RealNews

Critics question value of huge homeland security exercise

On Monday at 11:58 a.m., an imaginary radioactive “dirty bomb” will explode near Tully’s Coffee in Seattle. Halfway across the country, Chicago-area hospital officials will begin getting an influx of calls from patients who have contracted pneumonic plague. Thus will begin the largest federal emergency-preparedness exercise in U.S. history, calling to duty 8,500 government and emergency workers in an event that will cost $16 million. “The response will be as realistic as possible,” Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge told reporters at a briefing on May 5. But many experts worry that this made-for-television exercise will be more reality TV than reality. Officials will know many details of the attack ahead of time, and that will undermine the value of the test to gauge America’s—or even Seattle’s and Chicago’s—ability to respond to a terrorist attack. The greatest weapons a terrorist has, after all, are surprise and uncertainty. Ridge called Monday’s exercise “a test of our response capacity.” Yet, this high-profile and high-price test is a lot like a final exam where students get a sneak peek at the toughest questions. “It’s too big and too scripted,” said Frank Hoffman, a homeland-security consultant who was a top aide to the Hart-Rudman Commission on terrorism, which presciently warned of terrorist attacks in February 2001. “There’s no tolerance for failure. There’s no risks being taken. It can’t just be all choreographed in advance. You don’t test anything.” Full Story

OODA Analyst

OODA Analyst

OODA is comprised of a unique team of international experts capable of providing advanced intelligence and analysis, strategy and planning support, risk and threat management, training, decision support, crisis response, and security services to global corporations and governments.