Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

April 26, 2013

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on April 26, 2013

On this day in 1986 reactor number 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant experienced a catastrophic event. On this day in 1989 a tornado hit Bangladesh, killing upwards of 1,300, injuring 12,000, and leaving as many as 80,000 homeless. Why do many of us remember one and not the other?

What’s on your mind related to homeland security?

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Comment by Rubin, Claire

April 26, 2013 @ 6:25 am

FEMA has cancelled its annual Higher Education Symposium this year, and perhaps in future years. Many of us who are long-time attendees are disappointed and think this is a short-sighted decision. See their notice:

To maximize the use of technologies and for greater efficiencies, the 2013 Higher Education Symposium will be conducted via a series of 4 targeted, topical, focused discussion areas presented via an on-line, web based platform. The dates, times, and areas of focus for each session is currently under development, and will be promulgated after final compilation. We hope that this approach will allow a greater range of participation, discussion and discourse throughout the higher education community as we work together to seek innovative answers , solutions and approaches to the pressing, complex homeland security and emergency management issues facing the nation. These virtual symposiums will be held in lieu of the Higher Education Conference.

The agendas for these Higher Education Virtual Symposiums are under development and more information will be posted as scheduled.

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 26, 2013 @ 7:16 am

The loss of this important face to face conference is a huge blow to the Higher Ed efforts of EM. Distance learning and conferencing has always been a threat to on campus activities at NETC and was one reason the Western NETC effort under Louis O. Guiffrida at Carson City, NV was ended after FEMA invested about $5M ro buy the former Indian School there.

Perhaps only the passage of time will truly measure the impact of this cancellation but there is absolutely no chance that EM Higher Ed will not be hurt by its elimination.

DHS maintains 7 or 8 campus like facilities and that was bound to be questioned!

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 26, 2013 @ 7:23 am

Federal departments and agencies are notoriously reactive not forward thinking in their programs, functions, and activities. That is why I was presently surprised when the following was issued by FEMA:

Crisis Management and Resilience-2030 [January 2012]

The document can be found on the FAS/FEMA website at


What I now find of greater interest is the lack of discussion of this document in academic or grey literature and I have yet to find any published analysis of its merit or significance. I would welcome correction of that conclusion with any appropriate links.

I would have that that the NPGS massive academic publication effort would have discussed the document or even FEMA topics but I guess the DoD continues to somehow fear FEMA even as DoJ has long lost its battle to FEMA being involved in law enforcement since now most of DHS is devoted to civil and criminal law enforcement.

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 26, 2013 @ 7:29 am

I posted on another blog about Chernobyl recently and the
the 1986 core melt accident.

I attributed in part both Perestroika and Glasnost to this event and the Armenian Earthquake where the Soviet military was unable to provide shovels to help in SAR after the event and Soviet officers were seen in tears as they watch their men claw through debris with bare hands.

My sources for this are all Soviet military and some flag rank but one informed me that the 1986 nuclear accident was like warfighting and that 18 months of the entire Soviet production of concrete went to the encapsulation which now of course needs badly to be repeated with Russia asking the USA to help fund it.

The area around the reactor will remain highly contaminated for 500 years and if you located the reactor in NYC it would have impacted an equivalent area from Washington, D.C. to Boston.

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 26, 2013 @ 7:32 am

Correction: The document title in a ocmment above should have been listed as CRISIS RESPONSE AND DISASTER RESILIENCE. Memory fails sometimes.

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 26, 2013 @ 8:12 am

Phil! One reason tornadic event on this day in Bangladesh is that nation-state has often suffered even more catastrophic losses from cyclonic events.

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 27, 2013 @ 8:40 am


Most of the readers of this blog understand that I think domestic INTEL and its collection, processing, and dessemination is a principal function of HS and in addition guarding privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties.

It is now fact that the Russian government contacted separately both the FBI and CIAwarning of radicalization of the two brothers and mother involvedl in the Boston Bombing event.

My question? Did either share with DHS the Russian information? If so to whom and if not why not?

Another IC miss?

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 27, 2013 @ 8:41 am

IC=Intelligence Community and that is defined by statute.

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 29, 2013 @ 9:31 am

Absent a monday post so far this question!

Given the sequester and other factors [specifically their daytime jobs!] should the lack of capability in OFAs [other federal agencies] including within DHS mean that FEMA should be redesigned and reconstituted as the federal safety net and 911response organization?

Note Bene! FEMA does almost nothing to enhance preparedness and response in other federal departments and agencies. At least one FEMA GC opined that was solely the responsiblity of the OFAs.

But FEMA could in fact help with enhancing the legal authorities of the OFAs by delegating Stafford Act authority well in advance of a crisis or disaster pursuant to section 611[c] of the RTS ACT!

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