A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Wild Pitches set up Homeland Security Blowout, Bushquotes 1, Facts 12

"Our strategy is clear. We have tripled funding for homeland security and trained half a million first responders because we are determined to protect our homeland."
--George W. Bush, September 2, 2004

So how about all those "first responders"--the firemen, the police, the ambulence crews, the emergency rooms?

"With help from a federal homeland security grant, Grand Forks, N.D., now has more biochemical suits and gas masks than police officers to wear them. Mason County, Wash., used money from the same program to buy a $63,000 decontamination unit for hazardous materials, even though it has no hazmat team. In Big Horn County, Wyo., officials received $546,000 in federal counterterrorism grants last year, just $237,000 less than Louisville, Ky., which has 60 times the population.

"These examples are cited in a congressional report that questions whether federal homeland security money is going to where it's needed the most. The funding system favors rural states by guaranteeing that they receive antiterrorism grants regardless of their population or the terrorism threat....

"This issue already has hit home in New York City, which has fewer police officers than it did on Sept. 11, 2001. This year, New York state was given $5.42 per person in federal homeland security grants, the third-lowest amount in the nation. In all, the state received $103 million. The city received some additional federal money to fight terrorism, but the amount wasn't enough to significantly boost the state's rank."

Then let's take a look at nuclear security here at home.

"These were tests in which U.S. Special Forces, playing the role of terrorists, armed with simulated weapons, would try to penetrate the facilities, steal imitation nuclear material, and then escape. The security guards there were expected to stop the attackers. “Overall, the test results that I was responsible for showed a 50 percent failure rate,” says Levernier.....the mock terrorists were able to penetrate nuclear weapons sites half the time -- even though the security guards knew exactly what day and virtually what time to expect the attacks.

"When Levernier conducted an unannounced inspection....he was stunned by what he found. “We found....that the vast majority of the patrols were in a facility watching the Super Bowl game.”

"The Department of Energy has admitted that security guards at other nuclear facilities have recently left front gates wide open, and failed repeatedly to respond to emergency alarms in top-security areas. Some have actually been caught sleeping on the job. “People should know that the Department of Energy facilities cannot withstand a full terrorist attack,” says Levernier....

"Hundreds of master keys and electronic key cards - some of which provide access to classified areas - have disappeared....the locks have just been changed -- three years after keys there were reported missing.....Republican Sen. Charles Grassley....finds [this] hard to believe. “If you were going to have your house keys stolen, you would change your locks right away, wouldn't you?...."

So how about chemical plant security?

"But what about the 15,000 facilities across the United States that produce or store deadly chemicals - chemicals that terrorists could use against us as weapons of mass destruction? ....the Justice Department calls that threat "real and credible." Yet, almost three years after Sept. 11, chemical plants are still not subject to federal regulations when it comes to security....

"There are more than 100 chemical plants - in backyards all across the United States - where a catastrophic accident or an act of sabotage by terrorists could endanger more than a million people. One plant in Chicago could affect almost three million people. And in California, the chemicals at one site have the potential to kill, injure or displace more than eight million people....

"This is why Sen. Corzine [D.-NJ] introduced a bill - six weeks after Sept. 11 - putting the federal government in charge of chemical plant security. He said he expected quick passage, but he under-estimated the clout of the $450 billion dollar chemical industry.

“My bill was crushed by the American Chemistry Council. It was crushed by those who were looking after their private interests and not the public interests,” says Corzine. The American Chemistry Council did oppose Corzine's bill -- which required chemical companies to stockpile less chemicals on site and to use safer technologies whenever possible."

Now the skivvy on trucks and truck bombs.

"Truckers carry 70 percent of the nation's freight, yet the federal government spends 100 times more on airplane safety than it does on trucking security, safety experts said....

"Terrorists have repeatedly used heavy vehicles in attacks, said a July 30 information bulletin from the Department of Homeland Security and FBI. "Some terrorists consider trucks to be one of the best tools to breach security measures and carry explosives since the U.S. airline industry significantly increased security procedures," the bulletin said. Terrorists also have shown an interest in planning attacks that use a truck's hazardous materials, officials believe....

"There are plenty of trucks from which terrorists can choose. Every day between 3 million and 3.2 million tractor-trailers crisscross the country."

"At agricultural co-ops across America, it's available by the truckload. Farmers spread more than two million tons of it across the U.S. every year. It's ammonium nitrate, one of the world's cheapest fertilizers. But it can also be a powerful explosive when mixed with ordinary diesel fuel....

"It's also a terror weapon of choice for making car and truck bombs....Now, with new warnings that al-Qaida planned to hit U.S. financial targets using car and truck bombs, some in Congress are calling for tighter restrictions on ammonium nitrate.....

"You can be on a terror watch list and walk up to any store that sells farm goods or other types of goods and buy as much ammonium nitrate as you want," says Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. South Carolina now requires ammonium nitrate dealers to get a restricted fertilizer permit and record the driver's license number of every buyer. Nevada will soon do the same. The fertilizer industry — already urging dealers to keep records of sales and report suspicious buyers — actually supports the state laws....

"The federal government has yet to take a position on any of these proposals, ideas that advocates believe could quickly make America safer."

And, finally, where we stand after three years on overseas shipping and cargo.

"Currently only a very small percentage of shipping containers is opened and inspected.

"Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said the problem is lack of money. She said spending on port security last year was about $1 billion short of what the Coast Guard said was needed....Murray unsuccessfully proposed tripling the amount of federal money to tighten security at ports to $450 million. The vote was largely along party lines.

"On Wednesday, the Republican-controlled Senate turned aside a Democratic effort to double port security spending in deliberations on legislation to allot money for Homeland Security operations. An amendment by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., to double the bill's $150 million for developing equipment to detect nuclear weapons hidden in containers entering U.S. ports also died."

Some determined strategy, Mr. President.

You can find more on the confrontation of Bushquotes with the Facts right here.


Blogger Chuck Pelto said...

TO: Joseph Marshall
RE: Factoid #1 - More Suits Than You Can Wear at One Time

"With help from a federal homeland security grant, Grand Forks, N.D., now has more biochemical suits and gas masks than police officers to wear them." -- Someone cited by Joseph Marshall

Joseph, do you know the life-expectancy of a chemical protective suit?

Unless they've changed from the low-cost carbon-lined variety I was familiar with in the infantry, a few hours after exposer to an agent, it is considered useless. You have to get out of it and into another one.

So, if there were a major incident, you can bet the police, fire department, EMTs and others will need MORE THAN ONE SUIT to do their job.

Please do the math.....

RE: Factoid #2 - Nuculer Security at Home

Are we getting 'penetration'?

"...the mock terrorists were able to penetrate nuclear weapons sites half the time" -- Someone cited by Joseph Marshall

Penetration of the permeter is one thing. Destruction of the facility is another, completely different, thing.

At the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, CA, I spotted a group of the OPFOR, without realizing who they were, coming back to the brigade field trains from a briefing. They looked 'odd'. Even though they were dressed as we were and had the right truck.

Got back into the trains area and alerted honcho for security that there was something odd going on. They put the trains on alert.

An hour later we got hit. We were penetrated. Our perimeter was breached. But, none of our key assets were destroyed and the attack was driven off.

Please provide additional information. Were these tests you describe mere penetrations or were the facilities destroyed or damaged in such a way as to render them inoperable?

As for watching football....first off, even our own police and fire and EMT do that. Guards in a military guard house do that too.

The questions are (1) were the guards on foot/mobile patrol out on their posts and (2) if someone had tried to penetrate the perimeter, what would have been their response time?

RE: Those Pesky Neighbors

"There are more than 100 chemical plants - in backyards all across the United States..." -- Joseph Marshall

I just KNEW the neighbors were a threat to my safety. How DARE they watch football on Monday night, instead of pulling a guard mount on those lawn mower shed in their back yard. Not to mention the flour in their pantry. [Note: Did you know that with a five pound sack of flour you can blow down a 2400 sq foot house? It's simple, effective, and fun.]

RE: Ban the Trucks!

"Truckers carry 70 percent of the nation's freight, yet the federal government spends 100 times more on airplane safety than it does on trucking security, safety experts said...." -- Someone cited by Joseph Marshall

Well, maybe we should just ban freight by any means other than rail? I'd suggest air, but we all know what those people do with airplanes full of people. Imagine what they could do with ones filled with cattle. Or sheep? Or chickens? I doubt if they'd take any filled with pigs.

Getting rid of the trucks would make travelling on the interstate much more pleasant. Furthermore, I get tired of sitting on my balcony at night, enjoying a fine cigar and brandy, to have the symphony of crickets interrupted by some jerk jack-braking on the interstate in the distance.

Joseph, this is beginning to look like so much hystreonics. And I should get to bed now. Must rise early, work-out, eat and smash my face up against the monitor tomorrow. Teaching myself a new programming environment....you understand.

Good Evening,


12:19 AM  
Blogger Joseph Marshall said...

Hi, Chuck! Just wanted to make sure you knew that the links are in the titles of each factoid. As you can see, in the later posts, I cite more extensively. As my "playoff series" develops I'll also probably shorten the quotations.

Hope your computer travels get you where you need to go.

6:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

TO: Joseph Marshall
RE: Linkerage

Not much of a problem.

RE: Technical Difficulties

I have found that Mozilla will allow me to see all the text without the overlapping. Apparently Blogger does not play well with Safari. Might want to alert their techies to that.

RE: What Price Security, Captain Blagg?

[Note: I really should try to find that classic James Cagney movie on DVD.]

So, the Republicans turned back a Democrat effort to raise funding for port inspections by double?

You REALLY should play Civilization. You have to balance all kinds of aspects of a civilization, including how much you'll spend on security vs. researc vs. education vs. agriculture vs. transportation vs. industry vs. entertainment vs. fighting a war vs. disaster recovery vs. expansion vs. conversion vs. diplomats vs. energy vs. recycling vs. ad nauseum.

And speaking of inspections, where do you draw the line regarding inspections of vehicles and unwarranted search and seizure?

Seriously. Truck bombs make a bigger bang, but car bombs appear to be the weapon of choice. Anyone can pack a car with enough ammonium nitrate to blow up a city bus and wipe out all the tables, chairs and people taking lunch in the bistros on either side of it as well.

So, obviously cars must be inspected too.

Sort of like your question about second amendment rights to own weapons, isn't it.

In another post around here, someone is bemoaning not giving up our freedoms while fighting this War on Terror. On the other hand, the same person seems to be saying we need to tighten security.

Civilization might give you some insight into how to balance these two, albeit indirectly.



2:04 PM  

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