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07/03/2003

Homeland Security

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has just published a
report titled “Drastically Underfunded, Dangerously
Unprepared” concerning the issue of Homeland Security. I
thought I’d summarize it, as it’s been the focus of attention and
debate in various forums.

Chaired by former Senator Warren Rudman, the title sums up the
huge issues facing America. CFR President Leslie Gelb:

“As I sit to write this foreword, it is likely that a terrorist group
somewhere in the world is developing plans to attack the United
States and/or American interests abroad using chemical,
biological, radiological, nuclear, or catastrophic conventional
means. At the same time, diplomats, legislators, military and
intelligence officers, police, fire and emergency medical
personnel, and others in the United States and across the globe
are working feverishly to prevent and prepare for such attacks.
These two groups of people are ultimately in a race with one
another. This is a race we cannot afford to lose.”

Among the conclusions of the Task Force on Emergency
Responders:

--“Congress should work to establish a system for distributing
funds based less on politics and more on threat. To do this, the
federal government should consider such factors as population,
population density, vulnerability assessment, and presence of
critical infrastructure within each state.”

[Wyoming, for example, receives $10 per capita from the
Department of Homeland Security for emergency preparedness
while New York State receives only $1.40 per capita.]

--“States should develop a prioritized list of requirements....to
achieve the best possible return on investments.”

How ill-prepared to handle a catastrophic attack is America?

--“On average, fire departments across the country have only
enough radios to equip half the firefighters on a shift, and
breathing apparatuses for only one third. Only 10 percent of fire
departments in the United States have the personnel and
equipment to respond to a building collapse.”

--“Police departments in cities across the country do not have the
protective gear to safely secure a site following an attack with
WMD.”

--“Public health labs in most states still lack basic equipment and
expertise to adequately respond to a chemical or biological
attack, and 75 percent of state laboratories report being
overwhelmed by too many testing requests.”

“If the nation does not take immediate steps to better identify and
address the urgent needs of emergency responders, the next
terrorist incident could have an even more devastating impact
than the September 11 attacks.”

One of the prime headlines coming out of the report is the task
force’s recommendation that an additional $98.4 billion for
emergency responders be spent over the next five years, a huge
increase from the $27 billion already allocated. Among the
priorities not currently covered:

--“To enhance emergency agricultural and veterinary capabilities
for effective response to national food supply attack.”

--“To help develop surge capacity in the nation’s hospitals and to
help them better prepare for a WMD attack.”

Plus you have items like strengthening emergency operations
centers for public safety employees.

Further examples of how unprepared the U.S. is:

--Only Iowa and Georgia have basic equipment to test for
cyanide, even though the deadly compound is readily available in
41 states.

--The average # of full-time paid police employees is 16% below
the figure for 2001.

And this conclusion:

“America’s leaders have not yet defined national standards of
preparedness – the essential capabilities that every jurisdiction of
a particular size should have or have immediate access to .

“National capability standards (are needed to) determine the
minimum number of people that cities of a certain size should be
able to decontaminate, inoculate, quarantine, or treat after a
chemical, nuclear, biological, or radiological attack.”

The conclusion of the report notes that on September 11, the
American people were caught under-protected and unaware of
the magnitude of the threat facing them. “Ignorance of the
nature of the threat – or of what the United States must do to
prepare for future attacks – can no longer explain America’s
continuing failure to allocate sufficient resources to preparing
local emergency responders. It would be a terrible tragedy
indeed if it took another catastrophic attack to drive that point
home.”

From my own perspective, the key is I get no sense that the
government, as represented by the Department of Homeland
Security, has a true set of priorities. Despite the fact that we
have to prepare for everything, some items have to be described
as more important than others. And as the report says,
distributing funds quickly into the right hands is a huge ‘must.’

One item not addressed in the report, nor in Washington, is the
thought process between large urban areas and small towns.
Some of us living in the suburbs feel that we are not at physical
risk from an attack, but any kind of large-scale nuclear or
biological incident could obviously put areas far beyond the
initial impact zone in great danger. That’s why local officials
have to adopt the same mindset as those in the cities.

Finally, as you can see from the recommendation for a further
$98 billion in funding over the next five years, to do the job right
requires vast sums, with a federal budget that is already riding in
record deficit territory, let alone the problems at the state and
municipal level. This has vast implications for the financial
markets, and our overall sense of wealth .or lack thereof.

Source: cfr.org

Hott Spotts will return July 10.

Brian Trumbore


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Hot Spots

07/03/2003

Homeland Security

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has just published a
report titled “Drastically Underfunded, Dangerously
Unprepared” concerning the issue of Homeland Security. I
thought I’d summarize it, as it’s been the focus of attention and
debate in various forums.

Chaired by former Senator Warren Rudman, the title sums up the
huge issues facing America. CFR President Leslie Gelb:

“As I sit to write this foreword, it is likely that a terrorist group
somewhere in the world is developing plans to attack the United
States and/or American interests abroad using chemical,
biological, radiological, nuclear, or catastrophic conventional
means. At the same time, diplomats, legislators, military and
intelligence officers, police, fire and emergency medical
personnel, and others in the United States and across the globe
are working feverishly to prevent and prepare for such attacks.
These two groups of people are ultimately in a race with one
another. This is a race we cannot afford to lose.”

Among the conclusions of the Task Force on Emergency
Responders:

--“Congress should work to establish a system for distributing
funds based less on politics and more on threat. To do this, the
federal government should consider such factors as population,
population density, vulnerability assessment, and presence of
critical infrastructure within each state.”

[Wyoming, for example, receives $10 per capita from the
Department of Homeland Security for emergency preparedness
while New York State receives only $1.40 per capita.]

--“States should develop a prioritized list of requirements....to
achieve the best possible return on investments.”

How ill-prepared to handle a catastrophic attack is America?

--“On average, fire departments across the country have only
enough radios to equip half the firefighters on a shift, and
breathing apparatuses for only one third. Only 10 percent of fire
departments in the United States have the personnel and
equipment to respond to a building collapse.”

--“Police departments in cities across the country do not have the
protective gear to safely secure a site following an attack with
WMD.”

--“Public health labs in most states still lack basic equipment and
expertise to adequately respond to a chemical or biological
attack, and 75 percent of state laboratories report being
overwhelmed by too many testing requests.”

“If the nation does not take immediate steps to better identify and
address the urgent needs of emergency responders, the next
terrorist incident could have an even more devastating impact
than the September 11 attacks.”

One of the prime headlines coming out of the report is the task
force’s recommendation that an additional $98.4 billion for
emergency responders be spent over the next five years, a huge
increase from the $27 billion already allocated. Among the
priorities not currently covered:

--“To enhance emergency agricultural and veterinary capabilities
for effective response to national food supply attack.”

--“To help develop surge capacity in the nation’s hospitals and to
help them better prepare for a WMD attack.”

Plus you have items like strengthening emergency operations
centers for public safety employees.

Further examples of how unprepared the U.S. is:

--Only Iowa and Georgia have basic equipment to test for
cyanide, even though the deadly compound is readily available in
41 states.

--The average # of full-time paid police employees is 16% below
the figure for 2001.

And this conclusion:

“America’s leaders have not yet defined national standards of
preparedness – the essential capabilities that every jurisdiction of
a particular size should have or have immediate access to .

“National capability standards (are needed to) determine the
minimum number of people that cities of a certain size should be
able to decontaminate, inoculate, quarantine, or treat after a
chemical, nuclear, biological, or radiological attack.”

The conclusion of the report notes that on September 11, the
American people were caught under-protected and unaware of
the magnitude of the threat facing them. “Ignorance of the
nature of the threat – or of what the United States must do to
prepare for future attacks – can no longer explain America’s
continuing failure to allocate sufficient resources to preparing
local emergency responders. It would be a terrible tragedy
indeed if it took another catastrophic attack to drive that point
home.”

From my own perspective, the key is I get no sense that the
government, as represented by the Department of Homeland
Security, has a true set of priorities. Despite the fact that we
have to prepare for everything, some items have to be described
as more important than others. And as the report says,
distributing funds quickly into the right hands is a huge ‘must.’

One item not addressed in the report, nor in Washington, is the
thought process between large urban areas and small towns.
Some of us living in the suburbs feel that we are not at physical
risk from an attack, but any kind of large-scale nuclear or
biological incident could obviously put areas far beyond the
initial impact zone in great danger. That’s why local officials
have to adopt the same mindset as those in the cities.

Finally, as you can see from the recommendation for a further
$98 billion in funding over the next five years, to do the job right
requires vast sums, with a federal budget that is already riding in
record deficit territory, let alone the problems at the state and
municipal level. This has vast implications for the financial
markets, and our overall sense of wealth .or lack thereof.

Source: cfr.org

Hott Spotts will return July 10.

Brian Trumbore