Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

October 16, 2015

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on October 16, 2015

William R. Cumming Forum

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Comment by William R. Cumming

October 16, 2015 @ 3:36 am


Documents of historical and current interest for Preparedness {one lane of the RESILIENCE highway] and disasters [another lane of the RESILIENCE highway] continue to be posted at the following link thanks to Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists:


Most recent revised NATIONAL PREPAREDNESS GOAL [2015]!

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 16, 2015 @ 3:52 am

Many people who post, comment, or read this blog understand that IMO HOMELAND SECURITY and EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT are fundamental to the NATION-STATE system created in part by the writings of Hugo Grotius and the TREATIES OF WESTPAHLIA [1648] both intentionally designed to restrict the cruelty and barbarity of the WARS OF RELIGION stemming in part from the PROTESTANT REFORMATION.

Certainly not all NATION-STATES are democracies. Yet how a nation-state does HS and EM may either support or undermine democracy within any given set of borders. And I postulate borders and airspace control are central to nation-states.

But certainly globalization of finance like climate change is a given. There is no doubt climate change will change some nation-state boundaries. Wondering if this will be peaceful?

We do now understand that the world of bytes and bits and the internet post fundamental challenges to the old order. And a consensus seems to be growing that the power of individuals not just to do good but to do harm, and this also sub-state actors.

It is not just radicalization that is supported by Social Media but also actual operations detrimental to civilization.

Can the genie be put back in the bottle? Not IMO!

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 16, 2015 @ 4:05 am

After the conclusion of the first debate by the Presidential Democratic candidates, and two Republican Presidential Candidates I argue that there is no consensus by any of the candidates or between the two parties on the challenges facing those governing the citizens and residents of the US! Am I wrong?

Is this obtuseness or just fundamental ignorance in our future political leadership?

President Obama is now complimented by many of his supporter for taking the long view of changes or needed change and criticized by those opposing him for his short term actions.

Line drawing in the world of governance can be tough. To be or not to be? To do or not to do?

So how about contributors doing some tough line-drawing for those who govern? E.G. FEMA and its predecessors have largely chosen FREE DISASTER RELIEF as the real paradigm for its PROGRAM, FUNCTIONS, AND ACTIVITIES, largely directed at the State and Local government members of our federal system. Is this the best choice? Or should FEMA be a knowledge bases organization drive by the sciences, engineering community, and other disciplines like climate and meterology?

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 16, 2015 @ 4:15 am

Is FEMA now militarized? Its Deputy Administrator a retired Admiral keeping things shipshape no doubt. And now over 50% of
FEMA staff are former military with short term or long term military experience. Have their WAR FIGHTING skills made FEMA better at accomplishing its MISSION?

Since September 11th, 2001, FORCE PROTECTION has become and important and expensive concern in DoD! How about FEMA?

Does the leadership of FEMA know that to put untrained and unprotected workers into hazardous settings is a FELONY under OHSA law?

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 16, 2015 @ 4:19 am

I just read the ANNUAL Congressional Report submitted by FEMA and coordinated inter-agency on the DPA [Defense Production Act–with oversight by the Banking Committees] and learned that DPA priority ratings allowed USACOE to complete the initial Post-Katrina protection for NOLA ahead of what might have been.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

October 16, 2015 @ 12:02 pm

…and while my comments are deleted from HLSWatch as the previous two this morning which is of course representative of the restraints being placed on free speech as our nation succumbs to just such….on this Friday, despite my being so easily dismissed and wish good ‘ol Ms. Hillary could be so easily dealt with in her corrupt mannerisms and this outrageous lawlessness and interference in justice, another example of the corruptness of today’s politicians and the restraints being placed on justice:

Excerpt from the New York Times’ “Obama’s Comments on Clinton Emails Collide With F.B.I. Inquiry,” 10/16/15:

“Investigators have not reached any conclusions about whether the information on the server had been compromised or whether to recommend charges, according to the law enforcement officials. But to investigators, it sounded as if Mr. Obama had already decided the answers to their questions and cleared anyone involved of wrongdoing.

“The White House quickly backed off the president’s remarks and said Mr. Obama was not trying to influence the investigation. But his comments spread quickly, raising the ire of officials who saw an instance of the president trying to influence the outcome of a continuing investigation — and not for the first time.”

Comment by Vicki Campbell

October 18, 2015 @ 12:39 am

Bill, I really have to disagree with your somewhat alarmist approach to social media. And there’s no Genie to put back in any bottle. Social media (people use the term differently – but I use it to refer to pretty much anything that occurs on the internet, and the applications that support it, and are supported by it) is simply a term for some new and fairly amazing and surprisingly powerful communication methods and tools. It can be used to inform or mislead, and bring good people together or bad – for the purposes of sharing wonderful ideas and activities or awful ones – but it is more than anything about sharing – and there’s not a thing that is inherently wrong about that. Beyond that, its not Social media that’s supporting or influencing content or anything else one way or another. Its simply a tool for communicating/ ie sharing information and ideas and experiences, etc Further, the idea that its detrimental to civilization is a bit over the top, don’t you think? One could certainly look at all of the amazing and very positive impacts of social media, especially in terms of the extraordinary access to almost any and every kind of important, useful information and ideas and expertise on absolutely any topic or resource, as well as the massively greater extent to which the general public now has access to much more real live accurate information about the behavior of others, including their own and other countries – and just massively more information about what’s going on pretty much anywhere in the world, I would argue is hardly inherently a bad thing. With all due respect, I don’t see how your not overlooking the forest for the trees about this issue.

I also have to disagree with the denigrating usage of the word radical, etc. I know you didn’t start that, and are just using it the way its been used in relation to the topic of terrorism (and I’ve been meaning to say this for awhile, so this really isn’t in response to you, except as a prompt) – but I think the way its been applied by the security community is not only fundamentally inaccurate, but very sloppy and misleading, and as with much of what I see coming from the security establishment, continues to obscure more than illuminate the topic.

The term “radical” has no inherently violent or negative meaning whatsoever, and as someone who certainly could be described as having certain radical perspectives and analyses, depending on the topic, I take great exception to the sloppy way its generally misused. As everyone should know, the primary definition of the term radical is simply about getting at the root, so to speak:

(especially of change or action) relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough.
“a radical overhaul of the existing regulatory framework”
synonyms: thoroughgoing, thorough, complete, total, comprehensive, exhaustive, sweeping, far-reaching, wide-ranging, extensive, across the board,
profound, major, stringent, rigorous

a person who advocates thorough or complete political or social reform; a member of a political party or part of a party pursuing such aims.
synonyms: revolutionary, progressive, reformer, revisionist;

I am, by any meaningful definition, a very progressive person, socially and politically, and a reasonably well educated one at this point. I am also blonde haired, blue eyed, and my ancestors hail directly from the Isle of Man. I look like your average aging soccer Mom walking down the road, drive a pretty nice car, and if I lived 500 more years, I doubt seriously I’d absolutely ever be picked out by a drone. And I have a Mother who is all of the above, possibly doubly so, who has spent her life as a successful business woman, admired community leader, local club athlete, and Mother of 6, amongst her many other accomplishments, who drives an even nicer car and looks even less like anyone to be concerned about walking down the road. Both she and I are also by any meaningful definition of the word, Radicals, on many topics and issues, fairly rigorously so, and are dying to be able to put our voice and votes where our politics are, and would do so in a heartbeat – and we both get truly pretty angry about where this country’s arrived at on a lot of levels, and even more so, our abhorrent foreign policy behavior and priorities – especially in relation to traditionally very male-dominated and often truly demented notions of “security.” But no matter how furious I’ve ever felt (and I’ve felt a rage that I’ve only ever found in other women, and frankly have found in a lot of them lately), i assure you neither I nor my Mother have ever thought about blowing anything or anyone up because of it (well at least i haven’t – I’m not sure I can vouch for her…).

I was “radicalized” a long time ago, but neither being or becoming a radical has absolutely any inherent correlation with being violent, or extreme for that matter. In fact, I’d readily argue that it rarely has any connection what so ever, because I would argue both violence and extremism flow much more naturally from a comparatively narrow, simplistic, black and white perspective that bares little relation to more rigorous, radical thinking.

IMHO, Confusion about this leaves the FBI doing ridiculous things like wasting time and taxpayer dollars spying on the likes of Planned Parenthood (words fail me) and the 350.org Keystone Pipeline protest group, etc. instead of the avowedly violent right wing hate groups all over our country (or the almost equally ridiculous notion of ecoterrorism).

Comment by Vicki Campbell

October 18, 2015 @ 4:53 pm

Bill, you might be interested in FEMA’s “Lessons Learned: Social Media and Hurricane Sandy.” I think its pretty interesting. Here’s the link:


Comment by Vicki Campbell

October 18, 2015 @ 4:55 pm

Actually its from DHS, not FEMA.

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 18, 2015 @ 10:01 pm

Thanks for your comments Vicki! My middle name is “Root”!

Comment by Vicki Campbell

October 19, 2015 @ 12:12 pm

Root! Root!!!

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 20, 2015 @ 5:16 am

I think it might be useful for me to state definitively that with respect to formal contracting with FEMA in the now over 16 years of retirement from that organization I have had zero contracts with FEMA.

As to informal contacts with FEMA the most contacts have been soical with the exception of one panicked phone call from a lawyer now retired from FEMA OGC/OCC asking me to come in and discuss a sensitive subject in EP [emergency planning]! I did so and was then asked by several people all non-program officials whether the subject of the fast-breaking core-melt accident was covered by NRC and FEMA joint REPP [radiological preparedness program regulations] and I stated as I did in sworn testimony on the licensing proceeding of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Station in New Hampshire that neither NRC nor FEMA had covered fast-breaking core melt accidents in their planning regulations. I believe this is still the case today as of this comment.

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 20, 2015 @ 5:19 am

So Quinn! How is your article on Title VI of Stafford coming along?

Any implementing regs by FEMA or other agencies of that Title?

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 21, 2015 @ 2:46 am

Should the Speaker of the House be third in line as President?

Comment by Vicki Campbell

October 21, 2015 @ 2:12 pm

Good question – No

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 22, 2015 @ 2:47 am

Joe Biden made the correct decision IMO given his competencies and record.

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 22, 2015 @ 8:06 am



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