Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

May 15, 2015

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on May 15, 2015

William R. Cumming Forum

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Comment by John Comiskey

May 15, 2015 @ 5:38 am


As part of a current research project, I ask:

(1)What is hometown security?
(2)How is hometown security related to homeland security?

Assumption: hometown security and homeland security are related

I am interested in your thoughts and questions on this matter?

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 15, 2015 @ 8:22 am

John! I would simply answer that process and procedures, and programs, functions, and activities overlap between the two sometimes to the detriment of both.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 15, 2015 @ 8:51 am

My Friday comments may be lengthy this week since my efforts will be directed to radiological preparedness, response, and recovery. Not sure about this but I believe on this blog since its inception in 2005 I have commented on the most sustained basis on this subject. Could be wrong as always.

But here is my concern! Neither Congress, or its staffers, nor CRS, nor GAO produced reports or analysis in this arena, and IMO the Executive Branch and States and their local governments, and the Federal Weapons complex, the military and the Nuclear Power industry are perhaps tragically unprepared and even surety and safeguards and proliferation largely ignored.

It is of great interest that the major effort to prevent/avoid Iran from being fully nuclear weapons capable
carefully avoids the fact that the threat to the world was largely due to the Official actions of the United States.
Thus, the effort in Iran is partially an effort to overcome
“stupidity” by the US leadership. We did provide Iran in the era of the SHAH assistance on Nuclear Power. If books like IN MORTAL HANDS [2007] are accurate this is always the first step towards nuclear weapons.

The past administrations stood by while by theft, espionage, or otherwise the Soviets, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and others developed atomic or nuclear weapons. We are basically a lazy feckless people who let lazy politicians and government officialdom keep their eye OFF then ball.

There will be nuclear war on planet earth sometime and somewhere. There may well be NUDETs in the USA, most probably IMO from sub launched cruise or ballistic missiles.

I hope I am completely wrong but my comments today will layout why I have reached these conclusions.

If our proposal accepted Dr. Richard Sylves, PhD retired from the Uiniversity of Delaware will be updating our article FEMA’S PATH TO HOMELAND SECURITY published in 2003 in the first effort of JHSEM [Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management –Berkeley Electronic Press] hopefully in the next year.

In keeping with the notion that government agencies seldom can adopt priorities in their efforts, and understand why that is necessary, that article focused on the non-ATM functions in FEMA.

Coincidentally, Dr. Sylves is the author of the best book ever written on the technical aspects of Federal Advisory Committees, THE NUCLEAR ORACLES, about the General Committee of the former AEC and its work from 1945-1977. This work should be read by all writing about emergency preparedness and the politics and science of our Atomic Age.

I welcome links or other comments and inputs that either support my postulates, or otherwise. The abolition of the permanent Joint Committee on Atomic Energy by Congress will be an unmarked tragedy IMO until a catastrophic incident or event in the USA or elsewhere.

Until the people and governments in the USA know the funding and trained personnel and equipment that will show uo, and exactly how, when, why, and who and how my conclusion WE [US] are unprepared will stand.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 15, 2015 @ 9:31 am

Some may remember that I once commented on this blog on my one and only face-to-face meeting with Dr. Edwin Teller, PhD, who sat on the FEMA Advisory Council during the Reagan Administration.

I asked Dr. Teller where he thought humanity would be on the planet earth 200 years down the road if there was a planet Earth? He answered with a single word: UNDERGROUND!

An informed view no doubt. I have recent added two documents to the FAS/FEMA page:

Report to the Congress from the Presidential Commission on Catastrophic Nuclear Accidents, August 1990
Radiological Emergency Preparedness: Program Manual, FEMA P-1028, January 2015

That page is located at http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/dhs/fema/index.html

Other radiological preparedness and response documents are located there also.

The first document was the final report of a Presidential Commission that had as its charter a catastrophic radiological incident/event. The second document is current FEMA guidance on its REPP [radiological emergency preparedness program].

Two noted on these documents; 1. See footnote 15 of the Commission Report. A FEMA career SES testified before the Commission that no funding assistance to any persons or entities would be available in any nuclear incident/accident from the Robert T. Stafford Act [Public Law 100-707 (1988)]. He provided that input to the Commission without input or review of the General Counsel Office of the then independent Executive Branch agency FEMA.
When I brought that legally incorrect statement to the attention of FEMA management nothing was done to correc that statement. When I brought to the attention of the NGA and NEMA and several state AG’s that were friends over 20 states petitioned Congress to have radiological incidents/events added specifically to the the Stafford Act definitions. [And BTW there are several sets of definitions in the Stafford Act in different titles. Congress did nothing.

When I brought the testimony to the attention of NRC lawyers and management they immediately prepared a NUREG with the opposite conclusion and after full review and clearance within NRC, NRC got the Director of FEMA to sign off and the OLC/DoJ.

I was asked by the WH what I thought an here is what I stated: If I am anywhere in FEMA management or a legal officer of FEMA when such an event occurs I will immediate offer orally and sign off on the position that even if not the fire.flood, or explosion required by the Stafford Act that I will interpret the “release” of radionuclides whether intentional or unintentional that does impact the public inside or outside the EPZ as an “explosion”!

Some might ask “why does Bill go to such lengths on this history”? First, when given the chance to brief new GC’s at FEMA I always asked that they submit a formal written request to OLC/DoJ to prepare a memorandum of law [preparation time perhaps several years] discussing the interrelationship of the PRICE-ANDERSON Act and the Stafford Act, if any. This was never done. My view of PREPAREDNESS is that you do all that you can in advance to overcome time delays post incident/event. The lack of curiosity in the circles of government today in the USA bis astounding to me.

As to the second document linked above it carefully avoids who developed the guidance, how it was prepared and reviewed, and who signed off for FEMA and NRC. As I testified under oath at the Seabrook Power Station licensing proceeding FEMA has no regulatory authority by statute for REPP and does not determine the ‘RISK’ of a core-melt accident. Thus, NRC must sign off on all FEMA guidance. This position was not contested either by applicants or intervenors at Seabrook. It was supported by decisions of the NRC, itself, and federal courts later.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 15, 2015 @ 9:46 am

I should point out that all guidance produced by FEMA on REPP should undergo public comment as part of its review and concurrent review and sign-off [and comment resolution] by EPA, DOE, and probably the HEALTH PHYSICS SOCIETY OF AMERICA.

Why? FEMA is not responsible for the technical aspects of response [even offsite] but relies on the technical response entitities such as NRC and EPA [which along with FDA issues PAGs on dose limitations]. FEMA is responsible for giving “reasonable assurance” to NRC and the public that off-site plans can be accomplished. A largely meaningless standard IMO.

FEMA is in part responsible for mass care and mass shelter of evacuees. FEMA is not responsible for monitoring and determining contamination, or access or egress from contaminated areas. Coordination of all of this by FEMA is iffy and even its FCO’s are NOT trained to do this.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 15, 2015 @ 9:53 am

Table-top exercises are the norm for all levels of government in the PREPAREDNESS ARENA. The highest standard would be an FFE [full field exercise]. A former Congressman forced the so-called TOP-OFF exercises on FEMA and the Executive Branch when he learned that many senior federal officials that would actually be responsible for real world incidents/events never were trained or prepared by participation in exercise, whatever level. This evolved into so-called National Level Exercises but had since gone missing. There is on the FAS/FEMA website and internal DHS memo from the Secretary to the FEMA Administrator discussing exercises. It should be of interest that are concerned with the reality of government preparedness.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 15, 2015 @ 3:51 pm

The FEMA/NRC REPP regulations appear at 44 CFR Parts 350-355 and 10 CFR Part 52 Appendix E and NUREG 0654 ans supplements.

The word “verify” appears in the NRC rregs Appendix E but nowhere in the FEMA regs.

There is no known trigger for the FRERP now incorporated into the National Response Framework but I long have argued that at NRC’s GENERAL ALERT stage at any covered reactor the plan should trigger.

Comment by Tom Russo

May 15, 2015 @ 4:25 pm

While I have completed numerous FEMA and IAEM courses and/or certifications, I have always believed for EM practitioners the process of emergency management (Phases)works. But I came to the conclusion when recruiting the disciplines in one’s organization to support emergency preparedness and response…there are only three concepts to be communicated internally to get buy in from support disciplines. By those disciplines, I look to (in public health), nursing, administration environmentalists and allied disciplines.

In dealing with all those disciplines and their programs of efforts…I get to these three concepts. Those are plan, train and exercise.

If we are success in leading them through this truncated process…an organization will be as ready as could be realistically expected given the demanding workloads of allied disciplines. Afterall…individuals that represent those disciplines are really volunteers in support of the multi-mission expectations of emergency management at the state and local level!

Comment by Philip J. Palin

May 15, 2015 @ 6:01 pm


Plan, train and exercise are the foundations. Every once in awhile they are perverted by over-zealous micro-managers. I have taken to also using the words: think, experiment, collaborate. It’s mostly just a word-game, but the difference can assist in subverting those inclined to too-tight control.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

May 15, 2015 @ 6:05 pm

John: I like your question. Several answers are possible. I have argued that hometown security is the actualization of homeland security. In other words, it is the actual crafting by a community of meaningful and sustained prevention, protection, preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery combining to significantly enhance the resilience of the whole community.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 16, 2015 @ 8:42 am

Wiki Extract:

Health physics or The Physics of Radiation Protection[1] is the science concerned with the recognition, evaluation, and control of health hazards to permit the safe use and application of ionizing radiation. Health physics professionals promote excellence in the science and practice of radiation protection and safety. Health physicists principally work at facilities where radionuclides or ionizing radiation are used or produced; such as medical institutions, government laboratories, academic and research institutions, nuclear power plants, regulatory agencies and manufacturing plants.

Contents [hide]
1 Scope
1.1 Medical physics
2 Radiation protection instruments
2.1 Installed instruments
2.2 Portable instruments
2.3 Instrument types
2.4 Guidance on use
2.5 Radiation dosimeters
3 Units of measure
3.1 Absorbed dose
3.2 Equivalent dose
4 History
4.1 The term “health physics”
5 Radiation-related quantities
6 See also
7 References
8 External links

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 16, 2015 @ 8:51 am

Does the NRC license all the nuclear activities of the other federal departments and agencies? NO! But it does regulate some. E.G., before termination by President William Jefferson Clinton FEMA had a radiation protection effort and activity that had started under the federal civil defense program. FEMA held source material to help develop dosimetry and calibrate dosimeters. The activity was terminated by Director James Lee Witt over the objections of the National Security Council staff.

It would be of interest if some poster or person who comments on this blog could link to as current article or discussion of the current status of radiation protection in the States.

And the lantern mantles sold to campers and others are a low-level source material and tucked in a sock or elsewhere
were used a one-time to exercise detection and monitoring skills of those involved in REPP exercises.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 16, 2015 @ 8:56 am

The federal government owns a number of research and other power reactors [subs e.g.]! These reactors and facilities are not regulated by the NRC and the “owner” is responsible for Emergency Preparedness of those reactors and facilities.

IMO the failure of many federal entities to disclose radiation hazards as required by the COMMUNITY RIGHT TO KNOW ACT, enacted as a title of SARA in 1986 means the cupboard may well be bare if an incident or accident occurs at these facilities.

And I argue that there is NO Coverage under ther Price-Anderson statute for this federal radiation research and power activity.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 16, 2015 @ 10:59 am

A key report in assessing adequacy of EP planning and response, including radiological response:

Evaluating the Reliability of Emergency Response Systems for Large-Scale Incident Operations
RAND Homeland Security and Defense Center
Measuring the preparedness of emergency response systems.
Published 2010

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 16, 2015 @ 11:03 am

See also:

Planning Guidance for Response to a Nuclear Detonation
Second Edition
June 2010

Comment by Tom Russo

May 16, 2015 @ 4:37 pm


I like those and I would put the emphasis on the “collaborate!”

Comment by Vicki Campbell

May 18, 2015 @ 3:43 pm

Mr. Comiskey, my honest response to your question about “hometown security” is that it is an even more inanely unrepresentative and inapplicable concept and term than even homeland security is – especially as its logical extension at the community level. According to DHS, “hometown security” refers to how DHS can help communities fight, alternately, “violent extremism,” “domestic radicalization,” and “terrorism” – terms with DHS seems to use interchangeably on its website – and none of which the vast majority of cities, much less towns in the U.S. have much of any reason to be very concerned about, especially compared to a variety of other hazards and risks. Its just one more term all but Orwellian term that HS has adopted that is neither grounded in or descriptive of much of anything real within our culture, or that most Americans can relate to the way HS uses it, either one. One’s “hometown” is where one is from and where one typically grew up, but we live in a very, very mobile society, where many, many people not only no longer live in their hometown, but may never have had the experience of having one as a child due to having moved around during their childhood. Concurrently, where one lives presently in the U.S. is almost never referred to as one’s hometown unless one is also from there. Although no one at DHS seems to know this, that is by and large the only context within which real people in the real world actually use the term. This goes double for the term Homeland Security, which, for those of us who were present the day they taught reading, immediately raises the spectre of Nazi Germany, etc., or other more ethnically-oriented projects, and honestly could not possibly be less grounded in or representative of American society or culture. For this reason, it is a very awkward term for the vast majority of Americans to use or even try to relate to – and its far more reflective of how very much HS is in its own little world about entirely too much. Both terms also represent one of the sloppiest and most incompetent and unprofessional choices of terms and concepts by a federal government agency that I’ve personally ever come across.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 18, 2015 @ 4:13 pm

EMI offers two REPP courses on site! First, exercise evaluation and then a quite difficult course concerning atmospheric modeling as the basis for issuing PAG guidance–such as shelter in place or evacuate.

Comment by Vicki Campbell

May 18, 2015 @ 5:12 pm

Bill, I’m not entirely clear what your ultimate points are here, but there is a great deal of info, guidance and planning in relation to radiological preparedness, response and recovery (less so) as you put it – although I find much less still on mitigation per se (an which is still mostly about treatment) – and given the general over riding of traditional emergency management functions by HS over the last decade, I don’t expect that to change, given how little value mitigation is being given under DHS. This is especially unfortunate given that there is probably no area where it would be more important to concentrate on prevention/mitigation measures at all costs, because of the likelihood that it simply isn’t very possible to prepare, respond or recover from such a significant event very effectively, at last in any way that these terms are normally used. I also think that any self-respecting emergency manager should be shouting this from the rooftops at every level of government, because I think you are right in your prediction that, surely, we are increasingly likely to have a significant event occur sometime in the not too distant future. I’m kind of amazed it hasn’t already, if only because of the clear denial the U.S. is in about the extensive dangers and risk of both nuclear weapons and technologies, and their inherent unrecoverability, so to speak.

Speaking of radiological weapons, and in relation to your mention of Rand, I am in good company in being thoroughly dismissive of Rand at this point because of its heavy enabling of the U.S. military’s use of Depleted Uranium, esp. in Iraq, and its ongoing denial of the extent of its deadly effects on both humans and the environment. We’ve left a legacy of agony, death, and birth defects in particular that have never been seen before in human history, as well as a level of environmental destruction that should all leave every American hanging their heads in intense shame.

From the Huffington Post:

U.S. Depleted Uranium as Malicious as Syrian Chemical Weapons
By Craig Considine
Posted: 08/29/2013 5:56 pm EDT Updated: 10/29/2013 5:12 am EDT

By this time you have likely heard of the atrocity that recently took place in which over 1,000 Syrian civilians reportedly died at the hands of a chemical weapon attack. Seeing the video and images of dead or helpless Syrian civilians struggling for life reminds me of another terrible weapon of war — depleted uranium.

It is no secret that the U.S., with the assistance of other governments, used depleted uranium in the Gulf and Iraq War. A simple Google search of this topic can produce dozens and dozens of credible reports or stories to confirm these war crimes. For example, an important report on Harvard University’s website discusses the fallout of depleted uranium contamination in Iraq. Dr. Souad N. Al-Azzawi, who authored the report after the Gulf War, wrote that:

“Depleted Uranium (DU) weaponry has been used against Iraq for the first time in the history of recent wars. The magnitude of the complications and damage related to the use of such radioactive and toxic weapons on the environment and the human population mostly results from the intended concealment, denial and misleading information released by the Pentagon about the quantities, characteristics and the area’s in Iraq, in which these weapons have been used.”
Similarly, as Democracy Now! reported in an interview with Al Jazeera reporter Dahr Jamail, “the U.S. invasion of Iraq has left behind a legacy of cancer and birth defects suspected of being caused by the U.S. military’s extensive use of depleted uranium and white phosphorus.” Democracy Now! wrote:

“Noting the birth defects in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, Jamail says: ‘They’re extremely hard to bear witness to. But it’s something that we all need to pay attention to … What this has generated is, from 2004 up to this day, we are seeing a rate of congenital malformations in the city of Fallujah that has surpassed even that in the wake of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that nuclear bombs were d’ pped on at the end of World War II.'”
Moreover, Robert Koehler, a HuffPost blogger, has written extensively about the U.S. government’s use of depleted uranium in Iraq. The following passage from Koehler’s blog “The Suffering of Fallujah” gives us an idea of the immense impact that depleted uranium has had on Iraqi civilians:

“Thus last November, a group of British and Iraqi doctors petitioned the U.N. to investigate the alarming rise in birth defects at Fallujah’s hospitals. ‘Young women in Fallujah,’ they wrote … are terrified of having children because of the increasing number of babies born grotesquely deformed, with no heads, two heads, a single eye in their foreheads, scaly bodies or missing limbs. In addition, young children in Fallujah are now experiencing hideous cancers and leukemias.'”
Koehler continues:

“The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health has just published an epidemiological study, “Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005-2009,” which has found, among much else, that Fallujah is experiencing higher rates of cancer, leukemia and infant mortality than Hiroshima and Nagasaki did in 1945.”
Although Iraqi civilians have born the brunt of this awful weapon, American soldiers that served in the Gulf and Iraq War are also suffering from the fallout of depleted uranium. This issue is discussed in-depth by the Campaign Against Depleted Uranium, which campaigns to “ban on the use of uranium in all conventional weapons and weapon systems and for monitoring, health care, compensation and environmental remediation for communities affected by their use.”

Countries around the world have called for the ban of depleted uranium, but unfortunately this demand has fallen on deaf ears. When asked in 2003 about Iraq’s complaints about depleted uranium shells, Colonel James Naughton of U.S. Army Material Command stated in a Pentagon briefing that “They want it to go away because we kicked the crap out of the them.”

Last week, UK foreign secretary William Hague, said that the use of chemical weapons in Syria is “not something that a humane or civilized world can ignore.” Ironically, Western countries such as the UK and their allies have appeared to ignore the use of weapons that are equally vicious.

When “non-Westerners” make use of weapons of mass destruction, there is outrage and calls for military intervention from “the West,” but when “Westerners” themselves use them, it is totally permissible, and the world can hardly react.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 19, 2015 @ 7:44 am

Vicki! Thanks for your thoughtful and excellent comment. First to RAND! Started as a captive thinktank of the USAF RAND center of gravity initially was nuclear warfare strategic planning and operations. The concept generated the slew of FFRDC [federally funded research and development centers] that exist today. Aerospace Corp.; Center for Naval Analysis; LMI [logistics management institute] and many many others. They are direct rivals to the DoE labs IMO in many ways and DoE is its labs. Argonne; Brookhaven, Lawrence Livermore and Berkeley; and a number of others.

It would be too simple to just see all of the above listed and include budgets and staffing. Together with the many DoD colleges and universities it certain means that they should be included when discussing the MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX. Then when you add on DoD contracts to colleges and universities one can readily see how heavily this complex influences Academica.

And almost no oversight of any of this by Congress.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 19, 2015 @ 8:04 am

More for Vicki!

The CSEEP [chemical stockpile emergency preparedness program] focused on destruction of chemical weapons by the US to comply with UN chemical weapons convention ends by 2017. It has cost $25-30B since its inception in 1986. FEMA became a partner to DoD almost by accident when then headed by a retired 3-star Army General, Julius Becton, he believed the off-site safety role at the seven locations of chemical weapons was an appropriate role and he agreed to it. This highly technical program for FEMA] developed some interesting doctrine in particular on PAGs including evacuation.

But possession of these weapons was in violation of International Law the whole time.

Your discussion of depleted uranium is interesting because many US soldiers also suffered. But like AGENT ORANGE, the US loves to utilize its NAPALM equivalents even when it is a risk to soldiers lives and health.

Almost the whole of the VA system is quite skillfully designed to make sure there is NO ACCOUNTABILITY in DoD for the health of its armed forces. This can be as simple as NO EAR PLUGS for soldiers and sailors until the 1970’s so most of the GREATEST GENERATION was and is deaf. ALCOHOLISM IS A DISEASE IMO NOT A MATTER OF WILL POWER. But to so label it would make VA accountable for those years when it encouraged drunkenness in its enlisted and officer clubs as the members fought off PSTD with consumption of alcohol.

Once when on active duty I explained to a roomful of Field-grade Army Officers hoe being disabled in combat or other line of duty accidents they would not be going to Walter Reed but discharged and turned over to VA. The group was totally shocked and dismayed and asked [even the West Pointers] why no one had ever briefed them before. I explained that my father started and ran the VA social work program for 22 years so was familiar in part from his stories of VA’s tragic role in destroying veterans.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 19, 2015 @ 8:08 am

ALL: Have no doubt that the sins of our fathers [and mothers] in the form of WAR CRIMES will be visited on our children but in the meantime the official actions of the US continue to damage and destroy US. NO ACCOUNTABILITY is the current mantras of US “leadership” in all circles. IMO of course.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 19, 2015 @ 11:48 am

BTW can you find a good link to the history of landmines and efforts to ban them?

Comment by Arnold Bogis

May 19, 2015 @ 4:32 pm

Bill, you chose a busy week for me to bring up one of my favorite subjects.

Re landmines, I hope this helps: http://www.icbl.org

There is a case to be made around that issue on the potential impact of non-governmental people to make out-sized impacts on policy.

Comment by Vicki Campbell

May 19, 2015 @ 6:29 pm

Arnold, I think that’s an excellent link.

Bill, thanks for your response and comments. Here’s a few more links on landmines to compliment Arnold’s.

The research arm of the ICBL:

The main ICBL-related blog:

The UN anti-landmine

Article on U.S. position and work currently on ICBL campaign:

Gen. Info from International Fed of Red Cross:

Info specifically about impact on children from UNICEF:



Comment by William R. Cumming

May 20, 2015 @ 6:39 am

CORRECTION: The acronym is CSEPP [chemical stockpile emergency preparedness program] not CSEEP!

The State of Alabama has received the greatest total federal funding under CSEPP! But no one knows exactly how much.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 20, 2015 @ 6:41 am

Thanks Arnold and Vicki for those great links! Should the 2016 Presidential candidates be asked their views on land mines?

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 20, 2015 @ 6:44 am

P.S. A postscript on dosimetery. GSA once had a dosimetry production facility in Rolla North Dakota. Closed after lobbying by private parties. Still needed IMO.

And FEMA once was the center of basic research on dosimetery. During DESERT STORM

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 20, 2015 @ 6:56 am

CONTINUED: and DESERT SHIELD FEMA loaned [gave] 30,000 dosimeters to DoD. Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia one of the authors of the WMD Act, Title XIV of the 1996 DoD authorization Act, and still a landmark for those studying WMD Preparedness, drated that Act on the premise that DoD and the US Armed Forces were fully prepared, and with appropriate training and equipment, for WMD events. Basically DoD minions lied to Senator Nunn but they jumped at the opportunity to upgrade their efforts. In a report to Congress dated May 1997 the Executive Branch reported honestly that the Nation was almost totally unprepared for WMD incidents/events. The report is on the FAS/FEMA website.

When despite PD-39, FEMA declined to lead States and their local governments, on WMD incidents/events DoD took the lead and Ms. Lisa Gordon-Haggerty on detail from DoE to the NSC staff led the State and local training effort. That raining transferred to DoJ in 2000 which failed in that mission and then of course the DoJ OFFICE OF DOMESTIC PREPAREDNESS transferred to DHS largely without funding or staff. Thanks DoJ.

And the FEMA/DoJ CONOPLAN on Response to Terrorism published in 2001 largely silent on WMD incidents and events. That document also available on the FAS/FEMA page.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 20, 2015 @ 7:02 am

One of the reasons I went to such lengths on radiological preparedness is that the cupboard is largely bare even for the US Armed Forces.

FEMA once considered [record long since destroyed] giving everyone over 18 in the USA a dosimeter. That plan rejected largely on cost not benefits. Dosimeters due require periodic reading and calibration.

But if the USA is truly prepared for WMD incidents/events should not every member of the Armed Forces, FIRE SERVICE, and LE communities have dosimetry read and calibrated when needed?

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 20, 2015 @ 7:20 am

And to repeat myself on this blog the federal civil defense effort developed new programs, functions, and activities under Public Law 920 of the 81st Congress largely because unlike in Great Britain the FIRE SERVICE did not want to be involved in protection against and response to a hazard you could not see, smell, or feel, even if it existed.

By the time FEMA created under Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1978, the federal civil defense effort was definitely not a consideration in the STRATEGIC NUCLEAR BALANCE [even though some of the Reagan Administration in misunderstanding Nixon, Ford, and Carter PD tried to do so]!

But until repealed by Public Law 103-337 by statute FEMA by delegation was to protect [or attempt to do so] the public from radiation from attack.

Professors like Garrison and Perrow and even DHS in its official history of Preparedness [2006]have mistakenly assumed COG was part of civil defense and largely ignored the efforts of those involved in civil defense to promote radiation protection for the civil population.

Protection of the public from WMD events involving radiation could be a useful topic of Congressional oversight but of course might involve heavy lifting.

What drove Sam Nunn in the run-up to the Atlanta summer games in 1996 was that terrorist might employ radiation in their attacks on the games. Fortunately only conventional explosives used to bomb the games.

Post his Senate career, Sam Nunn has done some excellent work through NTI [NUCLEAR THREAT INITIATIVE]. Margaret [Peggy] Hanburger, M.D. once was at NTI and now FDA Chairperson.

BTW did you know that CDC has again slipped into passiveness, lack of curiosity, and decline in the Obamam Administration?

If my information is correct State grants NO LONGER INVOLVE WMD ISSUES for CDC.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 20, 2015 @ 7:22 am

Speaking of LANDMINES is their any regulation and control of their sale or distribution anywhere in the world?

Does ATF regulate LANDMINES?

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 21, 2015 @ 7:53 am

[N.B. Originally published 2003]



Recent reports in major newspapers and elsewhere have detailed the debate going on in Washington, D.C. over whether Congress or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has adequately funded the states and first responders to combat terrorism since September 11, 2001. Recently, the U.S. Conference of Mayors released a report base on a survey conducted by City Policy Associates, a Washington, D.C. consulting firm indicating 76 percent of 215 cities surveyed had been left out of the December funding round for Department of Homeland Security grant monies. It is somewhat unclear whether these monies were doles out under the first ever Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, Public Law 108-90, October 1, 2003, or prior legislation. In a quote picked up by Congressional Quarterly, John Thomasian, Director of the National Governors Association’s Center for Best Practices stated “It’s a specious augment.”

Like the Japanese movie RASHOMON there are probably at least that movie’s seven versions of the truth. It is, however, even more important that the always present effort by bureaucracy whether at federal, state, or local level to attempt to evade accountability even while maintaining authority over financial resources is documented. This brief essay is a first step in documenting the past as represented by the federal civil defense program that lasted from 1951-1995. Ultimately, federal civil defense grants to the states for emergency preparedness and first response were made ineffective by a combination of federal and state actions. The past can be studied to help develop the accountability that in the future is necessary to combat terrorism as well as well as enhancing efficiency and effectiveness.

When the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) opened its doors on April 1, 1979 (a date picked by a disgruntled OMB [Office of Management and Budget] official who had hoped to be a high-level bureaucrat in the new agency) under E.O. 12127 [March 31, 1979] and further implemented by E.O. 12148 [July 20, 1979] it was faced with administration of the civil defense programs, functions, and activities conducted most recently by the Defense Civil Preparedness Agency (1972-1979) pursuant to the Federal Civil Defense Act of 1950, as amended, originally enacted as Public Law 920 in the 81st Congress. That statute had been modified in 1958 to make the civil defense of the nation a joint responsibility of the federal government and the states. It is of some interest that while the fire service had been the basis of civil defense in Great Britain during WWII, the United States chose to create new cadres for civil defense essentially independent of the fire service in the United States. Whatever the reasons for this decision they appear lost to history but the enactment of the Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974, now amended [codified at 15 U.S.C. Sections 2201 and following] gave the fire service a second chance to be involved in national level preparedness and response issues. The United States Fire Prevention and Control Administration renamed the United States Fire Administration became part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 1979. Like FEMA, the United States Fire Administration was lost in the scuffle when the Department of Homeland Security was formed largely based on the absence of input from either the fire service community or the emergency management community, but rather the law enforcement and defense establishments. It is interesting to note that although there was reluctance to become a part of FEMA, the fire service was hopeful that it would be a prominent part of the new agency, but instead it was rewarded by being zero-budgeted twice by OMB on the basis of fire being largely a local issue. Although restored by Congress momentum was lost throughout the 80’s and the States did not participate in attempts to restore the budget, also seeing fire as a local issue. Importantly, most State Fire Marshals even today, as with other state agencies, are seldom involved with actual emergency preparedness and response but serve as a drain on federal resources that would otherwise be available for local response organizations.

In 1979, FEMA had been under enormous pressure to achieve savings in overhead staff and administrative costs since the President’s Reorganization Project (PRP) had in negotiations with the Congress promised extensive financial savings and efficiencies in administration as the primary benefit of the reorganization. This included an immediate savings of 400 Full-time Equivalent (FTE’s) positions from the FTE authorization of the predecessor agencies. A saving that OMB only too willing immediately enforced.

A review of grant programs indicated that those authorized under the civil defense legislation might be eligible for consolidation and subsequent administrative savings by the federal government and the states.

The programs, functions, and activities included the following:

• Nuclear civil protection
• National shelter surveys
• Radiological defense officers
• Maintenance and calibration [dosimetery]
• Emergency Management Assistance
• Maintenance and services
• Supporting materials
• Training and education
• Emergency Operating Centers [EOCs]e

Toadying to an OMB whose high ranking appointees loved cost-saving proposals, the FEMA management struggled with a way to achieve change with the law as constructed. Finally, amendments in 1981 to the Federal Civil Defense Act, even though arguably not relevant to the issue of grant consolidation, were used to design a new approach called Comprehensive Cooperative Agreements. Additionally, the General Accounting Office issued a comprehensive report on August 30, 1983, “CONSOLIDATION OF FEDERAL ASSISTANCE RESOURCES WILL ENHANCE THE FEDERAL-STATE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT EFFORT” GAO/GGD-83-92 supporting consolidation. It is interesting to note that the States were strong advocates of this consolidation and the report could be issued today based on current Fiscal Year 2004 funding by substitution of DHS’s grant programs administered by the United States Fire Administration, Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate [FEMA] and the Office for Domestic Preparedness, all scheduled to be primarily administered in Fiscal Year 2005 and after by the Office of State and Local Coordination to be renamed the Office of State and Local Preparedness and Coordination. [Secretary Tom Ridge notified Congress that he was intending to conduct such a consolidation in a letter dated January 21, 2004.]

The Comprehensive Cooperative Agreement was premised on legislation enacted in the 1970’s that tried to authorize a administrative compromise between the strict accounting, audit, and monitoring requirements of federal contracting, i.e. where the federal government was contracting for goods or services, and the federal grant requirements that were basically a “Fire and Forget” approach with very little in the way of effective strings except for audits sometimes years later. OMB had generic grant guidance out for several decades, but one Circular of particular interest to this discussion is OMB Circular A-87 allowing the States to receive their indirect overhead costs for administration of federal grants, analogous to G&A in federal contracts. By the mid-80’s some states were taking upwards of 80% of total grant amounts issued pursuant to the Federal Civil Defense Act in these overhead costs. In fact the Secretary of Health for New York State testified in proceedings before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the Shoreham Nuclear Power Station proceedings that New York State treated civil defense monies as unrestricted revenue sharing. Existing FEMA regulations had mandated certain plans and products even as this testimony was being given. No enforcement action was taken by FEMA. OMB never developed guidance on cooperative agreements leaving implementation to each department and agency.

With GAO’s backing, FEMA adopted the Comprehensive Cooperative Agreement strategy even though GAO recognized it might be in violation of federal appropriation law but relied on FEMA to submit legislation through the authorizing committees, in this case the Senate and House Armed Services Committee. This was not done until 1992 informally in a report submitted in March 1992 entitled “Disaster Preparedness.” Then the Federal Civil Defense Act was repealed by Public Law 103-337 in November 1994.

The concept of the cooperative agreement was one of a cooperative effort, with both parties operating as partners in achieving mutually agreed goals with a continuing dialogue throughout the term of the agreement. Shortly after adopting the Comprehensive Cooperative Agreement two administrative events eliminated the staffing that might have made this an effective arrangement. First, a major Reduction in Force (RIF) occurred in FEMA’s primary field element the Regions. Second, the United States Fire Administration was zero-budgeted by the Executive Branch in two separate fiscal years. Although restored by Congress, the USFA staff was eliminated and dispersed throughout FEMA, or terminated. This disrupted relations with both the states and first responders at the same time.

The safety program around private nuclear power plants had been part of the State Agreement Program of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, with assistance from the former Federal Preparedness Agency [part of GSA] that became part of FEMA in 1979, and a research effort by the Defense Civil Preparedness Agency that continued until about 1985 in FEMA. Three-Mile Island accelerated these efforts when President Jimmy Carter in a news conference indicated that off-site safety, as recommended by the Kemeny Commission and the Rogovin Report would be assigned to FEMA. A very brief Executive Order was issued {E.O. 12241] that defectively implanted this decision. Also, the Radiological Emergency Preparedness Program [REP] conducted pursuant to 10 CFR Part 50, Appendix E, and 44 CFR Parts 350-354, designed to improve off-site safety at privately owned nuclear power stations and had been administered by FEMA in conjunction with NRC since 1980 became a more significant program in the public perception because of the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1985. Suddenly, public perception of FEMA changed to reflect more of a regulator role in health and safety. This perception had ended by 1990, because of NRC administrative litigation and in part because of two large disasters, Hurricane Hugo and the Loma Prieta earthquake. The agency had been so distracted by the onslaught of public attention and Congressional oversight that civil defense issues and staffing were virtually ignored. A third factor was that FEMA’s national security policy role had been severely curtailed by the issuance of National Security Decision Directive 188 in summer of 1985 eliminating civil defense as a policy driver for national security policy.

The end result was the states were left for a period of 5-8 years with almost no involvement by FEMA staff in how the civil defense monies were administered. Certainly the states were not interested in calling attention to this non-feasance. Additionally, since state and local plans were lightly reviewed but seldom rejected by FEMA regional staff, including REP plans, the States were able to focus on other issues and the tough issues of monitoring, detection, decontamination, and skills in the issuance of Protective Action Recommendations were allowed to wither.

In a second theme, FEMA and its civil defense predecessor civil defense agencies, like the Defense Civil Preparedness Agency, had been under mandates to prepare and report on civil defense activities at the federal, state, and local level in various Executive Orders and statutes. By 1985 these annual reports had been administratively ended and the termination was encouraged by OMB because it viewed annual report mandates as a vehicle for agencies to free-lance and escape from their system of financial, budget, appropriations, and other reports controls. Even today Section 624 of Title VI requires that “The Director [FEMA] shall annually submit a written report to the President and Congress covering expenditures, contributions, work, and accomplishments of the Federal Emergency Management Agency pursuant to this title, accompanied by such recommendations as the Director considers appropriate.” Additionally, E.O. 12656, as amended requires periodic assessments of federal, state, and local capabilities to respond to national security emergencies. Part 17, Section 1701(5) of E.O.12656. The Director FEMA was also required to submit assessments on federal, state, and local civil defense plans and preparedness to the President under E.O. 12148. Perhaps it is instructive that no oversight hearings have ever been held on administration of Title VI by the authorizing committees in the Congress. Only the Appropriations Committees and their staff have conducted reviews. This is interesting since arguably the broadest planning authority and authorization for grants in all of the Department of Homeland Security resides in Title VI.

FEMA had also tried to develop reporting systems in the early 80’s allowing state and local governments to assess their own emergency management and preparedness capabilities. In 1984 a comprehensive assessment tool was developed and sent to the states and local governments to self-assess their capability for response to unexpected events, including nuclear attack. Again, at the end of the administration of President Clinton a further effort was made to assess state and local capability. Again it was a paper audit system but it did have the imprimatur of the National Emergency Management Association (State level emergency managers) and International Emergency Management Association (principally local emergency management officials). It suffices to state that even today; the federal government has only a paper audit system for determining state and local capability. The struggle to develop and maintain an effective capability assessment system is appropriate for another day. There are several legal reasons for state reluctance to document their lack of preparedness. One is that by doing so they can continue to blame the federal government for their failure to develop efficient and effective administrative processes in the emergency management arena. They can also continue to insist that even relatively minor natural disasters are beyond state and local capability and thus receive federal disaster assistance. Finally, they can continue to allow vendors to state and local government emergency management, fire, and law enforcement to continue to market inefficient and ineffective products that limit effectiveness of mutual assistance agreements and interoperability.

State and local governments under day-today pressures to deal with on-going budget deficits for other programs have yet to become serious partners in the sense of wisely expending their monies on still unarticulated federal priorities. Improvements have been made, but the pressure for development of a Homeland Security Block Grant is just around the corner and if the history of the Comprehensive Cooperative Agreement program in FEMA is an example, flexibility granted to the states may well result in un-preparedness.

It is important to note that even after 2 and 1/2 years from 9/11 there is no complete inventory of State and local WMD assets, nor does DHS have any real interest in developing such an inventor. More importantly, there is no complete inventory of federal assets that has been made available to the states. The result in a “By Guess and by Golly” system that prevents correction of deficiencies. The important reforms that might have been driven by 9/11 have now failed, since no systematic review of administrative deficiencies that would block a successful WMD response has occurred and TOPOFF II again revealed many of the same problems identified in earlier exercises.

It is also true that due to fiscal pressures on the federal executive branch, whichever party takes over in Calendar Year 2005 administration of the federal executive branch will be sorely pressed to not label natural disasters a principal function of State and local government, and only WMD and terrorist threats and actions the federal responsibility. The effect of this transfer, if it occurs, will deprive the system of preparedness and response the real world activity that might assist in a WMD response. All-hazards may soon become “No-hazards” and this will be a direct result of State inactivity and lack of vision. That combined with federal inefficiencies and ineffectiveness will leave the actual WMD responders in a lurch. Even now no one can identify actually State personnel or resources that are dedicated to WMD response. The Governors should not sleep lightly.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 21, 2015 @ 9:55 am

Last night [20th May] NOVA had an interesting show on STUXNET!

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