Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

August 14, 2015

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on August 14, 2015

William R. Cumming Forum

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Comment by William R. Cumming

August 14, 2015 @ 7:37 am

Would readers and fans of this blog prefer answers or questions to predominate?

For this week again I am suggesting all involved in HS get their hands on the following book and add it to their kit:

THE FUTURE OF VIOLENCE–Robots and Geerms, Hackers and Drones-Confronting A New Age of Threat
by Benjamin Wittes & Gabriella Blum

ISBN 978-0-465-08974-1 [hardback]—-ISBN 978-0-465-05670-5 [e-These dependencies make states enormously vulnerable.book]

This book asks more questions than gives answer yet from that standpoint is excellent.

A quote from page 8 of the Introduction;

“As these technologies get cheaper, we become, as a global community, ever more dependent on them for our health,agriculture,communications, jobs, economic growth and development, and even our culture.

These dependencies make states enormously vulnerable. Just as you are more vulnerable today to attacks from an ever widening array of actors, so are the United States and every other country in the world. Whereas once only rival states could contemplate killing huge numbers of civilians with a drug-resistant illness or taking down another country’s power grids, now governments must contemplate the possibility of ever smaller groupings of people undertaking what are traditionally understood as acts of war.”

So for some interesting history, legal analysis, and questions strongly urge you get your hands on this book and read it!

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 14, 2015 @ 7:55 am

Given my postulate that the modern nation-state was largely created and defended by the organized violence of armed and uniformed military forces, and given threats to the nation-state system as reinforced by the writings of Wittes & Blum,
I have gone back to the study more of the Emperor Diocletian and learned that some of his edicts and reforms presage Europe west of the Urals. Suggest all read the Wicki entry.

Some writers and thinkers believe the long-range plan of China is to reorganize and lead the entirety of the Eurasian landmass, not necessarily in this century. This again leads me to think of borders, Globalization, armed violence and the future of the WEST.

The boundries of the Roman Empire for administrative purposes were divided by Diocletian into four parts. But some FP [foreign policy] theorists believe one clear division of West and East stems from the Diocletian Line.

With the US state of California now majority Hispanic [white, brown, and black] what line-drawing is of significance to HS?

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 14, 2015 @ 7:57 am

Thoughts on the BLACK LIVES MATTER movement and HS governance and policies?

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 14, 2015 @ 9:00 am

By Thanksgiving we will know the denouement of the Iran/US agreement.
But in lieu of a graph I provide a link to a timeline but note starts under President Ford. Under ATOMS FOR PEACE the US provided Iran its first nuclear reactor and Iran signed the NPT in 1958.

So the link:


Comment by Christopher Tingus

August 15, 2015 @ 7:24 am

As the west moves into recession and more and more economic woes grip everyday “Main Street USA” w/the food pantries already being challenged to keep their shelves full in offering and we see the deceit and the self-agenda, the lawlessness of the White House prevail in the likes of good ‘ol Ms. Hillary and Barry Obama without serious repercussion including criminal prosecution as no one is above the law…

….and while I have been shouting for over the last seven or eight years that no one in any administration should be having any discussion whatsoever with these “Brutes of Tehran” and the following recent statement again reinforces the regime’s utter disregard for the Right of Israel to exist and the ruthlessness we see in both act and words from these thugs amidst a great Persian history and some of the most educated populace in the Middle East repressed by such lawless and reckless idiots reminding much as to Ms. Hillary who knowingly and willingly sends the FBI a blank server, wiping clean the information of the People and the secret documents and communications of our nation and Barry Obama recognizing Cuba who still represses the freedom fighters from another bunch of thugs who have no use for Democracy and governing by the People and for the People – so many here and there who should be locked up for lawlessness and acts against the State!

“Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham underlined that Germany’s view may not sway Iran’s policy towards the Israeli regime.

Afkham’s remarks came after German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel who is on an official visit to Tehran now told the German media in an interview before his departure that he would ask for Iran’s recognition of Israel during his meetings with Iranian officials,FARS reported.
His remarks have caused major controversy in Iran, where the foreign ministry spokeswoman ensured that Iran’s policy on Israel is exactly to the opposite.

“We have totally different views from Germany on certain regional issues in the Middle East and we have explicitly expressed our viewpoints in different negotiations; this is not something new,” Afkham told the Iranian students news agency on Monday.

“The main goal of German vice chancellor’s visit to Iran is a discussion of the prospects of mutual cooperation; we quite naturally have our own concerns and views on existing threats, including the Zionist regime’s threats and the roots of the crises in the region,” Afkham added.

The German vice chancellor’s visit to Tehran takes place after Iran and the six world powers inked an agreement in Vienna on June 14.

The agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is presented to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) today to adopt a resolution in the next two days to make the JCPOA an official document” –

Comment by Christopher Tingus

August 15, 2015 @ 7:33 am

From Ian Black in Tehran:

On a terraced hillside in north Tehran, four white canvas marquees contain a disturbing sight: ordinary-looking cars damaged by bombs or riddled with bullets. Each is a macabre memorial to the scientists who died in them – victims of the shadowy war on Iran’s nuclear programme.

In a week that has seen another deadline for international negotiations on the issue come and go, Iranians have been paying their respects to these “nuclear martyrs” at the Museum of Holy Defence and the Promotion of Resistance Culture, a spacious modern structure surrounded by beautifully tended gardens and an artificial lake teeming with visiting families on hot Ramadan nights.

Fathers and excited children peer at tanks, fighter jets, and even missiles – relics of the bloody eight-year war launched by Saddam Hussein in 1980, a year after the Iranian revolution. But the exhibits of the unconventional, clandestine conflict over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme are portrayed as part of a wider – and continuing – struggle between implacable enemies.

New book claims Mossad assassination unit killed Iranian nuclear scientists
Read more
Ranged along a walkway, four green Peugeot-type saloons have been preserved under a sort of bloodstained shroud, carefully gashed to reveal pockmarked bodywork and a black-and-white photograph of a man inside. Each is flanked by a tear-shaped metal plaque with details of the victim. Red tulips, symbols of love and mourning, are strewn over the vehicles.

Like other Iranian memorials, this one tends to the grandiloquent, a sign praising the “great historic confrontation of faith and heresy, and the historical movement emanating from the will and determination against the cruelty of global arrogance headed by the US and Zionism”. The scientists were all killed by agents of Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad, it states.

“I feel very sad,” said Fateme, a young Azeri woman sitting on a bench in front of the cars. “These were fathers who went to work and never came home. I saw a programme on TV about them. And actually I went to one of their funerals. It says they were killed by the Zionist regime, but I don’t know.”

The last to die was Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, a chemist and a director of the Natanz uranium enrichment plant. He was killed in January 2012 when two men on a motorbike attached magnetic bombs to his car. Just a day earlier, the then Israeli army chief of staff, Lt Gen Benny Gantz, said that “2012 would be a critical year for Iran”, in part because of “things that happen to it unnaturally”.

The first to die was Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, killed by a booby-trapped motorbike parked outside his Tehran home in January 2010. Majid Shahriari was killed and another nuclear scientist injured in a similar attack that November.

The problem is not the nuclear agreement. The problem is inside Iran. Unless people want change here, it won’t come

A museum security guard Darioush Rezaeinejad, a student, was shot dead while driving home with his wife after picking up their daughter from kindergarten in July 2011. Iran tried and hanged an Iranian man who was said to have confessed to assassinating Ali-Mohammadi on behalf of the Mossad.

All four names appear in the museum’s hologram display titled Victims of Terror, mostly listing those who were targeted before and after the 1979 revolution, many by armed opposition groups supported by Iraq.

“We went through eight years of the imposed war with 188,000 martyrs,” said Seyed Salman Sober, a guide employed by Tehran municipality. “But we are displaying the names of the martyred scientists along with the martyrs of the revolution and the war to show that we still have enemies. The way they killed them in front of their houses on their way to work shows that they were not safe – even in their own country.”

Fateme, like millions of her compatriots, is hoping to see a nuclear agreement emerge from the Vienna talks, despite the legacy of deep mistrust of the US. But she has begun to worry that it may not happen after this week’s warning by Barack Obama not to try to change the framework agreement reached in Lausanne in April. “Really we are suffering,” she said. Her husband lost his job in a cotton factory as the rial plummeted against the dollar two years ago.

Official reverence is matched by a determination to resist too many concessions in the nuclear negotiations. Iranian officials have repeatedly claimed the scientists were assassinated after being interviewed by officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, arguing that it cannot be trusted to carry out inspections of sensitive sites. There was no immediate comment from the IAEA on the claim that it had interviewed the targeted scientists, and the agency does not customarily reveal the names of people it talks to as part of its inspections.

With a week to go in nuclear talks, Iran wants focus on sanctions relief
Read more
For Sadegh Zibakalam, a Tehran university professor and a rare public critic of the nuclear programme, the scientists’ memorial fits seamlessly into a broader Iranian narrative of resistance. “The state wants to glorify those heroic strugglers against the western powers to show that we have been through much trouble and misery and we did not give in,” he said.

Still, as in any society, there are limits to respect for the dead. “Not that many people come to see these cars,” said a security guard at the museum. “In the evenings, most people go to the gardens and to the lake where there are Iranian shows. People want entertainment, and this is sad. Youth in this country are under pressure. They want to enjoy themselves. The problem is not the nuclear agreement. The problem is inside Iran. Unless people want change here, it won’t come.'”

Comment by Christopher Tingus

August 15, 2015 @ 8:03 am

The question here on “Main Street USA” is whether the $38.2 billion towards Homeland Security requested and such annual commitment is being used appropriately and addressing real technology threats and as merely a natural born US citizen w/Passport in hand given this ongoing “Chicago-Hollywood-Washington charade” –

I differ in opinion as to whether DHS truly deserves such expenditure for it is quite evident that dollar for dollar we are NOT receiving what the People demand of those administering such federal reserve notes and under their watch have blatantly failed to:

“securing and managing our borders; enforcing and administering our immigration laws….”

Kindly read the Secretary’s Message;

“The President’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Budget Request for $38.2 billion
for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reflects our continued
commitment to the security of our homeland and the American public.
Homeland security is the most important mission any government can
provide to its people.

DHS must be agile and vigilant in continually adapting to evolving
threats and hazards. We must stay one step ahead of the next attack, the
next cyber attack, and the next natural disaster. In the homeland security
world, no news is good news, and no news is often the result of the hard
work, vigilance, and dedication of the men and women of DHS who
prevent bad things you never hear about, or at least help the public
protect itself and recover from the storm we cannot prevent.

The basic missions of the Department of Homeland Security are, and should continue to be, preventing terrorism and enhancing security; securing and managing our borders; enforcing and administering our immigration laws; safeguarding cyberspace; strengthening national preparedness and resilience.

The President’s FY 2015 budget request provides the resources
necessary to further strengthen these efforts” –

I find it appalling that when the FBI received good ‘ol Ms. Hillary’s server blank, she was not immediately placed under arrest for suspicion in breach of faith, treason! I have readily stated this over and over and despite the opposition, remaining steadfast in my opinion as to Homeland Security and the fact that –

No one is above the law and since classified documents have now been found to have been communicated without properly securing such highly classified information in at least from my perspective, the willingness and knowing that sharing classified emails or any emails for that matter from the Secretary of State’s communications — I don’t care what party he or she affiliates themselves for all have taken oath including Barry Obama –

“Black Lives matter” — well folks, “All Lives Matter” and as the Bible has clearly stated that our streets will be on fire unless this ill intended divisiveness by this biased administration, an administration twice voted into the oval office by white majority and an administration who apologizes to the arch enemies of America and its Judeo-Christian values, an administration who snubs the Hebrew, yet embraces the thugs of Cuba and as we clearly witnessed yesterday at the opening of a US Embassy in Cuba, no protest signs, no dissidents and the brave heros of Cuba’s Democracy movement repressed by the ruthless who now demand millions in federal reserve notes in reparation by America – Really?

How dare you even convene any meetings with Tehran or Cuba? How this country has managed to place Barry Obama and the likes of Billy Ayers and the ‘ol Harv’d anti-US milk box shouting empty rhetoric and both sides of Congress and the US Senate have condoned this deplorable nonsense in this dangerous 21st century only precipitated by such racists and anti-establishment themselves, well America, wake up for our Homeland Security is Not secure and as we have seen DHS itself release known convicts to walk among us and we see this administration allow known anti-US Muslims who profess death to America return to the enemy lines w/one being too many as so many have the blood of our youth on their hands much like Tehran:

“A September 2014 report by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, in July 2014 of the 620 detainees transferred out of Guantanamo, 107 have been “confirmed of re-engaging,” and 77 are “suspected of re-engaging.” in terrorist or insurgent activities”

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 15, 2015 @ 9:35 am

HC looks like she may face OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE charges over server IMO.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 15, 2015 @ 9:38 am

Nightmares for surviving HC staffers at STATE DEPT. as fears abound that DoJ under Loretta Lynch will work up the food chain from those staffers to HC.

Joe Biden will be in the race by Labor Day IMO!The only question left for Republicans is it TRUMP or another?

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 15, 2015 @ 9:55 am

What is the DHS role in US Arctic Strategy? The Coast Guiard Arctic efforts long-standing of course!

Putin opens Arctic front in New Cold War strategy http://defence.pk/threads/putin-opens-arctic-front-in-new-cold-war-strategy.382072/

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 16, 2015 @ 6:29 am

If there is one resource that underlies HS and EM other than energy production and distribution that resource is WATER!

There still exists massive legal confusion over WATER ISSUES but I would argue that the carefully negotiated language on WATER in Executive Order 12656, as amended is till a driver.

But it is important for all in HS and EM to be USACOE watchers. If I had my way the USACOE would be part of DHS and not DoD.

Go to: CRS Report: ‘U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Water Resource Authorizations, Appropriations, and Activities’
Posted: 15 Aug 2015 09:35 AM PDT

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 16, 2015 @ 6:35 am

Download CRS_USACE_28July2015

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 16, 2015 @ 6:42 am

From my Oldie but Goodie [IMO] files:

[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

August 16, 2015 @ 7:15 am

IMO Footnote 29 of the CRS USACOE should be read and understood by all in HS and EM:

29. The Corps has authority to assist in the provision and transport of emergency water supplies when state resources
have been exceeded and there is an imminent public health threat. While the Corps is authorized to assist political
subdivisions, farmers, and ranchers with non-irrigation water, this authority largely has been used for assisting tribes with drinking water supplies. The agency can construct wells and transport water to provide emergency drinking water during drought conditions. Corps assistance is provided only to meet minimum public health and welfare requirements in the immediate future that cannot be met by state or local actions or through reasonable conservation measures.
Transport expenses are nonreimbursable expenses (i.e., 100% federal); the purchase or acquisition of the water and the
storage facility at the terminal point and permanent water facilities are reimbursable expenses. This authority cannot be used for the provision of water for livestock, irrigation, recreation, or commercial/industrial use. Eligible entities are limited to drought-distressed political subdivisions, farmers, and ranchers. A governor, his/her representative, or the governing body of a tribe must make a written request for Corps assistance. The Corps makes the determination that an area has an inadequate water supply causing, or likely to cause, a substantial threat to the health and welfare of the inhabitants of the area. Funding is provided through the Corps’ Flood Control and Coastal Emergencies Account. The Corps has authority to reprogram its civil works funds to accomplish work under this authority. The agency also has authority to participate in temporary contracts to provide limited quantities of water (if available) for municipal and industrial purposes (33 U.S.C. §708).

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 16, 2015 @ 7:17 am

Could the State of California seek a FIRE ASSISTANCE GRANT [see 44 CFR Part 150] for the current firefighting efforts: YES IMO!

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 16, 2015 @ 8:50 am

German Magazine DER SPIEGLE English Edition has excellent article on world-wide water crisis.

Comment by RecoveryDiva

August 16, 2015 @ 2:37 pm

You have too many threads of conversation going for anyone to sensibly answer!! Try just a couple.

And fewer acronyms, please. I do not know what HC is and I live in the DC area.

Comment by Vicki Campbell

August 16, 2015 @ 7:46 pm

HC is Hillary Clinton, I presume – but you’re very right. One of the first rules of good emergency management communication is to not use acronyms or speak using insider lingo (that many insiders themselves often don’t even get), etc. Bill, you’re fairly excessive about it, and much of the time I don’t even know what you’re trying to say…. Although I’m not positive, given the nature of this blog, but I think you’d probably get a lot more responses if you just chose a topic, develop your opinion on it, and if you’re interested – ask what others think. In all honesty, I usually don’t even know what points you’re trying to make to even respond to – and I, for one, would like to….

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 17, 2015 @ 7:09 am

Thanks Vicki and Claire! Will try and behave.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 17, 2015 @ 7:14 am

In being interviewed last week by a FRONTLINE reporter I mentioned that NYC and many others had resisted FEMA maps over the years that showed the best depiction of the flood hazard and therefore some areas prior to Storm Sandy minimized the flood hazard threat.

Today’s NYTimes [August 17th] has a story on how the State of New York is again fighting FEMA over its revised flood maps.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 17, 2015 @ 7:46 am

CORRECTION: The article mentioned in my last comment on the NFIP appeared in the WSJ not the NYTimes.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

August 18, 2015 @ 6:02 am


Hope you are enjoying the summer!


Wow! What a terrific article you have prepared and shared, so informative and so true at a time when communication, organization, dissemination, a close and collaborative effort by all government agencies and cooperation among industry all challenge the devious and outright evil world which threatens our quality of Life and far more….

Trust the government, I don’t think many are trusting Barry Obama and good ‘ol Ms. Hillary these days….Enough is enough!

O yea, by the way and while there maybe a number of threads going herein where all are important and we share thoughts and perspectives whether right or wrong, “Black Lives Matter” – Really? To the Black communities and places such as Baltimore where I just read that some 140 Black precious lives have been taken on the streets of Baltimore since the “incident” – and let’s talk about Chicago and Black on Black outright murder of precious youth…”Black LIfe Matters” – Really?

It is time that this bias created by Barry Obama et al in his quest to weaken our nation internally and should be held for breach of faith, treason as should Ms. Hillary for so much to be held accountable respectively, this slogan, “Black Life Matters” – it is time for the Black community to take responsibility for itself and address the core issues within its communities which allow such precious Life – one Life too many to be taken from their Mother’s arms by outright criminals and those with the devil among them who take precious Life so easily from another — Homeland Security and “Black Life Matters” – “All Life Matters” and you betcha that this is all about our Homeland Security and the health and well being of our country, a populace no matter the color of skin who seek to improve Life and contribute to society despite the empty rhetoric we have heard from this “Chicago-Hollywood-Washington charade” – where are the jobs for Black youth and Congress and the Senate to stop burdening our citizens w/more and more entitlements squeezing the innovativeness, the inspiration to study hard, to work hard and to overcome challenges no matter if one is Blue, Black, White, Green or Purple…Com’on folks, we continue to be duped by the same ‘ol, same ‘ol political parties and special interest groups, the spin doctors and it is time to say, Enough is enough!

God Bless us all!

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

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 19, 2015 @ 7:19 am

A correction corrected. Turns out the WSJ article on NY State fighting revised NFIP maps only appeared on-line and no longer available.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 19, 2015 @ 7:32 am

10 years ago [in 10 days] August 28-29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated NOLA and the Gulf Coast in Mississippi and Alabama.

There will be many writings and talkings about that event. I will not be participating in that exploration of history for several reasons.

First, I have posted many times before on the event and in the NOLA arena almost none of the 10 year reviews will discuss mapping of the NOLA flood hazards.

Second, none will be discussing the law suit and outcome filed by DoJ on behalf of FEMA for several Parishes that made matters worse over the years filed in 1981 where a Katrina type event predicted. DoJ did file suit against Jefferson and St. Bernanrd Parish but NOLA [Orleans Parish] which FEMA also referred. Why an active duty USACOE broke into tears begging DoJ not to sue NOLA for fear the many problems created by USACOE in NOLA would come to light.

Third, Hurricane Katrina was the largest separation of children 18 AND under separated for lengthy period from their parents and guardians.

Fourth, the event caused the largest relocation of ANY population in US history from a natural hazard event.

Almost none of the above will be mentioned in the reviews. Please inform me if this prediction in error.

And finally almost nothing has changed in the organizational preparedness and response to a multi-state
catastrophe since 2005,documented by Storm Sandy.

Have fun pretending all has been fixed.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 19, 2015 @ 7:35 am

BTW can you explain the role of the NSC and NSS [National Security Council and National Security Staff] in responding to a large-scale domestic crisis or emergency?

What is the difference between a PFO [Principal Federal Offical] and a FCO [Federal Corrdinating Officer]?

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 19, 2015 @ 8:06 am

One organization assessment of the NSC:


Comment by William R. Cumming

August 19, 2015 @ 8:27 am

Wikipedia extract:

In the United States, the presidential transition extends from the day of the US presidential election (which occurs in November), until the 20th day of January as specified in the Twentieth Amendment. The presidential transition is regulated by The Presidential Transition Act of 1963 (P.L. 88-277), amended by The Presidential Transitions Effectiveness Act of 1998 (P.L. 100-398) and The Presidential Transition Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-293).

The Act as amended directs the Administrator of General Services to provide facilities, funding of approximately five million dollars, access to government services, and support for a transition team, and to provide training and orientation of new government personnel and other procedures to ensure an orderly transition.

The President-elect will also usually appoint a ‘presidential transition team’ (sometimes even before the presidential election) to prepare for a smooth transfer of power following the presidential inauguration.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 19, 2015 @ 8:29 am

Huffington Post yesterday: ARC head says ARC performance improved by use of Social Media.

Comment by William R. Cumming

August 19, 2015 @ 3:20 pm

President Obama will speaking in NOLA on the 10th Anniversary of hurricane Katrina.

Here is the speech I would have him give to the Nation!

There no longer is enough in the Federal Treasury to support unwise real estate development in hazardous areas. Those who occupy those hazardous areas must bear the entire cost of that occupancy. Some activities are functionally dependent on the nation’s water courses and like ports must be located inn coastal areas. But we have the brains and skills to mitigate and reduce future damages and the cosy of that dependency.

This does not mean building residential areas without regard to vulnerabilities, as in NOLA EAST before Hurricane Katrina. NOLA was almost lost in Hurricane’s Betsy, Andrew, Katrina, and may yet be in some future event.

Like the Dutch fighting floods and the subsidence of coastal areas and sea level rise due to climate change stark choices face occupants. Free disaster relief must end and the National Flood insurance Program must to the extent possible be made actuarally sound.

The Nation has enjoyed many of the benefits of coastal and riverine development and occupancy but the financial burdens [the pain] must be lessened.

We have poured all the concrete we can afford and now time for adjusting to the fact that Mother Nature Does NOT GRANT VARIANCES.

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