Coast Guard Rescue
August 6, 2005
By KOMO Staff & News Services
SEATTLE - A Coast Guard helicopter from Astoria, Oregon, airlifted a 55-year-old man
from Tahyua, Washington, off a 48-foot charter fishing boat near Grays Harbor Saturday
after he became seriously ill.
He was taken off the Playboy Too by an HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter to Bowerman Field
in Hoquiam, where he was then taken to Grays Harbor Community Hospital in Aberdeen.
He underwent surgery at the hospital later in the afternoon.
The master of the fishing vessel reported the passenger suffering from extreme sea
sickness to Coast Guard Station Grays Harbor at 11:40 a.m.
The Coast Guard at Grays Harbor launched a 47-foot motor lifeboat to help the man. The
lifeboat arrived alongside the fishing boat and reported the man's vital signs to a flight
surgeon by radio.
The flight surgeon recommended that the man immediately be airlifted since he recently
had surgery and his symptoms might be a sign of complications.
The Coast Guard Air Station in Astoria then sent a helicopter to transport the man.
The Coast Guard has not identified the man pending notification of his family.
Washington state briefs
8/6/2005, 9:37 p.m. PT
The Associated Press
ABERDEEN, Wash. (AP) — A Coast Guard helicopter airlifted a seriously ill man from
a charter fishing near Grays Harbor on Saturday, and he underwent surgery at a hospital
Officials said the man, who was not immediately identified, was from Tahyua, on the
He was flown to a field east of Aberdeen and transferred to Grays Harbor Community
Hospital, where he underwent surgery, the Coast Guard said.
The master of the 48-foot fishing vessel reported the passenger suffering from extreme
sea sickness to the Grays Harbor Coast Guard station at 11:40 a.m.
A Coast Guard lifeboat reported the man's vital signs to a flight surgeon by radio, and the
surgeon recommended the man be airlifted.
The man had recently undergone surgery, and the surgeon determined his symptoms
might be a sign of complications, the Coast Guard said.
Coast Guard warns boaters to be prepared
Thursday, August 04, 2005
Brian Ott’s 26-foot pleasure boat didn’t live up to its name the morning it sank to the
bottom of the Pacific Ocean, 13 miles off the coast of Astoria.
The Lotta Fun went down around 9:30 a.m., sending Ott and his four passengers into 48-
degree water. They stayed afloat by clinging to a makeshift raft of a cooler, dock
bumpers and lifesaver rings.
Just a week or two before, those lifesavers had been absent from the boat when the U.S.
Coast Guard cited its owner for not meeting federal safety regulations.
“It’s a good example of why we do law enforcement boardings,” said Petty Officer 1st
Class Scott McGrew, who drove the 47-foot motor lifeboat that brought three of the
passengers back to shore at Cape Disappointment. The other two were plucked from the
ocean by a helicopter crew from Air Station Astoria.
“It’s why we’re out there checking safety gear,” said Lt. Jamie Frederick, Cape
Disappointment commanding officer. “It was something they didn’t have. A week or two
later, it saved their lives.”
An average of 714 boaters die each year in the United States, 508 of them by drowning,
according to the National Transportation Safety Board. More than half of those who
drowned were on open motorboats, and more than 70 percent were on boats less than 21
feet long. According to the board, about four out of five of the boat operators involved in
those accidents reported they had never completed a boating safety class.
Of about 400 search-and-rescue cases at Station Cape Disappointment in 2004, 70
percent, or 280, occurred in August. The Coast Guard will continue to board boats to
conduct the work that prevents people from needing to be rescued as its busiest month of
the year continues, Lt. Frederick said.
“The biggest concern here is folks go out on the Columbia River bar in vessels that are
small,” Frederick said. “They may be fine and safe on a nice day, but the currents are
extremely strong. The weather can change, and folks get in over their heads with their
vessels in sea conditions that are exceeding their limitations.”
The 35-foot charter fishing boat Taki-Tooo capsized in 2003 while attempting to cross
the turbulent Tillamook Bar despite small craft and rough bar advisories. Eleven of the 19
people on board drowned. None of the passengers had donned lifejackets before the boat
headed toward the bar, into the waves surging out of the bay.
Frederick said many boats don’t carry enough lifejackets or don’t have jackets in the right
sizes. Boats without anchors on board may crash into jetties, unable to stop as they drift
into dangerous areas. Safety equipment stashed beneath seats won’t save someone’s life
if it can’t be snatched in a hurry.
Although radio equipment isn’t required by federal law, Frederick said VHF-FM radios
are the “rule of thumb” to carry for communications. A cell phone may not get service
out on the ocean, but a person in trouble on the water can use VHF channel 16, the
international hailing and distress frequency, to contact the Coast Guard and anyone
boating in the area around them.
“It’s not to say you shouldn’t have a cell phone, too,” Frederick said. “The more means
of contacting someone the better, but a cell phone is no substitute for a radio. It’s
probably one of the best pieces of equipment you can have on board.”
Even if a boater can contact the Coast Guard for help, without the proper equipment on
board, it may be difficult for a crew to find him. The summer is notorious for sheets of
fog that move in swiftly and blanket the Oregon and Washington coastlines. It took the
Coast Guard nearly an hour to reach a Florence boater who called for help after becoming
disoriented in dense fog the last weekend of July. The boater didn’t have flares on board
to signal his position and help the Coast Guard locate him. Visual distress signals like
flares are required by state and federal law.
There are other measures not required by law that can help boaters stay safe.
Frederick encourages boaters to file a float plan.
“It’s as simple as calling up a friend or relative and saying you’re going out on the river,
when you’re going and where you’ll be,” Frederick said. “You’ll probably get the same
advice if you’re going hiking or doing something else off the beaten path.”
The Coast Guard also recommends taking a boating course, getting a vessel safety check
to ensure a boat’s mechanical condition and, for those boaters who venture far from
shore, carrying an Electronic Position Indicating Radio Beacon. When activated, this
device emits a signal that alerts the Coast Guard to a boat’s distress and gives them a
readout of the boat’s position.
And, above all, boaters should take their time and use common sense, cautions Willie
Nyberg, senior marine deputy at the Clatsop County Sheriff’s Office.
“Most of the laws are set up for common sense, but a lot of people just don’t take the
time to check the boat out and make sure it’s properly equipped,” Nyberg said. “Before
you get under way, before you launch your boat, take the time to go through it and make
sure you know where everything is at.
“Make sure you have everything you need and make sure your passengers know where to
find your safety equipment.”
Sea Fighter Could Play Crucial Role
By SETH HETTENA
The Associated Press
Saturday, August 6, 2005; 2:23 PM
SAN DIEGO -- Like a slender runner in a roomful of weightlifters, the Sea Fighter stands
out among ever-bigger warships the Navy is building.
The aluminum catamaran _ the fastest ship in the arsenal _ could play a critical role in the
war on terror, skimming shallow water in the fight against a smaller enemy attacking in
swarms of motorboats.
Critics aren't convinced, believing that seapower is the domain of big ships in the middle
of the ocean.
"There's a philosophical discussion going on whether the Navy needs more smaller ships
or fewer bigger ships," said Paul Francis of the Government Accountability Office.
After the deadly terrorist attack on the destroyer USS Cole five years ago, the Navy
accelerated efforts to strengthen its fighting ability in shallow water. The experimental
Sea Fighter arrived earlier this month in San Diego, where it will spend the next two
years as a convertible test vessel for the new breed of fast, agile and relatively affordable
The Sea Fighter, formerly known as the X-Craft, carries a Navy and Coast Guard crew of
26 and went from paper design to christening in less than two years. It carries a price tag
of $79 million, compared with $4.5 billion spent on the new USS Reagan nuclear-
powered aircraft carrier.
Resembling a commercial car ferry, the Sea Fighter stretches the length of a football field
and can hold two helicopters on its deck. Its stern can launch and retrieve manned or
unmanned mini-submarines and small boats, and it can be armed with hundreds of low-
cost, "cruise-like" missiles capable of supporting U.S. troops hundreds of miles away.
In calm seas, it can exceed 50 knots, or 57 mph, and is capable of entering water as
shallow as 12 feet.
Much of the design is new for the Navy. While a conventional warship bristles with
sensors and weapons, the Sea Fighter is mostly empty space and weighs about 1,000 tons
_ one-tenth as much as the newest destroyer. The empty space allows it to be rapidly
reconfigured after cranes hoist aboard 20-foot containers holding gear needed for each
job _ anti-submarine, mine detection, humanitarian missions.
"Sea Fighter is the key to the future," said Vice Adm. Terrance T. Etnyre, commander of
Naval Surface Forces.
Whether Sea Fighter itself eventually joins the fleet will depend on how well it fares
during testing, said Rear Adm. Jay M. Cohen, head of the Office of Naval Research,
which oversaw the ship's development.
"The challenge is to demonstrate the effectiveness of a concept like this," he said.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., has championed
the ship since the late 1990s and his wife christened the ship in February at a Washington
state shipyard. Both the Sea Fighter and the missiles, called Affordable Weapons, are
made by Titan Corp., a San Diego-based defense contractor. But Hunter is frustrated that
many in the Navy don't like the idea of building more small ships like the Sea Fighter.
"They'll say 'OK, you got it built. It's not going to the fleet. It's going to be a nice
experimental craft. Keep it out of the way. We'll keep building big ships,'" Hunter said.
Plans are that by 2035, the Navy will have as many as 82 smaller, agile ships _ a quarter
of the future fleet _ at a potential cost of $32.7 billion, according to a Congressional
Research Service report issued in May.
However, several U.S. government studies have criticized the effort. With many
shipbuilding projects competing for the same pool of money, the studies question
whether the smaller vessels are as urgently needed as the Navy claims, and just how
vulnerable those ships would be to missiles or medium-caliber weapons.
Others have problems envisioning exactly where on the globe the smaller combat ships
would be used.
"It's a Jim Dandy concept," said John Pike, who directs the defense and space Web site
Globalsecurity.org. "I have just had some difficulty sitting down and pointing to it on the
He said a fleet of small ships is marked change from the Navy's core belief.
"It goes against everything they have believed for more than a century," Pike said.
Coast Guard's aging cutters lose rust battle
By Audrey Hudson
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
August 8, 2005
Corrosion-covered hulls on the Coast Guard's fast-response cutters are forcing the
Homeland Security agency to try to replace the aging fleet a decade ahead of schedule.
Officials had hoped to double the life span of its 110-foot cutters, which the Guard
calls "110s," by replacing thinning and leaking hulls, and then lengthening the stern 13
feet. These modifications were supposed to let the "110s" launch small boats to approach
and board suspicious vessels.
However, the project proved unsuccessful and further damaged some cutters, with at
least one suffering a hull breach.
Instead, the new plan before Congress places a high priority on replacing that entire
fleet of 49 vessels with new 140-foot cutters beginning in 2007.
"We're moving it as fast as we can," Adm. Thomas Collins, Coast Guard commandant,
said in an interview with The Washington Times.
"We're continuing to see deterioration of the 110s and had some design complications
with the efforts to the extend the stern -- buckling and cracking and things like that -- and
22 of the 110s have experienced some form of corrosion in the hull needing emergency
repairs," Adm. Collins said.
Eight cutters will have been converted to 123 feet when the project is halted in
"We decided to stop, take our pulse, and re-evaluate the current strategy. The plan
before Congress, which has been approved by the administration, is to truncate the
program at eight vessels, then accelerate the ultimate replacement of the 110s," Adm.
Only one-quarter of this fast-responder fleet is "mission capable," Rear Adm. Patrick
Stillman told the House Appropriations subcommittee on homeland security at a July 22
hearing. "That's a problem," he said.
Additionally, six of the cutters are overseas in the Persian Gulf working alongside the
Navy protecting offshore oil platforms and inspecting other ships.
Adm. Collins also told the panel several cutters "actually had holes in the hull and
water was coming in."
"That's our challenge, managing the aging assets and getting the most out of them as
we can, as we buy, as quickly as we can, the new ones," Adm. Collins said.
Scientists study Arctic climate changes
RENO (AP) — A Reno scientist is among a team of researchers who will spend the next
several weeks studying the icy Arctic Ocean to document historic climate changes.
Glenn Berger, a research professor at the Desert Research Institute,
and others set off Friday aboard the Healy, a U.S. Coast Guard
"There are more climate changes happening up there than anywhere
else in the world," Berger said of the Arctic. "Models predict drastic
changes up there by the middle of this century."
Berger said his role in the project will be to help determine the
history of climate changes in the Arctic thousands of years ago by
taking sediment cores from the bottom of the ocean.
"If we're seeing these warming trends now, we want to look to the
past to see if anything like this has happened before," he said.
This is Berger's second trip this year to the Arctic Ocean. The $2.5
million research project is funded by the National Science
Bill Wiseman, program director for the NSF's Arctic Natural
Sciences Program, said the expedition is using new technology to
see whether variations in the Arctic's climate are within normal
range of those that took place in Earth's recent past during the
Holocene era, some 10,000 years since the last ice age.
"The fundamental concept is that the Arctic is undergoing some
rather exceptional and rapid changes at the moment," Wiseman told
the Reno Gazette-Journal. "We see this in the retreat of glaciers and
"We're trying to understand what it is we're actually seeing," he
said. "Is it global warming or is it not global warming? We'll
determine if the situation is different than what has happened in the
past, or if it falls within the range of climate variations."
Berger said there are indications — if not scientific evidence — of a
During the first expedition in June, Berger said a biologist told him
that puffins had moved from their lower-latitude habitat to the
colder regions of Barrow, Alaska, and were displacing Arctic birds.
Then last year, the first shark was sighted in the waters southwest of
"A native who lives in one of the villages outside of Barrow told me
he saw a shark while they were hunting beluga whales," Berger
said. "I thought that was astounding. So the waters are warming."
This leg of the research expedition, which is set to wrap up Sept.
30, is being conducted in cooperation with the Swedish icebreaker
and research vessel Oden, making it the largest geological
expedition to the central Arctic Ocean in 20 years.
Posted on Sun, Aug. 07, 2005
Anti-terror training teaches doormen, truckers to be vigilant
BY STEVENSON SWANSON
NEW YORK - (KRT) - They wear uniforms, and they certainly walk a beat. But these
recruits in the campaign to prevent another terror attack don't carry guns or flash badges.
They are doormen, whose duties at thousands of apartment buildings across this city
normally include such mundane chores as hailing cabs, announcing visitors and helping
tenants with bulging shopping bags and balky baby strollers.
But as they trod their well-worn paths from lobby to street and back again, they also note
the comings and goings in their neighborhoods, and they might pick up signals that
something is amiss before catastrophe strikes.
In the last year, about 6,000 doormen, superintendents and other workers at residential
buildings have received four hours of training from police officers in the basics of terror-
spotting, part of a nationwide trend by unions, trade groups and homeland-security
agencies to beef up anti-terror defenses with citizens' brigades. A similar effort to train
Chicago doormen began this year, and truck drivers, recreational boaters and school bus
drivers are among the other groups signing up to keep watch.
Two recent series of bombings in London have served as sobering reminders that terror
attacks can come at any time and will not necessarily be repeats of the dramatic events of
Sept. 11, 2001, involving hijacked passenger jets and thousands of deaths.
In response to the July 21 attempted attacks at London rapid-transit stations and aboard a
double-decker bus, New York police started randomly searching bags at subway and
commuter-rail stations, the first time such checks have been conducted on the area's
But with an abundance of hard-to-protect "soft targets," such as museums, hotels,
schools, and bridges, public officials across the country acknowledge that they do not
have the personnel or the money to guard against every threat. That has led them to
endorse efforts such as the program to train doormen.
"The private sector is very important," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said after
the deadly July 7 London attacks. "That's a whole other set of eyes and ears."
Israel has proven the value of such awareness-raising efforts, according to homeland
security expert Randall Larsen, who said 70 percent of would-be suicide bombers in that
country are stopped because alert citizens spot them before they can carry out their
"But that doesn't mean we should be paranoid," said Larsen, director of the Institute for
Homeland Security, a nonprofit research group. "Trying to find the balance between
paranoia and complacency is a little bit tricky. The term is `measured vigilance' - don't go
to extremes on either side."
Peter Santiago, who has been a doorman at a Madison Avenue condominium for 19
years, credits the training he received last year with making him more vigilant as he goes
about his daily duties.
He recently noticed that the back end of a car that was idling in front of the building was
low to the ground, as if its trunk were heavily loaded. At the mortuary next door, the
funeral of popular singer Luther Vandross had drawn a large crowd, presenting a
Santiago pointed out the car to a policeman, who told the driver to move.
"The course did wake us up," said Santiago, 48. "Now, you look around more, and you're
more aware. I don't want to get blown away. And I'd be the first one to go."
Procedures for handling parcels at the 20-story building were tightened after the seven-
person staff completed its anti-terror training, and the building's front door is now locked
at all times.
"The only way into this building is by helicopter," said Peter Roach, 47, the building's
At a Midtown co-op apartment building, prospective buyers coming to open houses have
to be escorted to and from the apartments by a real-estate broker. Before the building
staff went through the training course, people could come and go at will, said doorman
"At the beginning, we got negative feedback," said Vielman, 36, who has been a doorman
for nine years. "But once you explain it and say, `Since 9-11 ...' people understand."
Such measures may seem aimed more at tightening security than at preventing terrorism,
but law-enforcement officials have said that apartment buildings are potential terror
targets. Jose Padilla, the former Chicago gang member being held as an "enemy
combatant," reportedly studied ways to cause explosions in apartments using natural gas
from kitchen stoves.
The training program, run jointly by the union that represents building workers and a
landlord group, covers such topics as how to spot suspicious behavior and what to do to
limit exposure to chemical, biological and radioactive material.
Union officials hope to have the 28,000 doormen, supers and other residential building
employees that it represents trained in the next year.
Sept. 11 "made us understand that security is everybody's business," said union local
President Michael Fishman, adding that his members' familiarity with their surroundings
made them logical terror-spotters. "They know who should be in the neighborhood and
who should not. They know when someone's out of the ordinary."
In Chicago, a four-hour training session modeled on the New York course began in
January. So far, about 200 of Chicago's estimated 2,000 doormen have taken the course,
said Tom Dobry, director of the building employees union training center.
Another group being called upon to serve as extra eyes and ears is the nation's 3.2 million
The American Trucking Association runs a training program called Highway Watch,
which has instructed 115,000 drivers in the basics of spotting a terror plot in the making
and how to report it. In a one-hour session at truck terminals or in hotel meeting rooms,
drivers learn to be on the lookout for people casing a truck terminal or asking
suspiciously detailed questions.
If truckers see something suspicious, they are instructed to call a hotline. Most of the
calls have been about accidents or hazardous road conditions, but in several instances,
calls have been forwarded to the association's information-analysis center, whose staff
includes former employees of federal intelligence and law-enforcement agencies.
In one case, an instructor at a Michigan truck-driving school who had been through the
Highway Watch training program became suspicious of 10 men who claimed to have
worked as truckers and had been sent to the school by a trucking company for evaluation.
But they lacked basic truck-driving skills, and their credentials, including their
commercial driving licenses, could not be confirmed. The instructor contacted the call
The resulting FBI investigation found that many of the men had immigration violations,
and several of their names appear on a terrorist watch list although the trucking
association says some of the names are common and may refer to other people.
Because the case is still active, trucking-association officials declined to provide further
details, but they say it demonstrates the value of making people aware of the warning
signs of potential terror plots.
"Terrorism at its core means your adversary is among you," said Don Rondeau, director
of the trucking association's analysis center. "The human intelligence that this program
provides is unique and valuable and has already proven effective."
The association, which has received $40 million in federal homeland security grants to
pay for its training programs, recently added courses for school bus drivers and
employees of state transportation departments.
In March, the U.S. Coast Guard launched America's Waterway Watch, which provides
terror-spotting instruction to recreational boaters and maritime workers. The focus is on
raising their awareness to report suspicious activity around such locations as bridges,
tunnels, fuel docks and industrial facilities.
And, as a direct result of the London incidents, the New York transit-workers union
began a terrorism-detection program for its members in July
"Obviously nothing is 100 percent effective," said trucking-association spokesman John
Willard. "But we know that doing nothing is 100 percent ineffective. You can try a
variety of different devices or electronic monitoring systems, but at the end of the day, if
you don't have somebody on the ground who is able to distinguish what is normal and
what is out of the ordinary, your chances of defeating those terrorists is pretty slim."
A day of roaring, soaring and sun
By Tan Vinh
Seattle Times staff reporter
They just kept coming — each hour a new race, new hydroplanes skimming across Lake
Washington, followed by the Blue Angels streaking over the I-90 bridge.
By the banks, inebriated men jumped into the cold water, followed by children imitating
them nearby. Someone threw out a beach ball. The music roared out of the stadium-
caliber sound system, and the party was on.
Seafair's annual aerial show and hydroplane races returned to Seattle yesterday with
125,000 people lining the shore. Organizers expect an even bigger turnout when
festivities conclude today.
The hydro races and aerial performances also mean loud jet noises, street and bridge
closures and traffic jams that usually are the bane of many neighborhoods. Yet Seafair
doesn't draw as many complaints from neighborhoods as other festivals, Seattle police
Seafair has become "part of our tradition, part of our city," said Norman Harris, 69, of
Seattle, who arrived about an hour before the first race.
"It's like Christmas and Thanksgiving. Seafair is another holiday, as far as I am
concerned," said Albie Moshcatel, who started attending Seafair hydro races in 1958.
Moshcatel was 5, but he remembers his first festival because Seafair clowns came to his
grandmother's house and brought ice cream. "Imagine that. In your back yard. Clowns
and ice cream," he said.
He thought that was a Seafair ritual and eagerly waited for the clowns in his
grandmother's yard for years thereafter. They never came again.
"It took a while to get over that," he said.
Moshcatel eventually bought a house near the lake, a stone's throw from the annual
spectacle of fast boats and faster planes. Even though he's seen the Blue Angels' routine
numerous times and doesn't care much for the hydro races, Moshcatel still watches from
his front yard "because of the crowd and the energy" the event brings.
Yesterday's air show also included cargo aircraft, helicopters and World War II-era
planes. The military, as in past years, has a large presence. On the Seattle waterfront,
eight ships from the Coast Guard and the U.S. and Canadian navies offered tours.
At the hydro races, Gary Grembowski, 46, of Sammamish, looked like a happy child,
with his zoom lens and a zen focus on the hydroplanes roaring up to 200 mph.
Officials said no serious injuries resulted from yesterday's races.
This marks the 55th year for the hydroplane races in Seattle. Seattle transplants without a
nostalgic connection to the city may not understand the Seafair races, said Grembowski,
who has attended 35 of them.
He recalled races during the 1960s and 1970s when the engines roared loudly enough to
shake the lake's banks and be heard from Kirkland, he said.
That is as vivid a childhood memory as anyone can get, he said.
First terrorism war plans created
Military outlines responses to attacks
By BRADLEY GRAHAM
The Washington Post
August 08. 2005 8:00AM
OLORADO SPRINGS - The U.S. military has devised its first-ever war plans for
guarding against and responding to terrorist attacks in the United States, envisioning 15
potential crisis scenarios and anticipating several simultaneous strikes around the
country, according to officers who drafted the plans.
The classified plans, developed at Northern Command headquarters in Colorado Springs,
Colo., outline a variety of possible roles for quick-reaction forces estimated at as many as
3,000 ground troops per attack, a number that could easily grow depending on the extent
of the damage and the abilities of civilian response teams.
The possible scenarios range from "low end," relatively modest crowd-control missions
to "high-end," full-scale disaster management after catastrophic attacks such as the
release of a deadly biological agent or the explosion of a radiological device, several
Some of the worst-case scenarios involve three attacks at the same time, in keeping with
a Pentagon directive earlier this year ordering Northcom, as the command is called, to
plan for multiple simultaneous attacks.
The war plans represent a historic shift for the Pentagon, which has been reluctant to
become involved in domestic operations and is legally constrained from engaging in law
enforcement. Indeed, defense officials continue to stress that they intend for the troops to
play largely a supporting role in homeland emergencies, bolstering police, firefighters
and other civilian response groups.
But the new plans provide for what several senior officers acknowledged is the likelihood
that the military will have to take charge in some situations, especially when dealing with
mass-casualty attacks that could quickly overwhelm civilian resources.
"In my estimation, (in the event of) a biological, a chemical or nuclear attack in any of
the 50 states, the Department of Defense is best positioned - of the various eight federal
agencies that would be involved - to take the lead," said Adm. Timothy Keating, the head
of Northcom, which coordinates military involvement in homeland security operations.
The plans present the Pentagon with a clearer idea of the kinds and numbers of troops and
the training that might be required to build a more credible homeland defense force. They
come at a time when senior Pentagon officials are engaged in an internal, year-long
review of force levels and weapons systems, attempting to balance the heightened
requirements of homeland defense against the heavy demands of overseas deployments in
Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Keating expressed confidence that existing military assets are sufficient to meet
homeland security needs. Maj. Gen. Richard Rowe, Northcom's chief operations officer,
agreed, but he added that "stress points" in some military capabilities probably would
result if troops were called on to deal with multiple homeland attacks.
Several people on the staff here and at the Pentagon said in interviews that the debate and
analysis within the U.S. government regarding the extent of the homeland threat and the
resources necessary to guard against it remain far from resolved.
The command's plans consist of two main documents. One, designated CONPLAN 2002
and consisting of more than 1,000 pages, is said to be a sort of umbrella document that
draws together previously issued orders for homeland missions and covers air, sea and
land operations. It addresses not only post-attack responses but also prevention and
deterrence actions aimed at intercepting threats before they reach the United States.
The other, identified as CONPLAN 0500, deals specifically with managing the
consequences of attacks represented by the 15 scenarios.
CONPLAN 2002 has passed a review by the Pentagon's Joint Staff and is due to go soon
to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and top aides for further study and approval, the
officers said. CONPLAN 0500 is undergoing final drafting here. (CONPLAN stands for
"concept plan" and tends to be an abbreviated version of an OPLAN, or "operations
plan," which specifies forces and timelines for movement into a combat zone.)
The plans, like much else about Northcom, mark a new venture by a U.S. military
establishment still trying to find its comfort level with the idea of a greater homeland
defense role after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Military officers and civilian Pentagon policy-makers say they recognize, on one hand,
that the armed forces have much to offer not only in numbers of troops but also in
experience managing crises and responding to emergencies. On the other hand, they
worry that too much involvement in homeland missions would diminish the military's
ability to deal with threats abroad.
The Pentagon's new homeland defense strategy, issued in June, emphasized in boldface
type that "domestic security is primarily a civilian law enforcement function." Still, it
noted the possibility that ground troops might be sent into action on U.S. soil to counter
security threats and deal with major emergencies.
"For the Pentagon to acknowledge that it would have to respond to catastrophic attack
and needs a plan was a big step," said James Carafano, who follows homeland security
issues for the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank.
William M. Arkin, a defense specialist who has reported on Northcom's war planning,
said the evolution of the Pentagon's thinking reflects the recognition of an obvious gap in
Since Northcom's inception in October 2002, its headquarters staff has grown to about
640 members, making it larger than the Southern Command, which oversees operations
in Latin America, but smaller than the regional commands for Europe, the Middle East
and the Pacific. A brief tour late last month of Northcom's operations center at Peterson
Air Force Base found officers monitoring not only aircraft and ship traffic around the
United States but also the Discovery space shuttle mission, the National Scout Jamboree
in Virginia, several border surveillance operations and a few forest firefighting efforts.
Pentagon authorities have rejected the idea of creating large standing units dedicated to
homeland missions. Instead, they favor a "dual use" approach, drawing on a common
pool of troops trained both for homeland and overseas assignments.
Particular reliance is being placed on the National Guard, which is expanding a network
of 22-member civil support teams to all states and forming about a dozen 120-member
regional response units. Congress last year also gave the Guard expanded authority under
Title 32 of the U.S. Code to perform such homeland missions as securing power plants
and other critical facilities.
The Northcom commander can also quickly call on active-duty forces. On top of previous
powers to send fighter jets into the air, Keating earlier this year gained the authority to
dispatch Navy and Coast Guard ships to deal with suspected threats off U.S. coasts. He
has immediate access to four active-duty Army battalions based around the country,
officers here said.
Nonetheless, when it comes to ground forces possibly taking a lead role in homeland
operations, senior Northcom officers remain reluctant to discuss specifics. Keating said
such situations, if they arise, probably would be temporary, with lead responsibility
passing back to civilian authorities.
Military exercises code-named Vital Archer, which involve troops in lead roles, are
shrouded in secrecy. Other homeland exercises featuring troops in supporting roles are
Civil liberties groups have warned that the military's expanded involvement in homeland
defense could bump up against the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which restricts the use
of troops in domestic law enforcement. But Pentagon authorities have told Congress they
see no need to change the law.
According to military lawyers here, the dispatch of ground troops would most likely be
justified on the basis of the president's authority under Article 2 of the Constitution to
serve as commander in chief and protect the nation. The Posse Comitatus Act exempts
actions authorized by the Constitution.
"That would be the place we would start from" in making the legal case, said Col. John
Gereski, a senior Northcom lawyer.
But Gereski also said he knew of no court test of this legal argument, and Keating left the
door open to seeking an amendment of the Posse Comitatus Act.
One potentially tricky area, the admiral said, involves National Guard officers who are
put in command of task forces that include active-duty as well as Guard units - an
approach first used last year at the Group of Eight summit in Georgia. Guard troops,
acting under state control, are exempt from Posse Comitatus prohibitions.
"It could be a challenge for the commander who's a Guardsman, if we end up in a fairly
complex, dynamic scenario," Keating said. He cited a potential situation in which Guard
units might begin rounding up people while regular forces could not.
The command's sensitivity to legal issues, Gereski said, is reflected in the unusually large
number of lawyers on staff here - 14 compared with 10 or fewer at other commands. One
lawyer serves full time at the command's Combined Intelligence and Fusion Center,
which joins military analysts with law enforcement and counterintelligence specialists
from such civilian agencies as the FBI, the CIA and the Secret Service.
A senior supervisor at the facility said the staff there does no intelligence collection, only
He also said the military operates under long-standing rules intended to protect civilian
liberties. The rules, for instance, block military access to intelligence information on
political dissent or purely criminal activity.
Even so, the center's lawyer is called on periodically to rule on the appropriateness of
some kinds of information-sharing. Asked how frequently such cases arise, the supervisor
recalled two in the previous 10 days, but he declined to provide specifics.
A Senate bill offers reform measures for the agency, which has been
inconsistent and careless with relief money.
A Times Editorial
Published August 8, 2005
Responding to natural disasters isn't easy. Yet we should expect more from the Federal
Emergency Management Agency, which continues to frustrate many hurricane victims
and local governments. FEMA has been too free with relief money in some cases, too
stingy in others and too inconsistent in determining who gets help with what.
For example, after last year's hurricanes the agency spent $31-million in Miami-Dade
County, which was relatively unscathed. But it still hasn't reimbursed some local
governments for legitimate storm costs. Now Congress seems to have gotten FEMA's
In particular, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson has proposed three reform measures that would
ensure that the agency improves its performance. The first would require FEMA to report
changes it has made in response to a critical inspector general's report. The inspection
found wasted effort after Hurricane Frances, such as FEMA spending $8-million on
temporary housing for 4,300 Miami-area residents who didn't even ask for the aid.
The second measure, which is part of the Senate's homeland security spending bill, would
require FEMA to bring uniformity to its guidelines. In the Tampa Bay area, the agency
reimbursed local governments for debris pickup after Frances - unless the material was
on private property. So local governments had to shoulder the cost for residents living on
private or gated roads. That isn't fair; a storm victim is a storm victim no matter where he
or she lives. After Hurricane Charley hit Punta Gorda, FEMA paid for debris removal on
The third measure would require the agency to adopt new rules for its inspectors that
would provide training and prevent exploitation of residents they are helping. Last year, a
Florida woman was cheated by a FEMA inspector who bought her damaged home for a
fraction of its value.
FEMA director Michael Brown has already made some procedural changes that
improved performance after Hurricane Dennis damaged the Florida Panhandle. More
inspectors were on the ground, and a permanent staff rotated into disaster areas until the
job was done. The agency won't pay for a funeral without official confirmation that the
death was storm-related. Last year, FEMA paid for 300 funerals even though the official
death toll was 120.
Americans should expect FEMA to act fairly and spend tax dollars prudently. Reform
could start with Congress passing the three measures in the Senate bill.
[Last modified August 8, 2005, 02:45:22]
Why suicide attackers haven't hit U.S. again
By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY
NEW YORK — After the bombings in London and Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, the question that rivets
America is one that has no sure answer: Why haven't Muslim militants executed another suicide
terror attack on the U.S. home front?
If suicide bombers can strike daily in the Middle East and hit the capitals
of Europe, why does 9/11 remain a spectacular exception?
There are theories about why the United States still hasn't had a
homegrown attack like the ones last month in London. Suicide bombing
isn't that easy. The USA isn't that vulnerable. American Muslims aren't
that militant. Foreign terrorists aren't focused, not yet, on a domestic
Over the past four years, Jeremiahs as varied as Dick Cheney and
Osama bin Laden have said another attack is inevitable. It could come at
any time, and it could come from within; homegrown suicide terrorists are
notoriously difficult to identify before they strike.
Robert Pape, a University of Chicago political scientist who has studied
suicide terrorists, says most are "walk-in volunteers who decide to do it
only months beforehand. They're not long-term criminals you can track."
He cites the July 7 London bombers: wage earners, family men, cricket
fans and, apparently, suicides.
Contrary to popular stereotype, most are not poor, ill-educated, disturbed
or disconnected. Suicide terrorists are men and women, young and old,
rich and poor, educated and ignorant. If anything, they tend to be
relatively well off and, to outward appearances, well adjusted. Mohamed
Atta, ringleader in the Sept. 11 attacks, was a college graduate and the
son of a lawyer.
"There is no accurate criminal profile for them. Anyone who tells you
differently is trying to get on TV," says Mia Bloom, author of Dying to Kill,
a study of suicide terror. "And if we had a profile, the terrorists would learn
about it and use it against us."
The other explanations — not all reassuring and not all compatible — for
why there's been no repeat of Sept. 11 include the following:
•Suicide terror takes a team. Such attacks in the Middle East usually are
executed by a group that recruits the bomber, gets the explosives, builds
the bomb, surveys the target and gets the bomber there undetected.
Sometimes there's even a video crew.
But the USA lacks such a "suicide terrorist infrastructure," says Bloom, a
University of Cincinnati political scientist. There's no cottage industry in
"suicide belts," as in the West Bank, where such a package of wearable
explosives goes for less than $200.
To the contrary, police in the New York City area visit chemical and
demolition suppliers to ask about large purchases of explosives by new
customers. Home Depot stores automatically tell authorities about any
sale of more than 500 pounds of fertilizer, which can be used to make
•U.S. Muslims want the American dream, not jihad. The United States
has assimilated immigrant Muslims more successfully than Western
Europe, where there is a higher proportion of poor, alienated Muslims,
according to Ahmed Bedier of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
American Muslims seem to have more of a stake in keeping peace.
"No one wants to attack their own people," Bedier says. "Muslims here
see themselves as Americans more than Muslims in France see
themselves as French."
Last week a council of leading American Muslim scholars issued an edict
condemning those who commit terrorism in the name of Islam as
"criminals, not 'martyrs.' "
Bloom, who has worked with the New Jersey Office of Counter-
Terrorism, says the state's Arab and Muslim communities are "hotbeds of
dissent. But they're not taking it to the next level. When a rabble-rouser
comes to a mosque, he's met with a great deal of resistance. People in
that community say (to the authorities), 'Please come get this person.' "
Example: Last August, police charged two Muslims — one the American
son of an Egyptian man, the other an illegal immigrant from Pakistan —
with conspiring to bomb the Herald Square subway station. The suspects
came to the attention of the New York police intelligence unit through tips
from Brooklyn's Islamic community.
Bedier says an experience last month left him modestly optimistic about
relations between Muslims and non-Muslims.
He stopped his car outside a house in Pinellas Park, Fla., that had a toilet
in the front yard and a sign: "Koran flushing, 1 p.m."
Bedier, 31, a native of Egypt, asked the homeowner, Mike Allen, what he
was trying to say. Allen invited him inside, where he complained that
Muslim Americans were not condemning terrorism. Bedier went to his car,
got his laptop, and showed Allen what his own group had done. After a
long talk, they parted amicably. "He realized we have the same issue,"
Bedier says. "We're both against terrorism." Allen told the St. Petersburg
Times that he had taken down the display because Bedier was "so nice."
Tom Ridge, the former Homeland Security secretary, points out, however,
that it might not take a team: "You don't need too many committed to
martyrdom to wreak havoc."
•The U.S. homeland is better protected. America has become a land
scoured, probed, patrolled and fenced by a web of informers, computers,
guards, spies, tape recorders, detectors, sensors, Jersey barriers,
concrete planters and bomb-sniffing dogs. It may have nipped some plots
in the bud and deterred others. "We look differently as a country now to
the terrorists," Ridge says. "We have created security measures unlike the
terrorists have seen before, and we continue to upgrade them."
In New York City, for instance, the police department has increased its
counterterrorism squad from a few dozen officers to about a thousand.
People who run parking garages, marinas and hunting stores routinely
report anything unusual. Arabic, Pashto and Urdu-speakers, working with
law enforcement authorities, monitor online chat and chatter on the
"I don't want to give a sense of false security," says Pape, author of a new
book on suicide terrorism, Dying to Win, "but right now we're doing pretty
•Al-Qaeda Central is dead. Since 9/11, the world's most notorious
terrorist organization has lost its headquarters and training centers in
Afghanistan. Most of its leaders are dead, in prison or on the run. Time
and energy once devoted to elaborate terror attacks are spent staying
alive and at large.
Al-Qaeda has become less of an organization and more of a movement,
Pape says. Sometimes there's coordination among leaders, or among
leaders and followers. Sometimes things percolate from the bottom up.
"The old centralized al-Qaeda is gone," agrees Bloom. "It's become more
like a franchise operation."
But terrorists don't always need directions from the home office. Last
week a screen at a news media briefing at New York City police
headquarters bore a list of lessons learned from the London bombings.
No. 1: "This Can Happen Here." As Commissioner Ray Kelly put it, "The
recipe to make a bomb, unfortunately, is as available on the Internet as a
recipe for meat loaf."
•Bin Laden is patiently planning another blockbuster. The man who
brought down the World Trade Center likes to bide his time. If this is a
struggle of centuries, as bin Laden has argued, what are four years? Eight
years elapsed between attacks on the Trade Center. Ridge says that
could explain why al-Qaeda hasn't struck again — "they're just not ready."
"That they would attack again soon after 9/11 was our expectation, not
their expectation," Bloom adds. "If they wanted to send a guy into Wal-
Mart with an AK-47, they could have a long time ago. But usually they
wait until they can do something shocking, maybe three or four
simultaneous attacks. You need time to do that."
Intelligence gathered after the invasion of Afghanistan stoked the U.S.
government's fear of smaller suicide attacks on "soft" domestic targets
such as shopping malls. By late 2003, however, information indicated a
new focus on one spectacular plot.
The detonation of a radioactive or "dirty" bomb in a suitcase in Times
Square would panic the entire metro area. In minutes, the years of
seeming immunity would be forgotten.
•Muslim terrorists are focused on U.S. allies in Europe and U.S.
troops in Iraq. In 2002-03, Australians and Europeans whose nations
had troops in Afghanistan or Iraq became al-Qaeda's most frequent
suicide attack targets. This was before the Madrid train bombings last
year, and the attacks on the London transit system and the Egyptian
resort last month.
Pape, who has charted the hundreds of suicide bombings worldwide since
1980, says al-Qaeda even put its current strategy in writing. In 2003, a
Norwegian intelligence agency discovered what appeared to be an al-
Qaeda planning document on a radical Islamic Web site. It said direct
attacks on America would be insufficient to compel U.S. withdrawal from
Iraq and recommended attacks on its European allies to get them to
withdraw their forces — thereby increasing the burden on the United
States. Specifically mentioned: Britain and Spain.
The other focus of suicide terrorism is Iraq. From a would-be martyr's
perspective, what's better than killing a "crusader"?
The Iraq war, Pape argues, inflames al-Qaeda's real dispute with the
West — the presence of "infidel" troops in Arabia. It's also an effective
way to tie down the United States in an unpopular war — a view bin
Laden himself expressed in a videotape released before the 2004
Bin Laden's strategy effectively dovetails with the Bush administration's,
which is to take the war on terrorism to the enemy by fighting over there
instead of back here. Most suicide bombers in Iraq are not Iraqis, Pape
says, suggesting that the war may be sucking up the supply of
international suicide bombers.
But Pape and Bloom say that by inflaming Muslim sensibilities, the war
will only create more suicide bombers. The war, Bloom says, is "less a
flame drawing the moths than a chrysalis in which many more are being
•We've been lucky. Ridge speculated last year that the homeland's post-
9/11 immunity from terror attack may simply have been luck.
Bloom says there has been luck — certain clues and leads. But she
doesn't believe in luck "if it means that if there's another attack, we were
just unlucky. If there's another attack, it means we messed up."