Sunday, February 3, 2008

Book, Video: Our Own Worst Enemy

Retired Co. Randy Larsen, USAF was featured this morning on C-Span 2 discussing his book, Our Own Worst Enemy. He is a refreshing speaker given his career in the military and he is candid.
His hypothesis is that we may not be able to stop a terrorist attack but we ought to be prepared to act subsequently. He isn't sure that we Americans are prepared to act and that we rely too heavily on the government to do that for us. He loves the line, 'Form a posse!'

It seems a sheriff of a large Texas county with but 20,000 inhabitants was asked, shortly after 9-11, how he would be able to react to a disaster in his county with only 8 deputes. "Form a posse!" he said.

Larsen said, "Since 9/11, the administration and Congress have spent too much time thinking at a tactical level, and too often technology has driven their strategy. No one doubts their good intentions, but this is a backward approach. Wasting money with good intentions make us no more secure."

Larsen is most worried about a biological attack, specifically anthrax, and wonders how the citizens will respond in the aftermath. In an editorial in the Washington Post back in 2005 Larson said, "Defense against bioterrorism presents a completely different challenge. The biotechnology revolution has made it virtually impossible to prevent terrorists from producing biological weapons and bringing them into the United States. The top priority for biodefense must be early detection, rapid response and recovery."

He believes that there needs to be a single person in charge of biodefense. I cannot verify that there is one. The Homeland Security website gives no information on that, but a link takes one to FEMA and, five links after that, this information on bioterror:

After a Biological Attack In some situations, such as the case of the anthrax letters sent in 2001, people may be alerted to potential exposure. If this is the case, pay close attention to all official warnings and instructions on how to proceed. The delivery of medical services for a biological event may be handled differently to respond to increased demand. The basic public health procedures and medical protocols for handling exposure to biological agents are the same as for any infectious disease. It is important for you to pay attention to official instructions via radio, television, and emergency alert systems.

When I was in grade school back in the 40's and 50's we had regular A-bomb drills just in case. Of course, they were essentially worthless, but at least we were aware that there was some plan, albeit dumb. What's Toledo's plan for a bioterrorist attack? Ohio's plan?

Surely we all could 'posse up' but shouldn't we know the drill?

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