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Homeland Security-Protecting Critical Infrastructures

Criticism against FBI post 9/11

Post 11th September, 2001 attacks on the twin towers of World Trade Center; the FBI has faced a brunt of a lot of criticism from the public and media alike. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the primary unit in the United States Department of Justice, has designed goals to protect and defend the United States against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats and to counter domestic terrorism acts. The FBI is said to employ the best agents to be found anywhere in the world with broad and extensive intelligence. However, the 9/11 attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon put the FBI under the scanner.

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Ex-Special Agent Robert Wright Jr., charged the corruption prevailing inside the FBI derailed investigations that could have averted the terrorist attacks on America on September 11. According to him, the FBI had evidence that the World Trade Center was a possible target. Wright also complained that when he tried to pursue certain terrorist investigations, he faced retaliation from his bosses. He said “virtually no effort on the part of the FBI’s International Terrorism Unit to neutralize known and suspected terrorists residing in the United States. Unfortunately, more terrorist attacks against the American interests, coupled with the loss of American lives, will have to occur before those in power give this matter the urgent attention it deserves.” (Buckley, 2006)

The US government to counter the terrorism prevailing in the country, passed the PATRIOT Act post 9/11, to “deter and punish American terrorists in the United States and around the world, to enhance law enforcement investigatory tools, and for other purposes.” (Buckley, 2006) It also proposed the formation of another counter-terrorist agency along the lines of the British Security Service, also known as the MI-5. MI-5’s role is the protection of British parliamentary democracy and economic interests, counter-terrorism and counter-espionage within the United Kingdom. Its main concern is to utilize its’ intelligence to track and counter-terrorism within the UK.

It should be remembered that the disaster of 9/11 took place when the terrorists took advantage of the American social way of life where the number of domestic frequent fliers are high enough to suffer a low security system. The same is true about London underground rail blast. In both the cases, the terrorists took advantage of the country’s way of social life and it would be impossible to alter this way of life putting security as an alibi where the menace is basically organized by a fundamentalist motive.

While dealing with issues like safety and security the conception of homeland security becomes a prime concern. Formerly regarded as ‘civil defense’, the concept of ‘homeland security’ became the central issue of public safety. In America, the term homeland security covers all efforts of the government-federal, state, and local-for protecting general population against the risk of terrorist attacks and the use of National ID card is just one such measure. However, it should be noted that there is a price to everything and the issue of privacy is the price of safety and security. The government steps therefore created a feeling of tension between the desire to protect the state and the desire to protect individual privacy.

In this context, it should be noted that the law imposed Patriot act and this appeared as potential violation to human rights. The United States Congress passed the USE Patriot Act on October 26, 2001. The purpose of the act is to give more authority to law enforcement within the United States, in order to investigate and prevent terrorist attacks before they happen. Along with this came some loss of individual freedoms, because the government was now able to investigate its citizens. Thus, the rights of accused were abolished automatically. But this is necessary and it is more necessary to introduce a new anti-terrorism wing of investigative agency. However, it is not necessary to make it completely operational outside the parameters of FBI. It can well be a part of FBI.

It should be noted that a large number of factors pose threat to human life and create a feeling of insecurity among population, resulting in disruption in personal and social life. Public Safety is the concept of governmental organizations concerned with protecting their citizens from all kinds of threats. The term ‘public safety’ covers different aspects of protection of the general population. Some of these include Protection against Accidents and Trauma, Protection against Crimes, Protection against Natural Hazards.

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Thus, the objectivity of the government is Protection and sustenance of public safety. Thus, if there are prices to be paid for this safety it should be honored by the population. A new anti-terrorism wing of investigative agency with complete focus on the terrorist activities would justify this price with its enhanced efficiency but unlike the British counterpart it should work as a part of FBI because FBI would facilitate this new wing with its huge database.

However, t can be argued that establishing a completely independent counter-terrorism agency, whose main directive is to counter the terrorism within the boundaries of the country, can be considered viable. The foremost task in establishing this agency is the selection of the employees. Strict physical and psychological selection procedures and thorough background check of the candidates, to counter corruption within the agency, should be the major concern of the agency.

Secondly, advanced intelligence and technology with definite objectives, should be provided to the agency. With advanced resources in hand, the task of countering terrorism would be more swift and efficient. Thirdly, the operations to counter-terrorism, should not in anyway, violate the constitutional rights of the citizens.

The suspects in anyway, should not be detained without concrete proofs and proper interrogation. Violation of human rights may provoke outrage from the public, and hence bring about a bad image to the agency. The new agency, with new technology and advanced intelligence system, must begin from where the FBI let it off. With proper and well-defined objectives and honest approach, the new counter-terrorism group, if formed by the US government, can improve the tarnished face of the FBI and with its own well-defined governance and objectives, can restrict the uprising terrorist activities within the country.

In conclusion, it should be stated that the new anti-terrorism wing of investigative agency could be independently operational outside the parameters of FBI is the latter shares its database unconditionally and completely. Otherwise, it would be logical to construct a new anti-terrorism wing of investigative agency within the system of FBI.

Guiding Principles of Emergency Planning Department of a City

With the turn of the century, many cities around the world have been exposed to extreme and sudden hostilities. There has been enormous number of incidents around the globe, where the cities have been caught off-guard. Their vulnerabilities of the city’s emergency has been subjected to huge stress these recent years. Whether, it’s the 9/11 attacks in New York, or the bushfires in Australia and the hurricanes of Louisiana, the vulnerabilities of these cities have been widely exposed in these emergency situations. Thus, for the governance of a city, the emergency or disaster planning, preparing and securing are very important compositions.

However, there is a saying which goes like “The more secure you make things the more inconvenient things become.” (Lamb, 2008) Security rules, though important, should be constructed as such that they do not complex.

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The security measures to be taken by a city, should be very simple and handy, such that it’s citizen can comprehend it easily and they themselves can take part in the whole process. Complex security regulation may lead only to confusion and then to panic. In a metropolitan city, people of different communities reside. Strict rules would result only in unrest among the civilians and hence, more crisis to the city. Hence, the measures to handle the security of a city must be civilian-friendly and simple so that there is more participation among the citizens in the overall security of the city.

Before we discuss the guiding principles of the emergency planning, the emergencies need to be identified. These potential threats can be identified as the following:

  • Earthquakes
  • Bush-fire
  • Flooding
  • Dam incident
  • Hurricanes
  • Civil Unrest
  • Terrorism
  • Transportation accidents
  • Hazardous materials incident

The emergency plans of the city can be undertaken with these anticipated emergency situations in the mind. However, there would always be events, which are not anticipated and thus, the emergency plans and measures require periodic updates.

Therefore, the following guidelines can be considered for the emergency planning of a city.

  1. In emergency situations, public and community transportation is essential in efforts to evacuate the general public from threatened areas and locate and transport the most vulnerable citizens in a region. The need to safely and efficiently transport people – before, during and after emergency situations is an important consideration. Deploying public vehicles during emergencies to evacuate the affected region rapidly is a strategy that can be undertaken.
  2. Special Psychological and Medical First Aid education need to be granted to the civilians. The victims of a disaster, along with physical pains, experience a range of emotions and reactions, some of which can result in significant personal, family, and work life challenges. These educational programs provide the participants with critical information about how to provide support to survivors, their families, and disaster responders in the immediate aftermath of human- and natural-caused tragedies.
  3. The city’s task force should be provided with the right intelligence and technology to detect and prevent acts of terrorism. The city’s citizen must also be prepared for any terrorist attack by keeping them informed, aware and ready to face a variety of threats.
  4. To face a bio-terrorist attack, the first aid health services must be provided adequate technologies required to terminate the chemical and biological epidemics.
  5. The city’s fire and emergency unit must be provided with upgraded technology to restrict the disaster. Special awareness programs related to fire disasters must be provided to the civilians to make them aware.
  6. The latest storm and earthquake detectors to accurately forecast any natural calamities are an essential in a city’s emergency planning. Earlier detection of these calamities can bring about precautionary measures to be put in place to restrict the effect of the disasters. The civilians’ awareness of the precautionary measures are also very important.

From the above guidelines, we can grasp the importance of the role played by the civilians in protecting the city. With intelligent and aware citizens, disasters can be brought under check as the panic quotient comes down drastically. The participation of the civilians in every process of the governance is the most important aspect of a democracy.

Louisiana Post Katrina

On Monday, August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the coast of south Louisiana and the New Orleans and ripped off the state down the middle. The category 5 intensity hurricane, claimed hundreds of lives. The capital losses arising from Katrina was estimated to range from $40 billion to $60 billion, even more than the losses due to 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.

Katrina’s catastrophic damages in the New Orleans had major implications for a large segment of the economy and politics of US. The Corps of Engineers were reviewed and the total failure of the flood protection system which should have protected the New Orleans from the Katrina’s surge.

The National Weather Service field office in New Orleans predicted the approach of the Katrina hurricane which would do catastrophic damage to the city. It was anticipated, at the very least, the destruction of the well-constructed houses in the city and of all wood-framed low-rise apartment buildings, severe damage to most industrial and high rise office buildings, rendering them inoperable. Lack of clean water was predicted to “make human suffering incredible by modern standards”. It also predicted that the flooding caused by the storms would render the city uninhabitable for weeks. The spilled oil and petrochemicals formed layers on the city’s surface converting it into a toxic mess.

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The governor of the city ordered immediate evacuation of the city. School buses were deployed to evacuate the city. However, many people stayed back in obligation for protection of their property. Many instances of looting occurred. This included looting by police officers as well. Federal troops were sent to the state to restore order. The U.S Army Corps. Of Engineers’ competence and diligence were questioned as they had overlooked the levee protection system of the city, which resulted in the heavy flooding of the city where many homes were completely submerged.

Now, in 2009, many reforms have been made in preparation for hurricanes and hurricane disaster management. In this hurricane season, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) has proposed to come out with a “get a game plan” program for the state. According to the program, the main agendas for the hurricane preparedness are:-

  • Registering and Manifesting
  • Transportation Plan
  • Sheltering Operations
  • Disaster Food Stamp Program

With the intent to:

  • Ensure a successful Publicly Assisted Evacuation, through coordination with local officials so that our citizens are cared for during a State / Federal declared emergency.
  • Provide life safety support so that affected persons are removed from harm while away from their homes.

And the mission: “Create a unified long-term plan for reliable transportation and sheltering through a collaborative effort between the state agencies, evacuating and sheltering parishes, the federal government, non-governmental organizations and sheltering host states.” (Dss.state.la.us, 2009)

The registration system for the evacuation has been classified under two categories of: Automated (Pheonix Data Base) and Manual (Paper ticket).

The automatic mechanism requires access to the internet with a pre-registration for the evacuation procedure. On the other hand, the manual process is independent of internet access where the tickets are available at certain points throughout the city. These tickets and the wristband link the family members and the pets. In case of an evacuation, the bus driver will hand over the evacuee tickets to the Shelter Manager.

Under the transportation section of the hurricane preparedness program, buses and drivers are resourced to be used in an emergency. Transport facility for the handicapped has also been arranged. According to the plans, home shelters accommodating 50,000 residents in case of a full coastal evacuation have been arranged.

Conclusion

Louisiana has thus come a long way from 2005 in its preparation for tackling natural disasters, especially the hurricanes. It has taken extensive steps to improve the disaster control in the state. Along with its governmental safety policy, Louisiana is also making the public aware of the dangers of the calamities and providing emergency kits to handle the calamities while at their home. Newer and advanced weather equipment have been installed at the state weather departments to predict the hurricanes earlier and take the necessary steps to control the disasters as early as possible. Thus Louisiana’s approach to hurricane attacks has changed greatly. They are much well prepared to tackle disasters since the day Katrina shook them.

References

Buckley, D. (2006). Dubai port deal is nothing compared to Ptech. Web.

Dss.state. (2009). LOUISIANA SHELTER SUMMIT REPORT: Shelter Planning Recommendations and Feedback. Web.

Lamb, D. (2008). Cult to Culture: The Development of Civilization. Wellington: National Book Trust.

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