s clasp hands and hearts, sing the National Anthem. Pledge to our Flag with a such a proud history and honor. Freedom and Democracy come with a price and our obvious dysfunctional ways will just not bring solution, We must demand accountability and truthfulness and when the Treasurer is asked “Where’s the money and who received it? A detailed reply!

Stop the charade….the clock is ticking and the deficit continues to grow exponentially!

Christopher Tingus
Main Street USA
PO Box 1612
Harwich, MA 02645 USA

Comment by $2 Trillion Budget Deficit In This Pasat Year alone - $14+ Trillion

January 12, 2011 @ 4:42 am

The budget deficit has grown $2 trillion dollars this past year! Hefty Wall Street bonuses are still very much a depiction of the “Charade of Politicians and Corporate America” which has enslaved us to a certainty of povery….

It is not guns in the hands of those in possession for all lawful purposes, but this Goldman Sachs executive administration and a grid-locked partisan Congressional membership which threatens the very fabric of our flag flying upside down on my front porch depicting the distress, the peril to our existence….

God Bless our beloved Republic!

Christopher Tingus
PO Box 1612
Harwich, MA 02645 USA

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