The homeland security money game continues

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In a piece that supposedly criticizes the major media for deliberately spreading falsehoods in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, USA Today actually adds to the glut of misinformation about disaster and homeland security preparedness.

Staff Writer Mark Memmott (with the AP contributing) rightly criticizes the press for their blatant exaggeration concerning the casualty estimates in New Orleans, and the supposed rash of serious crimes following the disaster.  But then he uses the standard tactic of citing unnamed disaster 'experts' who will gladly proffer rationales that excuse the incompetence of local and state leaders.  In this case, the real problem, you see,

...was a collapse of conventional communications systems, like phone systems. Those who had good information had no way of transmitting it.  They say it's time to create a system that allows facts to be conveyed more quickly to decision—makers.

Naturally, some politicians are only too happy to jump on the bandwagon.  Sen. Jim DeMint, R—S.C., and Sen. Ben Nelson, D—Neb., have already introduced legislation that would give telecommunications companies financial incentives to build crisis information systems into their Internet and cell phone networks.  But hold the presses.  Louisiana and New Orleans had fancy command and control systems; or so they said.  As I reported last month:

Since 1999, Louisiana has received over $143 million in direct grants for security, communications, and other disaster response initiatives.  [snip]  In fact, the LSP [Louisiana State Police] seems to have wisely spent money on developing a high tech capability to enhance situational awareness, obtaining mapping and geo—spatial imagery technology, aerial photography, petrochemical pipeline information, development of evacuation plans, and communications interoperability.  Where all of this expertise and gadgetry disappeared to when Katrina hit is anybody's guess.

Leave it to former federal level bureaucrats and politicians to give the American taxpayer another opportunity to throw good money after bad.  Also, the 'new' idea of using networked handheld devices and battery powered laptops to establish an emergency broadcast network is not new at all.  Many private firms proposed similar concepts over four years ago, but are now simply taking advantage of the Katrina tragedy.

Instead of investigating where all of this costly technology went to, and demanding accountability for hard earned dollars, Senators DeMint and Nelson find it much easier to pander to high—tech communications companies with the promise of targeted federal dollars.  Of course, USA Today doesn't mind providing free advertising space for all the parties involved in this swindle.

Doug Hanson  10—12—05

In a piece that supposedly criticizes the major media for deliberately spreading falsehoods in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, USA Today actually adds to the glut of misinformation about disaster and homeland security preparedness.

Staff Writer Mark Memmott (with the AP contributing) rightly criticizes the press for their blatant exaggeration concerning the casualty estimates in New Orleans, and the supposed rash of serious crimes following the disaster.  But then he uses the standard tactic of citing unnamed disaster 'experts' who will gladly proffer rationales that excuse the incompetence of local and state leaders.  In this case, the real problem, you see,

...was a collapse of conventional communications systems, like phone systems. Those who had good information had no way of transmitting it.  They say it's time to create a system that allows facts to be conveyed more quickly to decision—makers.

Naturally, some politicians are only too happy to jump on the bandwagon.  Sen. Jim DeMint, R—S.C., and Sen. Ben Nelson, D—Neb., have already introduced legislation that would give telecommunications companies financial incentives to build crisis information systems into their Internet and cell phone networks.  But hold the presses.  Louisiana and New Orleans had fancy command and control systems; or so they said.  As I reported last month:

Since 1999, Louisiana has received over $143 million in direct grants for security, communications, and other disaster response initiatives.  [snip]  In fact, the LSP [Louisiana State Police] seems to have wisely spent money on developing a high tech capability to enhance situational awareness, obtaining mapping and geo—spatial imagery technology, aerial photography, petrochemical pipeline information, development of evacuation plans, and communications interoperability.  Where all of this expertise and gadgetry disappeared to when Katrina hit is anybody's guess.

Leave it to former federal level bureaucrats and politicians to give the American taxpayer another opportunity to throw good money after bad.  Also, the 'new' idea of using networked handheld devices and battery powered laptops to establish an emergency broadcast network is not new at all.  Many private firms proposed similar concepts over four years ago, but are now simply taking advantage of the Katrina tragedy.

Instead of investigating where all of this costly technology went to, and demanding accountability for hard earned dollars, Senators DeMint and Nelson find it much easier to pander to high—tech communications companies with the promise of targeted federal dollars.  Of course, USA Today doesn't mind providing free advertising space for all the parties involved in this swindle.

Doug Hanson  10—12—05