Now there are even more ways to listen to the Alex Jones Show on the Internet!
CAIRO, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Breaks in three submarine cables which link Europe and the Middle East have disrupted Internet and international telephone services in parts of the Middle East and South Asia, officials said on Saturday.
The disruption reduced Egypt's Internet capacity by about 80 percent. Technicians were restoring some capacity by diverting communications traffic through the Red Sea, said a Communications Ministry official, who asked not to be named.
Residents said Internet service was either non-existent or very slow. The gravity of the outage, caused by breaks in cables in the Mediterranean off Italy, varied from area to area and according to the service provider.
In Pakistan, Internet service provider Micronet Broadband said its customers were facing degraded Internet services because of "issues" on the SMW-3, SMW-4 and FLAG lines.
In January, breaks in undersea cables off the Egyptian coast disrupted Internet access in Egypt, the Gulf region and south Asia, forcing service providers to reroute traffic and disrupting some businesses and financial dealings.
Several Egyptian residents said late on Friday that it was impossible to call the United States but calls to Europe appeared to be going through.
In Pakistan, Micronet engineer Wajahat Basharat said on Saturday Internet traffic was congested and slow and some of it was being diverted to other routes.
The International Cable Protection Committee, an association of submarine cable operators, said it was "aware of multiple submarine cable failures in the Eastern Mediterranean area that may be affecting the speed of Internet communications on some routes."
It said in a statement on its website it did not know what had caused the problem.
Stephan Beckert, an analyst with the U.S.-based telecommunications market research firm TeleGeography, said the three affected cables were the most direct route for moving traffic between Western Europe and the Middle East.
"If those three cables were cut and are completely out, it would be a fairly significant outage," he said.
"It is going to cause problems for some customers. It's certainly going to slow things down," Beckert said, adding that he did not believe financial institutions would be hit hard.
"Generally speaking we find that they are extremely painstaking about making sure that they have redundant capacity," he said.
Officials with AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications, the two largest U.S.-based carriers, said that some customers in the Middle East had lost all service, while others were experiencing partial disruptions on Internet connections.
Verizon had rerouted some of its traffic by sending it across the Atlantic, then the United States, across the Pacific, and on to the Middle East.
A New York Stock Exchange spokesman said he was unaware of any disruptions in trading. Exchanges CME Group, and IntercontinentalExchange said they had no disruption in their trading on Friday.
There over 600 prison camps in the United States, all fully operational and ready to receive prisoners. They are all staffed and even surrounded by full-time guards, but they are all empty. These camps are to be operated by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) should Martial Law need to be implemented in the United States.
The Rex 84 Program was established on the reasoning that if a mass exodus of illegal aliens crossed the Mexican/US border, they would be quickly rounded up and detained in detention centers by FEMA. Rex 84 allowed many military bases to be closed down and to be turned into prisons.
Operation Cable Splicer and Garden Plot are the two sub programs which will be implemented once the Rex 84 program is initiated for its proper purpose. Garden Plot is the program to control the population. Cable Splicer is the program for an orderly takeover of the state and local governments by the federal government. FEMA is the executive arm of the coming police state and thus will head up all operations. The Presidential Executive Orders already listed on the Federal Register also are part of the legal framework for this operation.
The camps all have railroad facilities as well as roads leading to and from the detention facilities. Many also have an airport nearby. The majority of the camps can house a population of 20,000 prisoners. Currently, the largest of these facilities is just outside of Fairbanks, Alaska. The Alaskan facility is a massive mental health facility and can hold approximately 2 million people.
A person named Terry Kings wrote an article on his discoveries of camps
located in southern California. His findings are as follows:
Over the last couple months several of us have investigated three soon-to-be prison camps in the Southern California area. We had heard about these sites and wanted to see them for ourselves.
The first one we observed was in Palmdale, California. It is not operating as a prison at the moment but is masquerading as part of a water facility. Now why would there be a facility of this nature out in the middle of nowhere with absolutely no prisoners? The fences that run for miles around this large facility all point inward, and there are large mounds of dirt and dry moat surrounding the central area so the inside area is not visible from the road. There are 3 large loading docks facing the entrance that can be observed from the road. What are these massive docks going to be loading?
We observed white vans patrolling the area and one came out and greeted us with a friendly wave and followed us until we had driven safely beyond the area. What would have happened had we decided to enter the open gate or ask questions?
This facility is across the street from the Palmdale Water Department. The area around the Water Department has fences pointing outward, to keep people out of this dangerous area so as not to drown. Yet, across the street, the fences all point inward. Why? To keep people in? What people? Who are going to be it's occupants?
There are also signs posted every 50 feet stating: State of California Trespassing Loitering Forbidden By Law Section 555 California Penal Code.
The sign at the entrance says: Pearblossom Operations and Maintenance Subcenter Receiving Department, 34534 116th Street East. There is also a guard shack located at the entrance.
We didn't venture into this facility, but did circle around it to see if there was anything else visible from the road. We saw miles of fences with the top points all directed inward. There is a railroad track that runs next to the perimeter of this fenced area. The loading docks are large enough to hold railroad cars. [lrec]
I wonder what they are planning for this facility? They could easily fit 100,000 people in this area. And who would the occupants be?
Another site is located in Brand Park in Glendale. There are newly constructed fences (all outfitted with new wiring that point inward). The fences surround a dry reservoir. There are also new buildings situated in the area. We questioned the idea that there were four armed military personnel walking the park. Since when does a public park need armed guards?
A third site visited was in the San Fernando Valley, adjacent to the Water District. Again, the area around the actual Water District had fences logically pointing out (to keep people out of the dangerous area). And the rest of the adjacent area which went on for several miles was ringed with fences and barbed wire facing inward (to keep what or who in?) Also, interesting was the fact that the addition to the tops of the fences were fairly new as to not even contain any sign of rust on them. Within the grounds was a huge building that the guard said was a training range for policemen. There were newly constructed roads, new gray military looking buildings, and a landing strip. For what? Police cars were constantly patrolling the several mile perimeter of the area.
From the parking lot of the Odyssey Restaurant a better view could be taken of the area that was hidden from site from the highway. There was an area that contained about 100 black boxes that looked like railroad cars. We had heard that loads of railroad cars have been manufactured in Oregon outfitted with shackles. Would these be of that nature? From our position it was hard to determine.
In searching the Internet, I have discovered that there are about 600 of these prison sites around the country (and more literally popping up overnight do they work all night). They are manned, but yet do not contain prisoners. Why do they need all these non-operating prisons? What are they waiting for? We continuously hear that our current prisons are overcrowded and they are releasing prisoners because of this situation. But what about all these facilities? What are they really for? Why are there armed guards yet no one to protect themselves against? And what is going to be the kick-off point to put these facilities into operation?
What would bring about a situation that would call into effect the need for these new prison facilities? A man-made or natural catastrophe? An earthquake, panic due to Y2K, a massive poisoning, a panic of such dimensions to cause nationwide panic?
Once a major disaster occurs (whether it is a real event or manufactured event does not matter) Martial Law is hurriedly put in place and we are all in the hands of the government agencies (FEMA) who thus portray themselves as our protectors. Yet what happens when we question those in authority and how they are taking away all of our freedoms? Will we be the ones detained in these camp sites? And who are they going to round up? Those with guns? Those who ask questions? Those that want to know what's really going on? Does that include any of us? The seekers of truth?
When first coming across this information I was in a state of total denial. How could this be? I believed our country was free, and always felt a sense of comfort in knowing that as long as we didn't hurt others in observing our freedom we were left to ourselves. Ideally we treated everyone with respect and honored their uniqueness and hoped that others did likewise.
It took an intensive year of searching into the hidden politics to discover that we are as free as we believe we are. If we are in denial, we don't see the signs that are staring at us, but keep our minds turned off and busy with all the mundane affairs of daily life.
We just don't care enough to find out the real truth, and settle for the hand-fed stories that come our way over the major media sources television, radio, newspaper, and magazines. But it's too late to turn back to the days of blindfolds and hiding our heads in the sand because the reality is becoming very clear. The time is fast approaching when we will be the ones asking "What happened to our freedom? To our free speech? To our right to protect ourselves and our family? To think as an individual? To express ourselves in whatever way we wish?"
Once we challenge that freedom we find out how free we really are. How many are willing to take up that challenge? Very few indeed, otherwise we wouldn't find ourselves in the situation that we are in at the present time. We wouldn't have let things progress and get out of the hands of the public and into the hands of those that seek to keep us under their control no matter what it takes, and that includes the use of force and detainment for those that ask the wrong questions.
Will asking questions be outlawed next? Several instances have recently been reported where those that were asking questions that came too near the untold truth (the cover up) were removed from the press conferences and from the public's ear. Also, those that wanted to speak to the press were detained and either imprisoned, locked in a psychiatric hospital, slaughtered (through make-believe suicides) or discredited.
Why are we all in denial over these possibilities? Didn't we hear about prison camps in Germany, and even in the United States during World War II? Japanese individuals were rounded up and placed in determent camps during the duration of the War. Where was their freedom?
You don't think it could happen to you? Obviously those rounded up and killed didn't think it could happen to them either. How could decent people have witnessed such atrocities and still said nothing? Are we going to do the same here as they cart off one by one those individuals who are taking a stand for the rights of the citizens as they expose the truth happening behind the scenes? Are we all going to sit there and wonder what happened to this country of ours? Where did we go wrong? How could we let it happen?
Footage of a FEMA camp in the US. This is available on Google video too, but because a few people simply still don't "get it" when they watch the footage from the Indiana Grove camp, let me spell it out with this one.
A new institution is emerging in American life: Fusion Centers. These state, local and regional institutions were originally created to improve the sharing of anti-terrorism intelligence among different state, local and federal law enforcement agencies. Though they developed independently and remain quite different from one another, for many the scope of their mission has quickly expanded - with the support and encouragement of the federal government - to cover "all crimes and all hazards." The types of information they seek for analysis has also broadened over time to include not just criminal intelligence, but public and private sector data, and participation in these centers has grown to include not just law enforcement, but other government entities, the military and even select members of the private sector.
These new fusion centers, over 40 of which have been established around the country, raise very serious privacy issues at a time when new technology, government powers and zeal in the "war on terrorism" are combining to threaten Americans' privacy at an unprecedented level.
Moreover, there are serious questions about whether data fusion is an effective means of preventing terrorism in the first place, and whether funding the development of these centers is a wise investment of finite public safety resources. Yet federal, state and local governments are increasing their investment in fusion centers without properly assessing whether they serve a necessary purpose.
There's nothing wrong with the government seeking to do a better job of properly sharing legitimately acquired information about law enforcement investigations - indeed, that is one of the things that 9/11 tragically showed is very much needed.
But in a democracy, the collection and sharing of intelligence information - especially information about American citizens and other residents - need to be carried out with the utmost care. That is because more and more, the amount of information available on each one of us is enough to assemble a very detailed portrait of our lives. And because security agencies are moving toward using such portraits to profile how "suspicious" we look.1
New institutions like fusion centers must be planned in a public, open manner, and their implications for privacy and other key values carefully thought out and debated. And like any powerful institution in a democracy, they must be constructed in a carefully bounded and limited manner with sufficient checks and balances to prevent abuse.
Unfortunately, the new fusion centers have not conformed to these vital requirements.
Since no two fusion centers are alike, it is difficult to make generalized statements about them. Clearly not all fusion centers are engaging in improper intelligence activities and not all fusion center operations raise civil liberties or privacy concerns. But some do, and the lack of a proper legal framework to regulate their activities is troublesome. This report is intended to serve as a primer that explains what fusion centers are, and how and why they were created. It details potential problems fusion centers present to the privacy and civil liberties of ordinary Americans, including:
The lack of proper legal limits on the new fusion centers not only threatens to undermine fundamental American values, but also threatens to turn them into wasteful and misdirected bureaucracies that, like our federal security agencies before 9/11, won't succeed in their ultimate mission of stopping terrorism and other crime.
The information in this report provides a starting point from which individuals can begin to ask informed questions about the nature and scope of intelligence programs being conducted in their communities. The report concludes with a list of recommendations for Congress and state legislatures.
1 Jay Stanley and Barry Steinhardt, EVEN BIGGER, EVEN WEAKER: THE EMERGING SURVEILLANCE SOCIETY: WHERE ARE WE NOW? AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION, (Sept. 2007), available at http://www.aclu.org/pdfs/privacy/bigger_weaker. pdf.
Intelligence centers run by states across the country have access to personal information about millions of Americans, including unlisted cellphone numbers, insurance claims, driver's license photographs and credit reports, according to a document obtained by The Washington Post.
One center also has access to top-secret data systems at the CIA, the document shows, though it's not clear what information those systems contain.
Dozens of the organizations known as fusion centers were created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to identify potential threats and improve the way information is shared. The centers use law enforcement analysts and sophisticated computer systems to compile, or fuse, disparate tips and clues and pass along the refined information to other agencies. They are expected to play important roles in national information-sharing networks that link local, state and federal authorities and enable them to automatically sift their storehouses of records for patterns and clues.
Though officials have publicly discussed the fusion centers' importance to national security, they have generally declined to elaborate on the centers' activities. But a document that lists resources used by the fusion centers shows how a dozen of the organizations in the northeastern United States rely far more on access to commercial and government databases than had previously been disclosed.
Those details have come to light at a time of debate about domestic intelligence efforts, including eavesdropping and data-aggregation programs at the National Security Agency, and whether the government has enough protections in place to prevent abuses.
The list of information resources was part of a survey conducted last year, officials familiar with the effort said. It shows that, like most police agencies, the fusion centers have subscriptions to private information-broker services that keep records about Americans' locations, financial holdings, associates, relatives, firearms licenses and the like.
Centers serving New York and other states also tap into a Federal Trade Commission database with information about hundreds of thousands of identity-theft reports, the document and police interviews show.
Pennsylvania buys credit reports and uses face-recognition software to examine driver's license photos, while analysts in Rhode Island have access to car-rental databases. In Maryland, authorities rely on a little-known data broker called Entersect, which claims it maintains 12 billion records about 98 percent of Americans.
In its online promotional material, Entersect calls itself "the silent partner to municipal, county, state, and federal justice agencies who access our databases every day to locate subjects, develop background information, secure information from a cellular or unlisted number, and much more."
Police officials said fusion center analysts are trained to use the information responsibly, legally and only on authorized criminal and counterterrorism cases. They stressed the importance of secret and public data in rooting out obscure threats.
"There is never ever enough information when it comes to terrorism" said Maj. Steven G. O'Donnell, deputy superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police. "That's what post-9/11 is about."
Government watchdogs, along with some police and intelligence officials, said they worry that the fusion centers do not have enough oversight and are not open enough with the public, in part because they operate under various state rules.
"Fusion centers have grown, really, off the radar screen of public accountability," said Jim Dempsey, vice president for public policy at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a nonpartisan watchdog group in the District. "Congress and the state legislatures need to get a handle over what is going on at all these fusion centers."
Fusion centers were formed in the wake of revelations that counterterrorism and law enforcement authorities missed or neglected evidence that the Sept. 11 attackers were in the United States while preparing to strike.
Because they are organized by the states, the centers have developed in different ways. Some are small operations focused on crime, while others are full-fledged criminal and counterterrorism operations. From 2004 to 2007, state and local governments received $254 million from the Department of Homeland Security in support of the centers, which are also supported by employees of the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies. In some cases, they work with the U.S. Northern Command, the Pentagon operation involved in homeland security.
The centers have been criticized for being secretive, but authorities said that this is largely for security reasons. Activists want to know more about their activities, the kinds of information they collect and how the information is being used.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a lawsuit in Virginia last month seeking the release of records about communication among state fusion center officials and the departments of Homeland Security and Justice. Marc Rotenberg, the privacy center's executive director, said his group was responding to a proposed state law that would sharply limit access to records about the fusion centers' activity.
Sue Reingold, deputy program manager in the Information Sharing Environment office, a federal operation with a mandate to improve information sharing, said state and local officials "must have access to a broad array of classified and unclassified information" to perform their mission. But Reingold said that an "important part of this is appropriate training and oversight that is well understood and transparent to the public."
"Fusion centers are vital to state and local efforts to fight crime, including terrorism," she said.
The list includes a wide variety of data resources along with software that finds patterns and displays links among people.
Most of the centers have subscriptions to Accurint, ChoicePoint's Autotrack or LexisNexis. These information brokers are Web-based services that deliver instant access to billions of records on individuals' homes, cars, phone numbers and other information.
Some of the centers link to records of currency transactions and almost 5 million suspicious-activity reports filed by financial institutions with the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
Massachusetts and other states rely on LocatePlus, an information broker that claims that it provides "the most comprehensive cell phone, unlisted and unpublished phone database in the industry." The state also taps a private system called ClaimSearch that includes a "nationwide database that provides information on insurance claims, including vehicles, casualty claims and property claims," the document said.
The center in Ohio has access, through authorized users, to an FBI "secret level repository," the document said.
Rhode Island reported that it has access, also through the FBI, to "Top Secret resources" such as "Proton, which allows queries of CIA databases," the document shows. Officials at the Rhode Island State Police, FBI and CIA declined to discuss the system and the kinds of information it contains.
In addition to databases run by Entersect, Maryland fusion center analysts have access to wage and property records, corporate charters, utility records and a host of government files, including criminal justice information and traffic tickets. Jason Luckenbaugh, the center's chief of staff, acknowledged concern about the government's ability to tap into new sources of information. But he said the databases enable analysts to fight crime and protect against terrorism, and help local authorities do the same. "We're not trying to threaten them in any way," he said.
BEIJING (AP) — Requirements that Internet cafes in a southern Chinese city install Chinese-developed operating systems are raising new concerns over cyber snooping by authorities, a U.S. government-funded radio station reported Wednesday.
The new rules that went into effect Nov. 5 are aimed at cracking down on the use of pirated software, said Hu Shenghua, a spokesman for the Culture Bureau in the city of Nanchang.
Internet cafe operators are required to remove unlicensed software and replace it with legitimate copies of either Microsoft Windows or China's homegrown Red Flag Linux operating system while paying a fee, he said.
However, Radio Free Asia said cafes were being required to install Red Flag Linux even if they were using authorized copies of Windows. It quoted Xiao Qiang, director of the California-based China Internet Project, as saying the new rules would help authorities regulate Internet cafes that now operate on the margins of the law, and allow them to undertake heightened surveillance.
Chinese who access the Web at Internet cafes are already required to register with their identification cards. Whether accessed from home or an Internet cafe, the Web within China is regularly patrolled by specially trained monitors looking for content deemed politically subversive or related to gambling, pornography, or illegal business dealings.
Large numbers of Web sites are blocked and dozens of Chinese citizens have been arrested for accessing or sending politically sensitive information over the Web. They include a former Shanghai university librarian imprisoned for three and a half years last month for downloading and distributing information about the banned Falun Gong spiritual group.
Despite such prosecutions, China has the world's largest population of Internet users with 253 million, and authorities are eager to encourage Internet usage as a driver for commerce. Internet cafes are patronized mainly by migrant workers, the rural poor and online gaming enthusiasts.
A woman reached by phone at Nanchang's Junlin Internet Cafe said officials came last month to replace the pirated software they were using. The woman, who gave only her surname, Wang, declined to identify the new operating system but said the new regulations had increased costs "dramatically," while customers had been pleased by the improved performance.
Fan Hongguan, a spokesman for Beijing-based Red Flag Software company said the company had been marketing a version of the operating system with chat functions to Internet cafes for three years. Fan declined to comment on the surveillance allegations.
"It makes sense for Internet cafes to use (Red Flag) because of their high user traffic and the system's safeguards against viruses," Fan said.
Posted by Me at Saturday, December 06, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFP) – US President George W. Bush said in an interview set for broadcast Monday that he came to office "unprepared for war" and that his "biggest regret" was the US "intelligence failure" on Iraq.
In a wide-ranging exchange with ABC television's "World News Tonight," Bush also said he was "sorry" that the global economic meltdown was taking place and predicted that he would leave office January 20th with his "head held high."
The US president has been mired in record-low approval ratings after the botched government response to killer Hurricane Katrina (2005) and amid wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the world financial crisis.
"The biggest regret of all the presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq," Bush said 50 days before president-elect Barack Obama's inauguration. "I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess."
But Bush refused to say whether he would have ordered the March 2003 invasion if he had known that late dictator Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction, calling it "an interesting question."
"That is a do-over that I can't do. It's hard for me to speculate," said Bush, who declared as recently as last week that Saddam's ouster was "the right decision then -- and it is the right decision today."
More than 4,200 US troops have died in Iraq since Bush launched the war after a months-long public campaign centered on the charge -- later proved false -- that Saddam possessed vast stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.
"A lot of people put their reputations on the line and said the weapons of mass destruction is a reason to remove Saddam Hussein. It wasn't just people in my administration," Bush told ABC.
Asked what his greatest accomplishment was, the US president replied: "I keep recognizing we're in a war against ideological thugs and keeping America safe."
Asked what he was most unprepared for when he took office in January 2001, Bush replied: "I think I was unprepared for war. In other words, I didn't campaign and say, 'Please vote for me, I'll be able to handle an attack.'"
"In other words, I didn't anticipate war. Presidents -- one of the things about the modern presidency is that the unexpected will happen," he said.
Bush, whose administration recently accepted a formal timeline for withdrawing from Iraq, also stood fast behind his refusal for years to set a pull-out timetable.
"It would have compromised the principle that when you put kids into harm's way, you go in to win," he said.
Asked about the global economic crisis, Bush declared "I'm sorry it's happening, of course," but rejected any effort to blame his administration for inaction in the face of growing concerns.
"I'm the president during this period of time, but I think when the history of this period is written, people will realize a lot of the decisions that were made on Wall Street took place over a decade or so," he said.
Bush also described much of his time in office as "joyful" even though "the president ends up carrying a lot of people's grief in his soul during a presidency."
"I don't feel joyful when somebody loses their life, nor do I feel joyful when somebody loses a job. That concerns me," he said. "But the idea of being able to serve a nation you love has been joyful."
Asked what Americans would say when he left office, Bush replied: "I hope they feel that this is a guy that came, didn't sell his soul for politics, had to make some tough decisions, and did so in a principled way."
"I will leave the presidency with my head held high."
Posted by Me at Wednesday, December 03, 2008
By Spencer S. Hsu and Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writers
The U.S. military expects to have 20,000 uniformed troops inside the United States by 2011 trained to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear terrorist attack or other domestic catastrophe, according to Pentagon officials.
The long-planned shift in the Defense Department's role in homeland security was recently backed with funding and troop commitments after years of prodding by Congress and outside experts, defense analysts said.
There are critics of the change, in the military and among civil liberties groups and libertarians who express concern that the new homeland emphasis threatens to strain the military and possibly undermine the Posse Comitatus Act, a 130-year-old federal law restricting the military's role in domestic law enforcement.
But the Bush administration and some in Congress have pushed for a heightened homeland military role since the middle of this decade, saying the greatest domestic threat is terrorists exploiting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, dedicating 20,000 troops to domestic response -- a nearly sevenfold increase in five years -- "would have been extraordinary to the point of unbelievable," Paul McHale, assistant defense secretary for homeland defense, said in remarks last month at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. But the realization that civilian authorities may be overwhelmed in a catastrophe prompted "a fundamental change in military culture," he said.
The Pentagon's plan calls for three rapid-reaction forces to be ready for emergency response by September 2011. The first 4,700-person unit, built around an active-duty combat brigade based at Fort Stewart, Ga., was available as of Oct. 1, said Gen. Victor E. Renuart Jr., commander of the U.S. Northern Command.
If funding continues, two additional teams will join nearly 80 smaller National Guard and reserve units made up of about 6,000 troops in supporting local and state officials nationwide. All would be trained to respond to a domestic chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive attack, or CBRNE event, as the military calls it.
Military preparations for a domestic weapon-of-mass-destruction attack have been underway since at least 1996, when the Marine Corps activated a 350-member chemical and biological incident response force and later based it in Indian Head, Md., a Washington suburb. Such efforts accelerated after the Sept. 11 attacks, and at the time Iraq was invaded in 2003, a Pentagon joint task force drew on 3,000 civil support personnel across the United States.
In 2005, a new Pentagon homeland defense strategy emphasized "preparing for multiple, simultaneous mass casualty incidents." National security threats were not limited to adversaries who seek to grind down U.S. combat forces abroad, McHale said, but also include those who "want to inflict such brutality on our society that we give up the fight," such as by detonating a nuclear bomb in a U.S. city.
In late 2007, Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England signed a directive approving more than $556 million over five years to set up the three response teams, known as CBRNE Consequence Management Response Forces. Planners assume an incident could lead to thousands of casualties, more than 1 million evacuees and contamination of as many as 3,000 square miles, about the scope of damage Hurricane Katrina caused in 2005.
Last month, McHale said, authorities agreed to begin a $1.8 million pilot project funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency through which civilian authorities in five states could tap military planners to develop disaster response plans. Hawaii, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Washington and West Virginia will each focus on a particular threat -- pandemic flu, a terrorist attack, hurricane, earthquake and catastrophic chemical release, respectively -- speeding up federal and state emergency planning begun in 2003.
Last Monday, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates ordered defense officials to review whether the military, Guard and reserves can respond adequately to domestic disasters.
Gates gave commanders 25 days to propose changes and cost estimates. He cited the work of a congressionally chartered commission, which concluded in January that the Guard and reserve forces are not ready and that they lack equipment and training.
Bert B. Tussing, director of homeland defense and security issues at the U.S. Army War College's Center for Strategic Leadership, said the new Pentagon approach "breaks the mold" by assigning an active-duty combat brigade to the Northern Command for the first time. Until now, the military required the command to rely on troops requested from other sources.
"This is a genuine recognition that this [job] isn't something that you want to have a pickup team responsible for," said Tussing, who has assessed the military's homeland security strategies.
Domestic emergency deployment may be "just the first example of a series of expansions in presidential and military authority," or even an increase in domestic surveillance, said Anna Christensen of the ACLU's National Security Project. And Cato Vice President Gene Healy warned of "a creeping militarization" of homeland security.
"There's a notion that whenever there's an important problem, that the thing to do is to call in the boys in green," Healy said, "and that's at odds with our long-standing tradition of being wary of the use of standing armies to keep the peace."
McHale stressed that the response units will be subject to the act, that only 8 percent of their personnel will be responsible for security and that their duties will be to protect the force, not other law enforcement. For decades, the military has assigned larger units to respond to civil disturbances, such as during the Los Angeles riot in 1992.
U.S. forces are already under heavy strain, however. The first reaction force is built around the Army's 3rd Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team, which returned in April after 15 months in Iraq. The team includes operations, aviation and medical task forces that are to be ready to deploy at home or overseas within 48 hours, with units specializing in chemical decontamination, bomb disposal, emergency care and logistics.
The one-year domestic mission, however, does not replace the brigade's next scheduled combat deployment in 2010. The brigade may get additional time in the United States to rest and regroup, compared with other combat units, but it may also face more training and operational requirements depending on its homeland security assignments.
Renuart said the Pentagon is accounting for the strain of fighting two wars, and the need for troops to spend time with their families. "We want to make sure the parameters are right for Iraq and Afghanistan," he said. The 1st Brigade's soldiers "will have some very aggressive training, but will also be home for much of that."
Although some Pentagon leaders initially expected to build the next two response units around combat teams, they are likely to be drawn mainly from reserves and the National Guard, such as the 218th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade from South Carolina, which returned in May after more than a year in Afghanistan.
Now that Pentagon strategy gives new priority to homeland security and calls for heavier reliance on the Guard and reserves, McHale said, Washington has to figure out how to pay for it.
"It's one thing to decide upon a course of action, and it's something else to make it happen," he said. "It's time to put our money where our mouth is."
Posted by Me at Tuesday, December 02, 2008
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