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Friday, September 30, 2005

Katrina/Rita After Action Report

Left in the comments by a member of the Frogosphere…

Always do an AAR. Here's the AAR for Katrina/Rita. Is it funny because it’s true, or funny because its obvious? 2 States, 22 Observations

1. Texas: Productive, industrious state run by Republicans.Louisiana: Government dependent, welfare state run by Democrats.

2. Texas: Residents take responsibility to protect and evacuate themselves.Louisiana: Residents wait for government to protect and evacuate them.

3. Texas: Local and state officials take responsibility for protecting their citizens and property.Louisiana: Local and state officials blame federal government for not protecting their citizens and property.

4. Texas: Command and control remains in place to preserve order.Louisiana: Command and control collapses allowing lawlessness.

5. Texas: Law enforcement officers remain on duty to protect city.Louisiana: Law enforcement officers desert their posts to protect themselves.

6. Texas: Local police watch for looting.Louisiana: Local police participate in looting.

7. Texas: Law and order remains in control, 8 looters tried it, 8 looters arrested.Louisiana: Anarchy and lawlessness breaks out, looters take over city, no arrests, criminals with guns have to be shot by federal troops.

8. Texas: Considerable damage caused by hurricane.Louisiana: Considerable damage caused by looters.

9. Texas: Flood barriers hold preventing cities from flooding.Louisiana: Flood barriers fail due to lack of maintenance allowing city to flood.

10. Texas: Orderly evacuation away from threatened areas, few remain.Louisiana: 25,000 fail to evacuate, are relocated to another flooded area.

11. Texas: Citizens evacuate with personal 3-day supply of food and water.Louisiana: Citizens fail to evacuate with 3-day supply of food and water, do without it for the next 4 days.

12. Texas: FEMA brings in tons of food and water for evacuees. State officials provide accessible distribution points.Louisiana: FEMA brings in tons of food and water for evacuees. State officials prevent citizens from reaching distribution points and vice versa.

13. Louisiana: Media focuses on poor blacks in need of assistance, blamesBush.Texas: Media can't find poor blacks in need of assistance, looking for something else to blame on Bush.

14. Texas: Coastal cities suffer some infrastructure damage, Mayors tell residents to stay away until ready for repopulation, no interference from federal officials. Louisiana: New Orleans is destroyed, Mayor asks residents to return home as another hurricane approaches, has to be overruled by federal officials.

15. Louisiana: Over 400 killed by storm, flooding and crime.Texas: 24 killed in bus accident on highway during evacuation, no storm related deaths.

16. Texas: Jailed prisoners are relocated to other detention facilities outside the storm area.Louisiana: Jailed prisoners are set free to prey on city shops, residents, and homes.

17. Texas: Local and state officials work with FEMA and Red Cross in recovery operations.Louisiana: Local and state officials obstruct FEMA and Red Cross from aiding in recovery operations.

18. Texas: Local and state officials demonstrate leadership in managing disaster areas.Louisiana: Local and state officials fail to demonstrate leadership, require federal government to manage disaster areas.

19. Texas: Fuel deliveries can't keep up with demand, some run out of gas on highway; need help from fuel tankers before storm arrives.Louisiana: Motorists wait till storm hits and electrical power fails. Cars run out of gas at gas stations that can't pump gas. Gas in underground tanks mixes with flood waters.

20. Texas: Mayors move citizens out of danger.Louisiana: Mayor moves himself and family to Dallas.

21. Texas: Mayors continue public service announcements and updates on television with Governor's backing and support.Louisiana: Mayor cusses, governor cries, senator threatens president with violence on television, none of them have a clue what went wrong or who's responsible.

22. Louisiana: Democratic Senator says FEMA was slow in responding to 911 calls from Louisiana citizens.Texas: Republican Senator says "when you call 911, the phone doesn't ring in Washington, it rings here at the local responders".

What if state and local elected officials were forced to depend on themselves and their own resources instead of calling for help from the federal government? Texas cities would be back up and running in a few days. Louisiana cities would still be under water next month.Republicans call for action, Democrats call for help. What party will yoube voting for in the next election?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Awash in Liberal Racism and Exaggeration

Katrina didn’t just wash away hundreds of homes and businesses; it washed away the cheesy veneer of multiculturalism that the Left has been using to cover its own racist tendencies. The MSM aided by various victim-identity groups continue to peddle the meme that Bushitler McHalliburton intentionally withheld life saving disaster relief from the Gulf region in order to punish intransigent blacks that refused to vote GOP last time. Furthermore, they ostensibly contend that the more robust federal response to Rita is to help white Texan rednecks and rub poor black New Orleanian’s noses in it. The stories of horrific conditions of filth, murder, rape and mayhem emanating from the Superdome and the Convention Center and dutifully reported without batting an eye by MSM anchors now seems to have revealed the real racists.

Shep Smith, Anderson Cooper, Geraldo et al not to mention the Kossacks, DU, and every other vermin of the lefty web all gleefully reported the completely false stories of gangrapes, throat slitting of children, bodies stacked like cordwood, and any other tale of grisly, inhuman activities. Why? Because they really think that the poor blacks of New Orleans and elsewhere are savages, capable of unspeakable acts of gore and only one missed welfare check away from total devolution to an underclass of genocidal maniacs. As it turns out, only a handful of people died in the Superdome by natural causes, and the murder rate in New Orleans (which is admittedly too high) remained essentially flat during the week of Katrina. Stories of blacks reverting to their cannibal instincts were lapped up without even the most cursory fact checking because racist liberals already thought that blacks were intellectually and morally equivalent to the savages that inhabit their African homeland. They proved the anecdote that if you keep saying something that is untrue enough times, people will start to believe it. FEMA started believing it and ordered 25,000 body bags when maybe a thousand will be needed.

Somebody sent me the story of Tom “Gator” Seefeldt who was supposedly a former Navy SEAL from Mississippi who single handedly saved his entire town, fished 800 dead bodies out of the water and stacked them on I-90. The “Gator” is a phony SEAL and a liar, but when confronted with that fact, The Moberly Monitor who originally published this BS story refuses to retract it, but took it down from their website. Via Drudge comes the story of psychopathic dolphins loosed in the Gulf of Mexico on the prowl for surfers and swimmers. While attack dolphins certainly exist, I’m not so sure that A) they were in the region B) If stationed there they would not have been flown out or C) that if left to fend for themselves, they would still be wearing their "toxic dart guns”. Even if option C were true and the Navy had simply left 36 trained marine mammals to ride out the storm on their own (which is frankly unthinkable in my opinion), it is absurd to say that EOD trainers would have left them with their weapons system still strapped on.

Since these stories already fit nicely into the worldview and mindset of elite liberals and victim-identity hustlers, they are reported as a matter of fact without compunction or remorse. The theme that black people are incapable of acting humanely to each other under stressful conditions is not an actual news story, it is a script written long ago by patronizing liberals who sought to tame and care for these “unfortunate savages”. Treating blacks like animals in a Zoo is actually a perfect analogy to what liberal elites think of them. In a Zoo, animals are fed, housed, and protected from each other and more importantly the visitors, by benevolent zookeepers so that they can be observed and studied in an artificial habitat. Great Society anyone? With the dolphin story we have liberal elites instantly assuming that the military is not incompetent but acting out of a sinister motivation to harm or kill as many innocent people it can…and torturing poor dolphins by turning them into unwitting killers to boot!

Speaking of torture, 60 Minutes did a spot on Roy Hallums the American hostage in Iraq that you have probably never heard about. He was held in a dank basement for 10 ½ months bound and blindfolded, beaten, and threatened. Where is Ted Kennedy on the Senate floor calling for Roy’s justice? Don’t hold your breath waiting for that speech. 60 Minutes knew they had a great scoop with Mr. Hallums, but it turned out that he didn’t hate President Bush or oppose the Iraq War so at the end of the piece. Lesley asks him, “Did you receive a call from the President? Senators? Congressmen? Nobody?” The answer was no of course, but all things being equal, I’m sure old Roy is just happy that the President sent in a rescue team to find and liberate him.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

I'm still alive

Just really busy with the little one. I have not been inspired to write about much lately so if you have some requests... Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Melting ICE

As it turns out, my old SRT DID eventually make it to New Orleans, but minus 3 experienced team members from CBP. Once they get back to San Diego, I will publish an update about how they were utilized. That is if anybody on the Team will talk to me now. Even in primitive NOLA, my post on ICE HQ’s completely asinine and gutless leadership was printed out and distributed to the guys and certainly the San Diego SAC office as well. Bureaucracy feels it’s weakest and most defensive when the bright light of sanity and common sense are brought to bear on the institutional paralysis and political obstinacy that it spends much of its time trying to conceal. This is a fancy way of saying that ICE HQ read that post and didn’t like seeing its CYA shell game knocked off the table. Sorry.

But it’s about to get even worse for ICE. It was bad enough for Customs Investigations when they were put beneath caretaker INS Chief Michael Garcia when ICE was created. When James Ziglar resigned after sending Mohammed Atta a visa renewal in the mail six months after he dropped the WTC, Garcia was tapped to act in his stead until a new INS Commissioner could be nominated. Lo and behold, the abortion called the Department of Homeland Security survived the womb, and Mr. Garcia won the lotto by getting moved over to be the first chief of ICE. Garcia oversaw the devolution of a once great investigative agency by allowing the publicity hungry FBI to takeover terrorism investigations and seizure proceeds, turning away from contraband investigations in favor of illegal alien child porn cases, and the inevitable weight of incompetence brought over by the presence of barely literate INS Investigators that haven’t produced a decent case since the beginning of time.

Now, in the wake of legitimate criticism of DHS for Hurricane Katrina and the firing of Michael Brown of FEMA, the President has foolishly nominated a well connected creampuff to finish the job of destroying ICE that Garcia had so ably begun. Julie Myers is the 36 year old niece of General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and recently married to DHS Secretary Chertoff’s Chief of Staff, John F. Wood. I’m not kidding, she’s a true trifecta of affirmative action, nepotism, and cronyism. Her law enforcement experience amounts to basically 2 years as an Assistant US Attorney, and two years as the head of the BXA which enforces export regulations in the same way that Customs used to enforce importation of contraband. BXA is one of those tiny boutique federal law enforcement agencies that has a nationwide presence smaller that the ICE San Diego SAC office.

Michelle Malkin is all over this story and has some representative emails from current ICE employees that pretty much sum up their thoughts on hiring a snot nosed, 30something. Her law enforcement experience is insufficient to make her a viable Field Training Officer for junior Special Agents let alone the chief executive of a 25,000 person agency that purportedly is the lead investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security. At a minimum, this appointment is a political disaster in the making if AQ is able to hit our homeland again. More importantly, the nation and the employees of ICE deserve someone with serious experience and leadership ability to take the reins, not another political hack checking blocks on the way to a cabinet post in future Republican administrations. I can only hope that the Senate will save the President’s and our bacon on this one, but I’m not optimistic.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Naval Special Warfare Comes Through at Crunchtime

Press Release
Naval Special Warfare Task Group KATRINA
0905-002

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NSW boat crews search for Stennis survivors

By JOC Scott Boyle
Naval Special Warfare Task Group Katrina Public Affairs


STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. – When flooded roads prevent the use of cars or trucks, shallow-draft river boats become the best option for getting around. The men of Naval Special Warfare who use them for river training in Stennis know that the Special Operations Craft Riverine (SOC-R) does many things well. The craft, specifically designed for shallow waterways, is primarily used for the insertion and extraction of Navy SEALs in hostile territory. But in the days following Hurricane Katrina, the SOC-R has taken on a different mission, a lifesaving one.

“The first day after the storm, the guys were itching to go, and that says a lot because many of them lost their homes as well,” said Chief Petty Officer (SWCC) Stephen Babb, a Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewman (SWCC) and the officer-in-charge for a detachment from Special Boat Team 22.

The SWCCs and support staff of SBT-22 live and work in what was the direct path of Katrina’s eye.

“The first day we got underway was on Lake Pontchartrain near Eden Isles. We found people trying to fix their homes, and gave them food and water. They couldn’t thank us enough,” Babb said. “It’s our community as well. It was the first time some of my guys saw their own homes.”
Sept. 7, four of the team’s boat crews spent the afternoon searching for storm survivors along a 20-mile stretch of the West Pearl River.
Hundreds of homes, mostly fishing shanties floating on makeshift pontoons, lined the river banks. Many of these homes had limited road access under normal conditions, and were completely cut off from land after Katrina swept through the area. The fates of their owners are unknown.

Working in groups of two, the SWCCs piloted their boats from side to side, shanty to shanty, looking for any signs of life.

“Log, twelve o’clock!” hollered Petty Officer 1st Class (SWCC) Jereme Blackburn from the bow of his boat. A tree, probably 40-feet long and two-feet thick, was floating in the current directly in the boat’s path. Blackburn lay on his stomach, head hung over the edge, and directed Petty Officer 2nd Class (SWCC) Matthew Tabarez, the SOC-R’s driver, around the massive hazard. The boat slowly crept forward, dodging debris bobbing in the water. It inched to a broken dock, now separated from the home it was once attached to. The shanty, with part of its roof blown away, had floated to its current resting point on the riverbank. Tabarez inched forward until the SOC-R’s bow barely touched the dock. Blackburn and Petty Officer 3rd Class (SWCC) Andrew Cahill hopped off, and, making their way through tree branches and gaps in the dock’s wooden boards, approached the damaged building.

“U.S. Navy!” Cahill called out. “Is anyone here?”

They approached the front door, which was slightly open. Blackburn and Cahill cautiously entered the home, looking for any signs of life, calling out to anyone who might be in need of supplies or medical assistance. After a few minutes they emerged, shaking their heads from side to side. No one was home — a good thing under these circumstances. The three other SOC-Rs were doing the same thing on both sides of the river, inching into tributaries that were inaccessible by boat two weeks ago, yet were now up to 10-feet deep.

The mission continued for many hours. At the end of the day, about 25 homes were searched by the boat teams. Though none of their neighbors were found so far, they continue the search for anyone who might still be stranded and needing assistance. For the Sailors of SBT-22, this is more than a mission.
This is their community.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Media and Leadership

It occurred to me while reading Ben Stein’s piece in the Spectator that the MSM must see itself somehow as the self-appointed leader of the country. Notwithstanding those pesky elections we keep having, the MSM sets itself above all, castigating who it believes is not towing the line and elevating those who faithfully do so. There are many leadership styles, but there are very few effective ones. Some leaders try to be your buddy in the hope that you will follow them out of a sense of friendship. This technique rarely works out, since those who are subordinate end up thinking that they are equal and often above their coddling leader.

When I first joined the Navy, I was appointed to be the Recruit Chief Petty Officer (RCPO) in boot camp. I was all of 20 years old, had served in the Marine Corps Reserves for two years, and was going to be a Navy SEAL. Since I didn’t have a clue at the time about what it meant to be a leader, I decided to be an a$$hole. This is by far the easiest leadership method for the leader, and it can yield pretty good results…for a while. All I had to do was maintain an intimidating presence by yelling at everyone and never giving any positive feedback for fear that my charges would relax. That’s the thing, you have to keep the pressure on all the time or else the whole house of cards crumbles. The other thing is that you tend to get a few a$$kissers and a bunch of enemies, and since you have so many enemies, you have to tolerate and even embrace the a$$kissers. This is not a healthy state of affairs.

This is the MSM leadership style. Bully and intimidate everyone into either agreement or animosity. Ben highlighted this by saying…
the networks and newspapers have been quick to cry racism because so many of the victims were black. This is total nonsense. New Orleans is a mostly black city. Obviously, most of the victims of the storm would be black. No one has been able to point to a single instance in which black victims were mistreated because of their race by whites. In fact, just the opposite has happened. The whole story is of rescues and salvation by people of all races aimed at people of all races. In a gesture never seen before, the whole heart of the nation has taken in poor, bereft black families and sheltered them absolutely without regard to race. This is a mirror of the basic goodness of Americans and the disappearance of racism as an acceptable action basis of American life. It is also a measure of the total absence of racism in the heart of George W. Bush. The media may play this as a story of race versus race, but that is pure incendiary fantasy, and dangerous nonsense…
Essentially the MSM is enforcing its rule that black people are victims and white people are racists despite evidence to the contrary on both counts. It shames the American people by telling them that they don’t care for their poor black neighbors so that they will help their poor black neighbors. The problem is that the American people already instinctively do this with or without MSM hacks breathing down their necks. Interestingly, the people who do this as a matter of course are the ones that stopped listening to the MSM long ago.

They are motivated by real leaders in their own homes, communities, churches, and sometimes elected officials. Real leadership means that you set a high standard of conduct and try to achieve it yourself first every day. There are millions of people like this in America whose example serves to inspire those around them to do great things above and beyond what they would be capable of by themselves.

With so many enemies out there, it is no wonder that the MSM embraces all manner unsavory and disingenuous a$$kissers like Jesse Jackson, Ralph Neas, Chuck Shumer, the Kossaks and many more. If you are going to have enemies, you’ve got to have friends, too. And as we all know, people are known by the company they keep. The MSM has been keeping the pressure on its adherents for a very long time, and while it may not tire as taskmaster, its impact lessens daily as each of us turns away.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Overachievment Gap

You are, without question, an impressive, accomplished and brilliant lawyer. You’re a decent and honorable man. You have a remarkable resume. There are those who say your outstanding and accomplished resume should be enough, that you should simply promise to be fair and that we should confirm…They need to believe that an overachiever can identify with an underdog who has nothing but the Constitution on his side; They need to understand that your first class education and your advantaged life will not blind you to the plight of those who need help and who rely on the protections of the Constitution, which is every one of us at one point or another... -Chuck Shumer 9/12/05, Senate Judiciary Committee
So let me get this straight. Being an outstanding nominee, scholar, judge, and human being is not really an advantage. Ostensibly, being an “overachiever” does not so much mean that you are hardworking, dedicated, and talented. These traits are liabilities because the meritorious don’t understand what it’s like to be a welfare sponging, chronically unemployed, member of a victim-identity group. As we all agree, the Constitution was written to keep those kinds of people (aka Democrats) from rising above their station and actually achieving something in life. Because achievers (aka Republicans) are always cold hearted, intolerant, ideologues that swim outside the “mainstream”. Which is why, Judge Roberts, you will not be getting Chuck Shumer’s vote.

That probably isn’t what Chucky would tell you he meant if you asked him, but the implications of that sort of rhetoric are what they are. There were dozens of equally repulsive competing “rationales” propagated by the left as to why Roberts is somehow unqualified to serve, but even uttering this concept on camera is a new technique for the Dems. It used to be that they would never actually spell out what they believed, content to peddle soft shoe talking points referring to the “plight” of the “underprivileged” and whatnot. He seems to be coming all the way out of the closet by saying essentially that achievement in and of itself is a curse and contributes to unfairness and inequality. Which means that we would all be better off somehow if we all just stood around with our hands out waiting for Uncle Sam to lead us around. But the “brilliant” liberal elites that would act as that “helping” hand are too lazy and self-centered to be troubled with actually holding that hand themselves. So they want to pay government bureaucrats to hold all of those hands for them. Of course they would have to raise taxes on the achievers to cover the expenses which also has the side benefit of bringing achievement under control making things more “fair”.

Transcript via Confirm Them

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Stand by for Massive Hypocrisy

Back in the 1975 a bunch of environmental whackos calling themselves “Save Our Wetlands” sued the Army Corps of Engineers to prevent the construction of levees separating New Orleans and Lake Pontchartrain. This lawsuit and many that followed in the intervening time period were largely responsible for the insufficient levee system that failed last week inundating parts of the city in 20 feet of water. This is not to excuse the chronic incompetence and corruption of local and state officials and their complicity by not adequately preparing their constituencies for potential disaster.

I predict that these same moonbat envirolosers will start to bitch and moan about the pumping of highly toxic and downright nasty water from the streets of New Orleans into Lake Pontchartrain. I just watched a Nightline report on the aftermath and they had pictures of dead fish floating in the lake. There is no doubt that the disgusting stew that is being dumped into the lake right now will cause untold thousands of defenseless and innocent creatures to be poisoned to death. I wonder if the proposed levee system that was blocked by these people 30 years ago would have harmed the wildlife of the region any worse than what is occurring now. The really funny part is that the moonbats are virtually obligated to object to pumping out the city into Lake Pontchartrain because to refrain would be explicit ambivalence to a man made environmental crisis.

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. The only real retort to this unpleasant set of circumstances would be, well let me see, ummmm......BUSH HATES BLACK PEOPLE! I wonder if they'll use that?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Reliance...Dependence

Everybody in this world has to rely on something or someone in order to survive. The choice that each of us makes when deciding who or what we do put our trust in is an important one. In the Gulf Coast this decision has proven to mean the difference between life and death.

New Orleans was declared a disaster area by President Bush days BEFORE the storm even made landfall, and it was at his urging that the Mayor of New Orleans declared a MANDATORY evacuation of the city. Once the decision was made to make the evacuation mandatory, the City of New Orleans had the OBLIGATION to provide resources to transport those citizens who were too ill, elderly, or vulnerable to get themselves to safe harbor. As we now know, the City and the State of Louisiana completely and utterly failed in their duty to their own citizens. It is a basic tenet of disaster relief that agencies must evacuate rescue vehicles and critical supplies from the affected area so that they are available for use in the aftermath. This did not happen. In addtion to these buses, city firetrucks, police cars, and other critical life saving tools were left to the elements and are now useless to help anyone. While this disturbing level of incompetence is shameful and inexcusable, it was not at all unpredictable.

Leaving aside the people who did heed the warnings, let’s discuss those who decided to stay behind. I can understand why someone would not want to leave their home despite the awareness of New Orleans’ unique vulnerabilities and disaster potential. What I cannot comprehend is the mindset that leads those people to somehow expect that someone else is going to provide them with food, water, diapers, formula, and their medications. FEMA guidelines state that victims of disasters should be able to sustain themselves for a minimum of 72 hours but “preferably a week”. That this would be prudent should be clear to anyone whether FEMA says so or not. This seemingly natural inclination to take responsibility for one’s own life, health, and financial security is shockingly absent in large portions of our society. This is not a crisis driven response, it is a perpetual state of being.

During times of normalcy the “safety net” while bursting at the seams, supports a vast portion of our citizenry at a subsistence level. This support while intended to be compassionate is in practice a form of enslavement. This dependence which has been cultivated over many years is now revealed in the starkest possible light, and it is heartbreaking to witness. The people languishing last week on a thousand street corners and freeway onramps seem to be waiting in vain for George Bush to personally pluck them out, dust them off, send them through the line at Hometown Buffet, and deposit them at the Holiday Inn. This description does not perfectly capture the essence of any individual, but I think it aptly describes the refugees as a group. It is especially painful to watch these people’s illusions of external support shattered so decisively under conditions that can only be described as inhuman. I do not begrudge them one ounce of frustration, fear, or anxiety, it’s just that much of this horrific experience was completely unnecessary.

On the rhetorical front, these issues are being cast somehow as a racist plot to destroy the black people of New Orleans. I saw Jesse Jackson on TV say about the impromptu refugee camp he visited with a film crew on I-10, “This is the hull of a slave ship.” Race hustlers like Jackson and Al Sharpton cravenly use the terror of their people in a state of crisis to perpetuate their own “honorary” positions as “leaders” in the community. This is done by shifting the blame for their plight from the mindset of victimhood and dependence to evil white Republicans like the President who in the execrable words of Kanye West, “…doesn’t care about black people” and who gave authorities, “permission to go down there and shoot us.” (h/t SixMeat)

Perhaps this time the survivors will come to realize that it was their own who betrayed them. They have been sold program after program by the politicians that they have elected, but there is no program conceived by man that can protect someone from a hurricane. The politicians responsible for this nightmare were elected by these pitiable people, and they turned their backs on them at the first opportunity. Jeff Goldstein is hoping for a dialogue to take place in this country by which identity politics can finally be exposed for the soul stealing scam that it is. I just hope that after this is all said and done, the lesson learned will be that when the chips are down don’t look for Uncle Sam, look in the mirror.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Bill Whittle Raids My Hard Drive

I WISH! This concept and the essay to support it really had been percolating in my mind for a few days now, but Bill lays it down with such clarity and authority that I have to defer to the master. Read it. It's going to take a while, but read every word.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Beslan, USA

In light of the anniversary of the Beslan massacre, here was what I wrote about it at the time.

I had a great Labor day weekend at the beach away from the blog, but I have done quite a bit of thinking on the Russian school massacre. I have been a member of not only SEAL platoons, but also the U.S. Customs (now ICE) Special Response Team (SRT) in San Diego. As you might imagine, both of these experiences taught me a great deal and added quite a bit to my tactical toolbox. One of the most important distinctions between the operators, training, and leadership of these two similar, but different entities is one of mindset.

I heard CSM Eric Haney (plankowner of Delta Force) on O'Reilly today discuss the difference between this hostage situation in Russia (and Iraq for that matter) and traditional hostage scenarios that occurred prior to 9/11. He correctly pointed out that the days of negotiating, wear them down siege situations are over. Terrorists now do not threaten to kill hostages until demands are met, they just start killing them until their demands are met. This is a disturbing tactical challenge that I believe our Federal, State, and Local SRT/SWAT assets are completely unprepared for. CSM Haney correctly pointed out the fact that Delta Force/SEAL Team SIX will NOT be available for a domestic situation of this type because they are fully engaged in the GWOT or at least several hours away in any case. FBI HRT in the same way would likely be hours away, and for reasons I will explain, not be of much more use.

In my SEAL platoons, we conducted assaults training in various situations always working up to live fire exercises when possible. While I can't speak for SIX or Delta, at no time in any of my assault training were the issues of negotiation, the priority of operator safety, or hasty retreat in the event of a well defended enemy brought up. We were taught to go in once we had received execute authority, dominate the house, kill the tangos, save the hotels, and patch up the wounded amongst the SEALs and hostages as needed. Maybe that was an oversight on behalf of my various training staffs, but somehow I don't think so. The platoon would hit the house pretty much no matter what unless we were effectively engaged during the approach to the structure at which point we would got to immediate action drill mode and things would get messy. But the idea of going into a structure in extremis was accepted as part of the deal, and it was up to us to create conditions under which we might gain advantage, but nevertheless make the hit.

In SRT, I went through some outstanding training (which I did not expect) and I came away from the Customs SRT school a more well rounded operator to be sure. Our focus was performing high-risk search/arrest warrants that were usually narcotics related, but counter-terrorism was also a mission as we are part of Homeland Security. While we did have SOPs for agent rescue scenarios, there was always a focus on the principle that the mission was secondary to agent safety. We had SOPs for retreating during certain situations, and we practiced them often. This is not to denigrate SRT/SWAT operators, but to say that there is a difference. One critical difference for my SRT was the lack of breaching options. That is truly a limiting factor as to what you could accomplish. You cannot enter a terrorist barricade situation with a ram and hooligan tool. We were not authorized to use explosive breaching or even shotgun breaching for liability reasons. Navy SEALs don't get sued. I have never been a member of a large metropolitan SWAT, but I know that they have an emphasis on negotiation and on not shooting suspects unless absolutely necessary. That is totally appropriate for what kind of job they have, and the political environment under which they work. SEALs don't have Channel 2, 4, 7, and 11 helos circling the building with big zoom lenses either.

That is why we are vulnerable to this type of terror attack, and why it could end up just as badly as the Russians. Remember, at Columbine, the SWAT did not enter the school until hours after the attack began. The two idiots there had already assumed room temperature by the time law enforcement got there. Britain uses the SAS to resolve internal hostage situations (Iranian Embassy), but they are so much smaller a nation and they don't have Posse Comitatus either.

What is the answer? Do we want to completely evolve our nations law enforcement tactical teams into de facto military units? I don't see what else we can do. For one, these agencies need to be trained with and released from liability for dynamic breaching techniques. In a world of "less than lethal options" these guys need to be more "lethal" as it were. We need the SRT/SWATs to be totally prepared to assault a terrorist hostage target in extremis without regard to the officer safety concerns or the liability issues that exist today. That is a radical mindset change for many SRT/SWAT officers, Team leaders, departments, and communities. But you know America, we're probably going to have to learn this lesson the hard way, because the squishy PC left still wants to free Mumia.

Beslan, USA II

Once again, here is my response post to some suggestions made by readers at the time.

First of all thanks to Hugh and Glenn for the big link up on this topic, and thanks to everyone who joined the discussion. There were a lot of ideas floated in the comments that I would like to address. That said, I want to commend everyone on engaging this important problem and say that while I don't have all the answers, I'm pretty sure some of you don't either!

1) National Guard: The people in the National Guard (19th Special Forces Group) that would be capable of taking on this role of in extremis assault force are busy...in Afghanistan. They are the guys who live in the remote mountain base camps with a platoon of Marines along the Pakistan border. Otherwise, I'm sure they would be glad to take this mission on. To create a National Guard special mission unit out of whole cloth is also not possible, because the people that are qualified are also busy. One more thing. I have tremendous respect and admiration for 19th Group not only because the 3rd Battalion Commander is a close friend, but because they are one of the few NG/Reserve SOF units operating in the GWOT as a unit. This is not easy and takes an extraordinary committment from the guys in those A-Teams to stay sharp enough to be out on the front lines. SEAL Reserves have not done this, and to my knowledge have no plans to do so.

But to be at a level to accomplish a very difficult and technical assault to free children held hostage in a school, you had better be practicing and training full time. That is why existing LE Tactical Teams are the obvious choice. SF NG is not a full time job, but LAPD SWAT is. These officers and their compatriots in metropolitan areas are already 90% there in regard to the training necessary to conduct this mission. They lack only the tools and the legal protections to use dynamic breaching/assault techniques. Training these guys would not be difficult because the fundamental skills they already have are by and large outstanding. The main difference, as I said, is one of mindset. Again, by that I mean, the operators, Team leaders, departments, and the community leaders. Everybody has to agree that protecting our children from terror is the top priority, and that if an extreme situation like that arises, extreme measures must be implemented immediately. This is not a decision that should be made at the time of an incident. It needs to be discussed and debated and settled today so that if and when that day comes everybody knows what's going to happen.

2) Arming teachers: I have 3 letters for you...N.E.A. That stands for not going to happen. And frankly, I don't see how much security that adds to the equation anyway. Teachers are trained to instruct our children, not to repel a terrorist assault. I can see arming pilots because there is no help coming to them, but teachers should not have to bear the burden of packing heat and teaching our kids. They don't get paid enough as it is (my wife is a teacher), so they shouldn't be made responsible for school security. Besides, I don't believe that our society has evolved yet to the place where arming teachers is even remotely on the table as an option. Israel has evolved to that point, and for good reason.

One last thing. Cops, air marshalls, federal agents have been known to leave weapons laying around unsecured fairly often and they are full time LEOs. Teachers, whose thoughts are concentrated on non-violent issues (hopefully) are even more likely to be absent-minded with a weapon. It's really not feasible to have a school armory where the staff goes to load up for battle. If your weapon isn't in your hand within seconds of recognizing the onset of a Beslan situation, then it is no good to you.

3)High tech less lethal stuff: To be honest, I can't speak to this issue with a whole lot of authority, but I will say that it doesn't sound too viable. Sitting back and relying on technology to get the job done is a very American concept. In the military people carry a GPS, but if you can't get birds or the battery goes dead you had better be able to read a map. If your plan to save our children from suicidal terrorists hinges on a phaser tuned to stun or a sound gun, well I recommend a back up plan.

Well, those were the big issues and I hope that my insights are helpful to you as far as doing what we can to make our communities safer. Again, I appreciate the interaction, and invite you to visit often just to see what Froggy's up to.

P.S. The Mumia deal was WELL covered, thank you. OUT

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Bureaucracy Kills

I have a story to tell from a small corner of this crisis that demonstrates very clearly how unfathomably stupid and inefficient the Department of Homeland Security really is. DHS is frankly a metaphor for the entire civil service in this country at the local, state, and federal level.

Long time readers might remember that I was not only a Navy SEAL, but after leaving active duty in 2000, I became a US Customs Special Agent. After 9/11, the Customs Service was reorganized within the fledgling DHS and was subsequently split in half. The Customs Inspectors (the people that search your luggage when you arrive on an international flight) joined Immigration Inspectors and Border Patrol Agents to become Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Customs Special Agents (criminal investigators analogous to the FBI) joined Immigration Special Agents, Federal Air Marshals and Customs Air/Marine Division to form Immigration and Customs Enforcement. CBP is headed by the former Customs Commissioner while ICE is headed by the former INS Commissioner. Guess which agency is a total clusterf*ck? ICE became such a disorganized and ineffective agency that the Air/Marine Division jumped ship and became part of CBP. This will become relevant later in the story.

I was a member of the Customs/ICE Special Response Team (SRT) in the San Diego office, and it was the best thing I was able to do in my short career. The Team Leader is a Special Forces Lt. Colonel in the Utah National Guard who deployed to Afghanistan in 2002-3 and a really aggressive and knowledgeable operator. He and I worked together to train the Team to a very high level along with our outstanding Training Officer. The Team consisted of Special Agents from legacy Customs, and a couple of Pilots and Marine Enforcement Officers from CBP Air/Marine. The CBP guys had been on the Team when we were all in Customs together and prior to the ICE/CBP transition.

Fast forward to today. An order came out yesterday from ICE HQ to mobilize all SRTs to assist in providing security and tactical support to the rescue effort. This morning my old Team showed up at North Island Naval Air Station to board a C-130 flight to the region. The Team Leader, having led an entire Special Forces Battalion on a year-long deployment to A-stan, was naturally prepared to set the Team up with everything they would need for a six week deployment to the area. Perfect Team, perfect leader, perfect time, right? Wrong.

After being denied permission to board several aircraft throughout the day by ICE HQ, the Team formulated a plan. As you might imagine, these guys were itching to get over there so they could do something to help out. Operators like to operate. They had set up accommodations at a dormitory in a college nearby the area. The Team Leader had coordinated transportation with the National Guard because he’s a phreaking Lt. Colonel and he knows all of these people, he’s probably one of the best connected people in the National Guard after having been the subject of a 60 Minutes story 2 years ago. Still, ICE HQ says no go. So they decide to send the CBP Team members ahead to get things started while the ICE operators waited for the bureaucrats to cut them loose. When ICE HQ found out that CBP members were on “ICE SRT”, they immediately kicked the CBP guys off the Team despite the fact that they had been there for years because they weren’t members of ICE. But that’s not the worst part. ICE SRTs must have a minimum of 12 members to be operational. Yeah, that’s right, in the middle of a biblical disaster where experienced tactical agents could be critically important, the ICE bureaucrats cut off its nose to spite its face. Now the Team is non-operational, non-deployable, and pissed off!

Unbelievable.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Cindy Who?

I always get anxious when the MSM starts getting into the weeds on a total non-story or elevating what would normally be an insignificant one to “FOX NEWS ALERT” status. While it has been widely admitted even by the MSM itself that CINDY! was largely the result of a bored White House Press Corps having to spend a hot summer month in a red state with no Starbucks, once it began it took on a sickening life of its own. In the same way the NATALIE! situation in Aruba had long ago reached a level of minutiae that was clearly not commensurate with the magnitude of the story. Then again, the MSM had “good reason” to be in Aruba so you can hardly blame them for that.

I remember thinking before 9/11 that this Gary Condit thing had completely spiraled out of control when Diane Sawyer did her one on one hour long special to grill him on Chandra Levy. It is interesting to reflect on how we allow petty little things in all of our lives to commandeer a position of importance that they do not deserve. My air conditioner broke down on Sunday last during something of a heat wave here in So Cal. As you might imagine this became a huge crisis in our household for the better part of the week, and I had to temporarily move my family to my parent’s house until the A/C was finally repaired this morning. While there is no question that this has been an inconvenience and 105F outdoor temps are not good for infants, it frankly pales in comparison to the plight of thousands in the Gulf Coast region who couldn’t even feed their children for days.

If the local, state, and federal governments were unprepared to evacuate and nourish the victims of Katrina, there were thousands of individuals in the path of that Hurricane that completely failed to prepare themselves and their families despite being warned to do so. The expectations of people in this country relative to the capability of government at all levels are shockingly unrealistic. I don’t rely on direct government assistance at all in my daily life, and I do not expect it to care for my family in the event of a natural disaster or terrorist attack. In this time and place, we should all be planning to look after the needs of our families for at least a week. I have a lot more to say on this subject, but in the interest of decorum and decency, I will defer that discussion for a later time.

Let this tragedy serve as a lesson to be learned and take stock of your family’s ability to endure a catastrophic situation. Preparations will be different depending upon the natural or terrorist threat, but it behooves each of us to prepare nonetheless.

The Interdictor

Read THIS BLOG if you want to know what is really happening in New Orleans. h/t SixMeat

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Memorial Website for Navy SEAL Jeff Lucas

Here is the link to a really nice memorial site for Jeff Lucas. Jeff was a member of the QRF that died trying to save his frog brothers in peril on the ground. There is a place that you can donate to his family as well. Keep that in mind for later though, for now our countrymen in the gulf coast need our help.

Creative Solutions For Temporary Housing

The International Council Of Shopping Centers (ICSC) has put out an email to its members appealing for shopping center owners with vacant space to contact the Department of Homeland Security. Empty big box stores, like old Wal-Marts, are proposed to be used to house gulf coast refugees. This is the creativity of American business at its best. The utilization of this vacant space for our fellow Americans will be a critical support pillar in the ongoing effort to cope with the damage of Katrina. Additionally, the shopping center owners are going to be able to lease the space to the DHS and get some revenue from a space that had been producing none. Beautiful.

Return to the Mekong Delta

When planning takes place for a rescue and recovery effort in the aftermath of a catastrophic natural disaster like Katrina, I would expect that officials would need to rely primarily on ground distribution of supplies and evacuation support. Airlift is typically used for acute and emergent pockets of need and is incapable of widespread distributive or transportation requirements. During the Tsunami disaster in December, the destructive force of the water leveled nearly everything in its path…and then it receded. Katrina has dealt us a set of cards that nobody could have fully anticipated or frankly comprehended, and it will require the immediate resurrection of the Brown Water Navy to adequately address it.

In the Mekong Delta region of South Vietnam, the US Navy and Coast Guard operated in an environment not dissimilar from the one that Katrina has wrought. Thousands of boats ranging from giant flat bottomed landing craft to Swift boats to PBRs and all the way down to kayaks in some instances were involved in the effort to gain control of the Vietcong in the Delta. Geographically, the Mississippi Delta and the Mekong are very closely related which accounts for the fact that the SEAL Team’s riverine warfare training unit has been there for years. Special Boat Unit (SBU) 22 is located in Stennis, MS after having moved (and changed names) from Rodman Naval Station in the Panama Canal. The Navy has not engaged in a large scale riverine operation since Vietnam, and has been unable to put together a coherent riverine strategy for Iraq.

I was involved in a riverine emergency response operation in Bolivia in 1995 whiled deployed there with my platoon from SEAL Team FOUR. We were training Bolivian Drug Police (UMOPAR) in jungle warfare tactics from a Bolivian Navy Base in Trinidad. While we were there, heavy rains swelled the Rio Mamore and Rio Chapare causing heaving flooding in the town of Puerto Villaroel. The Bolivians asked me and a DEA medic from Operation Snowcap to assist in the relief effort. The State Department supplied us with medical supplies and food, and we traveled south against the river’s current for 5 days on a double decker flat bottomed boat. Upon our arrival, we set up a hasty medical clinic to treat the people for various conditions related to the poor sanitation in the area. We took a “Piranha” small boat to a Yuqui Indian village to distribute food to the people there as well. The Chapare valley is one of the primary coca producing regions of Bolivia, and when we were operating in the region, we had to be vigilant to keep an eye on the narcotraficantes that were watching our every move.

These two types of missions are very logistically difficult when performed separate from each other. The current lawless conditions suggest that the mission of our nation would be to combine them in a sense. Clearly New Orleans isn’t the Rung Sat Special Zone, but aggressive law enforcement and suppression of looting is necessary to facilitate the rescue and recovery efforts. I don’t know where all those riverine craft are now, but I hope that somebody can scrape some together, get them in the region, and fast.

It Didn’t Take Very Long

for the international left to callously use the misery and death of thousands that RESULTED FROM A NATURAL DISASTER WHICH IS BY DEFINITION NOT SUBJECT TO THE CONTROL OF ANY HUMAN BEING to bludgeon not only the President but the United States en masse. It goes without saying that these people have no shame, so let’s dispense with the concept that we are dealing with fellow travelers but rather a conglomeration of crazed, mouthbreathing ideologues lacking any sense of decency or compassion. Thomas at REDSTATE (h/t PW) valiantly attempts to comprehend the mindless, necromantic pinheads by channeling the implications of their charges…
This madness is all of a piece with the “Bush was on vacation when this happened” idiocy. Yes, we could have used his heat vision to seal some of the levees at weak points, and his superhuman strength might have been enough to save some collapsing concrete. But what we really needed was for him to get the rest of the Justice League out there, especially Green Lantern. Or at least to reverse the Earth’s rotation and save us from this disaster.
I really can’t add to Thomas’ and Jeff’s elaborate (and well linked) point by point fisking so do yourself a favor and check them out.

UPDATE: Well, well, well looks like we have some angry moonbats flapping their wings in the Frogosphere this morning. Sometimes you gotta let the crazies uncork their inane conspiratorial ravings just so the rest of us can see them for what they really are. Go ahead nutjobs, flail away. Every demented Bushitler McHaliburton post you write serves to validate and solidify my point. I guess civil order has not just broken down in the gulf region. Let me know when you are all done masturbating on my site so I can mop the floor.