Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

July 14, 2011

The New Counterterrorism Strategy–This Verse Same as the First?

Filed under: Strategy,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Arnold Bogis on July 14, 2011

The Obama Administration recently made public the new “National Strategy for Counterterrorism.”  If you didn’t notice (and missed Phil’s earlier post referencing the strategy and Brennan’s public roll-out ), no worries, as little has changed since the last such strategy was released by the former Administration.

There are differences between the plans, however they reflect different viewpoints of the same problem set, namely the threat posed by one specific terrorist group: Al Qaeda.  The Obama Administration’s strategy is crystal clear about the focus:

This Strategy recognizes there are numerous nations and groups that support terrorism to oppose U.S. interests, including Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and HAMAS, and we will use the full range of our foreign policy tools to protect the United States against these threats.

However, the principal focus of this counterterrorism strategy is the network that poses the most direct and significant threat to the United States—al-Qa’ida, its affiliates and its adherents.

The focus begins to widen when a definition of the enemy is offered:

  • Al-Qa’ida has murdered thousands of our citizens, including on 9/11.
  • Al-Qa’ida affiliates—groups that have aligned with al-Qa’ida—have attempted to attack us, such as Yemen-based al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) failed attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner on December 25, 2009.
  • Al-Qa’ida adherents—individuals, sometimes American citizens, who cooperate with or are inspired by al-Qa’ida—have engaged in terrorism, including the tragic slaughter of our service members at Fort Hood in 2009.

If one only has to be “inspired” by the ideology to be considered part of the war, is there any possible end in sight for the war against Al-Qa’ida?  New Defense Secretary Leon Panetta seems to think so:

The United States is “within reach” of defeating al-Qaeda and is targeting 10 to 20 leaders who are key to the terrorist network’s survival, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Saturday during his first trip to Afghanistan since taking charge at the Pentagon.

“Now is the moment, following what happened with bin Laden, to put maximum pressure on them, because I do believe that if we continue this effort that we can really cripple al-Qaeda as a threat to this country,” he told reporters on his plane en route to Afghanistan.

“I’m convinced,” he added, “that we’re within reach of strategically defeating al-Qaeda.”

Bruce Hoffman disagrees, and if he is correct, the U.S. may be in a war with “affiliates” and “adherents” for quite some time:

“Al-Qaeda’s obituary has been written countless times over the past decade,” said Bruce Hoffman, a terrorism expert and professor of security studies at Georgetown University. “Each iteration has proved to be ephemeral, as the moment has continually shown itself to have a deeper bench than we imagine.”

“While it is certainly true that al-Qaeda’s leadership has been significantly eroded over the past two years, there is no empirical evidence that either the appeal of its message or the flow of its recruits has actually diminished,” Hoffman added.

The Bush Administration’s last “National Strategy for Combating Terrorism” also focused on Al Qaeda:

Our strategy involved destroying the larger al-Qaida network and also confronting the radical ideology that inspired others to join or support the terrorist movement. Since 9/11, we have made substantial progress in degrading the al–Qaida network, killing or capturing key lieutenants, eliminating safehavens, and disrupting existing lines of support. Through the freedom agenda, we also have promoted the best long-term answer to al–Qaida’s agenda: the freedom and dignity that comes when human liberty is protected by effective democratic institutions.

However, it laid out U.S. counterterror efforts in a more general (almost strategic) framework as opposed to the regional focus of the Obama strategy:

As laid out in this strategy, to win the War on Terror, we will:

  • Advance effective democracies as the long–term antidote to the ideology of terrorism;
  • Prevent attacks by terrorist networks;
  • Deny terrorists the support and sanctuary of rogue states;
  • Deny terrorists control of any nation they would use as a base and launching pad for terror; and
  • Lay the foundations and build the institutions and structures we need to carry the fight forward against terror and help ensure our ultimate success.

On the surface, it would seem that the new strategy is a significant departure from what came before.   Yet both focused almost entirely on Al-Qa’ida, and except for the Bush Strategy’s efforts attempting to assert the primacy of the Iraq war in the Global War on Terrorism, most of the same tools and tactics are on display: concerns about WMD;  eliminating safehavens; the importance of international partnerships; countering Al-Qa’da ideology; etc.

Same wine, different bottles?

July 13, 2011

Fusion

Filed under: Budgets and Spending — by Mark Chubb on July 13, 2011

Stewart Prager’s opinion piece in the Sunday New York Times about fusion power got me thinking about the opportunities posed by fusion in other forms. As Prager explained, fusion power holds the promise of producing abundant power with few harmful side effects. All we have to do is figure out how to manage or contain reactions like those at the core or our own sun that produce temperatures around 100 million degrees Celcius.

Clearly, that technical hurdle presents a pretty high bar. Prager himself calls fusion energy production “one of the most challenging science and engineering challenges ever undertaken.”  But the way he puts it makes the problem of bottling the sun somehow seem possible.

Prager’s optimism emerges from impressive successes produced by efforts to think a bit differently about the problem. Instead of trying to contain the reaction by conventional means, scientists are experimenting with ways of controlling reactions so they produce the same amount of heat but in bursts of just a fraction of a second.

This leadership lesson from the esoteric world of high energy physics makes me wonder whether efforts to solve other problems, like the budget deficit, would benefit from a more measured approach. Instead of confining the negotiators in a room and heaping pressure on them to reach a deal, maybe we should look for other ways of managing the heat produced by the application of such intense pressure.

Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) proposal yesterday evening may just do this. If passed by both houses, the proposal would give President Obama unilateral authority to raise the debt ceiling in increments that would presumably allow the country to avert the looming default crisis and extend the debt ceiling through the end of President Obama’s current term of office.

Clearly, House Republicans loyal to Tea Party activists consider this proposal unacceptable because it does not require offsetting spending cuts. That alone should make it attractive to Democrats worried that it will saddle the president and his party with a reputation for digging a deeper hole of debt.

Although I suspect Americans themselves are as deeply divided about the question of debt and taxes as their representatives in Washington, D.C., the political consequence do not vex them to the same degree.The economy and the lingering effects of unemployment, slow growth, rising energy and food costs, and the prospect of a return to economic contraction remain their dominant concerns.

Unlike the obstacles impeding progress toward the production of abundant energy through the power of fusion reactions, the country’s challenges are not primarily technical in nature. But the analogy does not break down here. To the contrary, overcoming the barriers to political fusion require a similar commitment to managing the heat.

Political leaders and their constituents alike might benefit from taking a bit of a breather. Despite their differences, leaders of both parties and many of their constituents have made their commitment to deficit reduction clear. It is equally clear that anything that undermines economic stability in the short term will compromise efforts to achieve a debt reduction in the medium term through spending cuts, tax increases or other measures that include combinations of both.

 

July 12, 2011

Slavery in America: “I slept with 103 men,” she says. “That is the worst day in my life.”

Filed under: Immigration,Legal Issues — by Christopher Bellavita on July 12, 2011

Slavery still defiles the United States.

By some estimates (including figures from the CIA) as many as 50,000 people “are trafficked into or transited through the U.S.A. annually as sex slaves, domestics, garment, and agricultural slaves.”

The State Department has a lower figure. A few years ago, they reported “that 14,500 to 17,500 people, primarily women and children, are trafficked to the U.S. annually.”

Other people think the problem may be less significant than the 50,000 figure makes it appear.

“The discrepancy between the alleged number of victims per year and the number of cases [authorities] been able to make is so huge that it’s got to raise major questions,” said one criminologist. “It suggests that this problem is being blown way out of proportion.”

Or maybe something else:

“The biggest problem that we have combating these [sex trafficking] cases,” [a DHS official said], “is that once they hear the words ‘Immigration and Customs Enforcement,’ they immediately run. They do not trust us. They immediately think we are going to deport them.”

————–

I read a story Monday about something called T Visas.  The Trafficking Victims Protection Act… allows undocumented human trafficking victims to receive nonimmigrant status under some conditions, including agreeing to cooperate with law enforcement.

According to people familiar with the program, very few people are familiar with the program — victims or officials.

“Since T Visas became available in 2002, the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services has been authorized to issue up to 5,000 a year — or enough for 10 percent of the 50,000 men, women and children trafficked into the U.S. for prostitution and forced labor each year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.”

In the last decade, about 2300 T Visas were issued; in 2010, 447 victims received visas.

(You can find out more about this Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service program at this link.)

————–

Azriel James Relph, an NBC News reporter, described how one person found out about the DHS, USCIS program.  Here is an extended excerpt:

On a recent sweltering afternoon, two women sat at a restaurant table in a small American town, sharing conversation and a cookie and keeping cool. The normally busy eatery was quiet, but even if it had been packed they would have been the oddest couple in the room – a woman who came to this country illegally and a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent.

….

“How’s your back? Is it treating you OK?” asked the agent.

“Very, very good,” replied the woman across the table in a heavy South American accent.

We can’t tell you their actual names. Special Agent Jones, her gold badge clipped to her belt and and ICE logo on her black government-issue polo shirt, often works undercover. Naming her could blow that. And her companion, whom we’ll call Laura, is a crime victim. Using her real name or showing her face could give her tormentors all they need to retaliate.

They are both women in their 30s, but the gray streaks running through Laura’s dark hair are suggestions of the pain she has endured.

Laura is a victim of human trafficking who risked her safety by testifying against the man who brought her to this country and forced her to work as a sex slave for at least seven years. Special Agent Jones was a part of the team that saved her.

….

Laura can’t remember some details of her ordeal, including how long ago she was smuggled into the U.S. — somewhere between 10 and 12 years ago, she reckons. But others — like how she got here — are seared into her memory.

She met a man in her home country when she was in her 20s. He swept her off of her feet, and told her he loved her. She took him to meet her family. When he asked her to go to the U.S. for six months, they cautioned against it, but she was in love and couldn’t say no. They boarded a flight north and only then, on the airplane, did he lay out what he really had in mind for her.

“You’re going to the United States,” she remembers him telling her, “to work like a prostitute.” Laura said she wanted to scream for help, but he told her to remember that he knew where her family was. “I have a lot of friends and I know where everybody lives,” he threatened.

It was a cold winter night when she landed in Washington, D.C. The man passed her off to a couple who took her directly to an old house. She laid awake all night in shock, listening to rats scrape around. All she could think about was how she wanted to phone her family — if only someone in this unfamiliar and unfriendly place could help her make a call.

But Laura had no allies in this frightening new land. She was now an unwilling sex worker in brothels catering to immigrant Latinos in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Atlanta and New York. She remained the “property” of her trafficker, who arranged her movements, as well as those of other women and girls he lured to the U.S. with similar false promises.

She remembers one especially horrific night in Maryland. “I slept with 103 men,” she says. “That is the worst day in my life.”

And she was not alone. “I remember, he say, ‘You no make money, because the other women [had sex with] 130.’ A lot of people don’t believe it, and say ‘No, it’s impossible.’”

Not only is it possible, it happens all the time, all across America, according to Bradley Myles, executive director of Polaris Project, a nonprofit that operates the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.

“Basically there’s this whole sex trafficking network that exists in the United States, and it predominantly targets and victimizes women and children from Latin American countries,” Myles said.

Fear of incarceration due to her undocumented status and concern for the safety of her family kept Laura from attempting escape or contacting authorities. But one day, that fear turned into hope, when Special Agent Jones came through the brothel door.

Three years ago, after approximately eight months of surveillance and undercover investigation — including late-night stakeouts, digging through trash, getting evidence any way they could — Jones and fellow ICE agents approached a house on a quiet street in an average American suburb and knocked on the door. They knew that the front door was not shielding a family sitting around a dining room table discussing their day, but a brothel where women and girls as young as 14 were being forced to have sex with “Johns” who paid $25 for 15-minute sessions. The women and girls worked all day and night, and almost never saw a penny.

On the day of the raid, Laura sat on a couch in the living room, where men awaited their 15-minute sessions, watching television. After seven years in the brothels she was no longer in high demand. New women and girls were constantly being brought in. The younger and fresher the faces, the more popular they were with Johns. The man she had fallen for all those years before in her home country still found a use for her though; she worked as the maid for this brothel.

She heard a knock on the door, peered out the window and saw the police. She didn’t say anything — she just started to cry as she opened the door for them.

Laura said she hadn’t cried about her situation in years. “You know, at one point you can’t cry,” she said. “You cry no more.” But as she realized what was about to happen, the tears came rushing back. “Crying because I am too happy — not afraid — because I knew that this is over.”

What happened next is a blur, but she remembers that the first person she saw come through the door was Jones. The officers told her they had arrested her trafficker. She asked if she was going to jail. They told her no.

The years of slavery had taken a physical and emotional toll on Laura.

“When we rescued her she appeared substantially older than her age,” said Jones. “She had a lot of baggage. A lot of mental and emotional distraughtness.”

Jones hoped to secure her cooperation as the prosecution built its case against her trafficker and the network he was part of. But her captors had told Laura over and over not to trust law enforcement, and she had no idea if she could really believe anything that an ICE agent was telling her.

“When I first met Laura, she didn’t trust us,” said Jones. “She actually made the case harder by saying that the other women that we rescued were all doing it voluntarily, that her trafficker was innocent. But that is usually the way these victims have been brainwashed to believe. It’s classic Stockholm Syndrome.”

Jones was patient. As one of the oldest victims, Laura’s testimony was crucial to the case. She decided to show her what her trafficker had deprived her of, and give her a taste of freedom.

“So we put her in a position where she could continue to thrive and see where she’s going to go,” she said. She arranged for Laura to get temporary status to stay in the country legally. She put her in touch with a relief agency that helped her find work, housing and mental health care. As Laura started to heal, Jones stayed in touch and kept asking for her cooperation, promising that her newfound freedom could be permanent. But Laura continued to resist.

After three years, Laura finally walked into the courtroom where her trafficker sat — the man she once thought she loved — and testified about her ordeal.

“I remember the day, but I no remember what I say,” she said, “because I so nervous.”

Her trafficker was found guilty of human trafficking. He is in federal prison now, and after five years, he will be deported to his home country. He is also required to pay restitution to Laura and the other nine women and girls he was convicted of enslaving

Working human trafficking cases, Jones has found an even stronger connection to her work. “These girls can be anybody’s daughter, anybody’s sister,” she said. “When I look at these girls — that could have been me.”

————–

My first thought after I read this story was sometimes DHS gets it right.

I talked about this case with a friend who works for the federal government and who knows a lot about trafficking.  I asked him what he thought about the story.  Here’s what he said.

————–

Trafficking is one area the United States is getting more right than most places and one where we have demonstrated world-wide leadership.

DHS getting it right? Being that they have the lead, I suppose, but do we need a DHS to get this one right? Not so sure.

As a nation, the US really has driven the modern anti-trafficking movement. Fall of the Wall, Globalization, Explosion of Internet really brought it to light. It has been a bipartisan effort beginning with President Clinton, continued by President Bush under whom the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) was signed into law, and since continued by President Obama.

Though it has been a bipartisan effort, the political left seems to focus more on forced labor and the political right on sex-trafficking.  The disparity can be so severe that our State Department under different party affiliations disagrees as to which is the greater cause of trafficking, by a wide amount.

But the US is not alone on the dispute as to what is trafficking. Much like discussions about what are inalienable human rights, there are still disagreements and a variety of different definitions for human trafficking world-wide.

On this point the US adopted the force, fraud, coercion, under 18 rubric for the TVPA.  There is no movement (across borders, state or national) required for human trafficking.

At first the TVPA required the State Department to rank all countries on their anti-trafficking efforts, and then tie US aid and funding to those efforts.

As you can imagine, this can become extremely political, very quickly; particularly in strategic parts of the world.

Initially, the US did not rate itself, but now it does. This is a good thing and has led to positive steps in the US.

There are Americans who believe we need strong international laws and that the US needs to buy into the laws. From that perspective, the US prescriptively set the bar and put people on notice regarding anti-trafficking efforts.

However, when we did that, very few states had human-trafficking laws on the books. In ten years, more than forty states put anti-trafficking laws on the books.  These laws complement the federal laws regarding trafficking. Penalties supporting these laws are much more severe.  This increases the cost criminals face doing business and is a legitimate part of doing business.

But it might lead one to say (much like the immigration laws) how can the feds and the states both have human trafficking laws? There are a lot of legal issues around that question, but it does create a gap.

It is true there is an apparent discrepancy between estimated trafficking numbers and actual criminal prosecutions brought.

I believe this is a result of the force, fraud, coercion requirement. Those are really hard things to prove save for the really egregious cases.

Look at the parties involved in the sex cases. Are the Johns going to appear as a fact witness? Of course not, we don’t even arrest them.

The women … I can’t even begin to put my mind around the psychological components to this: PTSD rates that are as high as combat veterans. They just want it to end.  They don’t care if someone is prosecuted or not. Think battered spouse.  Think rape victims.

My colleague just had a successful prosecution of a violent rape where the women failed to report it for over two years. She had been tasered and then raped, and she thought somehow she was to blame for being so foolish to get into that situation.

Many people make the argument that the women choose to get into the pay for sex game and then end up in a bad situation they choose not to get out of.  So they make two bad choices: getting into the game in the first place and then not walking away when they could. Thus, no force, fraud, or coercion, and no human trafficking, just bad choices.

I don’t know. On the labor side, one might similarly argue that a migrant worker knows they are coming to the US to work (the job may not be what they were promised or believed, but they know that is a reality).  They know it is illegal to do so.  They know they are going to be paid less than a US citizen.  They probably know it will be less than what they have been promised.  And they know their living conditions might be substandard.  No matter what they have been promised, they realize this.  Nevertheless, they still choose to come here and work because it beats the alternative.

Choices all around, right? Or force, fraud, and coercion?

DHS getting it right?

They are the current instrument.  The United States is getting it right.

 

 

 

July 11, 2011

Mexican Standoff: Justice Announces New Gun Rules for Border States

Filed under: Border Security,Investigation & Enforcement — by Jessica Herrera-Flanigan on July 11, 2011

The Administration announced today that the Justice Department will require firearms dealers in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas to report to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), if an individual purchases -within 5 days – more than one semiautomatic rifle that takes a detachable magazine and uses ammunition greater than .22 caliber.  In a statement, Deputy Attorney General James Cole stated:

The international expansion and increased violence of transnational criminal networks pose a significant threat to the United States.  Federal, state and foreign law enforcement agencies have determined that certain types of semi-automatic rifles – greater than .22 caliber and with the ability to accept a detachable magazine – are highly sought after by dangerous drug trafficking organizations and frequently recovered at violent crime scenes near the Southwest Border.  This new reporting measure — tailored to focus only on multiple sales of these types of rifles to the same person within a five-day period — will improve the ability of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to detect and disrupt the illegal weapons trafficking networks responsible for diverting firearms from lawful commerce to criminals and criminal organizations.  These targeted information requests will occur in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas to help confront the problem of illegal gun trafficking into Mexico and along the Southwest Border.

The proposal is not completely a surprise, as the Federal Register published the proposal in December and then in late April, requesting public comment. The announcement comes after Congress has been investigating ATF’s operation “Fast and Furious” in Arizona.  The operation has been criticized as ATF allegedly allowed almost 2000 guns bought by straw purchasers in the U.S. to be sent to Mexico, despite the monitoring of the sales by ATF.  It is believed that two of the weapons linked to the program played a role in the murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry last December.

The National Rifle Association has indicated that it plans to file suit against the government for the new rules.  The NRA claims that the Administration does not have the legal authority to enact the rules and that by doing so it is circumventing Congressional action.

What we have now is a Mexican standoff with neither side likely to budge on what it believes is needed to protect the border or protect gun owner rights, respectively.  A few observations:

The ongoing drug wars in Mexico are serious and guns are playing a significant role; that is true. Some population of those guns are originating from the U.S., though the exact percentage is unknown. Those for restricting gun sales have claimed it is up to 90 percent. Those against claim that number is an exaggeration, as not all the guns found in Mexico are sent back for tracing and that the actual number is in the teens.  Whatever the number, the ongoing violence is starting to seep over to the U.S. and all sides should not be quabbling over percentages but trying to find a solution to a problem that is not only in our backyard, but making its way through our backdoor.

That said, it is not clear how effective the new rules will be and whether they really address the larger problems associated with the escalating violence. As written, they only are enforceable for gun dealers within the border states.  Based on reports by GAO and others, while those states may have a higher percentage of guns sold that migrate to Mexico, they don’t represent 100% of guns traced back to the U.S.  Will putting this requirement in place only increase dubious sales at non-border states with “friendly” gun laws? Also, does ATF have the capacity to examine the increased reporting materials in a manner that will allow it to effectively identify which sales are linked to the drug wars and which are merely linked to individuals exercising their 2nd Amendment rights?  If the “Fast and Furious” project is any indication then the agency needs much improvement in this realm to ensure that the rules are an effective tool and not a burdensome requirement.

At the same time, as noted earlier, the violence in Mexico is worsening and seeping over into the U.S. and affecting border cities and U.S. citizens.  The NRA and others who support 2nd Amendment rights while protecting the rights they believe in should help the government come up with effective and systematic ways to keep guns out of the hands of those who would do harm to our citizens and our communities.

If we are truly going to address guns crossing the border- regardless of whether is 90 percent or 17 percent of the problem – we all need to work together.

Brennan in Yemen (again)

Filed under: International HLS,Strategy,Terrorist Threats & Attacks — by Philip J. Palin on July 11, 2011

Sunday John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Counterterrorism and Homeland Security, was in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia seeing (still) President Saleh of Yemen who is recuperating from injuries suffered in an early June attack.  I don’t know when the trip was planned, but I expect a late Thursday speech by Saleh was somehow related.

In the speech, President Saleh said nothing about stepping down from office.  A White House statement on Brennan’s trip includes, “During the meeting, Mr. Brennan called upon President Salih to fulfill expeditiously his pledge to sign the GCC-brokered agreement for peaceful and Constitutional political transition in Yemen.” (You say Saleh, I say Salih.)  In other words, Saleh should resign the presidency and stay out of Yemen.

Tens of thousands — possibly hundreds of thousands — of Yemenis filled the streets in protest after Saleh’s speech was broadcast.

Today Brennan is in Yemen.  According to the Wall Street Journal:

Brennan met with Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in a bid to revive a power-transfer deal proposed by Yemen’s neighbors. Mr. Hadi has headed the government since embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh left for neighboring Saudi Arabia to be treated for wounds he suffered in a June 3 attack on his compound in San’a, Yemen’s capital… Mr. Hadi briefed Mr. Brennan on his previous meeting with the opposition groups regarding the transition plan, which envisions presidential elections two months after the initial handover of power… Mr. Brennan’s visit also appeared to reflect Washington’s concerns about the growing strength of Islamic militants in Yemen, which is close to the Gulf’s vast oil fields and strategic shipping lanes in the Arabian and Red seas. U.S. officials say Washington has increased its security presence and operations in Yemen amid the turmoil.

I can’t keep up with Mr. Brennan.  On June 29 while I was offline for some personal obligations Mr. Brennan introduced the new National Strategy for Counterterrorism. Watch Brennan’s SAIS speech or read his prepared remarks on the new strategy.

More on the new Strategy coming up.

July 8, 2011

Considering Catastrophe

Filed under: Catastrophes,Congress and HLS — by Philip J. Palin on July 8, 2011

The Congressional Research Service (specifically the stalwart Bruce R. Lindsay and redoubtable Francis X. McCarthy) has produced a new study entitled: Considerations for a Catastrophic Declaration: Issues and Analysis. It was released to Congress on June 21 and has subsequently been made available to the public by the Federation of American Scientists.

As with most CRS products the report is comprehensive, credible, and cautious. The analysis provides a helpful overview of the current policy landscape. The CRS is not tasked to advise or innovate. The CRS is tasked with even-handed research and reporting to inform members and their staff of options and major issues, usually bounded by the traditional policy frameworks recognizable to their principal audiences.

Some key outputs from the report:

If amended, the Stafford Act might provide a declaration for what might be classified as a “megadisaster” or “catastrophic disaster.” It is unclear, however, what differentiates a disaster from a catastrophe. (Page 4)

A catastrophic declaration may be used to trigger certain mechanisms before, during, and after a catastrophe. Policymakers might also elect to apply a catastrophic declaration to one or more phases of the incident. (Page 5)

Given the number of large-scale disasters occurring in the last 30 years, one might conclude that large-scale disasters are occurring more frequently—which might support an argument for a catastrophic declaration. A counterargument, on the other hand, is that in terms of damage costs, only Hurricane Katrina truly qualifies as a catastrophic event when compared to other, recent incidents. It might be further argued that while many of the most expensive disasters have occurred in recent years, the increased costs associated with such incidents are a function of variables that are not necessarily related to the magnitude of the incidents (such as increased federal expenditures for assistance and recovery projects, the replacement of expensive infrastructure, and the development of previously uninhabited areas). (Page 12)

Upon reviewing the results of the comparative analysis of destructive incidents, it could be argued that highly destructive events occur too rarely to warrant a catastrophic declaration. Using the 90th percentile as a benchmark, only one event in the last 140 years would be catastrophic and only four would qualify if the 80th percentile is used as a benchmark. Similar conclusions might be drawn on the comparative analysis of combined VSL and damage estimate costs—specifically, that high-impact events are too infrequent to merit the addition of a new declaration category—only one incident in the last 100 years meets the 90th percentile threshold. Additionally, the threshold would have to be adjusted to the 20th percentile to include more than one incident. Critics of the additional declaration might further argue that VSL is a poor determinant for a catastrophic declaration because federal assistance is predominately tied to recovery projects rather than victim or survivor compensation. (Page 15)

Depending on its design, certain benefits may be derived from using a catastrophic declaration for large-scale disasters, including:
• accelerated and more robust federal assistance to states prior to an incident,
• the use of specialized response plans and guidelines for the federal response,
• the elimination or reduction of procedures and protocols that might impede response and recovery activities and efforts,
• the elimination or reduction of procedures and protocols that might delay the disbursal of federal assistance, and
• increasing the amount of federal assistance through various mechanisms to help states recovery more quickly and avoid economic hardship.

The potential drawbacks of a catastrophic declaration may include:
• unclear authority and responsibility designations could confuse those responsible for executing the response and recovery,
• increased federal costs for disaster assistance due to increased declaration activity,
• increased federal costs for disaster assistance due to the increased federal costshare provisions included with the declaration, and
• increased federal involvement and responsibility for incident response. (Page 17)

Please do not mistake the summary above as equal in value to the full CRS narrative.

–+–

Now for something completely different, as my fourth-cousin Michael has been known to say, you might review the pdf linked below. Where Lindsay and McCarthy are quantitative, the authors of this working draft (including yours truly) are more qualitative. Where CRS is reporting what is known and avoids advocacy, this other document explores admitted unknowns and advocates innovation in catastrophe preparedness far beyond the typical writ of Congress. The CRS report says little about private sector catastrophe preparedness; the other document is full of private sector implications and calls-to-action.  One report is authoritative, the other wants to be provocative.  The CRS report is official.  There is nothing official in the working draft offered below.

The document accessed through the link is nearly 25 megabytes, so don’t give up too soon. If you have concerns or suggestions, this is a working draft and changes and additions will continue to be made through the middle of August.

Catastrophe: Definitions, Characteristics, and Proposed Principles of Good Practice (Working Draft)

Securing our State (of mind)

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on July 8, 2011

Tuesday night a piece of spam penetrated HLSWatch firewalls.  The embedded message read: “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”

The spam appeared as a comment to a long-ago post. For quite a few posts, these words might be responsive and insightful. This particular post was a list of websites. The spam was just spam.

I googled the first sentence.  The source was Helen Keller. Wikiquote let me know that Keller also wrote, “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

Is this a literary cyberattack, dissing security and promoting a Pollyannish optimism?

Pollyanna is a fictional character from early 20th Century popular American literature. Confronted with a range of real problems — including poverty and the death of both parents — Pollyanna persists in playing the Glad Game. “The game was to just find something about everything to be glad about—no matter what ’twas.”

To be a Pollyanna has come to mean someone who denies problems. But in the original series Pollyanna does not deny as much as purposefully transform. She chooses — through disciplined practice — to emphasize positive possibilities. She refuses to be a victim and is the co-author of her own reality.

My grandmother loved the Pollyanna books. I wonder if her appreciation had anything to do with being the poverty stricken daughter of one alcoholic father and the step-daughter of another? Did it have anything to do with losing a brother to battle and a brother-in-law to post-war suicide? Perhaps it was her own chronic arthritic pain or the years caring for a mother with sometimes violent dementia.

Did the theme of willful, courageous optimism help her give birth to her first child in the midst of the 1918 pandemic, raise a family in the depths of the depression, and send her eldest son off to World War II? When my grandfather lost so much in the economic transformation of the 1950s, I wonder if that was when grandma dusted off the books she had read as a working teenager (she only completed the sixth grade).

Laura Palin sent all her surviving children to college, including Northwestern and Julliard. She hosted her grandchildren in a grand house with huge meals and three decorated trees at Christmas. For over a quarter century each Saturday night she arranged flowers for the Sunday altar. She inspired many with her love, quiet courage, good humor, and positive perspective.

She was not alone. She was not even exceptional. Grandma reflected the common culture of her time and place. I could tell of dozens of “ordinary” folk who demonstrated tenacious survival, transformational attitudes, and courageous optimism in adversity. Some call it stoical. Yet there was lots of laughter and home-made ice cream and extravagantly sentimental literature, music, and religion. Grandma did not see herself as heroic. She was just trying to do the best with whatever was thrown at her.

Some think the current moment is either the worst America has seen or the eve of the worst. What of slavery, Indian genocide and Japanese internment? What of “one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.” What of our murderous civil war? What of the threat we faced in World War II and a 40 year long Cold War? Was three generations of separate-but-equal the best of all possible times? Are our current cultural divisions greater than that of the late 1960s? Today is tough, but is it worse than the inflationary spiral and economic doldrums of the 1970s?

If today is our nation’s worst day, it is not the result of externalities. It is because of widespread unwillingness to engage today and tomorrow with a disciplined hope and insistent confidence. It is because we criticize and complain when we would be better served to create and give thanks.

Grandma had her bad days. We all do. I suppose a nation will have its share. At the end of a bad day she would go to bed early (she was known for staying up late) and wake with the birdsong committed to making this day a better day in the way she said her morning prayers, in the way she fixed breakfast for grandpa, in the way she wrote a thank you note for the neighbor’s gift of tomatoes, in the way she praised my childish drawing, in the way she listened patiently to her sad friend on the corner. Taken together I wonder if these are not examples of the Way.

Other than living in Illinois, grandma did not have much in common with David Foster Wallace, but in his 2005 commencement address to Kenyon College graduates, he articulates the Tao my grandmother lived:

The so-called real world will not discourage you from operating on your default settings, because the so-called real world of men and money and power hums merrily along in a pool of fear and anger and frustration and craving and worship of self. Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the centre of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving…. The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.

My grandmother and most of her generation lived this sort of disciplined creative life. Wallace and I talk and write about it better than we live it. In September 2008, despite — even because of — his exquisite ability to describe reality, Wallace killed himself. He was unwilling to go to bed early and begin a new day.

I am concerned our nation is choosing Wallace’s way, rather than my grandmother’s. America needs a sound nights sleep. We need to awaken refreshed and ready to each do our bit and our best with whatever is thrown our way.

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”

July 6, 2011

Of Ozymandias, Eudaimonia and Debt

Filed under: Budgets and Spending,Futures,State and Local HLS — by Mark Chubb on July 6, 2011

As deliberations over the debt limit become increasingly mired in the debate over strategies to reduce the federal debt, the previously unthinkable possibility of a U.S. government default looms larger by the day. Up until now, homeland security practitioners seem to have been more concerned with whether or not negotiators would touch their pet programs than whether the damage caused by a prolonged impasse could threaten the safety and security of our communities.

In homeland security and emergency management circles, talk of the unthinkable usually revolves around complex hazards that produce a cascade of failures resulting in ripples of consequences. This time around we are talking about a cascade of failures that will produce a complex hazard the likes of which we have no way of really knowing until they emerge. What is certain is that some effects will be immediate and others will take years to appreciate. Regardless what time scale their emergence or our awareness of them adheres to, one thing is certain: Most of the worst consequences will never go away.

Those who argue that the debt limit does not matter seem to believe in a myth of American exceptionalism that suggests we can do no wrong, that our decisions and actions will not produce the consequences for us that others have suffered, often at our hands. The opposite is more likely true. Our security could be threatened in previously unimagined ways by creditors who force us to swallow the bitter pills we have dispensed so earnestly and eagerly to others.

Nowhere is this more likely than in the developing world. China and India are rapidly approaching the points where their roles will shift from risk takers to risk makers. And those left vulnerable to the risks created by their rising dominance will surely be us.

China’s military and political might worries some. But its economic ambitions, borne as they are of a desire to keep pace with the burgeoning aspirations of the Chinese people, are greater cause for concern if only for the consequences of their pursuit on the climate and therefore our own ecology and environment.

Others who see little urgency in the current situation may fear the economic effects of others’ decisions and actions but gleefully imagine an America whose government can no longer afford to inhibit or interfere with the decisions and actions of her own citizens. These same people apparently see little difference between a natural person and a corporation when it comes to fundamental liberties. Sadly, the same cannot be said of these same individuals’ assessments of the responsibilities of each to the other.

It’s worth reiterating that U.S. government default is unprecedented. This is important for two reasons: First, the effects are not simply unknowable because we haven’t witnessed such an event before, but because we have no clear idea what ripple effects will result. Second, unlike other disasters that involve underlying processes that we do not fully understand and therefore cannot predict, we know with certainty that the effects of this disaster are entirely preventable.

We cannot and should not assume that the sovereign debt crises resulting from other countries’ fiscal and monetary failures presage the effects should Congress and the White House fail in their duties to resolve the current crisis. Our economy is not just the biggest, it is also intimately connected with every other economy on the planet. Several economists have warned that default would not only delay recovery from the recent recession, but could actually trigger a worldwide depression. We cannot assume an economic calamity of this sort would resemble previous economic depressions.

A devaluation of the U.S. dollar and higher interest rates resulting from default would hit pocketbooks and balance sheets immediately. Reluctance of foreign buyers to invest in U.S. treasury bills would require the government to suspend activities almost immediately to meet interest payments rather than risk further defaults. As government dollars began flowing out of the county to repay foreign creditors, job losses would rise almost as fast as the prices of basic goods and services.

Already stressed state and local governments would be hit hardest after a default. The effects of the recent recession emerged there last and have lingered far longer than elsewhere in the economy. The need for structural and systemic reforms rather than simple shifts in emphasis have already become apparent to many public safety executives as evidenced by the recent legislative initiatives to repeal collective bargaining rights and restructure public employee pension obligations.

As Chris Bellavita’s holiday post reminds us, our leaders have to work if they are to preserve our republic. Their deeds must match their words.

Phil Palin for his part reminded us that our forebears equated the ideals of the republic with the pursuit of eudaimonia. How one attains such an ideal was as troublesome to the ancients as it is for us today. Then as now, much of the disagreement centered on the importance of attaining wealth and exchanging external goods.

Agreeing on the virtue of reducing the debt is meaningless if we are not prepared to meet our obligations. Others can only ever truly judge our intentions by our actions. And even the mere suggestion that the unthinkable is now thinkable has had a negative effect on confidence in our government and its leaders.

Emerging from the current crisis, whether it deepens into downright default or not, will depend on how we respond not just to our situation but to one another. When cities and states can no longer afford to provide essential public safety services who will notice? And what will they do about it?

July 5, 2011

Legislative Action Isn’t Automatically Good Policy

Filed under: Biosecurity — by Christopher Bellavita on July 5, 2011

Today’s post introduces a first-time contributor to Homeland Security Watch:  Alan Wolfe.  Mr. Wolfe retired recently as a national security policy advisor.

——————————–

So we’re coming up on an election year, which means it’s time for congressional representatives to show how intrepid they’ve been in securing the homeland from terrorist attacks. And what could be better than enacting legislation that promises to protect Americans from weapons of mass destruction?

From The Hill’s website, we read:

Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) and Pete King (R-N.Y.) will introduce the Weapons of Mass Destruction Prevention and Preparedness Act of 2011 on [July 24th]. The congressmen first introduced the legislation in 2010, but the bill was never considered by the entire House.

The bill would establish a new “special assistant” to the president for biodefense who would create a federal biodefense plan and a yearly budget. The bill also contains legislation that would allow state and local first responders access to surplus vaccine.

In particular, the House Committee on Homeland Security promises to deliver a bipartisan bill that will call for:

  • the appointment of a special assistant to the President for biodefense to coordinate federal biodefense policy
  • the development of a national biodefense plan and a coordinated budget that assess capability gaps and spending inefficiencies
  • a national biosurveillance strategy
  • provisions for our first responders, including voluntary vaccinations and response guidance for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear incidents
  • authorization of the Securing the Cities program to allow for interdiction of a radiological device in high-risk cities

——————————–

Interestingly, the title of the bill is the “WMD Prevention and Preparedness Act of 2011,” (you can download it here) and the first thing I would notice is that it does not prevent or prepare one’s city or state for “WMD” at all. It’s strictly aimed at biological terrorism incidents, attempting to address the faults that the Graham/Talent WMD Commission’s “World at Risk” report identified.

A little truth in labeling is always a good thing, but it’s not apparent here.

This isn’t a good bill for several reasons: first of all by its intent to appoint a special assistant to the President to coordinate biodefense policy. We’ve seen “special assistants” come and go, and we do have a “special assistant” for WMD proliferation and terrorism, although he’s much more interested in Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear programs than biodefense for the military or homeland security.

But more importantly is the colossal mistake of trying to segregate “biodefense,” whatever that means to people, as a distinct issue separate from counterproliferation, combating terrorism, public health, or homeland defense/civil support. You can’t just target a biological disease distinct from its source, man-made or natural. A “biodefense” expert who doesn’t know the context of the threat is going to be useless, an impediment to the national security experts trying to address real threats.

The idea that such a “biodefense czar” (if I may use that term) could develop a strategy and control a budget across existing executive agencies is beyond ridiculous. It’s never been done, and if put into practice, congressional committees would have a field day with the special assistant. We have a proliferation of committees already involved in oversight of the armed forces and homeland security – this biodefense assistant will be more busy in Congress than he would be in actually trying to get his arms around the issues.

In developing a new “national biosurveillance strategy,” the House committee would first kill the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) National Biosurveillance Integration Center (NBIC).  Now it’s clear that NBIC has some significant challenges, but it’s idiotic to tear down an existing center – which is at least in the right government agency – so that you can create another one from scratch, another agency that will have to re-learn all the mistakes that NBIC caused and all the disfunctions of the “whole of government” ideal that we hear about but have not seen in action.

What a bad idea.

The last two bullets are easily shot down. While it is a shame to see millions of doses of biological vaccines be thrown out every year, it ought to be clear from recent history that the state and local first responders really don’t want to receive annual anthrax and smallpox vaccine shots every year (not to mention the research on plague vaccine, ricin vaccine, tularemia vaccine, etc). It’s not something they need, and they don’t want the side effects that come with vaccine shots. And the only reason that the failed, overly expensive “Securing the Cities” initiative is mentioned is because Rep. Peter King (R-NY) really wants to show off the prize federal steer that he’s delivered annually to New York City.

Poor form.

A wise person once observed that “the causes of policy failure are, at root, political.” If politicians were really concerned about the threat of biological terrorism, they’d demand a review of the Project BioWatch, where only thirty-plus cities have active biological agent samplers. And that’s for a very good reason, it would be cost-prohibitive for DHS to suggest expanding the program to the more than 270 cities with over 100,000 inhabitants.

They might demand a more rational approach to Project BioShield than to pour billions of dollars into a pharmaceutical industry that’s really not interested in producing biological vaccines. They might demand a deeper explanation into the perception that a terrorist WMD attack will “more likely than not” occur somewhere in the world by the end of 2013.

But no, that would involve real work.

So instead, we have to put up with people like former Senators Graham and Talent, telling us that “terrorists have ready access to pathogens, the capability to weaponize them, and the means to effectively dispense a biological weapon. There is no question on intent.”

This is ten years after the Amerithrax attacks that were caused by a US government expert in anthrax who had decades of training and ready access to materials and equipment. This is after year after year, seeing thousands of cases where terrorists are effectively using automatic rifles, improvised explosives, and handguns to achieve their goals. We see Dr. Bob Kadlec testifying before the committee, pining for his old job as the former White House homeland security special assistant on biodefense. We see the CBRNE industry rubbing their hands together, delighted that Congress is going to throw them some business after all the hype has failed on WMD terrorism, even as our military service members continue to be attacked by conventional weapons.

We really deserve better.

 

July 4, 2011

235 and counting

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on July 4, 2011

 

The story — even if not true — is well known:

Benjamin Franklin was coming out of the Constitutional Convention when a woman asked him, “Mr. Franklin, what kind of government have you given us?”

“A republic Ma’am,” said Franklin, “if you can keep it.”

 

 

Fast forward — in a manner of speaking — to 1818:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
`My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away”.

— Percy Bysshe Shelley

 

Life, liberty, and eudaimonia

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on July 4, 2011

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed… (Declaration of Independence)

–+–

Those reading Jefferson’s draft(s) of the Declaration certainly heard the echo of John Locke’s celebration of life, liberty and property.  That the vast majority of propertied men in the Continental Congress adopted an alternative phrase is surely meaningful.

Life and liberty deserve their own close reading, but happiness has become — it seems to me — an especially American value, both to our benefit and burden.

Our pursuit of happiness is a particular burden when we forget the distinction between property and happiness that our founders so clearly offered.

Jefferson was a materialist, even a sensualist who died deeply in debt to his lifestyle.  Most of the founders were very conscious of risking their lives, fortunes and sacred honor in order to preserve their liberty to accumulate property.  The distinction being made does not suggest a disdain for property.

But the distinction does point to a purpose beyond accumulation of property.

Jefferson and his peers were as familiar with Aristotle as with Locke.   Translations of Aristotle’s Ethics persistently use “happiness” as the English equivalent of eudaimonia.  This is a reasonable translation, if — big if — you understand the Platonic, Aristotelian, Epicurean, and Stoic subtexts of eudaimonia.

Too quickly: For Aristotle eudaimonia is the product of energeia (activity) exhibiting arete (excellence) in accordance with phronesis (practical wisdom).  Please see the Nichomachean and Eudemian Ethics.

On this day of all days it is worth considering how homeland security activities advance life, liberty, and this layered sort of happiness.

Happy Fourth!

July 1, 2011

Stupidity – The Next Pandemic?

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on July 1, 2011

(Nick Catrantzos — who has written for Homeland Security Watch before — wrote today’s post)

Events on the world or national stage must surely cast doubt over educator Ken Robinson’s assertion that we should not so much be asking how intelligent people are as how they are intelligent (K. Robinson, The Element, NY: Viking, 2009, p. 43).

Look at Greece’s economic meltdown accompanied with strikes and entitlement protests only making matters worse.  Or consider sports fans like those rioting in the streets of otherwise sedate Vancouver because their team lost the Stanley Cup (not as in misplacing the trophy but as in being decisively outplayed by Boston).  Then turn to the TSA’s latest ham-handed faux pas in a screener’s browbeating of an ailing, 95-year-old passenger who had to surrender her Depends undergarment or miss her flight.

How is this intelligent, indeed?  Perhaps the better questions to ponder are, “How are we stupid?  Or how are we this stupid?”

Next look at how TSA managed damage control on the foregoing story by crowing that they did not actually strip-search the woman or take away her undergarment.  No, they just gave her options like not being able to make her flight unless she abandoned it (per CNN’s June 27 account at http://www.cnn.com/2011/TRAVEL/06/27/florida.tsa.incident/index.html).

This public relations statement makes things better?

Now the questions become, “How stupid are we?  Or, how stupid are we supposed to be?”

Toleration for stupidity is growing in proportion to its global spread, and there are common threads running through active practitioners of such stupidity.  One of the threads is the tie between this kind of hostile behavior against innocuous targets and the power and status of those responsible for the stupidity in question.  [For illumination on this subject, see J. C. Magee and A. D. Galindky, “Social Hierarchy:  The Self-Reinforcing Nature of Power and Status, The Academy of Management Annals, Volume 2, August 2008, pp. 351-398.]

It is a safe bet to infer that the agents of stupidity have relatively little status in their respective worlds.  Jobless anarchists, drunken sports fans, and even the vast majority of hard-working but eternally vilified TSA inspectors enjoy the relative status of whale droppings – which must be at the bottom of the ocean.  Having no status in the public eye, some nevertheless retain a certain power to compensate.

It is the power of the small to take out their frustrations on people or objects unable to defend themselves.  If you can’t win the game, you upset the checkerboard.

So these displays of maleficence, or stupidity, linger and proliferate, absent an injection of adult mind into the swirl of adolescently botched events.   The situation recalls the favorite aphorism of my business law professor in an MBA program:

“This life’s hard, but it’s harder if you’re stupid.–George V. Higgins:  The Friends of Eddie Coyle

But wait.  There is more. Could things actually be getting worse?

One New Yorker, in subtle refutation of the title of a New York Times reporter’s faith in The Wisdom of Crowds (J. Surowiecki, NY:  Anchor Books, 2004) recently drew attention to the subtle trend for the benefit of responders.

Writing in Watchline (Issue 06.23.11), a weekly one-pager created for enhancing fire fighter situational awareness in New York that has since gone quietly viral in the response community, FDNY’s Captain Sean Newman had this to say about the phenomenon:

Researcher Determines that Stupidity is Contagious

An Austrian psychologist has released a study in the journal Media Psychology claiming that being exposed to “stupid” behavior, in this case reading a story about soccer hooligans, lowered a test groups’average test score compared to a control group, according to the Wall Street Journal.  Students who read the hooligan story, and did not have mechanisms to distance themselves from the protagonist, scored 5-7 percent less than the control group on a “difficult” test covering geography, science and arts.

Assessment:  Scientists have proposed the infectiousness of behavior (and ideas) since at least the late 19th Century. Gustave LeBon introduced the concept of contagion theory to describe crowd behavior, which he postulated was driven by the unconscious mind. Later, convergence theory took hold, claiming that participants share a common disposition in close proximity. These theories suggest that the crowd collectively accepts a new norm, which justifies behavior that they would not normally practice. Today, crowd mitigation efforts focus on the Elaborated Social Identity Model (ESIM), stating that temporary identity with the crowd becomes “salient,” or prominent. ESIM has caused a shift in crowd management away from aggressive police tactics, such as challenging mobs with riot gear, which may provoke the group, to more subtle forms of behavior modification such as crowd “self-policing,” identity transfer, and police/crowd education efforts.

What do all these events communicate to a security professional?  Two things:

  • Job security, for the essence of stupidity is that it will always stimulate the demand for protection from its expression.
  • A rueful nod to this wisdom seen in Pike’s Place Market, Seattle, on a T-shirt for sale among tourist trinkets:

Stupid kills – But not near enough.

 

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