Sunday, May 8, 2005

Homeland Security’s Insecurity

All those busy-bees at Homeland Security are just so cute.  They’re all in a twit over their inability to get everyone behind their ‘split-second execution by top officials if downwind communities are to be saved.’ Dick Falkenrath, former deputy homeland security advisor (whatever the hell that means), says ‘the federal government currently lacks the ability to generate and broadcast specific, geographically tailored evacuation instructions’ across the country.


Well gee, Dick.  If a nuclear device goes off and dad is downtown at his office, mom is holding down another job and both of the kids are at different schools, no ‘properly generated and broadcast instruction’ is going to mean jack-shit.  I get so tired of all these busy-beaver deputy-whatevers telling us what we’re supposed to do when the unbelievable comes knocking at the door.  A radio broadcast and bullhorns in the streets wouldn’t have made a millisecond’s impact on NYC during the 9-11 disaster. Run those tapes, Dick. See if there was a snowball's chance in hell of broadcasting specific, geographically tailored evacuation instructions to any of those frantic New Yorkers. And that was not nuclear.  It was hell, but it was not nuclear.


In school in the fifties, I remember all that under-the-desk crap in the schools and people actually building underground shelters in their backyards, stocking them with bottled water and canned goods.  The City of Evanston, in which I lived, actually wrote an ordinance that made it illegal for Chicago to evacuate through Evanston because they’d damage the lawns.  Was this urban myth?  I don’t know, we heard it and laughed at the time.  Can you just see the Evanston cops, lined up across Howard Street?


Dick Falkenrath is now a fellow at the Brookings Institute, which is a good thing because fellows like him belong in think-tanks.  Thinking, is a long way from acting.  Thinking is what’s got us all taking off our shoes at airports.  Thinking has the idiot-alert working smooth as silk at Homeland Security but not much else, other than providing yet another layer of confusion to who’s running the bad-guy show.  Laurel (who runs the FBI) and Hardy (the CIA guy) don’t have the cell phone number of whoever’s running Homeland Security these days.  At any rate they weren’t taking Falkenrath’s advice so he moved on and now snipes at his old bosses through Washington Post quotes.


Eight paragraphs down in the John Mintz article  we read “Members of the public who seek information from Homeland Security’s Web site, Ready.gov (don’t you love it?), may not be getting the best advice, experts said.”


Hmmm . . . I guess


In a real laugher, the Ready.com site explains that someone a block away from the nuclear blast could save their life by walking around a corner. I love that! Between the blinding flash and the half second before debris pins you to a wall, you’re supposed to go from thinking about what it was that your wife asked you to bring home from the office to making the conscious decision to ‘walk around the corner,’ because someone just lit off a nuclear device where your car was parked.  Next on their list is probably calling your insurance company.


According to the article, ‘Homeland Security officials acknowledge they have lots of work ahead to prepare for a nuclear strike---a task they point out is extraordinarily difficult---but say they have made progress.'


Memo: Go back fifty years guys. The stuff we were told back then wouldn’t have worked either, but a lot of self-important specialists scared the shit out of us anyway.  No sense spending a lot of time and money reinventing the wheel.  People are going to jump into their cars and drive like hell to the first accident-blocked street. 


You can count on it.