Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

April 4, 2014

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on April 4, 2014

From April 3 to April 4, 1974, there were 148 tornadoes confirmed in 13 U.S. states, including thirty F4/F5 tornadoes.

On April 5, 2010 there was an explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County, West Virginia. Twenty-nine miners were killed.

On this date in 1968 Martin Luther King was assassinated by James Earl Ray.

What’s on your mind related to homeland security?

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print
  • LinkedIn


Comment by William R. Cumming

April 4, 2014 @ 12:51 am

Let’s talk LEVEES:

The recent non-seismic landslide in Washington State prompts me to think of structural protective measures and their eventual failure due to design flaws, exceedence of design protection, lack of maintenance, or just failure generally. As the spring runoff occurs topic seems topical to me. Who builds and maintains levees anyhow? Despite the fact that not all levees are even built by Uncle Sugar many don’t know this. And because huge levee systems are complex many don’t know they live on the river side of a levee.

There are over 3 million miles of levees in the USA.

Many are built not to protect structures but agricultural. In the Sacramento Valley agricultural levee failure could, however, destroy more residential housing than Hurricane Katrina.


Comment by E. Earhart

April 4, 2014 @ 5:24 am

Mr Cumming,

Levees have to be susceptible to damage from earthquakes right? In all the exercises that have been done involving New Madrid, this has to have been part of the planning?

If not Uncle Sam, who does build and maintain? Does the Corps regulate?

Thanks for the interesting topic.

Comment by E. Earhart

April 4, 2014 @ 5:26 am

Declaration of Arbroath, April 6, 1320

“For, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any condition be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom- for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.”

Written almost 700 years ago in Arbroath Abbey, this declaration asserted Scotland’s right to international recognition as an independent country.

. . . in 6 months, after 700 years, this could finally become a reality!

Comment by E. Earhart

April 4, 2014 @ 5:31 am

September 18, 2014

On this date, the Scottish people will hold a referendum on whether Scotland should be an independent country and leave the United Kingdom.

The question that will be voted on is quite simply “Should Scotland be an independent country? Y/N” (Can you imagine how convoluted this would look on one of our ballots?)

An independent Scotland would have to decide such major issues as form of Government, Citizenship, Defense, Security, Currency, Intelligence, and NATO, UN, EU membership.

Comment by E. Earhart

April 4, 2014 @ 5:49 am

A Catastrophe Like No Other (The headline of this article did suck me in)

HLS, hls, levees, clean water, energy programs, whatever . . . the below passage from the article if true suggest we need to look no further than ourselves as the real threat to a civil society.

“The leaders of our government have not felt, throughout the process, that they had any responsibility to be honest and forthcoming about the major aspects of the program, from its exact nature to its exact cost.”


Comment by Claire B. Rubin

April 4, 2014 @ 6:02 am

I do not see that WSJ editorial as being n the same ballpark as matters usually discussed in this blog.

Comment by E. Earhart

April 4, 2014 @ 6:23 am

No reference was made to the topic of the editorial.

The link was provided for attribution.

The quote in one way or another is alluded to almost every day in this blog, from Katrina to levees.

Comment by John Comiskey

April 4, 2014 @ 8:13 am


Continued from http://www.hlswatch.com/2014/03/28/friday-free-forum-48/

For a number of Fridays this blogger has been arguing that NYPD’s Intelligence Enterprise is a “smart practice.” The impetus for this thread and now a series of posts on this blog’s Friday Free Forum is a developing journal article of the above title and HLS Watch blogger E. Earhart’s question:

What if then NYPD Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly had implemented the post-9/11 NYPD Intelligence Enterprise after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing? See:

Previous posts have chronicled NYC and the NYPD’s HLS-like activities during the American Civil War, World War I, and World War II. Thus far, the NYPD/NYC involved itself in protecting an American president from assassination; dealt with Civil War confederates and draft dodgers en masse; arrested war saboteurs; helped lead the nation’s Civil Defense efforts during World War II, and prepared for an atomic/enemy attack during the Cold War.

The fall of the Iron Curtain in 1945 and the Berlin Wall in 1989 mark for most the beginning and end of the Cold War.

During that time the U.S was mostly concerned with nation state threats. Terrorism was a secondary concern. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 changed that paradigm for both the U.S. and NYC.

The Homeland Security Act of 2002 and the National Homeland Security Strategy (2002) recognized that non-state actors were as much a priority if not more as compared to nation state threats.

NYC, already a hot bed of nation state threats, assumed a unique role in securing the homeland.

The history of the Cold War is especially relevant to the emergence of the current NYPD Intelligence Enterprise, so much so that this blogger has decided to organize NYC and the NYPD’s Cold War development involvement into four time periods, the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. Each will be explored/examined in the forthcoming weeks beginning with this weeks’ time period, the 50s.

Comment by John Comiskey

April 4, 2014 @ 8:14 am

THE 50s

The Fifties, best explained by David Halberstram, helped define who the United States is today. It was both a time of national pride and a time to reexamine who we were as a people.

The Cold War went hot in Korea. The threat of atomic and hydrogen bombs produced a climate that engendered
McCarthyism and more importantly submission to McCarthyism.

A rising civil rights movement and multiple challenges of the status quo were amplified by the advent of television.

Beatniks, Elvis, McDonalds, and the Kinsey Report said something about who we were or wanted to be.

See: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0449909336/ref=rdr_ext_tmb

Comment by John Comiskey

April 4, 2014 @ 8:15 am


Since the American Revolution, New York City has been a hotbed of espionage. The UN affords countless spies
diplomatic and trade cover. Added to the fray is the number of demonstrations connected to the UN and its missions and consulates that NYPD must police.

See http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0465003109/ref=tmm_hrd_new_olp_0?
ie=UTF8&condition=new&sr=&qid= AND http://www.amazon.com/Spy-Sites-New-York-City/dp/1603802614

Comment by John Comiskey

April 4, 2014 @ 8:16 am


In 1946, NYPD formed the Bureau of Special Services (BOSS) from the former Red Squad. The unit earned high standing in the national intelligence community. BOSS operatives traveled outside the city to exchange information with agents of other urban agencies. BOSS was known to transmit to outside agencies three times as much information as it used for its own operations.





Comment by John Comiskey

April 4, 2014 @ 8:17 am



Beginning in March 1951, a series of bombs exploded in commuter rail facilities, public libraries, public theaters, storage lockers and utility facilities in and around NYC. The explosions were the work of the Mad Bomber, George Metesky an insane and disgruntled utility worker. Between 1940 and 1956, Metesky planted at least 33 bombs that injured at least 15 peopled. Notably and for reasons of patriotism, Metesky suspended his bombing during World War

People were terrified. Venturing out into public places meant possibly crossing paths with a madman.

NYPD created the Bomb Investigation Unit to follow bomber leads; employed one of the first uses of criminal profiling; and engaged in one of its largest and longest manhunts.

See: http://www.amazon.com/Mad-Bomber-New-York-Extraordinary/dp/1402774346/ref=sr_1_1?

Comment by John Comiskey

April 4, 2014 @ 8:19 am


New York City seems to exemplify all-things that were the 1950s.

Spies lived and operated throughout the city. Civil Rights and near every interest group organized and operated throughout the city. Beatniks and others flourished in Greenwich Village. At least one Mad Bomber terrorized the city.

As much as the 50s helped define the U.S, many of the same threats persist today:

While Russia’s annexation of Crimea is no Cuban missile crisis, diplomatic initiatives (and thus intelligence operations) continue.

New York’s most recent madman/terrorist, Jose Pimentel was recently convicted. As was the case of the Mad Bomber, Pimentel was mentally unstable.

See: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/lone-wolf-terrorist-jose-pimentel-16-years-prison-article-1.1734472

Neither the Mad bomber or the terrorist’s mental issues made them any less dangerous.

Occupy Wall Street protestors mostly protested the “one-percenters.” While most protesters were earnest and peaceful dissenters, some, as was the case of the 50s, were professional agitators and people of ill-will.

Beatniks now known by other names still frequent Greenwich Village

Next week, the 60s

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 4, 2014 @ 8:21 am

Thanks Double E.! To the extent any org regulates levees it is the USACOE! That is a conflict of interest IMO because they are the largest levee builder government or otherwise in the USA.

After Hurricane Katrina the USACOE published an amazing MEA CULPA describing a 50 year conflict of interest in their role as technical advisor and builders for federal State, and local government in NOLA!

Now they boast after $14B spent that they have a “system” of levees and floodwalls in NOLA THAT PROTECT UP TO THE 100 YEAR FLOOD!

In my opinion that $14B was largely wasted! Why? The NOLA threat is the CAT3-5 event.

And yes earthquakes do destroy levees!

Cumming is a Scottish name and ancient Clan name but unfortunately most of the Clan wiped out in early 14th Century siding with MEL GIBSON! OOPS! WILLIAM WALLACE!

The polls all pointing to Scotland staying under the early 18th Century Act of Union.

I believe the polls wrong! Why? As in the USA as well be revealed in this fall’s election most of the EU and Britain have taken a hard-right turn in politics. Even anti-Semitism has again become public and popular with the right. Scotland has not!


This includes the Science of Geology. More doctoral theses have been written about the ancient rocks on the Isle of Skye then any other place on earth. And of course a descriptor of those rocks kicked off geology in the first place,

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 4, 2014 @ 8:31 am

Thanks John for your continuing efforts on NYC! A worthy topic.
And it becomes clearer each day that Cuomo driver is RESILENCE and the Christie driver is build back the same as yesterday-Pre-Sandy!

I also suggest you read the book “1919” setting forth one starting point perhaps for modern NYC policing.

Also the BBC TV series “COPPER” might be of some interest and the movie “GANGS OF NEW YORK”!

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 4, 2014 @ 8:41 am

This may be a repetitive comment by me! Clearly the citizens and residents of NOLA are smarter than those of the Jersey Shore, NYC, and Long Island.

Before Katrina NOLA residents knew the USACOE promises were premised on hope not reality. So many bought NFIP flood insurance at dirt cheap prices because they lived behind levees and flood walls and were not shown as flood prone. The result a huge payout from the NFIP that helped drive current NFIP debt to over %26B.

In fact the NFIP mapping effort could not be designed better to promote fraud waste and abuse.

Now MSM confirming that perhaps even FEMA personnel involved in selling map determinations to developers. A sad day but one long predicted by me as successive IG’s in FEMA in my time 1979-1999 briefed by me on this vulnerability.

The flood maps are FEMA’s principal NFIP FLOODPLAIN MANAGEMENT enforcement tool.

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 4, 2014 @ 9:22 am

And yes the statutorily mandated NATIONAL PREPAREDNESS REPORT [required by PKEMRA 2006] for FEMA to produce annually is now officially overdue!

For four past reports see http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/dhs/fema/index.html

I am interested in obtaining virtual copies of any missing reports.

Please send them to my e-mail!

Comment by Justin Blake

April 4, 2014 @ 2:10 pm

William, you have some great thoughts in reference to the levees through-out the U.S. Since not all of the levees are maintained as well as they should be, I wonder if it would be prudent to halt any new construction in possible flood zones in areas where levees are not maintained by the government. This should be common practice through-out the country. If there is a fairly high possibility of extreme flooding or mudslides, citizens should simply not build in these areas anymore. New building codes may be able to strengthen structures and make them more resilient, but no structure will be able to withstand the foundation sliding out from under it or twenty feet of water inundating a large area for a long period of time. These are realities Americans need to start embracing. Recent naturally occurring events have proven to be very destructive in certain areas. It is one thing to be in the path of a random event such as a tornado, but if it is known a certain area will flood it is unwise to continue to build and rebuild in the same locations, the same way.

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 4, 2014 @ 3:24 pm

Tough to mitigate or prevent drought, tornadoes, earthquakes so yes Justin we all need to be cognizant of those and perhaps other Black Swans. Has the literature reached any conclusions on 9/11 as a Black Swan event?

Comment by Meredith

April 4, 2014 @ 3:30 pm

For my HLS technology class we were tasked with choosing a technology that addresses a homeland security problem and an organization in which it is used. For my topic I chose the Custom and Border Protection’s use of UAS’s. While browsing through the news outlets this morning I can across articles that involved the CBP. These articles were about two tunnels that were discovered along the U.S. Mexican Border. These weren’t just any tunnels, they were tunnels that were “about 600 yards long, equipped with an electric rail system for moving the contraband, array of ventilation equipment, and a 70 foot shaft that includes a pulley system” (Whitcomb, 2014). http://news.yahoo.com/two-drug-tunnels-rail-systems-found-u-mexico-163343844–finance.html

I found this article interesting because one of the main reason UAS’s are used in Custom and Border Protection is to fill the gap in surveillance and they are a big help in discovering drug smuggling tunnels. However, in this case the tunnels were actually discovered by U.S. Federal agents who said these tunnels have been around for at least a year. It makes me wonder how many other tunnels are out there that are yet to be discovered.

Comment by E. Earhart

April 4, 2014 @ 4:22 pm

Rick Rescorla National Award for Resilience

This is the highest award within DHS. Named after a true hero. If you are not familiar with his story, look it up.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson presented the New York Mets, Walgreens, and Monsignor John Brown with the Rick Rescorla National Award for Resilience

The Mets were given the award to recognize “their contributions to the community in Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath.” Johnson is quoted saying, “resilience is part of the fabric of our nation…One of the most enduring examples of resilience is New York City.” The article noted that the team worked with New York City’s Office of Emergency Management to use Citi Field as a reception, staging, and distribution point. The team also provided “housing for up to 600 workers a night, and distributed over 1,500 meals per day during the peak recovery period” after the storm.


Comment by Christopher Tingus

April 5, 2014 @ 7:45 am

Friday Free Form — Breaking AP News:

China ship detects ‘pulse signal’ in search for missing Malaysia Airlines

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 7, 2014 @ 5:09 pm

Phil! I believe MLK shot to death in 1968!

Comment by Philip J. Palin

April 8, 2014 @ 4:57 am

Bill: Thanks for the correction. It was, I think (hope) a typo. I’ve corrected it on the front page.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>