Monday, September 10, 2012

9/11, reflections, are we safer? No.

On September 11, 2001, the "Pearl Harbor" event of our lives took place. Those who were cognizant of what happened, who saw it, experience it, and those who have sacrificed to preserve our Republic in the years since and those against whom we expressed our national angst all recognize that on that day, the world changed. For awhile, the sleeping giant was again awakened. And, like their WWII German and Japanese counterparts, the militant factions of Islam soon understood the military might of the United States knows no equal.

Unfortunately, we were using our technological superiority and the superior training and equipment of our troops on basically feudal tribal cultures with a low level of technology.

Domestically, as a result of the nature of the infiltration of our commercial aviation by the terrorists, mainly from Saudi Arabia, and all from Arab Islamic countries, a new and unsettling addition was made to our national security. The Patriot Act supported by President George Bush as part of his national security initiative post 9-11 created a concern regarding our constitutional protections from unlawful search and seizure, arrest, and interference with our internal and international travel. President Bush's initiative included the creation of a new Homeland Security Department and the Transportation Security Agency within the FAA. The DHS and TSA were the direct result of the terrorist attacks that brought down the World Trade Center towers in NYC on September 11, 2001. Since 9-11, both have grown dramatically, in both scope of their missions and the size of the bureaucracy.

The TSA has been under steady criticism from the flying public for its outrageous violation of traveling Americans' 4th, 9th, and 14th Amendment rights. Property is seized without recompense and due process. The citizen is grotesquely violated in a manner that in any other context would result in the arrest of the TSA agent for sexual molestation at the very least, and rape at worst. Worse, the TSA has implemented technologies for the search of a person using microwave radiation that has been heavily criticized by physicists and physicians associations nationwide. There is a serious question as to the long term effect of the low level radiation upon the skin. Worse for the TSA is a practice of ignoring the only segment of the flying population whose religion is at the root of the 9-11 attacks. Political correctness prevents the TSA from focusing upon the estimated 5% of the flying public that is Muslim. It is not uncommon to see Muslim men and women in full ethnic garb being passed through with a cursory search, while older Americans, including the disabled and very young are subjected to the most invasive and embarrassing affronts to their personal dignity in violation of their constitutional rights. The record of the TSA with respect to stopping terrorists is highly questionable, as they have failed test after test involving smuggled weapons and chemicals simulating explosives.

What is it that the TSA really does other than condition the American public to allow the suspension of their civil rights without proper notification of arrest and the intent to search? The TSA is a direct threat to our liberties that is far more serious and insidious than the Patriot Acts' secret tribunals for issuing warrants to conduct surveillance upon Americans. The TSA has now expanded its jurisdiction into non-aviation venues of travel, including highway and large attendance events held in local jurisdictions. So much for the freedom of unrestricted travel.

As was stated so sagely by Benjamin Franklin during the debates on the drafting of the Constitution: "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither safety nor liberty."

The Department of Homeland Security became a huge vacuum that swept up all of the federal law enforcement, including Customs and the Border Patrol. The outcome has been a massive bureaucracy that has confused, impeded, and demonstrated that an agency with powers not enumerated in the Constitution may have been excluded for a reason. There is no Constitutional basis for the federal DHS.

On the state level, the 50 states have followed suit and created a state namesake for their state version of DHS. These state agencies became largely conduits for funneling billions of dollars of federal tax dollars to local communities to allegedly improve their public safety agencies' communications, provide for updated equipment, and to provide for community training for emergencies through the Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) concept, and for providing increased fire and rescue equipment. Unfortunately, in too many cases, the money went for monuments to . . . politicians in the form of statues, parks and buildings having nothing to do with improving disaster response.

In Alaska, the Division of Emergency Services became the Division of Alaska Homeland Security and Emergency Services. The additional alphabet soup did not increase the effectiveness or efficiency of the idea of making Alaskans safer. It did however, become a conduit for disbursing federal DHS grants to local communities. And, that it has done since it was renamed. The yearly grant amounts supplied by the federal DHS to be distributed by the State have been as high as $18,000,000 to this year's $9,500,000. For 2012-2017, the yearly State grant amount is set at $9,500,000.

For the $10s of millions received yearly by Alaska local governments through the DHS grant program, there are still municipal police and fire agencies with radios that cannot communicate with the Alaska State Troopers or neighboring communities. By contrast, the Juneau Fire Department was a focus of one New York Times article in 2006 that investigated the use of the DHS grants. As the fireman in Juneau stated, they had bought so much new equipment, that they had no idea how they were going to use it, as training and manpower to use it were now the issues. Too much of a good thing is still too much.

Interestingly enough, given the emphasis on WMD threats, the potential for nuclear first strikes by Iran, China, North Korea and Russia, the Alaska Dept. of Military and Veterans Affairs have yet to decentralize the command and control from Camp Denali on Ft. Richardson (JBER). There are only so many real military targets of significance in Alaska, those being the four major military bases and the Trans Alaska Pipeline and Terminus at Valdez. Therefore, why has the State left its military command and control in the "target zone"?

Another issue that is of concern to Alaskans is the state of our communications data infrastructure, both public and private, in face of a potential Electromagnetic Pulse attack (EMP). There was allegedly a report done in around 2007-2008, but what steps have been taken to harden the telecommunications infrastructure of Alaska's towns and cities?

In the face of the federal DHS grant largess, the Alaska State Defense Force, a proven disaster response asset was literally rendered ineffective and deemed ineligible for receipt of DHS grants by Governor Sarah Palin, then Adjutant General LTG Craig Campbell, and now Governor Sean Parnell and his Adjutant General MG Thomas Katkus. Their vision for disaster response in Alaska is based upon a reliance upon a totally federal disaster response capability and availability. This reliance is flawed based upon Alaska's disaster response experience during the War on Terror.

In 2006, with the federal commitment of the Alaska Army National Guard and the federal troops to the War on Terror, three times the ASDF was called to State Active Duty because there were no available National Guard troops to use for disaster response. Today, MG Katkus believes that Outside National Guard assets will replace any need for the Alaska State Defense Force.

Another troubling aspect of the DHS grant program has been the militarizing of local and
State police agencies. In the 1950s, the FBI began a program to standardize the organization, rank, investigative procedures, including forms and policies of the local police agencies. This program started with the training of officers and management of the local police agencies in these standards and procedures. The purpose in this was to provide a commonality in command and control for the federalization of local assets in the event of a national emergency. Now, DHS and the federal Department of Justice have taken this first step to a new level.

DOJ has provided local law enforcement with federal law enforcement grants over the years. This program was accelerated during the initial phases of the War on Terror, and somewhat overlapped by DHS.

DHS grants have provided funding to localities to use for law enforcement equipment, communications, and personnel training in concert with DOJ grants. Local and State police agencies are became eligible for priority receipt of military equipment directly from DOD.

The reason our police are looking and acting more like the military is that they are being trained in small unit operations and tactics by military instructors, equipped with similar uniforms and equipment, and instilled with an attitude that was not present in local law enforcement. That attitude is the "break it" mentality of the infantry: surrender or die. We now see NYPD officers armed with H&K MP5 submachine guns and M16A4s. Except for the color of the uniform, one would be hard put to discern the civil police tactical operations officer from any heavily armed military infantry soldier.

Unfortunately, the federal grants have failed to create the Tower of Babel that would give the federal, state and local agencies the ability to communicate with each other. The incompatibility of data base structures compounds the problem of getting information disseminated between agencies.

What are the changes for the common citizen during the course of the War on Terror arising from the attacks of 9-11?

We have seen our soldiers go to war, again, and again, and again. We have grieved with their families for their sacrifices. We have stood in awe at the commitment of duty that those sacrifices require.

We have seen our civil rights diminished and our population suborned to search and seizure in violation of their rights under the Constitution.

Is the State of Alaska more secure as a result of the DHS grants? No. Bad policy and poor leadership cannot be remedied by money. That policy and leadership, however, is not the bane of just Alaska, it is the bane of every State and most of all, reflected in our national leadership. A leadership that apologizes to the enemy, that kow tows to foreign despots and apologizes for our country!

A national leadership that excuses a religion that condones the murder of innocents, the mutilation of women, the treatment of women as property, that maintains slavery in this day and age, that kills apostates and homosexuals without due process, destroys any other religion, and seeks to impose Shari'a upon the entire world: ISLAM.

May we not forget 9-11, may it be a reminder always to future generations that ignoring a threat because of political correctness is irresponsible. People died because our government did not heed the warnings extending all the way back to the 1970s of the threat of radical Islam.

It is time we noted the lesson imparted us by the War on Terror and the experiences of our troops. We need to understand that the threat is now in amongst us. We need to understand that the War on Terror will be ongoing so long as our political leaders fail to understand the threat.

After 11 years of war, our southern borders still stand open, with swaths of our national lands off limits to citizens so that drug runners and jihadis can have free and unfettered access to America from Mexico. A nation with open borders will not remain a sovereign nation for long. That lesson of history is still being ignored so that a few can take advantage of the many seeking work, not citizenship, but just work.

This 9-11, resolve to vote the apologists out of office.

May God bless all who have served, and all who have lost loved ones in the War on Terror and in the defense of our Constitution and our Great Republic.

Up the Republic!
We apologize to NONE!