Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

May 20, 2016

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Arnold Bogis on May 20, 2016

William R. Cumming Forum

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Comment by William R. Cumming

May 20, 2016 @ 4:27 pm

Other than my naming former NYC Mayor Rudi Guiliani and Dr. Sam Clovis as Trump’s HS/EM stars has anyone heard HS/EM mentioned much in the campaign?

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 20, 2016 @ 11:21 pm

FRONTLINE Tuesday night on T.V. analyzes Storm Sandy Recovery.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 21, 2016 @ 11:21 am

Wiki Extract:

In 2004, National Hurricane Preparedness Week in the United States replaced the previous observance of National Hurricane Awareness Week, as awareness does not equate to preparedness. National Hurricane Preparedness Week is a nationwide effort to inform the public about hurricane hazards and to disseminate knowledge which can be used to prepare and take action. National Hurricane Awareness Week 2016 is May 15-May 21.


National Hurricane Awareness Week was started to spread awareness of the dangers and hazards of hurricanes. Being aware is not being prepared, and history has shown that by knowing vulnerability and what actions to take, people can reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster. Therefore, the name was changed to put more focus on the need to be both hurricane aware and hurricane prepared.

My comment: Hurricanes are cyclonic storms mainly in the Northern Hemisphere of Planet Earth and the Atlantic Tropical Season launches June 1st.

President Obama has had no land falling hurricanes during his Presidency with one season to go. Republicans not so lucky. President Reagan had few but President George H.W. Bush had his tenure bookended by Hurricane Hugo (1989] [the Loma Prieta Earthquake also fall 1989] and then of course Hurricane Andrew (late August 1992).

Well good luck to the new FEMA should a Category 5 make landfall. Storm Sandy of course was NOT a hurricane at landfall.

And of course few of the problems identified in response to Hurricane Andrew had been corrected by the time Of Hurricane Katrina [2005] IMO.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 22, 2016 @ 5:03 am

As we approach Hurricane Season:

VLG 2011-8-22

[This book review published full-text in Eric Holderman’s Disaster Zone blog]

A Book Review and Critique of

DEADLY INDIFFERENCE-The Perfect (Political) Storm-Hurricane Katrina, the Bush White House and Beyond (219 pp)

By Michael D. Brown and Ted Schwarz

Published by Taylor Trade Publishing (2011)
ISBN 978-1-58979-485-6 (cloth)
ISBN 978-1-58979-486-3 (electronic)

An interesting selection of title by former Under Secretary for Emergency Preparedness and Response of the Department of Homeland Security Michael D. Brown. Mr. Brown also served as the General Counsel of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Deputy Director of FEMA before its statutory abolition by the Homeland Security Act of 2002 effective for that purpose on March 1, 2003, when Mr. Brown became Under Secretary. In those positions Mr. Brown served as a Presidential appointee of President George W. Bush.

The book serves as documentation in part and apologia in part for the learning curve experienced by Mr. Brown ending shortly after the landfall of Hurricane Katrina in late August 2005.

Disclosure: I worked at FEMA from September 10, 1979 until October 1, 1999. From April 1, 1979 until September 10, 1979 I ran FEMA’s litigation under IAA between FEMA and HUD. I was the Associate General Counsel for Litigation from 1979 until July 1, 1986. I never worked for Mr. Brown.

Even now Mr. Brown is somewhat ambivalent about both his role and those he served during his time in office. He does give substantial evidence that he was at least as qualified as some other FEMA General Counsels, Deputy Directors, and Under Secretaries in DHS. Personally I believe he was qualified to lead FEMA during his time in office. Many would disagree with that conclusion but my standards may be different because I have seen so many totally incompetent and some corrupt political appointees during over 30 years of federal service. The problem of course is that high level federal jobs are not easy jobs and the learning curve for all is very steep. Leadership of the nation’s premier organization to response and recovery from disasters given its statutory and other parameters is one of the toughest. Thus, even those with the best of preparation, intention, high intellect and motivation may well fail and often have. I have posted notes on each FEMA Director on my blog at Vacation Lane Blog and that process is not yet complete.

The first failure of Mr. Brown was his lack of understanding of the aphorism “Beware the Trust of Princes” because ultimately it was those above Mr. Brown not below that undercut his potential success during Hurricane Katrina. Second, was his failure to understand the USACOE (Corps of Engineers) and its long history in the NOLA area and the problems it solved and created.

Mr. Brown should have been expert on NOLA because of what some may find unusual. FEMA had with the cooperation of the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed suit against two Parishes in the NOLA area in 1981. It had referred NOLA (when NOLA referred to it means Orleans Parish) itself to DOJ at the same time. DOJ declined to file suit against NOLA when USACOE argued successfully that its operations in the New Orleans District would not bear scrutiny and becoming entangled in a civil lawsuit where extensive disclosure and discovery of its problems would not help its long term efforts in that area. I would argue that USACOE which is largely a contractor led operation with a very thin military and civilian overlay was actually corrupt as was the City of New Orleans government generally, as well as various Levee Districts, and the State of Louisiana itself.

The bottom line on that lawsuit was a formal consent order susceptible to long term enforcement and oversight and some monetary recovery as well as informal accounting to the defendants by me that in meeting with over 40 opposing lawyers and a single DOJ attorney [later the Associate GC for Litigation in FEMA] now deceased I warned that unless the defendants and NOLA area generally treated their flood hazards with the almost military precision of the Dutch they would be under water. That is pretty much what happened. One specific suggestion we made public was that all pumping stations in the NOLA area have their electric standby generators fueled and operated on the roof tops of the buildings housing them. As do the Dutch which are the source of most of the large pumps in the NOLA area.

But of course I am also sure that few if any in FEMA OGC understood that past effort when Mr. Brown arrived as General Counsel in spring 2001. Nor has FEMA had an active subrogation effort with large cases since I left as the Associate General Counsel for Litigation in 1986. That transfer of position by me was to assist in making sure that the National Security portfolio of FEMA and its REPP (Radiological Emergency Preparedness Program) did not end FEMA’s existence as an independent agency. Both came close to accomplishing putting FEMA out of business.

So first of all I would argue that given FEMA’s history substantive knowledge of NOLA and Louisiana in FEMA’s programs was something that Mr. Brown should have known cold. It is certainly true that one of the most knowledgeable Congressional delegations about FEMA and its programs, functions, and activities was that from the STATE of Louisiana. And the NFIP might have been the key federal program for those who have property protected by insurance in all of Louisiana. Ultimately FEMA lives and dies politically by the political class of the Gulf of Mexico coastal states. In fact it largely acts as a special subsidy to those states for their negligence in locating properties in hazardous areas and allowing improper and inappropriate construction.

Second, Mr. Brown probably should have departed federal service when his mentor Joseph Allbaugh departed from the government because he (Allbaugh) realized he would no longer be what is called a direct report to the President. No FEMA Director without a personal history with the current President has been a total success in their job. This has been documented over time even in academic analysis. Mr. Brown had no personal history with the President.

Third, FEMA had attrited in both staff and funding during the years from 2001 to 2005 with its Deputy [FEMA] former Admiral Harvey Johnson testifying under oath that one day before Katrina made landfall FEMA had less than 1500 permanent full time staff on board.

Under it prior peak staffing it had close to 3700 permanent full time staff and today has almost 5000. It also has a large cadre of temporary employees under various labels. The largest being called DAEs (Disaster Assistance Employees). The second largest group were and are CORE staff.

Mr. Brown lays out his relations with two DHS Secretaries, first Tom Ridge (former Governor of Pennsylvania) and then Michael Chertoff. Both are intelligent men with very different backgrounds. Secretary Chertoff had a brilliant history in the criminal justice system before his time at DHS. Unfortunately, the skills of Ridge and Chertoff were not those needed for handling large scale domestic catastrophic events, nor were those of Mr. Brown. And certainly the President himself was not up to a domestic crisis the size and scope of Hurricane Katrina. In President Bush’s home state of TEXAS the National Guard and the USACOE handle most of the disaster work and has quite a weak EM (emergency management) regime. That regime is what former Governor Bush and Joseph Allbaugh were used to from their time in TEXAS. During his father’s administration when FEMA suffered through Hurricane Hugo (1989) and the Loma Prieta Earthquake (1989) and Hurricane Andrew (1982) FEMA’s performance was always somewhat questionable.

See the report “Coping With Catastrophe” FEB 1993 by NAPA [National Academy for Public Administration]. And in fact George W. Bush’s Vice President Richard Cheney from his time as SECDEF in the George H.W. Bush administration had hated FEMA and had encouraged its abolition. And that might have occurred if George H.W. Bush had won re-election in the fall 1992 election. And it should be noted that 95% of all nation-states use their military for disaster response and recovery. This of course is largely to ensure that existing civil power structures are maintained including political leadership. And these issues impact a civilian FEMA as documented in DEADLY INDIFFERENCE.

I can only hope that Mr. Brown had read the NAPA study published in February 1993 entitled “Coping with Catastrophe” because it discusses many of the issues and policies addressed by Mr. Brown in his book. I have long recommended that a copy of the NAPA report be given to each new FEMA employee whether full time or temporary followed by Q&A sessions on its contents and recommendations.

It must always be remembered that federal programs are political solutions to perceived or actual problems and are not conceived with efficiency and effectiveness as their primary object. FEMA is no exception in this regards.

Fourth, Hurricane Katrina turned into what EM refers to as a NO NOTICE or FAST BREAKING EVENT when the flood walls, not levees, collapsed in NOLA.
This is where federal, state, and local response is at its weakest.

Finally what Mr. Brown faced is in some cases generations of neglect or waste, fraud, and abuse in federal programs, and STATES and their local governments efforts, as operated on the coast of the GOM. Even now the Louisiana Congressional delegation tries to get FEMA to make up for the failures of government in the NOLA area and other parts of the state.

And Mr. Brown apparently in his entire time in FEMA did nothing to resolve officially whether FEMA is just a cooperative and collaborative agency that hands out money and information to all or the federal system’s ultimate “safety net” that must do it all when all others fail.

My bottom line is that this book should be read by all and all should draw their own conclusions.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 23, 2016 @ 7:54 am

I continue to be concerned that the $5-7 billion spent in the NCR [National Capital Region] largely wasted and effective collaboration and cooperation among the 34 governmental entities does not exist.

See document linked below:


E.G. There is no standardization of FIRE SERVICE equipment and training and even couplings on trucks and respnse vehicles not standardized.

BTW only two states have standardized coupling laws. Florida and New York. And now California has enacted a new law to do so.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 23, 2016 @ 8:23 am

I continue to mull over potential Trump cabinet Secretaries.

Here’s another:

James Stuart “Jim” Gilmore III (born October 6, 1949) is an American politician who was the 68th Governor of Virginia from 1998 to 2002. A native Virginian, Gilmore graduated as a Bachelor of Arts and a Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia, and then served in the U.S. Army as a counterintelligence agent. He was later elected to public office as a county prosecutor, as the Attorney General of Virginia, and as Governor of Virginia. On July 30, 2015, Gilmore announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for President of the United States, in the 2016 election. On February 12, 2016, he suspended his campaign.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 23, 2016 @ 8:27 am

Gilmore Commission is the informal and commonly used name for the U.S. Congressional Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction.

The Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Attorney General, the Secretary of Energy, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency entered into a contract with the RAND National Defense Research Institute (NDRI), a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC), to establish the Advisory Panel. The Advisory Panel assessed the capabilities for responding to terrorist incidents in the U.S. involving weapons of mass destruction. Response capabilities at the Federal, State, and local levels were examined, with a particular emphasis on the latter two.

Chaired by former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, this congressionally mandated commission functioned from 1999 to 2003. Five reports were presented to Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and the entire United States Congress each December 15 from 1999 – 2003. Of the Gilmore Commission’s 164 recommendations, 146 have been adopted in whole or in part by the Congress and the federal government.

The reports can be found at http://www.rand.org.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 23, 2016 @ 8:31 am

The previous comment on the Gilmore Commission reports is a wiki extract.

IMO the sentence below quoted above is highly erroneus:

“Of the Gilmore Commission’s 164 recommendations, 146 have been adopted in whole or in part by the Congress and the federal government.”

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 23, 2016 @ 8:58 am

Do you remember the name George Foresman? Key EM princiole under Governor Gilmore in Virginia then under Secretary Michael Chertoff’s 2SR [a reorganization approved and the reversed by Congress] Foresman was the first and last Under Secretary DHS for Preparedness. Preparedness first split off from FEMA by 2SR [effective October 1, 2005 in DHS] and then demise under PKEMRA 2006 [fully effective March 31, 2007] when some of the Preparedness function returned to FEMA.

Realizing he was not going to remain a direct report to Secretary Chertoff and not nominated to be Administrator of FEMA, Foresman resigned from DHS. Still lurking around the corridors of power in D.C.

As readers of this blog understand my concept of PREPAREDNESS is all about capabilities including mobilization and logistics for well beyond the planning basis.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 23, 2016 @ 9:05 am

Can you name the current 4-star flag rank that heads up NORTHERN COMMAND in which the DoD’s HOMELAND DEFENCE
[NOTICE THE ENGLISH spelling] is organizationally situated?

Over 1200 civil agency personnel liaison or assigned to NORTHCOM.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 25, 2016 @ 1:58 am

OK! I watched and recorded the FRONTLINE show on Storm Sandy recovery. Too bad this blog and others not read over the years. Why? Storm Sandy revealed several things. First, Staten Island never should have been developed without full recognition of the flood hazards after the Verrazano Bridge completed. Second, beach front development over the last century has been largely a profit center for those fleecing the unwary.


Comment by William R. Cumming

May 25, 2016 @ 2:36 am

Again pretending to advise the new President whomever that may be who will be arriving January 20th, 2017, suggest they consider revision to Executive Order 12656 [with amendments]. Its original text linked below:


Many Executive Orders are in fact and law expressions of Presidential delegation of express or implied authority vested in the President and most are unfunded mandates.

At one time the OEP {Office of Emergency Planning] had what is called delegate agency funding authority which is one reason OMB minions were so happy to see it eliminated in President Nixon’s Reorganization 1 of 1973. That concept [i.e. delegate agency funding] saw OEP recommending the PREPAREDNESS budgets of OFAs [other federal agencies].

Executive Order 12656 by its terms was really a standby order with a trigger never utilized. Issued in November 1988 after the election of President George H. W. Bush we are closing in on the 30 year mark with its not being utilized, enforced, or funded.

E.O. 12656 did extensively reduce the role of FEMA in the National Security arena leading to it role as the federal ATM for States that needed to have continued funding for their negligent development decisions in the face of “ALL-HAZARDS”!

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 25, 2016 @ 2:37 am

BTW many of “the” Donald’s resort properties will be negatively impacted by sea level rise.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 25, 2016 @ 8:10 am

On Friday may 27th will announce my best choice for HRC for running mate. Chose Tim Pawlenty for Trump!

My choices based on serious persons with experience governing and GRAVITAS. The latter perhaps lacking elsewhere.

Looking more and more like 2016 election may end many careers and parties one way or another. And here I thought it would take till the election of 2028 based on my conclusion that major party structures in the U.S.A. take 30-40 years to occur. I predicted that the Perot candiacy would elect Clinton and also realized WJC never really expected to win in 1992 but laying groundwork for 1996.

The MSM making millions off this election cycle.

Besides Perot can you name other third-party candidates? Nader and John Anderson two that come to my mind. And in 1976 voted for BARRY COMMENOR!

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 25, 2016 @ 8:15 am

My mistake voted for Barry Commoner in 1980!

Wiki Extract:

Barry Commoner (May 28, 1917 – September 30, 2012) was an American biologist, college professor, and politician. He was a leading ecologist and among the founders of the modern environmental movement. He ran for president of the United States in the 1980 U.S. presidential election on the Citizens Party ticket. He served as editor of Science Illustrated magazine.

I have voted in Virginia my entire life. My first Presidential election in which I voted 1964 and voted for LBJ.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 25, 2016 @ 8:21 am

Wiki Extract:

John Bayard Anderson (born February 15, 1922) is a former United States Congressman and Presidential candidate from Illinois. He was a U.S. Representative from the 16th Congressional District of Illinois for ten terms, from 1961 through 1981. Anderson was a Republican but ran as an independent candidate in the 1980 presidential election. He has been a political reform leader, including serving 12 years as chair of the board of FairVote.

Well maybe Barry was my vote in 1976 because I do remember voting for John Anderson.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 25, 2016 @ 12:34 pm

The OIG at the Department of State has issued an 86 pp report documenting violations of the Federal Records Act [enacted 1950] by HRC and many previous administrations.

Comment by William R. Cumming

May 25, 2016 @ 12:43 pm

CRS on status of federal funding to responst to Zika virus:


Comment by pranav

June 6, 2016 @ 6:18 am


Comment by pranav

June 6, 2016 @ 6:19 am


Comment by pranav

June 6, 2016 @ 6:20 am


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