Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

June 12, 2015

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on June 12, 2015

William R. Cumming Forum

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Comment by William R. Cumming

June 12, 2015 @ 12:33 am

At the end of last week’s FFF comments I posted an extract from Wiki on R. Buckminister Fuller. Some might well ask why do so on an HS blog?
After all this week I plan to devote attention to the ARC [American Red Cross] and its involvement in HS and EM.

I have long advocated that the so-called MERCATOR PROJECTION of the lands of the earth should be banned for use in schools world-wide and in particular the U.S.A. Bucky’s proposed Dimaxion projection as a replacement would immediately reveal why HS and EM are world-wide [in the sense of the relations of the Earth’s land masses to each other] in ways that would reveal that THIS ISLAND EARTH rather than Bucky’s THIS SPACESHIP EARTH is totally linked and interconnected.

Thus it is revealed for example that once international airline routes are projected on the Dimaxion map projection
their real dangers as disease vectors is revealed. The MERS outbreak a good example of the risk of PANDEMICS.


Today in any ARC shelter even getting FIRST AID is difficult much less attendance by trained medical personnel like Doctors and Nurses. Why? Perhaps as much as 65% of ARC medical staff was killed by the “Spanish” flu in 1918 and 1919. Of course evidence exists Ft. Riley, Kansas, not Spain was the source of this vector which may have killed as many as 40M worldwide.

And as US population grew and the need for mass care in disasters grew the federally chartered ARC had to stretch its donated resources more and more.

In the period from WWI and WWII the Wall Street firm [actually Connecticut] of Brown Bros. Harriman provided the financial acumen for the ARC and even selected its leadership. Avrell Harriman of course one of the brothers.

More to follow!

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 12, 2015 @ 12:42 am

Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. (BBH) is the oldest and largest private bank in the United States. In 1931, the merger of Brown Brothers & Co. (founded in 1818) and Harriman Brothers & Co. formed the current BBH.

Brown Brothers Harriman is also notable for the number of influential American politicians, government appointees, and Cabinet members who have worked at the company, such as W. Averell Harriman, Prescott Bush, George H. W. Bush, Robert A. Lovett, Richard W. Fisher, Robert Roosa, and Alan Greenspan.


1 Overview
2 History
2.1 Merger
3 See also
4 References
5 External links

Brown Brothers Harriman provides investment banking and advisory, wealth management, commercial banking, and investor services for corporate institutions and HNWI clients. Alongside commercial banking, the firm provides global custody, foreign exchange, private equity, and merger and acquisitions, investment management for individuals and institutions, personal trust and estate administration, and securities brokerage. Organized as a partnership, BBH has approximately 5,500 staff in 17 offices throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. Currently, the firm has 38 partners, and acts as custodian and administrator for $3.3 trillion and $1.2 trillion in assets, respectively.


W. Averell Harriman, founding partner of Brown Brothers & Co.

After immigrating to Baltimore, US in 1800 and linen mercantile success, Alexander Brown and his four sons cofounded Alex. Brown & Sons. In 1818, one son, John Alexander Brown traveled to Philadelphia to establish John A. Brown and Co. In 1825, another son, James Brown, established Brown Brothers & Co. on Pine Street in New York and relocated to Wall Street in 1833, which eventually acquired all other Brown branches in the U.S. Another son, William Brown, had established William Brown & Co. in England in 1810, which was renamed to Brown, Shipley & Co. in 1839, and became a separate entity in 1918.

Following the panic of 1837, Brown Brothers withdrew from most of its lending business. Two of the brothers, John and George, sold their shares in the company to the other two brothers, William and James. During the recovery from this economic turmoil, they chose to focus solely on currency exchange and international trade. During the panic of 1857, Brown Brothers was one of the few banks that did not close its doors, and actually supported several banks both in America and England.


Prescott Bush, an initial partner after the merger between Brown Brothers and Harriman Brothers

On January 1, 1931, Brown Brothers & Co. merged with two other business entities, Harriman Brothers & Company, an investment company started with railway money, and W. A. Harriman & Co. to form Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. Founding partners included:

Thatcher M. Brown, Sr
Prescott Bush
Granger Kent Costikyan
Louis Curtis
Moreau Delano
E. Roland Harriman
W. Averell Harriman
Robert A. Lovett
Ray Morris
Knight Woolley
Matthew George Smith

Time magazine’s December 22, 1930, issue announced that the three-way merger featured 11 of 16 Yale graduates as founding partners. Eight of the partners listed above, except for Moreau Delano and Thatcher Brown, were Skull and Bones members.

After the passage of the Glass-Steagall Act, the partners decided to focus on commercial banking, becoming a private bank, and spin its securities marketing and underwriting off into Harriman, Ripley and Company which eventually evolved into Drexel Burnham Lambert via mergers.

Harriman, a partner in the firm, was the ambassador and statesman responsible for the relationship between Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt during WWII. Some historical records of Brown Brothers Harriman and its precursor companies are housed in the manuscript collections at the New-York Historical Society.

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 12, 2015 @ 12:54 am

Another wiki extract:

Disaster services

Each year, the American Red Cross responds to more than 70,000 disasters, including house or apartment fires (the majority of disaster responses), hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hazardous materials spills, transportation accidents, explosions, and other natural and man-made disasters.

Although the American Red Cross is not a government agency, its authority to provide disaster relief was formalized when, in 1905, the Red Cross was granted a congressional charter to “carry on a system of national and international relief in time of peace and apply the same in mitigating the sufferings caused by pestilence, famine, fire, floods, and other great national calamities, and to devise and carry on measures for preventing the same.” The Charter is not only a grant of power, but also an imposition of duties and obligations to the nation, to disaster victims, and to the people who support its work with their donations.

American Red Cross disaster relief focuses on meeting people’s immediate emergency disaster-caused needs. When a disaster threatens or strikes, the Red Cross provides shelter, food, and health and mental health services (Psychological First Aid) to address basic human needs. In addition to these services, the core of Red Cross disaster relief is the assistance given to individuals and families affected by disaster to enable them to resume their normal daily activities independently. The organization also provides translation and interpretation to those affected when necessary, and maintains a database of multilingual volunteers to enable this.

At the local level, American Red Cross chapters operate volunteer-staffed Disaster Action Teams that respond to disasters in their communities, such as house fires or floods.

The Red Cross also feeds emergency workers of other agencies, handles inquiries from concerned family members outside the disaster area, provides blood and blood products to disaster victims, and helps those affected by disaster to access other available resources. It is a member of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) and works closely with other agencies such as the Salvation Army and the Amateur Radio Emergency Service with whom it has Memorandums of Understanding.

The American Red Cross also works to encourage preparedness by providing important literature on readiness. Many chapters also offer free classes to the general public.

A major misconception by the general public is that the American Red Cross provides medical facilities, engages in search and rescue operations or deploys ambulances to disaster areas. As an emergency support agency, the American Red Cross does not engage in these first responder activities; instead, these first responder roles are left to local, state or federal agencies as dictated by the National Response Framework. The confusion arises since other Red Cross societies across the globe may provide these functions; for example, the Cruz Roja Mexicana (Mexican Red Cross) runs a national ambulance service. Furthermore, American Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles (ERVs) look similar to ambulances. These ERVs instead are designed for bulk distribution of relief supplies, such as hot meals, drinks or other relief supplies. Although American Red Cross shelters usually have a nurse assigned to the facility, they are not equipped to provide medical care beyond emergency first aid.

Disaster Services Workforce

The Disaster Services Workforce (DSW) system enrolls volunteers from individual American Red Cross chapters into a national database of responders, classified by their ability to serve in one or more Activities within Groups. The activities vary from obvious ones such as feeding and sheltering (“Mass Care”) to more specialized ones such as warehousing, damage assessment, financial accounting, radio and computer communications, public affairs and counseling. Responders must complete training requirements specific to the Activities they wish to serve in, as well as the basics required of all Disaster Service volunteers, which include a background check as well as training in First Aid,

National Response Framework

As a National Response Framework support agency, the American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides other types of emergency relief to victims of disasters. The American Red Cross is also a co-lead with FEMA for the mass care portion of the Emergency Support Function 6. This role gives the American Red Cross the joint responsibility for planning and coordinating mass care services with FEMA. The American Red Cross also has responsibilities under other Emergency Support Functions, such as providing health and mental health services.

Comment by Claire Rubin

June 12, 2015 @ 7:31 am

What are you saying about the effectiveness or lack thereof of today’s Red Cross?

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 12, 2015 @ 7:52 am

In an important thesis for her PhD, Dr. Melissa Howard,PhD, long retired from FEMA, argued that Presidents get the FEMA they want. The thesis focused on FEMA’s National Security role.

Dr. Richard Sylves, PhD, in his extensive writings both before and after being a professor at the University of Delaware affirms this postulate.

What does this have to do with HS and EM. Except for President Obama who broke the fence, like JFK, on U.S. Senators becoming President, many Governors have become the U.S. President. But many come from far different home-state environments in HS and EM.

What does this have to do with the ARC? Well the strength of the locals and the strength of management participation in the ARC, and membership on the ARC board can be hugely influential to a new President. We have seen in my rather brief history of ARC that the Bush family has very deep links to the ARC.

So what did this mean for FEMA and the ARC when George W. Bush became President. Well an argument can be made that given very weak historic EM in the State of Texas, the ARC and USACOE loom in importance in EM if not in HS.

Former Senator Joseph Lieberman had gained a great deal of support post 9/11/01 in the US Senate for his HS bill. Initially opposed to the cfoncept of a new HS Department, the Bush Administration in spring 2002 turned to supporting that concept and introduced their own version through Congressman Richard Armey in the House.

A skillful floor manager Armey got yhe President’s bill through largely unchanged. But that bill had ground some old axes that stemmed from FEMA performance gpoing back to Hurricane Andrew that made landfall in late August 1992, a Presidential election year. George H.W. Bush won Florida often mis-remembered but only after enormous effort. There is no doubt that in the early stages of Andrew response FEMA was bailed out by the military. Nationwide the vbision of FEMA was total incompetence.

But over the opposition of his own WH personnel office President Bill Clinton picked his former EM in Arkansas as Director, James Lee Witt.

What Witt did for FEMA is largely a matter of public record. What Clinto did for FEMA is not! First, in the 1993 upper mid-west flooding Clinton became the FCO and used FEMA and his Stafford Act authority for economic development not just relief.

And Clinton gave top-level support to Witt whenever that clout was needed. An example. When Governor Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania complained in the MSM about FEMA the WH political office after being briefed by FEMA called Ridge [later Secretary DHS] to tell him that PEMA [Pennsylvania EM] was one of the best state EM and with FEMA doing a great job and that Ridge did not know what he was talking about [not the first time IMO]!

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 12, 2015 @ 8:09 am

But Witt both during confirmation and afterwards had to deal with a new Ethics Officer-ME!

When FEMA had been formed by Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1978, one of the statutes it administered was the Disaster Relief Act of 1974 [Public Law 93-288]! FEMA was not mentioned in that ACT on April 1st, 1979, when FEMA’s doors opened by Executive Order. But the ARC and DoD were both mentioned by name in that Act. And historically FEMA predeccessor agencies had funded a staff position [primarily FDAA and OEP] in each of the Regions. And both the head of OEP and the Head of FDAA and the head of the new FEMA had sat Ex Officio on the ARC Board of Directors. This had continued up to Witt’s arrival.

Witt asked me to brief him on FEMA/ARC history and relations. I took the position that FEMA had legal authority both to fund ARC staff at the regions and to give many kinds of grants to the ARC and of course at that time under the FEDERAL RESPNSE PLAN issued in May 1992 for the first time ARC was lead for the MASS CARE function. For many odd reasons, the FRP was legally cleared by two people, David A. Ross, Esquire, a brilliant lawyer and Yale and Duke grad, who I had picked to fill in my old job of ops lawyer when over my opposition the then GC and best FEMA GC ever IMO Patricia Gormley picked me to run the General Law division on an Acting basis while they looked for a permanent replacement for Tom Ainora, later Terrorism Counsel at the FBI.

Witt asked me my thoughts on ARC performance on MISSION ASSIGNMENTS for MASS CARE and I gave him some history but disclaimed full knowledge. It is interesting the the February 1993 NAPA report that had greeted Witt on arrival had important information on FEMA and the ARC.

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 12, 2015 @ 8:15 am

Coping with Catastrophe, National Academy of Public Administration, February 1993

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 12, 2015 @ 8:16 am

The NAPA report available on the FAS/FEMA website at:


Comment by William R. Cumming

June 12, 2015 @ 8:28 am

See reference to the ARC on page 10 of the NAPA report and also footnote #4!

The excellent legal appendix to the NAPA report was not published as part of the final report but is available on the FAS/FEMA website listed above. That version has been annotated by me. Annotations not current.

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 12, 2015 @ 8:29 am

Is this discourse on the ARC of interest to anyone or should I wind it up?

Comment by Vicki Campbell

June 12, 2015 @ 11:00 am

Bill, Hi. I would love to talk at length about the Red Cross at this point, given it’s very negative exposure in the news lately – but what you’re posting just feels like a lot of random, not terribly connected facts that I often honestly don’t see the relevance of ( which doesn’t mean they’re not relevant, but that it just isn’t clear to me how…) – and I also don’t get what if any points you’re trying to make or demonstrate. Starting with Katrina, I’ve done a lot of work with the Red Cross during national disasters, as well as on my MPA internship – and was also one of about 75 – 100 national certified ECRV (emergency communications response vehicle) drivers who rotated on a 2 hour on call deployment status to be the first on the scene of a national disaster for the ARC, with a million dollar, technologically very souped up and well equipped vehicle to help set up shelters and be the technological connection between the ARC at the shelters and also initially the disaster headquarters on site, and national headquarters (the program was eliminated a year or 2 ago). I’ve trained and worked in almost every area, but I have to say every contact I have with the ARC has left me more disappointed than the last, and at this point I’m just heartbroken about the ARC. I really am – and I’ve pretty much run out of excuses for the organization at this point. I think the Red Cross is in pretty bad generally, after the umpteenth “reorganization” etc. – and when I was called recently to go out to TX for the floods, it was honestly the first time I’ve said no, without a very good reason. A lot of people are starting to give up on and leave the Red Cross (and many, many already have). I know I am. I also think their behavior in Haiti was especially atrocious, although very familiar to those of us who the RC well – and I just think its all less and less forgivable.

So I guess my point is, if you want to talk about the Red Cross, then lets actually talk about what’s currently been going on with the Red Cross (and certainly any historical roots). NPR and the fairly impeccable ProPublic have been rolling out installment after installment of a large expose on the ARC, and its pretty damning. For those of us who have been willing to work 12-14 hour days for the ARC, its both very familiar and especially disturbing.

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 12, 2015 @ 11:26 am

Thanks Vicki!

And you would find many agree with this sentence of yours:

“I’ve trained and worked in almost every area, but I have to say every contact I have with the ARC has left me more disappointed than the last, and at this point I’m just heartbroken about the ARC.”

The ARC problems are certainly not new. In fact many of the problems are repetitive and systemic.


Comment by Christopher Tingus

June 12, 2015 @ 4:06 pm

With billions spent on security, cyber security remains so much less a priority apparently for the government and given the following report, my comment: Really? and further, who’s being fired and what retaliation is the US government promising in return? My answer: none — void in leadership:

The Chinese breach of the Office of Personnel Management network was wider than first acknowledged and officials said Friday that a database holding sensitive security clearance information on millions of federal employees and contractors also was compromised.

That database was breached last year by the Chinese in a separate incident and the new intrusion underscores how persistent and determined the adversary is in going after data valuable to counterespionage.

“This is potentially devastating from a counterintelligence point of view,” said Joel Brenner, a former top counterintelligence official for the U.S. government. “These forums contain decades of personal information about people with clearances. ..which makes them easier to recruit for foreign espionage on behalf of a foreign country.”

Last week, the Office of Personnel Management announced that a massive database containing personal information of roughly 4 million current and former federal employees was hacked. Privately, U.S. officials said that the Chinese government was behind the breach.

“That database is very huge and very old and it has lots of interfaces to it,” said a U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation. So figuring out exactly what part of it was breached has taken some time, the official said.

The breach of the data system announced by OPM last week affected 4.1 million individuals–all 2.1 million current federal civilian employees and 2 million retired or former employees. Information of officials as senior as cabinet secretaries may have been breached. The president’s and vice-president’s data were not, officials said.

Some employees of intelligence agencies such as the CIA generally do not have their clearance checks records held by the OPM, though some do, officials said.

“That’s the open question–whether it’s going to hit CIA folks,” said a second U.S. official. “It would be a huge deal. They could start unmasking identities.”

The OPM database in question contains sensitive information –called SF-86 data –that includes applicants’ financial histories and investment records, children’s and relatives’ names, foreign trips taken and contacts with foreign nationals, past residences and names of neighbors and close friends.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

June 12, 2015 @ 8:25 pm

….and the charade continues and our nation is now vulnerable to those who seek our demise – NSA must continue to do whatever is necessary to safeguard us for we as a nation are under attack from within and our Homeland Security open to such vulnerability —

CIA releases memo showing agency blamed Bill Clinton for bankrupting war on terror ahead of 9/11

In the words of James Madison (1785):

“if tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be under the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. But, in reality it will be an Enemy from within” –

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

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 13, 2015 @ 6:09 am

Text Box: Huffington Post
Huffington Post
NPR/ProPublica follow Red Cross money, and can’t find it

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 13, 2015 @ 6:12 am

Chris! Thanks for comments. The Chinese believe deeply in elites and even being able to control corruption of the most blatant type by punishing elite malfactors [unlike the USA]!

Thus the OPM data base makes a great deal of sense to capture to picture American reality as opposed to myth IMO!

Comment by Christopher Tingus

June 13, 2015 @ 7:59 am

Oh my, oh my, we have become a hostage to the self-serving corruption and deceit whose actions contrary to oath and by the same we have “entrusted by precious vote” and oh my, oh my, how our Homeland Security has become so vulnerable to those who seek our demise:

….an excerpt from James Russell Lowell’s poem: Ode For The Fourth Of July, 1876

We, sprung from loins of stalwart men
Whose strength was in their trust
That Thou woudst make thy dwelling in their dust
And walk with those a fellow-citizen
Who build a city of the just,
We, who believe Life’s bases rest
Beyond the probe of chemic test,
Still, like our fathers, feel Thee near,
Sure that, while lasts the immutable decree, 310
The land to Human Nature dear
Shall not be unbeloved of Thee.

Submitted by:

Christopher Tingus
Harwich (Cape Cod), MA 02645

Comment by Tom Russo

June 14, 2015 @ 3:33 pm

Well I am catching up late in this discussion but work with our local ARC chapter on the fund raising side because I see where the $ go! We have also used them, as noted, for supporting emergency workers during both response and full-scale exercise scenarios. A tremendous capability they exhibit and have never failed to rise to an occasion.

Having said all that…I am not particularly fond of its centralized, national organizational structure. I find it de-localizes the local chapter giving the impression like other national health 501 C3s, that local $ get siphoned into national budgets.

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 15, 2015 @ 6:13 am

Like the CIA and Bank regulators [FDIC] the ARC although federally chartered is not tied to federal civil service salaries or retirement benefits for its full time employees.

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 15, 2015 @ 9:47 am

In case you did not follow nthe link to Pro Publica the story alleges $500M in ARC Haiti donations gone missing.

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 16, 2015 @ 7:35 am

See POST today on ARC on Recovery Diva!

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 16, 2015 @ 7:46 am

Ilia Iactus Sunt? The die cast? Perhaps Phil can correct my Latin? The quote originally from J. Ceasar with respect to his bringing his Legions across the Rubicon.

Some probably wondered at my ARC postings? Certainly Vicki viewed them as rambling.

But hopefully now can provide some coherence! The ARC has been a fundamental element of federal response to NATURAL DISASTERS at least until the ARC lost the lead to the MASS CARE function in the NATIONAL RESPONSE PLAN.

An argument could well be made why a FEMA when we have the National Guard and ARC?

Now that JEB running to be the 45th President perhaps we should all be reminded that Hurricane’s Andrew and Katrina and Rita are in fact the de facto STANDARD OF CARE for the federal government in NATURAL DISASTER.

We do now have both a Republican candidate and a Democratic candidate that have announced their firm belief that America is in DECLINE and something must be done about and many of the problems start in Washington, D.C. but neither have flatly announced that CORRUPTION AND SELF-DEALING are at the heart of the problem for American Leaders.

I leave the above declaration to you to document in your own mind.

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 16, 2015 @ 7:53 am

FEMA role as revealed by its history is to make sure all involved in federal response and recovery to natural disasters other than FEMA itself including OFA’s and States and their local governments avoid any accounting or accountability for their efforts.

I would argue that Hillary and Jeb for many reasons know FEMA and its foibles best of the candidates.

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 17, 2015 @ 7:32 am

And Vicki! What exactly can ARC be relied on to accomplish in Natural Disasters?

Comment by Vicki Campbell

June 17, 2015 @ 9:55 am

Hi Bill. I’ve been trying to get back to and offer more substantive comments on this thread, as well as try to bring forward some of the other important topics that you raised last week as well – all of which deserve much more of a response than normally seems to occur on this otherwise surprisingly disengaged blog. But I have just been too busy for words (literally), and I actually experienced my first complete and total computer meltdown a week or 2 ago as well, and am generally just completely distracted. I also wanted to say that I don’t think you were rambling earlier, and I want to apologize if that’s how I came across – that was my bad, definitely.

So, let’s pick this question and topic, and the other important issues and questions you’ve been trying to raise back up on Friday when I have some time to respond meaningfully…

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 17, 2015 @ 10:06 am

Vicki! Don’t worry be happy! The terrific thing about HS and EM IMO are the issues and policies debates involve real vulnerabilities world-wide and I remain fascinated by how the world’s oldest and richest democracy addresses those issue or policies or does not!

And of course it would be of interest if the many many Presidential candidates announced their policies or interest in HS and EM.

President Obama had a campaign official announce during his campaign that FEMA would be moved out of DHS without giving any analysis why! After election he announce FEMA would stay in DHS repudiating his prior position again without any analysis as to why he changed his mind.

Perhaps this foreshadowed what appears to be a President that zigs and zags on policy but few if any know why!

The problem of course is the USA is one of the least trusted nation’s on earth by other nation-states. We don’t even know what his priorities will be FP and domestic for the last 20 months of his Presidency.

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 18, 2015 @ 8:08 am

Many seem to think that TRUST is the key to winning a Presidential campaign. If so then this could be an election to amaze all IMO!

Is trust an element in HS and EM? If so, how?

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