Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

December 18, 2015

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on December 18, 2015

William R. Cumming Forum

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Comment by William R. Cumming

December 18, 2015 @ 6:46 am

Probable that I will skip FFF next Friday but perhaps a make up later. And the next Friday January 1st New Year!

So here is my 2015 wrap up in HS and EM.

First from almost any standpoint but the human imagination a rather quiet year in the USA for large-scale events except perhaps in the wildland/urban fire interface and drought. Driest for last 500 years in the runoff from the /sierra Nevada mountain chain.

Second, almost no significant recognition that the negative impacts of existing fossil fuel usage, methane release, and sea level rise all closely related and identifiable by current glacial melt in Greenland and Antarctic.

Third, no slowing in the progress of the 6th EXTINCTION!

Fourth, huge progress domestically in the continued destruction of the Democratic and Republican parties in a slow suicide of those parties traditions and promise.

Fifth! The FIRE sector in the USA continues its policy of destroying the world’s largest GOLDEN GOOSE.

As Jared Diamond questions in one of his books “what was the Easter Islander cutting down the last tree on the island thinking?”

Basic science and engineering R&D being starved world wide in favor of applied research usually with military orientation.

Military operations by the military of nation-states by operatives without uniforms continues as do operations by non-state actors as lines between policing and protecting continue blurring.

The progress in Global economic relations about to be untethered by failures in EMERGING MARKETS and energy disruption as transition to alternative fuels occurs.

The only real comparative advantage may be transportation costs not manufacturing costs.

The biggest economic decision of 2015 the decision of the Chinese government to abandon the one-child policy.

All of this is background for my next comment!

Comment by William R. Cumming

December 18, 2015 @ 7:01 am

So how goes HS and EM?

HS first! HS has never been just about DHS. Just as EM has never been just about FEMA.

But HS still needs to identify its real sinews and first principles. Just as does EM.

The President and many others talk of protection of the American people [I assume that means citizens and lawful residents but perhaps not]! But in fact the president’s oath is to the CONSTITUTION not the the protection of the people.

The passing of Sandy Berger this year whose most famous pronouncement as a federal appointee was “anything the President wants to do is legal!” struck shivers of fear in me and others who believe THE RULE OF LAW underpins our Democracy. But hey Hitler’s and Nixon’x can always find their Sandy Bergers.

Enough time has passed for both SCOTUS and others to get “it”!

IT being the rule of law as the overarching CONSTITUTIONAL principle.

So my test for this or any President [or candidate] is whether they have protected Constitutional principles and the rule of law in particular.

And sorry for true believers but I believe all the President’s since IKE have undermined the Constitution and the Rule of Law. Some perhaps all are war criminals under the even the tattered remains of International Law as first developed by Dutch legal star Hugo Grotius starting in the 17th Century.

Comment by William R. Cumming

December 18, 2015 @ 7:09 am


They laughed at Trump but no real attempt made to identify why his followers belief he is the solution to at least some of their problems. IMO many Trump followers have concluded he would be no worse than the professional political class and just might be better. After all the fundamental choices of American might have been those of the Casino and Lottery in the last 50 years, not the fundamentals of hard work, sacrifice, and service.

Trump is the ultimate believer in the building of Casinos as economic progress.

So Americans may well be at a WHY NOT THROW THE DICE? stage just as were the Romans when Ceasar crossed the Rubicon. ILIA IACTUS SUNT?

Comment by William R. Cumming

December 18, 2015 @ 7:16 am

Phil has opined as to the NS and HS merger on the policy front as being a disaster for HS! IMO he may be right but HS may still have the last laugh as people realize that the DoD minions and the Armed forces are singularly poorly equipped to provide basic security to the population at large.

Fascinating to me that Ash Carter announces women eligible for combat even as criteria for enlistment in a military career blocked for almost 75% of American males.

And DoD and DARPA research focused on robotic warfare and the engineered soldier. See Anne Jacobsen’s THE PENTAGON’S BRAIN!

Comment by William R. Cumming

December 18, 2015 @ 7:21 am

As for EM the failure to speak the truth about the “all-hazards” mantra has become the lodestone of how a creeping POLITICAL CORRECTNESS in governance may bring down a HOUSE OF CARDS.

Since the BP GOM spill the only rule change proposed in 40 CFR Part 300 [the NCP] has involved DISPERSANTS and that like many environmental actions stays buried in a WH that cannot comprehend that nation-state survival has less to do with Armed Organized Violence and more to do with the Environment.

Comment by William R. Cumming

December 18, 2015 @ 7:23 am

Whatever happens to control in the Houses of Congress in the 115th Congress let’s hope it reorganizes itself. Congressional organization now is undermining HS and EM and National Security and the Constitution. PLEASE WAKE UP!

Comment by William R. Cumming

December 18, 2015 @ 7:25 am

Social Media 2.0 now is fully identified as a revolutionary technology. What are its full implications and are its risks fully assessed and studied?

Comment by William R. Cumming

December 18, 2015 @ 7:28 am

And how could self-government be improved in our Democracy? IMO HS and EM are critical to governance, good governance. DO OTHERS AGREE OR DISAGREE? Why or why not?

Comment by William R. Cumming

December 18, 2015 @ 7:34 am

When employed as a government clerk in an independent FEM<A's Office of General Counsel often some wondered about my fuzziness and worries over who had what signature authority and what office priorities were!

But all or almost all in FEMA during my 20 years understood completely what my legal or policy position was on almost any policy or issue across the board of FEMA's programs, functions, and activities. So that provided a basis on which policy development and implementation could occur. Remember I always lawyered to give options ot officials and appointees but I was not reluctant even when not asked to give my views as to the best policies based on options and legal analysis.

Comment by William R. Cumming

December 18, 2015 @ 7:36 am

So this December marks a decade of Bill’s comments on this blog and hoping for nothing more in that period that all readers understand WHERE I STAND!

Comments welcome!

Comment by Claire B. Rubin

December 18, 2015 @ 8:00 am

Re governance and EM: I am not sure if EM contributes to governance, but good governance affects EM.

Do not miss the recent Volcker Alliance report on how past affects the present inability to govern effectively:

Comment by Philip J. Palin

December 18, 2015 @ 8:34 am

Claire and Bill: In a very few jurisdictions I have seen visionary, politically sophisticated emergency managers have considerable influence on the strategic context for governing. In each of these situations EM has provided a wide-angle, long-term, risk-informed window on the future that city or county government was not getting from other stakeholders. I have seen it attempted at scales beyond city or county. So far the only place I have seen it have sustained effect is at this fairly local level. It is rarely attempted — most emergency managers don’t have the predisposition for it — and even when attempted it does not always succeed. But I have seen its potential.

Comment by Claire B. Rubin

December 18, 2015 @ 11:15 am

Agree with Phil. It is quite rare for the emergency manager at the local level to be providing a wider view and vision for future threats and risks.

Comment by Christopher Lambiase

December 18, 2015 @ 1:21 pm

Whenever I watch the news, I hear talk about terrorist rhetoric and propaganda. I feel that more should be done in the way of identifying the methods and a counter strategy to combat this threat. In many Issues of Dabiq, the Islamic State’s magazine, they attempt to legitimize the magazine by professional editing, citing U.S. government speeches and analyzing recent events. Many different NGOs should be looking to work with government officials to raise awareness so that people do not fall into the downward spiral of radicalization.

Comment by Vicki Campbell

December 18, 2015 @ 1:50 pm

The whole point of the advancement of social science-based Emergency Management degrees, especially at the graduate level, was to move from what was often called the Uncle Bubba version of emergency management, where there was little involvement in any actions beyond immediate preparedness and response functions to a much more educated, professional class of emergency managers that had a knowledge base appropriate for participation in local planning and policy levels concerning risk assessment and communication, mitigation strategies and best practices, and fundamental aspects of all relevant EM functions (a concept that no longer even exists, to the dismay of many) – etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. It was understood that the professionalization of the EMer field would take at least a generation if not longer – but I and many would argue that this effort has been badly derailed by hostage takeover, as I often call it, of EM by HS, including at the graduate educational level (I can talk about the educational component at length if anyone is interested). Its all really quite tragic to my mind – and its a tragedy that will largely be played out at the local level, and which most of HS seems surprisingly out of it about.

Comment by Philip J. Palin

December 18, 2015 @ 2:20 pm

Mr. Lambiase: Some networks you might look into:

The Quilliam Foundation (London)
http://www.isisnotinmyname.com/ (East London and English-speaking world)
Muslim Reform Movement (very new)
Council on American-Islamic Relations (Washington D.C.)

This is, as you might imagine, a very contentious space. But more and more is happening along the lines of what you have teed-up.

Comment by William R. Cumming

December 18, 2015 @ 3:00 pm

Agree with Vicki!

And Phil! Useful and interesting links!

Comment by William R. Cumming

December 19, 2015 @ 6:30 am

Job Posting:

Assistant Administrator for Risk Management
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Washington, D.C.
Salary: $121,956 to $183,300
Deadline: January 8, 2016
This position coordinates all Risk Management operations, program, and project actions. Duties include directing and evaluating programs, supervising personnel, monitoring performance, and effectively managing program dollars. One year specialized experience at the GS-15 level or executive equivalent and senior level executive management experience is required.

Comment by William R. Cumming

December 19, 2015 @ 7:23 am

I hate to drift many times to FP [foreign policy] but the following story indicates some of the complexity of this arena:


And note that the CIA while no longer in charge of the President’s daily intelligence brief does operate more openly domestically under the Obama Administration than in any of its past history.

John Brennan, current Director of the CIA, has as his principal goal survival of the CIA!

Did you know that the US Federal Reserve and CIA have close links on the Globalized FIRE sector of the world’s economies and organized criminal organizations. The most important organized crime linkage IMO is not that of Mexican and Central and South American drug cartels, but the OC links between Russia, Israel and the US.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

December 20, 2015 @ 3:29 am

Thank you William for your brilliant commentary as always – Merry Christmas to all those readers who share as Christians the wonder and joy at the birth of Christ!

To the brutality if sword raised toward Christine throughout the Middle East, your pleas for help are heard and despite the majority of refugees allowed into US by this biased US administration, there are many fellow Christians helping those if you so brutalized!

Comment by William R. Cumming

December 20, 2015 @ 7:47 am

The DEMS debate last night provided little to illuminate the landscape of domestic scene and FP for the coming election and years.

We face many dangers IMO to US!

Comment by Vicki Campbell

December 20, 2015 @ 7:36 pm

Bill, a couple of comments:

“But HS still needs to identify its real sinews and first principles. Just as does EM.”
Are you referring to something other than the 8 principles of EM, and the IAEM Code of Ethics, etc.? I think that EM is way ahead of HS in this regard – way, way ahead.


“We face many dangers IMO to US”
I don’t get what you’re referring to here, and just on the face of it, I actually really kind of disagree. Although its impossible to know what you’re talking about, I think the only primary “dangers” we face other than climate change are largely internal, and mostly along the lines of “we’ve seen the enemy, and it is us…..”

“Social Media 2.0 now is fully identified as a revolutionary technology.”
I really agree, and I tend to think the source of its revolutionary potential is that it is both a sustaining and disruptive technology, which is fairly unusual. Some have suggested that it will be even more revolutionary than the printing press, which I would also tend to agree with. One of the most extraordinary aspects of Social media is that it allows for the bypassing of the information gatekeepers – and the results and possibilities are endless. I don’t however agree with the suggestion that social media involves inherent risks. Social Media is about connecting and sharing, and tmm it is precisely the sharing aspect that makes it so powerful. What people do with that is another matter entirely, but I would argue it has nothing inherently to do with the technology (unlike say, nuclear power, etc.) per se. I would also argue that if we do somehow figure out how to save the world, it will be facilitated by social media.

Comment by William R. Cumming

December 21, 2015 @ 6:51 am

Thanks Vicki for you comment and link!

And see this link:


Comment by William R. Cumming

December 22, 2015 @ 5:08 am

The Tuesday December 22nd NYTimes has new article on USA immigration policy with respect to Cuba.

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