Monday, January 4, 2010

Natural Disaster Talking Points

A day or two following the failed terrorist attack to blow up an airliner above the city of Detroit, the Secretary of Homeland Security assured us that the “system worked.” Unfortunately, for Janet Napolitano; she must have read from an adaptation of a scripted response taken from under the shelf labeled “Hurricane Press Conference”. With a few strikethroughs and text replacements; I’ve put the text back to its original form, ready once again for safe keeping in the hurricane section of shelves in Janet’s office.

NAPOLITANO: "What we are focused on is making sure that the air environment remains safe, that people are confident when they travel. And one thing I'd like to point out is that the system worked. Everybody played an important role here. The passengers residents and crew first responders of the flight in the affected area took appropriate action.

Within literally 90 minutes of the incident disaster occurring, all 128 flights in the air law enforcement and first responders had been notified to take some special measures in light of what had occurred on the affected areas. Northwest Airlines flight. We instituted new measures on the ground and at screening areas shelters, both here in the United States and in Europe, where this flight storm hit originated. So the whole process of making sure that we respond properly, correctly and effectively went very smoothly."

What Napolitano did say is all the words in black text and all the words in red with strikes. As you can plainly see, this would be a fine response for a natural disaster, but it doesn’t quite cut it for one of Napolitano’s coined phrase “man-made disasters”. There is a big difference between natural disasters and man-made disasters; Al Gore’s sermons aside. Unfortunately, there is little that the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security can do to avoid the oncoming hurricane on its way from Africa to the United States Gulf Coast. After taking the hit of the high winds and torrential rains, DHS can spur into action and receive applause after a press conference such as the one above. The storm of terrorism from Africa to the U.S. has a guarded gate that it must enter, if it can even get to that gate. It made it to and through the gate and the last line of defense; the fellow traveler stopped the storm dead in its tracks, just as the winds, landmass, and ocean current may happen to weaken and move a raging storm away from the well-populated area.

By now, as even Ms. Napolitano has conceded, it is agreed that the system that is supposed to be the first line of defense, did not work. We should have multiple first lines of defense here, made up of redundancies, shared data, and fast moving data. The last line of defense, needs to be the airport security screening and if necessary the terminal gate, and this is just airplane security.

Yes, natural disasters and man-made disasters derive from very different elements. We have in charge, many who don’t seem to realize a difference between the two. A former vice-president seems to see the two as synonymous, yet still I would advise trying to get a handle on keeping the man-made disaster in check as a starting point, before enacting so many ridiculous proposed measures in an effort to keep man from causing heavy winds and rain.

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