Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

April 19, 2011

Why we do the work

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on April 19, 2011

“The science of government it is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the arts of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take the place of, indeed exclude, in a manner, all other arts.

I must study politics and war, that our sons [and daughters] may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.

Our sons [and daughters] ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.”John Adams; a Letter to Abigail Adams (12 May 1780)


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Comment by Christopher Bellavita

April 19, 2011 @ 1:23 am

Sgt. John Avera found Baylee Almon in the wreckage of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and handed her to firefighter Chris Fields. The photograph was taken by Charles Porter. Baylee was born on April 18, 1994. She lived for one year and one day. One hundred and sixty seven other people died that day in Oklahoma City, including 18 other children.

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 19, 2011 @ 6:19 am

WOW! That pictures brings tears to my eyes. I remember sitting at my desk in FEMA and someone came up to tell me the Murrah Building had been destroyed by an explosion. Director James Lee Witt, unlike all other FEMA directors before him and few after went immediately to Oklahoma City to lead the FEMA and federal response. An amazingly brave man and did the right thing. This highly limited geographic event however as was the WTC bombing in 1993 gave FEMA and others many wrong lessons of response and consequence management. The fact that the FBI had to be equipped, fed, and given communications equipment by FEMA a underfunded understaffed underauthorized agency outnumbered by the FBI FTE by over 10 times gave me another indication of how the FBI lacked agility and competence to deal with the terrorism effort that many of US already knew was a huge issue. PD-39 shortly followed. And NUNN-LUGAR-Domenici Defense
Against Weapons of Mass Destruction Act thanks to Senator Nunn and his worries about the ability of the federal government to deal with WMD. Murrah could easily have been a WMD IMO but it did fall into the CBRNE category nicely. Hoping someone is tracking those ammonium nitrate and fuel oil sales closely even now. The amazing thing to me about that event was how it cemented relationships between FEMA and the FBI and wonder what shape they are in today. EVEN today mass care is not a program,function, or activity given to any federal agency except FEMA through the delegated provisions of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Assistance Act. In the time past since 1995 the American Red Cross capacity for mass care has pretty much dissolved without anyone but FEMA noticing. Perhaps the ARC federal charter should be reconsidered.

Comment by Dan O'Connor

April 19, 2011 @ 8:59 am

Why does anyone do what they do? Is it nature or nurture? Is it directed or happenstance?

Is it hubris or humbleness? I often think about the road to my “career”…all the decisions and non decisions that pave the way. Some of the paths taken had no roads, with occasional dead ends and re routes. Others were giant interstates of speeding vehicles, people, and ideas and I just strapped in for the ride.

Chris used Newtonian and Darwinian last week in one of his pieces…so to take it one step further are we simply the end of a mechanical action-consequence asset forged by pre determinist Calvinism or are we an emergent amalgam of all the adaptations we make in a very short life?

Are we courageous or heroic? Do our motives matter is the end result is a good one? Do our motives matter if the end result is a bad one?

Do we exercise our craft out of duty or out of political necessity? Do we improve for profit or purpose?

Why so many questions? For me, it’s all about the questions. The quality of the answer is, in my opinion, a derivative of the quality of the question. So, one can operate on the premise that there are no bad questions. True. However; there are much better questions that need to be asked.

“I must study politics and war, that our sons [and daughters] may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.
Our sons [and daughters] ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.” — John Adams; a Letter to Abigail Adams (12 May 1780
I believe this to be our dilemma. Not enough people study war or have experienced its ravages to appreciate its destruction. Not enough people serve their country anymore to understand what exactly that means and what the Nation asks these people to do.

To serve; service. Putting others before oneself. Hubris or noble?

Do we serve because it’s noble and just or because the unions provide excess and guaranteed income? Is it important? Does it matter?

Perhaps we’ve had too much liberty and philosophy. Perhaps our short lives and shorter memories prohibit us from seeing the world as it is and instead only what we want it to be. Poverty, despots, oppression, exploitation are everywhere. Combined with political correctness, careerists, opportunists, and exploiters and you have some kind of stew.

Perhaps we’ve gotten too much, too soon, at the expense of others and don’t realize what it takes and whom it’s taken from.

Why do people serve? Is it a sense of moral obligation or simply a means to an end? Is it a calculated risk? Is it a submission to a reality? Is it simply for benefits? It is what it is and the answer to all is yes. Hindsight always has the best map.

Recently, I went on a trip with my daughter to Ireland. I was the first one in four generations to return to Ireland. I had my genealogy intact and knew exactly who left Ireland, when, and on what ship. I also was keenly aware of the history if Ireland and its emigrating populace. It was important to me to know the “whys” and not the “hows”.

I was standing at the shoreline of Cobh, county Cork. It was called Queenstown in the mid to late 1800’s. I wondered both privately and aloud on what does it take to make that decision- to leave all you know for an idea or simply survival. What kind of mettle does it take to be herded into steerage and spend weeks on the Atlantic to land in NYC for work in a glue factory? Is it mettle at all or simply the need to survive?

I wondered, being the first person in my family to go back, if I had fulfilled the expectation of my great, great grandfather. Did I fulfill the dreams of his future? Did he even have any expectations or was he simply doing what had to be done to live another day?

It was cold, rainy, dreary… a depressing place. But I was thunderstruck at what it took to leave nothing for next to nothing. A glue factory in Brooklyn, New York. Why did he do that? Did he aspire to that? Was that all he was capable of? Or, DID HE DO WHAT NEEDED TO BE DONE? Did they do what needed to be done? Are we doing what needs to be done?

I tried not to over romanticize it or add grandeur to it. I did try to recognize what it took.

So if by adaptation and evolution, do we become what we do or do we just do what we’ve become? Does our vocation define us or do we define it? Is it simply doing what needs to be done day in and day out and all of a sudden we’re “there”?

I’d like to know who our next John Adams is. I’d like to know if we can produce a Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and/or Abraham Lincoln. Are we capable of this or have we amortized our future waiting for them or their likes to return? Are they our delusions of greatness or were they truly great men?

Maybe it’s as easy as this; sometimes what we do is chosen by us and other times we do what has chosen us.

What ever the case, there is MUCH to be done.

Thanks Chris.

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 19, 2011 @ 11:43 am

Public corruption draws those who are corrupt. Thus, all winning big elections must pay back those funding their win and they also must pretend no quid pro quo.

As the FEMA ethics officer I could tell in the intial interview those who knew they had crossed the line to public service and those “Owed” by the public for performing that service.

Well the $27 trillion to the FIRE sector was well spent. NOW its members can sit back and pretend their earned it the old fashioned way–by corruption of the
system. The ARAB spring is largely about corruption nothing more and nothing less. I believe some organization ranks Nation-states on a public corruption scale and the US if memory serves ranks about 40!

Comment by Why Does Congress Do What?

April 21, 2011 @ 12:16 am

Dan, in your eloquent and such enlightened replies, herein your comment raises many thoughts and reasoning, however in ending this long day, I must ask, “Why do Congress folks and Senators do what they do Sir?”

I and many others are indeed quite perplexed as to how so many of us, like you, Bill, Chris, Phil and others hold such great esteem for our beloved Republic and our flag, the Constitution, respect for the law and thse who serve us whether on the battlefield afar or our esteemed first responders enroute to one of us in our 911 call for assistance often with Life on the line and yet, these Congress folks, each of them “entrusted” by our precious vote as proud Americans, very much looking back to the souls of so many who passed to afford this young nation all….what makes those from the WH to Congressional membership do what they don’t do in representation, yet do for their own selfish lust for prowess and gain and so inspired to do such evil by the same corporations which show hugh profits at the end of each quarter raping us at the gas pump and in buying a gallon of milk!

I stood this past Monday morning in the windy and cold early morning hour at the Lexington (MA) Town Green arriving at 4 am. Standing with thousands, some who had arrived even 45 minutes early to secure their favorite spot to watch a reenactment which would take place shortly after the church bell and the musket shot heard “round the world” and as the sun rose, before me British Redcoats marching past with members of the Lexington and Concord Militia wounded or dying on the field, I recall shortly later as one of the the British troops turns to us and asking, “Well folks, how do you like taxation with representation in comparisn to taxation w/o representation making it quite clear as he laughed, 236 years later as he was asking the question as well, “What does Congress truly do for We the people in this 21st century, gridlocked, so influenced by special interests, money and hearing the soldier snicker in his British uniform, I, too like many asked that morning, “Why do they work? Yes, of course certainly Not to serve the oath to nation and to We the people, but with the only clarity forthcoming from the beltway, a treasoness behavior akin to the few militia soldiers I witnessed running away from the British with neither their muskets turned towards the many British soldiers lined up that early morning, fleeing and shirking their duty while others served proudly and with Love for country!

Keep your guns cleaned and ready by your side for Barry et al seek to disarm you and do away with your 2nd Amendment Rights to protect this nation for all lawful purpose against the present “Goldman Sachs Administration” and those after seeking to strip Americans of their 2nd Amendment Right to bear Arms for all lawful purpose….

We are at great peril and We must stand bravely as those before us stood on the Lexington Green in the early morning to thwart those seeking to impose rule without respect to the dignity of all fellow citizenry!

God Bless our Republic now with our flag turned upside down on my front porch depicting the distress We here on Main Street USA encounter as the only “change” Barry and Deval we see is the change from our pockets taken from us as well….

Christopher Tingus
PO Box 1612
Harwich, MA 02645 USA

*My new one man campaign holding sign in hand at the corner, “Go Green, Recycle Congress and the White House. Enough is Enough!”

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