Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

August 29, 2014

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on August 29, 2014

On this day in 2005 Hurricane Katrina came ashore near Buras-Triumph, Louisiana.  The hurricane is implicated in the death of more than 1800 Americans and damages exceeding $100 billion.

What’s on your mind related to homeland security?

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Comment by William R. Cumming

August 29, 2014 @ 7:40 am

Without a Continuing Resolution enacted into law by Midnight September 30th the federal government will largely shut down!

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 29, 2014 @ 7:53 am


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Follow-up to December 7th post–Who are the beneficiaries of federal disaster relief?

My colleague Claire Rubin sent me a copy of a comment posted on the Recovery Diva blog and asked me to answer it. It was posted on her cross-reference to my blog and blog post on disaster assistance.

Here is the comment:

“It would be interesting to see the writer follow up with his recommendation and address how implementation could be achieved.

Some of the issues that jump out at me right up front is the desire to assist those with less. How would you provide an equitable program to those who are socially vulnerable verses [sic] those who are not, considering many disaster survivors are victims based on location verses social or economical status. Additionally how do you address those whose status change[s] based on the event and the new ramifications upon the population?

I am always apprehensive of the comment of “study and beefing up” used in the same sentence. Studies in their purest form either describe or explain a situation using generalization which can be replicated. Researcher study, recovery staffers use the information to create change but must weigh the idiosyncratic elements involved in every situation to render a solution.

By beefing up the duplication of benefits do you mean allowing more duplication or establishing stricter guidelines to identify more frequent occurrences of duplication and therefore take corrective action to minimize the occurrences?

It truly would be interesting for the state and local governments to ask FEMA to divulge statistical information about disaster victims. Most requests are denied because of the federal government’s requirement to protect client information.

By two tiered system I can only interpret that to mean you desire a two tiered Individual Assistance Program verses the current three program system of Individual Assistance, Public Assistance, and Mitigation system, which can be activated by the President during a federally declared disaster?”

Well these are great questions and will try to be somewhat comprehensive in my response. Perhaps of interest is that I received several comments directly at one of my e-mail addresses focusing on the following sentences in my blog post.

“FEMA is not designed or equipped as a Social Service organization. Even at the highest levels of the agency few executives have a background in dealing with the large portion of the population that has nothing before the disaster and nothing afterwards. Thus, the disaster relief program is largely if not intentionally designed and delivered in a manner to support those who before the disaster had assets and not those who did not.”

I am assuming that the most basic inquiry of the Recovery Diva blog commentator also focuses on this issue.

So here goes. First always remember that the federal disaster legislation, not just the Stafford Act, is almost deliberately designed to confuse and obfuscate the underlying issues. Ever since discriminatory actions by STATE and their Local governments burdened the Hurricane Camille recovery in 1969, even during its Tropical Storm phase, the enforcement of equal protection and due process has been an underlying concern for those administering and receiving disaster relief or participating in the process. The fact that FEMA’s focus on evacuation as a Protective Action never addressed the transportation dependent, nor did the STATEs and their local governments, is a leading example as known from Hurricane Katrina. Oddly of course evacuation of Manhattan for the transportation dependent is a leading example of non-feasance, and misfeasance but probably not malfeasance by all the levels of government involved. It would be hard to argue lack of financial resources for the transportation dependent in NYC. Some surely but some not so. My point though is that the disaster legislation is not currently designed to promote crisis management, disaster response or disaster recovery. And it certainly does not focus on those without food or shelter or basic medical care prior to the incident or event. Why?

Basically the administration of disaster relief in FEMA and its predecessor organizations was and is viewed as a public works program, not based on science, engineering study or even any theory other than expenditure of public funds to replace the built environment pre-disaster. Deceased Senator William Proxmire if alive would have given it his Golden Fleece award as the Governments ATM. What is unfair about that view is that at least with federal disaster relief the normal opacity of federal programs, functions and activities is somewhat clearer to the average recipient. Either he/she gets assistance or does not. Same for the STATES and their local governments.
So the first thing to do is not the only thing but would be best. Restructure the legislation into a technical assistance chapter, a financial assistance chapter, a chapter dealing with STATE and their local governments inability or unwillingness to operate post event. See for example, EO 12657 which purports to deal with this problem in response to a real-world core melt nuclear power plant accident. A fourth chapter would be dedicated to dealing with pre-disaster levels of inadequate financial resource, medical care, food and housing. The federal FOOD STAMP program became law because 1/3 of all men reporting to the draft for entry into the Armed Services in 1940-41-42 were being rejected for malnutrition. So sometimes the labels and jurisdictions of Congressional committees get in the way. Another problem with the public works mentality is rebuild in the same hazardous zone. So all the mitigation programs, functions and activities should be in another chapter.

Underlying all of this effort is the fact that so much discretion is placed in the President of the US in the various pieces of enacted disaster legislation is that the above would make things easier but are not required. In fact what often occurs post-disaster is that FEMA and the STATES argue over cost shares and other financial aspects even while people suffer. Thus, in the past on this blog I have recommended across the board 100% federal funding for the first 30 or 60 days so that lives and property are not subject to bureaucratic and financial debates.

Because it is the President’s disaster relief program to date only President William Jefferson Clinton was willing to use the disaster program as a replacement for otherwise Congressionally denied economic stimulus. This led to its own problems, including raising expectations and undermining mitigation and creating what the insurance business call “moral hazard”!

Since a disaster incident or event is not just a “local event” when aggravated over time by repetition and failure to mitigate, it does represent a new “opportunity” to determine whether STATES and their local governments have through ignorance or intent allowed a situation to exist that could be modified post event. The problem is of course is that neither FEMA, its contractors, its leadership or staff is really organized to take advantage of the opportunity to be a change agent. Part of this is because FEMA is NOT a learning organization and often when the so-called rubber meets the road its programs are operated on staffer deep and thus the underfunded understaffed FEMA has to desperately hope others will be making wise decisions post-incident or event. This rarely happens. One example I will detail. At one time FEMA relied on HHS for Certificates of Need to determine whether hospitals would be replaced or reconstructed. That changed under Director Witt who directed massive aid and reconstruction for numerous old and new hospitals. The problem of course is that large consolidated hospitals like Charity Hospital in NOLA no longer make sense. Instead a system of smaller more friendly in size and location medical service outlets make sense with more skilled facilities accessible through severe trauma operations. And of course NGO’s just don’t do medical care in the US disaster system. ARC pulled out of this function after the death of many doctors and nurses in the 1918 epidemic.

So here are more specific examples of what might be done!

The Director of FEMA or Secretary HHS should ask the President or Director of OMB to task all Executive Branch agencies to identify generic “resilience” issues that might well be aggravated should the most likely hazard strike the
nations cities and counties and STATES and of course the same for the vulnerability of federal assets. The military has invested over $30 B in what they call force protection since 9/11/01 and perhaps the civil sector could learn from that effort. Critical infrastructure protection is largely left to the federal government to sort out, except for regulated industries where seldom do the regulators worry about resilience.

With this data in hand, and note that there still is a remarkable concentration of poverty, lack of education (FEMA through Dept. of ED builds a lot of schools–over 400 in Northridge were repaired or replaced–and STANFORD U got new graduate housing and a new UNDERGRAD library out of that same disaster), lack of food, lack of medical care has always been faced with an aggravated situation where this has occurred. Aggravated of course by the disaster. So is this FEMA’s problem to fix or someone else? That is why the always permanent question for FEMA is it the SAFTEY NET if all other programs, functions, and activities have failed to make the disaster zone resilient prior to the disaster? Perhaps it is time for the President and Congress to answer this question. This will make possible the redesign of FEMA’s disaster programs to deal with the answer whatever it is!

Short of that it is almost impossible to do the disaster relief redesign effort imbedded in my earlier post and the wonderful comment posted to the Recovery Diva. And thanks Claire for forwarding the question and hoping this starts to answer a critical inquiry that should receive a more thoughtful and knowledgeable answer than mine.

As to duplication of benefits this is rarely an issue with those without medical care, housing, or food prior to the incident or event. It is a problem in that systems and processes in FEMA largely do not exist to police this waste, fraud, and abuse. Nor do those in the insurance business facilitate policing of this restriction. Why? They directly and indirectly benefit from gaming the disaster efforts of the federal government and the disaster program directly in some cases and indirectly in others subsidizes that business. Certainly, the NFIP also a disaster and land use program must always be understood to promote the subsidy of the insurance business.

Posted by The Vacation Lane Group at 2:59 PM

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 29, 2014 @ 8:07 am

There is now fairly open discussion among Republican staffers as to the need to reorganize House and Senate Committees should as I predict the Republicans take the Senate Majority in the fall 2014 elections.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 29, 2014 @ 8:09 am

How much federal disaster relief money funded from the DRF has been spent on Mission Assignments past and present?

Comment by Christopher Tingus

August 29, 2014 @ 11:33 am

Breaking news:

London (CNN) — The UK government raised its terror threat level Friday from “substantial” to “severe,” the fourth highest of five levels, in response to events in Iraq and Syria, where ISIS militants have seized a swath of territory.
“That means that a terrorist attack is highly likely, but there is no intelligence to suggest that an attack is imminent,” Home Secretary Theresa May said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said the “root cause” of the terrorist threat in the United Kingdom is “Islamist extremism.” He said the recent killing of U.S. journalist James Foley is clear evidence that ISIS’s fight in Iraq and Syria “is not some foreign conflict thousands of miles from home that we can hope to ignore.”
The danger that ISIS poses now is a “greater and deeper” threat to the UK’s security than the country has ever known, Cameron said.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

August 29, 2014 @ 12:26 pm

Homeland Security with porous borders and a failed US administration whose only pledge to Hussein Obama as I have reiterated now since ’08 and becomes clearer and clearer with each passing day and the empty political rhetoric, don’t kid yourself….We folks are at much peril!

700 in number and a convoy open to attack and today, 100+ thousand and growing, revenues of $1 mln daily and a US administration who rushes to Cairo Egypt, Cambridge (MA) and Ferguson (MO)! How dare you convey such divisiveness when no other nation, none can be prouder and has given so much to stand against the evils of mankind….

The question remains here on “Main Street USA” directed at Barry Obama who as a mere citizen and not glorified as he as an eight year resident of the WH and Chicago city street slicker with his perverse ways and continuity in politicizing to continue this charade in lust for power and greed above the pledge in oath to Constitution, ‘ol Glory and to our beloved Republic, when will the obviously paralyzed Congressional members on both sides of the aisle take the reigns of our government and truly address real and present dangers which have evolved by the obvious placard posted by this anti-American and anti-Christian Barry Obama whose oath to Father Hussein and his anti-colonialist and anti-Christian Kenyan friends become more obvious day after day….mentored by twenty years in the pew by the Rev Wright spewing the Right of Tehran to have WMD in hand as long as the “Zinoists” have same….

We no longer whisper from the pews here on “Main Street USA” and from our New England town green, we shout and say, enough is enough!

Each day our law enforcement as well as military and other “unknowns” Patriots< much like our soldier who has been forgotten in a Mexican prison by this “Chicago-Hollywood-Washington charade” as were our brave warriors at the “Benghazi Massacre” by Ms. Hillary and Barry so willingly standing in such blatant lies….

….each day so many stand forthright to protect our nation, to protect us the good people of America who have sacrificed generation after generation to thwart such evil and while issues of Civil Rights and a Cambridge (MA) Professor or a criminal youth stealing and intimidating a store clerk and in same arrogant gait disrupting traffic and disobeying the order of police officer and then who knows what happened and only facts, not emotion and certainly not this division the WH and AG run to the scene as ambulance chasers with 50 FBI agents, but none seen for months to investigate the reported sodomy of our Ambassador and the slaughter of our brave warriors looking to the skies for help and a WH and State Department preferring politicizing rather than acting to protect and serve….

Breaking News and threats of terror and 11th of September again approaching and as one proud American like so many, thank God we have 300 million+ (legal) guns in our populace for all lawful purpose for unfortunately Ms. Hillary and Barry would rather board a plane to fund raise or go to sleep rather than pick up the 3am phone call and along the way, the question also remains and becomes more and more desperate and ISIS, no (IS) gains strength and this eight year WH resident whether he is Black, White Blue or Green as it was the White majority in this beloved Republic who voted twice….

….no strategy you say, resign, get out and take your bias, your prejudice along with Michelle Obama and the question remains, who did Michelle meet in Spain and wasn’t the Grand Canyon and our American history which is far more than slavery good enough for your family? Michelle knows how to speak to parents and tell them what to feed their kids, but she doesn’t seem to ant to tell those in Chicago and in New York w/all these killings of youth, precious young Black men who have seen the broken promises of jobs and see the lack of family cohesiveness and poverty who do Not need hand outs and an every imposing government, but jobs! Not you and your illustrious AG divisive in your ways and using your pen and position to truly circumvent not only the Constitution, but We the People who as the polls strongly point to, You are no longer necessary and while I personally believe you and Ms. Hillary should be under House arrest for suspicion in breach of faith, treason, resign now! The House is paralyzed as well on both side of the aisle and you and they together have allowed ISIS to now threaten our way of existence and in the loving memory of every police officer, first responder, Patriot, brave warrior, the soldiers who carried good ‘ol Glory in Northern Africa, in the Pacific and on the beaches of Normandy and beyond not only for our nation, but to put a stop to those so willing to commit such dastardly acts against humanity, well, resign and if necessary, We ask the US military to take the reigns of our government for we no longer feel protected by the WH or Congress, you are for the most part, self-serving fools!

As the Brits now warn the world and I have said long ago, unless we, the US, not any int’l gathering of nations who failed to muster even back in 1935 and in ’39 despite Hitler marching across the Polish border….unless we take substantial and powerful action now against a shirtless or not Putin and his KGB and ISIS and show the world we are very much are willing to use our big stick, the anguish we already see globally will be far worse that even what the last generations encountered –

Resign or stand forthright for our very proud Judeo-Christian nation, the United States of America! the clock is ticking….enough of your charade, We have a great nation to defend and whether alone or with another, God has bestowed his many Blessings on us and We are so obliged to our Creator!

We do Not leave anyone behind and I urge the US Marines to walk across the Mexican border and retrieve our fellow brave warrior being held for a wrong turn he made w/all his belongings with him given that the Mexican and US government engaged in ongoing communications and concurring together to open their sovereign borders to illegals….child or not….How dare you?

London (CNN) — The UK government raised its terror threat level Friday from
The danger that ISIS poses now is a "greater and deeper" threat to the UK's security than the country has ever known, Cameron said.

Christopher Tingus
“Main Street USA”
Harwich (cape Cod), MA 02645

Comment by Christopher Tingus

August 29, 2014 @ 1:51 pm

For those in the west, all must understand that ISIS takes action not based on ideology, but rather – faith – whether one perceives it as twisted or not!

Through our faith and commitment to thwarting those who seek tp perform such dastardly acts upon humanity in witness by the Lord, Now, let us together read:

Jeremiah Chapter 29

8 For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Let not your prophets and your diviners, that [be] in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams which ye cause to be dreamed.

9 For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the LORD.

Christopher Tingus
“Main Street USA”
Harwich (Cape Cod), MA 02645

Comment by Christopher Tingus

August 29, 2014 @ 5:39 pm

AUGUST 29, 2014

Putin Will Survive

First-century historian Josephus recorded: “And when the book of Daniel was shewed him, wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended; and … he was then glad … .” (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 11, Chap. 8, Sec. 5).

Alexander the Great isn’t the only history-altering individual whose impact was prophesied by Bible writers. Among the others are Josiah, the king of Judah; Cyrus, the king of Persia; and even Winston Churchill, the prime minister of Britain. All were prophesied to come on to the scene generations before they were born. And there is an- other important individual whose appearance was foretold in the Holy Bible: Vladimir Putin.

Around a.d. 90, the Apostle John wrote: “And the number of the army of the horsemen were two hundred thousand thousand: and I heard the number of them” (Revelation 9:16). That’s describing an army of 200 mil- lion men—far more people than were even alive when that prophecy was written.

The Bible provides many vital details about this largest army ever assembled on Earth. Revelation 16:12 calls it the “kings of the east,” which shows it to be a confederacy of Asian nations. Other scriptures reveal that the confederacy will have one lead country—and one individual man at the helm.

A prophecy in Ezekiel 38 lays out some of these im- portant details. “And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, ‘Son of man, set thy face unto Gog, of the land of Magog, prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy concerning him” (Ezekiel 38:1-2; kjv, Young’s Literal Translation). Rosh was the ancient name of Russia, once called Rus. Many encyclopedias and commentaries (such as the Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary) recognize this.
The passage goes on to discuss the conquests of the mighty army led by this “prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal.” So, who is this mighty prince?

A study of the above scriptures, placed alongside other Bible passages, and viewed in the context of current events in Russia, makes the answer clear. Here is what editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote about it in the September Trumpet: “I strongly believe Vladimir Putin is going to lead the 200 million-man army. … Can you think of any other Russian politician who could become so powerful and have the will to lead Russia into the crisis of crises? …

This much is absolutely certain: The restoring of Russia’s power by Vladimir Putin—the prince of Russia—was prophesied! He has already solidly allied Russia with China. The proph- ecy about the prince of Russia includes that main alliance. … The only question is whether or not Putin personally finishes the entire prophecy.”

Comment by Christopher Tingus

August 29, 2014 @ 7:18 pm

As an elder, I often ponder this radical Islamic push in the year of 2014 and while we all should Respect one another and choose our way of faith and no one individual or group of individuals have a right to impose their choices on another, the story of Adrian was recalled and who lived in the year of 298 AD, a story of faith and devotion to our Lord.

While today we see folks extreme in their mannerisms and so willing to harm another, to be so brutal and commit such dastardly acts upon another as God is witness to all, the story of how Maximillian who was persecuting the church ordered all the Christians to be gathered in the city of Nicomedia and charging each of them to deny Christ or suffer the consequences, a group of 23 stood firm in their respective devotion not in any way imposing their beliefs on anyone else, yet when so many endured so much torture and harm, it was Adrian as witness to such inhumane brutality and such devotion to the Lord that he yelled out, “Write me down as a Christian also, that I may be numbered with these warriors of Christ”

No matter one’s faith and choice of religious practice, no one has the right and in witness of the Lord to order another to deny their right of choice. While no one has to embrace one another, all should at least Respect one another though we see the evil among many still walking among us even centuries later….

God Bless us all!

Comment by Christopher Tingus

August 30, 2014 @ 6:53 am

Thank you again to our first responders even when stopping by for a dinner break:

Carbon Monoxide Scare At Applebee’s Detected By EMTs On Dinner Break

The Huffington Post | By Ed Mazza
Posted: 08/29/2014 1:55 am EDT Updated: 08/29/2014 4:59 am EDT

Two EMTs having dinner at an Applebee’s restaurant on Long Island found themselves suddenly back on the job Tuesday night when their portable carbon monoxide detectors went off.

Justin Gau and Kyle Page told ABC 7 that their detectors went off as they were walking to their seats.

“I made Justin go outside once or twice to reset it to make sure it was functioning before we screwed up everyone’s evening,” Page told the station.

When they confirmed that the sensors were working, Gau and Page ordered everyone out and called the fire department, Patch.com reported.

About 100 patrons and employees were evacuated. Several said they felt sick and were checked out at the scene, but declined further treatment.

Air samples confirmed that CO levels in the restaurant were far above normal, with the problem later traced to a faulty water heater.

The average carbon monoxide level in a home without a gas stove is between 0.5 ppm and 5 ppm, and up to 15 ppm in homes with properly adjusted gas stoves, according to the EPA.

However, levels in the restaurant ranged from 80 ppm to 250 ppm — or high enough to cause potentially serious or even deadly consequences.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission:

As CO levels increase and remain above 70 ppm, symptoms become more noticeable and can include headache, fatigue and nausea. At sustained CO concentrations above 150 to 200 ppm, disorientation, unconsciousness, and death are possible.
“After they closed up, they shut down the ventilation system and the CO could have been pumping in there all night and whoever opened in the morning could have been a bad turn out,” Page told ABC7.

Thanks to the EMTs, the heater was shut down and the building was ventilated.

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