Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

September 26, 2011

Even the sun shines on a dog’s…

Filed under: Catastrophes,General Homeland Security,Strategy — by Arnold Bogis on September 26, 2011

…well, you probably know the rest.

This colorful turn of phrase was uttered within my earshot at a Boston bar following the Patriot’s loss to the Buffalo Bills.  Until this game the Bills had not beat the Pats for 15 straight games, a streak that began in 2003.  The Bills are not a bad team this year, in fact they had the same undefeated record as New England entering the game.  Instead, it was the expectation that the result this past Sunday would be the same as so many games before that added to the befuddlement of viewers across the region (in addition to Tom Brady throwing the same number of interceptions in one game–four–that he had thrown all last season). The same colorful, and upset, individual remarked that his “nephew had never known the Bills to beat the Patriots.”

What it says about my life that this episode inspired thoughts about homeland security I will consider in greater depth another time. Regardless, this animated man unintentionally uttered insightful homeland security ideas.

“My nephew has never known…” As a greater time elapses between events, the expectation that those events are possible generally decreases and the urgency to prepare dissipates.  Perhaps because the original attack on the World Trade Center did not achieve a catastrophic result, the nation was strategically unprepared for 9/11.  The same group not only carried out an attack in the U.S. mainland again (after several against various U.S. targets overseas), but they struck the same target. By strategically, I am not referring to the question of whether our intelligence services were properly aware of the threat or if our leaders were aggressive enough in their chosen courses of action.  Instead, as a nation we were seemingly shocked by the attacks as if the threat had never manifested before that terrible day.  Would the reaction to the attacks have been different if they occurred in 1994 or 1995 instead?

The “sun shining”: Sometimes your star player has a bad day and throws four interceptions.  Sometimes as a fan, you underestimate your opponent because they weren’t so hot the year before but you haven’t bothered to analyze whether they improved over the off season.  Sometimes, a plot will develop in a place intelligence services are not looking and by a group that has not appeared on anyone’s radar screen.  Sometimes a less-then-catastrophic storm will cause the failure of levees generally believed to have been built to stricter guidelines. Sometimes a system designed to prevent blow-outs fails.

My point: the unexpected will occur and we can’t count on preventing, deterring, or mitigating all the worst case scenarios.  Somehow in a time of fiscal and political constraint, room for catastrophic planning should be carved out of a system that rests on preparing for the expected. Following the next “unexpected” catastrophe, there will not be a chance for quick redemption on the following Sunday.

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3 Comments »

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 27, 2011 @ 7:07 am

Excerpt from the post:
“. . .Perhaps because the original attack on the World Trade Center did not achieve a catastrophic result, the nation was strategically unprepared for 9/11. The same group not only carried out an attack in the U.S. mainland again (after several against various U.S. targets overseas), but they struck the same target.”

There is an amazing amount of evidence contained in the Grand Jury materials and trial materials from the first WTC bombing in February 1993. This was never furnished to the INTEL community or the NSC and its staff. A fundamental flaw in attempts to protect the USA and still quite unstudied even by the 9/11 Commission. But hey no one gets it right the first time–neither the FBI or the Terrorist group known as AQ!

What is remarkable to me is the number of items at or below the horizon uncorrected since 9/11/01! But plenty of money spent just perhaps not enough brain power. So yes Arnold we are condemned to experience attacks of all kinds again. No human system is perfect as we are not.

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 27, 2011 @ 11:39 am

By the way the first use of “catastrophic” was in PKEMRA 2006:

(4) the term ‘‘catastrophic incident’’ means any natural disaster, act of terrorism, or other man-made disaster that results in extraordinary levels of casualties or damage or disruption severely affecting the population (including mass evacuations), infrastructure, environment, economy, national morale, or government functions in an area;

Although the term was used in mandating a Presidential Commission on the Executive Branch Response to A Catastrophic Nuclear Accident that completed its report and transmitted it to Congress in the early 90′s!

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September 28, 2011 @ 10:00 am

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