The Lady Speaks

Feel safe, Senators?

Okay, just when you think the incompetence of government and bureaucratic bungling just couldn't get much worse than it has… 

If my area doesn't have a plan to deal with a terror attack, (we do, by the way) it isn't so much of a big deal. The tallest building is a 10-story teaching hospital. Terrorists who find this place are using an extremely out-of-date map. It's that small.

But when an place that hosts the bulls-eye of the terrorist dartboard still doesn't have a comprehensive response plan, and is "still not ready for a terror attack," even after experiencing 9-11, that's frightening. 

Eric Weiss, Washington Post:

Nearly five years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Washington region still lacks a strategic plan to guide preparations for any future attacks or to effectively spend hundreds of millions of homeland security dollars, federal and local officials told a U.S. Senate panel yesterday.

The lack of a comprehensive regionwide communication system was repeatedly cited by senators as a case of poor planning and coordination. For example, Prince George's County does not have radios that are fully compatible with neighboring jurisdictions.

An oversight panel for the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs took emergency response officials from the District, Maryland, Virginia and the federal government to task for bureaucratic foot-dragging and a lack of agreement on a long-term plan for protecting millions of residents in the region.


"What do we have today? What's in place today?'' asked Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.).

Local homeland security officials did not give a definitive answer. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, they said, strategies have been developed that make the region better prepared to deal with attacks, but they realize that more needs to be done.


Senators questioned why the Capital Region Homeland Security Strategic Plan has not been completed. The plan was promised last September but will not be available until August at the earliest, officials said. The plan would establish goals and priorities for enhancing disaster response and for efficiently spending federal preparedness dollars.


Edward D. Reiskin, the District's deputy mayor for public safety and justice, assured the panel that local jurisdictions are prepared to respond to individual emergencies.

"If a big, bad thing happens, we have a response plan,'' he said after the hearing. "That's not at all what is the issue here. It's about strategic planning and about what is the vision.''


But a detailed strategic plan is still vital, experts said. The problems encountered during the Katrina disaster highlighted the need for detailed evacuation plans, especially when many jurisdictions and agencies are involved.

In testimony yesterday, William O. Jenkins Jr., director of homeland security issues for the Government Accountability Office, was asked whether local officials can really know whether they are adequately prepared without such a plan.

"In a word, no,'' he said. [emphasis mine]


March 30, 2006 - Posted by | Government, Homeland Security, National Security, Terrorism

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