Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

May 8, 2015

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on May 8, 2015

William R. Cumming Forum

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Comment by William R. Cumming

May 8, 2015 @ 6:56 am

With the first named Tropical Storm [Ana] arriving even before the artificially adopted Hurricane season arrives [June 1st-November 1st] as always time to get ready.

The Chesapeake Bay country where I have lived most of my life [especially if you include the entirety of the Bay watershed] has experienced some memorable hurricanes. HAZEL [1954]; ISABEL [2003], and some damaging remnants like Tropical Storm Camille [1969]; and Agnes [1972].

Modern doppler radar saves many lives and evacuation still an effective PAR for some with transportation access but the rapid growth of the TRANSPORTATION DEPENDENT makes evacuation an increasingly diminishing PAR [Protective Action Recommendation}.

Also a single human life remains too short a period of record to capture data points [even if remembered] that allows probabilities or risks and vulnerabilities to be effectively calibrated.

My person estimate is that the actual coastal, and riverine/inland risks on NFIP maps is not depicted with 95% confidence for the 100-year event [actually the 1% annual exceedence interval] but much much less. These depictions of flood risks are off about 30% IMO.

And always remember the NFIP MAPS are based on hydrology not meterology.

If memory serves the rainfall during Camille in Nelson County Virginia was 39 inches in 24 hours still a record and rainfall that actually collapsed the sides of the Blue Ridge mountains. 256 at least died in the hills and valleys of Nelson County with memorials posted on Route 29 in central Virginia.


Comment by Tom Russo

May 8, 2015 @ 3:34 pm

Quiet day! Well I’m in Myrtle Beach and awaiting Ana to come ashore next expected until Sunday. Meantime it is forecast to churn offshore as the bands of rain randomly come ashore.

I live 1/2 block from the ocean. Lived through Hugo, and many other less severe storms so I understand the emergency manager’s greatest threat is citizen complacency. I’m there! Unless its a Cat 3 plus, like the big one, I’m here. Hurricane rated windows upstairs (165 mph and can withstand a 2/4 shot at the glass) and three contingency layers of power…I’m good. That is the EM’s dilemma but not really in the post landfall environment.

But I’m aware with jurisdictional infrastructure and its mitigation efforts. Pump stations elevated with generator backups. Underground power lines. Natural gas redundancy to electricity.

My greatest challenge is instructing introductory emergency management students that climate change is not their great threat. Rather it is those traditional technical, natural, intentional threats and complaceny of his citizenry.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 9, 2015 @ 7:46 am

Tom! You can always evacuate here. Almost moved to Myrtle Beach until I reviewed NOAA hurricane storm tracks since 1888!

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 9, 2015 @ 1:22 pm

You will soon be hearing throughout the National Security and Homeland Security environment the following:


To learn more about this terminology you may wish to review a new book that I have not read but will but spent over an hour on C-span’s Booknotes discussed by a panel at Harvard Law School including the book’s authors.

The book is entitled THE FUTURE OF VIOLENCE and its authors are Gabriella Blum and Benjamin Wittes and IMO should be distributed through DHS with mandatory discussion sessions perhaps Borwn-Bag lunch seesions.

The book has been described as a DANGEROUS BOOK. Perhaps its organization creates that impact because about the first 80 pages in its first several chapters describes scenarios possible and even probable in time that demonstrate events on the horizon.

Please read and of possible catch the rebroadcast of the Booknotes session.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 9, 2015 @ 1:27 pm

From Amazon books:

From drone warfare in the Middle East to digital spying by the National Security Agency, the U.S. government has harnessed the power of cutting-edge technology to awesome effect. But what happens when ordinary people have the same tools at their fingertips? Advances in cybertechnology, biotechnology, and robotics mean that more people than ever before have access to potentially dangerous technologies—from drones to computer networks and biological agents—which could be used to attack states and private citizens alike.

In The Future of Violence, law and security experts Benjamin Wittes and Gabriella Blum detail the myriad possibilities, challenges, and enormous risks present in the modern world, and argue that if our national governments can no longer adequately protect us from harm, they will lose their legitimacy. Consequently, governments, companies, and citizens must rethink their security efforts to protect lives and liberty. In this brave new world where many little brothers are as menacing as any Big Brother, safeguarding our liberty and privacy may require strong domestic and international surveillance and regulatory controls. Maintaining security in this world where anyone can attack anyone requires a global perspective, with more multinational forces and greater action to protect (and protect against) weaker states who do not yet have the capability to police their own people. Drawing on political thinkers from Thomas Hobbes to the Founders and beyond, Wittes and Blum show that, despite recent protestations to the contrary, security and liberty are mutually supportive, and that we must embrace one to ensure the other.

The Future of Violence is at once an introduction to our emerging world—one in which students can print guns with 3-D printers and scientists’ manipulations of viruses can be recreated and unleashed by ordinary people—and an authoritative blueprint for how government must adapt in order to survive and protect us.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 9, 2015 @ 1:31 pm

In the panel discussion ON THE FUTURE OF VIOLENCE it was revealed that the UN itself numbers 45 of its 193 members as problematic security risks to the rest of its membership.

If a link available would be of interest to me!

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 12, 2015 @ 9:36 am

Alan D. Cohn, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy at DHS has departed the federal government and now of Counsel at Steptoe and Johnson. He was a career SES and once a FEMA DAE!

His book on DOMESTIC PREPAREDNESS LAW still unmatched IMO!

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 12, 2015 @ 11:15 am

I will be commenting next Friday on federal response to a radiological emergency.

See also 44 CFR Parts 350-355! And 10 CFR Part 50 Appendix E.

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