Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

January 9, 2015

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on January 9, 2015

William R. Cumming Forum

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Comment by Michael Deacon

January 9, 2015 @ 7:05 am

Here’s a theory. Terrorists aren’t offended by cartoons. Not even cartoons that satirise the Prophet Muhammad. They don’t care about satire. For all I know they may not even care about the Prophet Muhammad.

Instead, they merely pretend to be offended by cartoons, in order to give themselves a pretext to commit murder. Murder so horrifying, on a pretext so unWestern, that non-Muslims – blinded by grief and rage – turn on Muslims. Blame them. Persecute them.

Burn their book, attack their mosques, threaten them in the street, demand their expulsion from Western societies. Actions that, in turn, scare Western Muslims, isolate them, alienate them. And thus drive some of them to support – and even become – terrorists.

Result: terrorists swell their ranks for a civil war they long to provoke non-Muslims into starting.

In our angry innocence, however, we persist in thinking this is somehow about cartoons. In thinking that the terrorists “win” if we don’t reproduce those cartoons, and “lose” if we do. As if, at this very moment, terrorist leaders across the West are privately wailing in anguished disbelief because satirical cartoons have been reproduced this morning in several European newspapers.(“Disaster! Our plan has backfired in a way we couldn’t possibly have foreseen! Ink really does beat Kalashnikovs! Satire defeats us once again!”)

On the whole, I’m not sure that’s very likely. I don’t think the terrorists “win” if we fail to reproduce cartoons. I think the terrorists “win” if we leap up, gulp down their bait – and hate Muslims.

This is not about satire. This is beyond satire.

(Cut and Paste by Philip Palin from The Telegraph)

Comment by William R. Cumming

January 9, 2015 @ 9:58 am

Agree with comment above!

I intend to post from time to time reform proposals for each FEMA program, function and activity. All will involve cost savings but many oxes will will be gored!

First up the NFIP [National Flood Insurance Program–42 USC 4001 et seq]

IMO this program will end this decade unless the following principles and suggestions are observed.

1. The program should be split in two and transferred out of FEMA/DHS! This is primarily relocation not reorganization. With annual outlays greater in DHS than all but Stafford Act programs, functions, and activities, the NFIP remains the worst of the DHS stepchildren with DHS’ largely law enforcement [guns and badges] culture.

The program should be restructured to send its quasi-insurance mechanism to the Treasury Department which already administers the Terrorism Risk Insurance program about to be extended after a brief lapse.

This should make the Banking Committees happy since they continue to believe the NFIP is an insurance program [as do many in FEMA/DHS] when in fact it is a land use program!

Administration of the flood plain management [land use][FPM] portion of the program should be sent two different places. All mapping and management of the NFIP FPM programs, functions, and activities should be turned over to the states with a small annual grant for operation and maintenance except for all coastal counties on the Great Lakes, and Atlantic and Gulf Coast which should be joined with the Coastal Zone Management Program at NOAA and supervision of the totality largely because of Climate Change remove fro Jurisdiction of the Science Committees in the House and Senate.

2. Flood insurance should only be available in Zones A and V with final elevations in place and subject to enforcement.

Please not that the reason this NFIP is in debt is because flood insurance long ago was in unmapped areas including over 8000 communities that have no technical mapping or are behind levees and flood walls that always fail either structurally or by design exceedence.

3. A parallel reform is also needed. the statutory immunity for all federal flood control projects [33 USC 702] should be eliminated in all coastal counties.

Many do not realize that the majority of losses in NOLA during HURRICANE KATRINA came from structural failures. And the $14B spent in NOLA by USACOE since Katrina largely wasted and is not a flood control system.


Comment by William R. Cumming

January 9, 2015 @ 10:01 am


Comment by Christopher Tingus

January 9, 2015 @ 10:49 am

I am appalled that there is any necessity to use satire or mock another choice of faith. Such ignorance….such dysfunctional individuals….enough is enough!

Physicists are using applied physics and mathematics to better understand our universe, the galaxies, our black hole and the ability to travel soon with far much more ease among the stars and learn more about the Blessings that God has bestowed upon each of us where technology points to a future where Life can be enhanced in so many ways for all and still and quite unfortunately, such ignorance abounds, such bias, such divisiveness which even this Chicago city street slicker spews from his WH pulpit when he, too could contribute to a better world, but no, his perverse ways, his bias….young man and eight year resident of the White House, a terror act is a terror act and whether you or your White House Press corp and your paid for media choose to spin and report or not….terror is terror, yet let’s talk about this attack in Paris which has gripped the attention of so many…

….and by the way, so many of us understand that much of today’s challenges are created by the 1%’ers who could give a damn about Mohammad or Jesus Christ, just their oil and power and the innocent whether Christian or Muslim must somehow pay a price and all is so unfortunate and so many are inattentive to the lessons of history and why bias and hate only divide us and the 1%’ers could give a care….

While certainly there may be far many more Christians in this world…there are as well some 1.6+ billion peace loving and wonderful Muslims in the great majority who will Not choose to harm or kill another for any reason or to destroy churches as we have seen in Iraq and so on and so forth for it is only God who has such right to make judgment on another, yet understanding there are what some call – extremists – whether they be Muslim, Christian or other, if one may reference these individuals who from reports prior to the incident in Paris warned this newspaper that it should stop such satire as it was degrading, insulting and in this case directly condescending to Mohammad and 1.6+ billion Muslims, whether it be Mohammad or Jesus Christ or another, why is it so necessary that folks must use their time and space to mock or create satire to offend Muslims or why is it ok that Christians are being killed in great numbers in this 2015 year when one would think that we as humanity might just be more intelligent and allow and Respect one another and allow everyone to choose their faith w/o imposing their values on another or having to write satire or cartoons about Mohammad or Jesus Christ. I find this so appalling and so ignorant….where do those with ISIS have a Right to shoot little kids who choose to pledge their Love for Christ and not to convert to Islam….or vice versa….Is Christianity better than Islam or vice versa…there is so little Respect towards one another and apparently little room to understand one another’s choices and religions, world religions for that matter which are followed and adhered to in a peaceful and loving kindness, not such portrayal of ignorance. In the year of 2015, what place and who wants to tolerate satire or cartoons diminishing Mohammad or Jesus Christ? There is no purpose….and yes, it is insulting and of course people get upset. We pray to Mohammad and to those of us, to Jesus Christ. We don’t need anyone mocking our beliefs….again, such outright ignorance….

As a Greek Orthodox Christian, I, too would be very upset if anyone chose to create cartoon or use satire to condemn Jesus Christ and you betcha I am upset seeing innocent Christians being killed by ruthless and uncaring individuals, yes cold blooded killers, extremists among all the religions and extremists in other ways, with No one having the Right to kill another and especially using God;s name when doing so….

Surely, I am very upset at the Catholic Pope or the Eastern Orthodox Patriarch in Istanbul who stands by and watches so many Christians killed without a loud and clear dictate and while I do not appreciate Muslim or Christian or anyone else imposing their religion on me or another for I certainly do not impose my faith on friends and neighbors, this French newspaper from all accounts – in reports prior to this incident – were warned more than once by the good Muslim community throughout France, some 10% of the French population that this usage of satire and creation of cartoons degrading Mohammad would not bode well….

….and while I understand that those of us who value Democracy and there is a Right to freedom of speech, there is a Responsibility to having free speech and there is – No reason, no reason whatsoever – and difficult to understand why anyone must create any such cartoons or satire about Mohammad or jesus Christ or anyone else…How dare you?

Time and journalism demands more from human beings, all God’s children and in the year of 2015, I find all such insults towards another as nothing short of just plan ignorance and bias….referencing such as “dysfunctional generational stonewalls” which have no place in our communities which proudly comprise Muslim, Christian or anyone else….

….While we may not necessarily need to embrace one another, we surely must Respect one another and truthfully, this “wake-up” call in Paris, a time when we need to engage in better understanding of our shared similarities which are far more than our differences…and that neither Christianity or Islam condone acts of violence towards anyone.

As a Muslim, one should be quite proud of their faith and pray and reach out to another in Peace and kindness and the same for me and those as Greek Orthodox Christians or other Christians for we share together the Blessings of God and while Islam does not believe in the Trinity for instance, we do and yes, maybe Jesus Christ is recognized as he is by both faiths, yet Not in the same manner and different to a Muslim or those praying to Mohammad or to a Christian praying to Jesus Christ, the son of God as Christians believe….

….however it is time that these pirates of Islam and Christianity as well, the “extremists” as they are referred to…. do Not continue to divide us and cause anguish for far too many for there is no reason whatsoever that Greek Orthodoxy, Christianity, Islam, Hindu, Judaism and other cannot Respect one another and enable families and communities to choose their faith without such ignorance and bias and as portrayed by such absurd and unnecessary satire and cartoons…such outright ignorance. After all these centuries, the quest for monies and power continue to cause mankind such agony!

I reiterate, there is No purpose in anyone diminishing Mohammed or Jesus Christ or such world religions in their devout faith inherent with Peace and Loving and Respect towards fellow mankind in this 21st century…..the ignorance must stop!

God Bless us all!

Respect one another….

Comment by William R. Cumming

January 9, 2015 @ 11:11 am

Post Script!

In RIVERINE and INLAND AREAS the federal government role would be confined to reinsurance of insurance entities or governmental units for physical damage to insured properties with premiums adjusted annually for losses and the first dollar loss that of insurance or governmental entity and no coverage or limited reimbursement administrative costs of reinsured policies by Uncle Sugar.

No longer would the Property/Casualty Insurance Business be subsidized by the NFIP!

BTW the Terrorism Risk Insurance provided by Uncle Sugar since 9/11 has received $40 billion from the same Uncle Sugar reinsured companies. Source: BEST!

Comment by Donald Quixote

January 9, 2015 @ 11:20 am

Although not new to the readers of this blog, Senator Coburn identified many concerning homeland security issues in his final report:

A Review of the Department of Homeland Security’s Missions and Performance
A Report by Senator Tom Coburn
Ranking Member
Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
U.S. Senate
113th Congress
January 2015

The 162 page report can be divided into a year’s worth of discussions for priorities and areas for improvement.


Comment by Dan O'Connor

January 9, 2015 @ 11:43 am

Just some thoughts…

From one vantage point, terrorists exhibit a gang mentality and attributes…and there’s only one way out.

Are the terrorists that ideologically driven or simply fatalistic in their disposition?

It is difficult to grasp the idea that drawings, cartoons, and caricatures are the root cause…
The diatribe of respect and acquiescence is present.

“Tagging” is done with guns and geographical fixation in lieu of spray paint cans.

Is there any merit or cognizance given to the argument that (gangs growth) it’s a lack of adult mentors, school failures, decreases in after-school programs, the separation of gender spheres and similar failures by the adults in the lives of children? What about that same metric for terrorists?

Is there any merit to the floated postulation that the masses of terrorists or (Middle Eastern young men) are simply illiterate? Such a generalization is dangerous on the one hand and but on the other hand is there merit in weighing the issue as relevant to the discussion?

Has society basically failed?

Has there been a global ideological shift from previously held what may be aptly held as conservative views to a more progressive, anti-social, liberalized, and anti-establishment views?

Does globalization exacerbate the margins and insulate communities from strife and turbulence?
Does terrorism attack those things that can in the end renunciate it? Some scholars hold the view that terrorism is simply communication.

If violence and the promise of more so limits the state and inhibits expression than it has already “won”.

So now perhaps we are seeing what free speech and civil liberties actually cost. In the name of multiculturalism and security what are we prepared to give up and tolerate; expression, torture? What will we forgive and respect?

Has our superficial, contrived, and orchestrated culture met its equal in a battle for visceral significance? Who wins?

Seeing that we are coming up on the 800th year of the Magna Carta, one must wonder what improvement we have really made as a society. While the Magna Carta may not have specifically mentioned free speech it did lay the foundations for the liberties we are supposed to enjoy today. That very document is the cornerstone of the idea that the duality of no one is above or not subject to the law and to be wary of an overbearing state must be balanced and maintained. Both those ideas are under attack.

To think we can “…kill them all…” is patently absurd. To simply believe this will go away is also patently absurd. Waiting for Einstein is credited with saying problems cannot be fixed with the same kind of thinking that created them.

Waiting for the proverbial Godot or another version of Martin Luther may be wishful thinking. Whether a demographic math problem or a societal failing, the same tenants of gangs and their behavior can be seen in the tenants of terrorism.

Again, just some thoughts.

Comment by Sally Chapman

January 9, 2015 @ 3:38 pm

While I am fully in support of free speech, I do think that there is a discussion to have about the consequences of speech found offensive. One could argue that bullying is a form of free speech but who’s willing to defend it? Sure, Charlie Hebdo is certainly entitled to publish its satirical paper but some speech unfortunately will invoke a violent response as we see with this attack or with some school child bringing a gun to school and killing classmates. I personally find attacking the Prophet Mohammed just a cheap shot. I would think if you were in the satire business, you could be a little more brilliant about it.

Comment by Deb Kirby

January 9, 2015 @ 4:34 pm

Eliminating provocative speech solves nothing and only serves to subjugate ourselves to violence and whim. Words are words. I may find offense at things that you do not – who is the arbiter? What is provocative? What constitutes speech justifying mass murder at an international level? A cartoon is just that. Mass murder is just that. Anything else is excuse or an argument for my perspective. There is logic in these actions – just not that which we want to accept or that, IMO, is proper.

Unrelated to speech and of interest for me is the fact that the 2 today were brothers, as were those in Boston. Do familial connections change the concept of ‘cell’?

Comment by Philip J. Palin

January 10, 2015 @ 6:26 am

I am opposed to government-enforced restrictions on freedom of speech. I am an advocate for non-governmental social pressure — short of violence — to discourage the use of purposefully offensive speech.

Satire is powerful. For evidence look to how satirists are treated in Russia, Egypt, Iran, China, and other authoritarian nations. In a healthy culture satirists play an important role. The best satirists, from Jonathan Swift to Jon Stewart, have been quite serious. They honor the objects of their humor even as they expose self-importance, self-delusion, and other self-perpetuated perversions.

But as with so many aspects of global culture, there has been a tendency toward substantive dilution. Irony is more often used to culturally dismiss rather than intellectually dissect.

A recent feature on Mad Magazine includes these comments by an academic and a comic (after minute 35):

Today, in general, being unserious is the premium posture… Gags are what we do here [in contemporary culture]. Taking something too seriously is considered not “getting it” and the worst thing in the world is to not get it… [This approach to comedy] supplies the idea that it is better to be cynical and examine something rather than really feel something.

Ironic nonchalance can be a stimulating aperitif, it ought not be the main course. Yet in too much of our political discourse cynical satire begins at breakfast.

In terms of the free-speech angle of this Brechtian tragedy, I think the Lebanese writer Dyab Abou Jahjah got it just about right: “I am not Charlie, I am Ahmed the dead cop. Charlie ridiculed my faith and culture and I died defending his right to do so.”

Comment by Christopher Tingus

January 11, 2015 @ 12:08 am

referencing: Martin E. Marty:

From 1988 to 1993, the Fundamentalism Project, directed by Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby, convened 10 conferences involving more than 100 scholars with expertise in fundamentalist movements around the world. The project
produced five volumes of case studies and analytical essays edited by Marty and Appleby and published by the University of Chicago Press between 1991 and 1995. Marty and Appleby also produced a distillation of the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic cases in The Glory and the Power: The Fundamentalist Challenge to the Modern Worm (Boston: Beacon Press, 1992).

Spokesmen for the Despised: Fundamentalist Leaders of the Middle East (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997),Spokesmen for the Despised: Fundamentalist Leaders of the Middle East (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997), edited by Appleby, profiles many prominent fundamentalists. In The Ambivalence of the Sacred: Religion, Violence, and Reconciliation (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2000), Appleby places the findings of the Fundamentalism Project within the wider context of religious violence and peacemaking.

One important, single-volume study of comparative fundamentalism is Bruce Lawrence’s pioneering Defenders of God: The
Fundamentalist Revolt Against the Modern Age (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1989).

In addition, there are many first-rate works on individual movements, including George Marsden’s Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of 20thCentury Evangelicalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982). William Martin looks at “The Christian Right and American Foreign Policy” (FOREIGN POLICY, Spring 1999).

Two scholarly but still accessible works on Sunni and Shiite movements
are Emmanuel Sivan’s Radical Islam: Medieval Theology and Modem Politics (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990) and Said Arjomand’s The Turban for the Crown: The Islamic Revolution in Iran (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988). A detailed account of Hindu movements’ politics and organization is in Christophe Jaffrelot’s The Hindu Nationalist Movement in India (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998).

The Religious Movements Home Page of the University of Virginia has a fundamentalism section that discusses problems in analyzing fundamentalism and provides links to the sites of prominent U.S. fundamentalist groups.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

January 11, 2015 @ 10:25 pm

After this unfortunate terror incident despite the White House again looking the other way in branding any apparent terrorist act such given the WH’s own perverse perceptions….I was pondering this long relationship between the Europeans and the Middle East and certainly the more recent relationship of America and the Middle East and I guess the first question which is prompted points to WHY – Why must America be defined especially by fundamentalists if one is so referred so…why must America be defined by its worst moments?

Surely no one is without sin and all children of God and No sovereign nation is without fault and so very often those in power oppressing those with far less….surely we can point to the negative aspects of policy decisions for instance, however overall, America in its rather brief history compared with other nations, well, it has stood forthright for the principles of human dignity and Rights so what is this fuss all about in the 21st century where technology promises so, so much to so many whether Muslim, Christian, Hindu or Hebrew or to others….

Are we truly being attentive to those who so violently object to America’s policies globally and especially directed throughout the Middle East?

While no Muslim, Christian, Hindu or Hebrew condones the killing of another, the fact is that men, women and children are being degraded so by those with beastly intent and apparently nothing more….For most of us here on “Main Street USA” Respect towards our neighbors is a priority and neither do we impose our values and beliefs on another and vice verse.

Why must America be defined by its bad moments in history? Whether Muslim, Hindu, Hebrew or Christians, here in America, we do not condone violence and while not necessarily embracing one another, maybe someone can write about the positive attributes of America!

God Bless us all!

Christopher Tingus
Harwich (Cape Cod), MA 02645

Comment by S. T. More

January 11, 2015 @ 10:35 pm

I think that Americans, and for that matter any people who believe in and support the freedom of expression, must all be Charlie after such a brazen attack on that freedom which we profess to hold so dear. While we may not support the depictions and satire contained in the magazine, we must support that right and condemn any attempt by governments or others to eliminate such expression. For that reason, while I think the motivation of the attackers should be explored, I think it unwise and a danger to freedom of expression, to turn the argument into an examination and condemnation of the speech itself. Such an approach suggests—if it does not directly state—that we should not be surprised, and should even expect that a violent reaction will be the result. This in turn seems to express and promote a desire for self-censorship and the absence of statements and other actions which offend. Surely that cannot and should not be what we think is best for society.

In regard to the latter, and the tendency in America for us to increasingly to promote the absence of speech offensive to others others, the PBS Newshour had an interesting segment on the Paris attacks this past Friday, which included comments from David Brooks (NYTimes columnist) (who does a weekly segment with Mark Shields on the program). Brooks noted that although it seemed that Americans were decrying the attack on free speech which the attack represented, at the same time, Americans—particularly at educational institutions—were increasingly censoring speech and disinviting, or making it impossible for opposing views be heard on campuses. (See clip at :30 to 1:45, and/or the transcript found at the link.) http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/shields-brooks-paris-terrorism-tolerance-gop-takeover-congress/

In addition, I agree very much with Philip’s excellent point about the “substantive dilution” of satire and the tendency toward using it to “culturally dismiss rather than intellectually dissect.” After all, that intellectual dissection is—or at least should be—the true value of satire.

Comment by William R. Cumming

January 12, 2015 @ 9:05 am

I have been reliably informed by experts [Pat Lang of Sic Semper Tyrannis blog et. al.] that religion is the foundation of Islamic Civilization. If so and I respectfully disagree with this information it would be of interest to me as your or any definitions of CIVILIZATIONS and examples other than Islamaldom past or present.

We do not label Western Civilization as CRISTENDOM [SIC] but perhaps worshippers of Islam do so.

Many are stating that Samuel Huntington’s book CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS was prescient in many ways. I read that book as really describing a clash of cultures as the future.

But I think that it is not religion or ethnicity that causes present turmoil but geography, demographics, technology, energy, and principally the failure of the NATION-STATE system erected in part by the Treaties of Westphalia in 1648 and largely erected and defended by NATION-STATE armed forces that largely ended religious warfare in W. Europe.


Comment by William R. Cumming

January 12, 2015 @ 9:17 am

I have a friend who heads the McCarther [sic] Foundation–Robert Gallucci- a former head of the Georgetown Univeristy School of Foreign Service and who holds the rank of Ambassor [former]!

He has entered the Foundation into the policies and issues involved in refugee issues. I would argue that IDP [internally displaced persons] are also a huge problem.

Almost by accident retired Flag Rank and UN official was the Deputy Director of DHS for several years. She is expert on refugee issues.

Did or does there exist any indication of DHS weighing in on refugee issues or as part of its immigration reform analysis? So far like Climate Change it appears despite over 1000 positions labeled POLICY ANANLYST in DHS that Department remains agnostic about such problems.

And for those interested I will be focusing on the PUBLIC ASSISTANCE programs, functions, and activities under the ROBERT T. STAFFORD ACT in the FFF this week!

Comment by William R. Cumming

January 12, 2015 @ 12:54 pm

The following comment is posted In Futoro so that all posters and commenters keep it in mind until Jauary 20th, 2017!

Its importance exceeds that of all other FACTS in Washington and I will not repeat it!

The US Senate is under Republican rule. But to defend any veto by President Obama [I believe he has only vetoed two bills in his first 6 years] he only needs 34 votes. And to defend against any override of veto in the US House of Representatives the President needs 146 votes.

The failure to override by either House sustains the Presidential veto.

And VETO politics are some of the most complex in Washington’

Comment by William R. Cumming

January 14, 2015 @ 9:56 am

Senator John McCain, new Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee has promised an complete review of U.S. National Security Strategy which of course would include HOMELAND DEFENSE, the DoD portion of HS.


He also has strongly supported the recent Senate Report on Executive Branch torture activities. That report was highly critical of past Executive Branch actions involving torture.

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