Preparing for Terrorist Attacks
Tuesday, February 18, 2003
by Kenneth Scot Stremsky
I liked Richard E. Berg-Andersson's recent commentaries dealing with both homeland security and Iraq.
I hope 'The Green Papers' will provide people with more useful information dealing with preparing for terrorist attacks. I doubt we will get much useful information from the Department of Homeland Security while President Bush is President of the United States of America. He thought Henry Kissinger should investigate the September 11, 2001 attack and he has placed John Poindexter, known for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal, in a high level position in the Pentagon.
Two websites I find useful dealing with Homeland Security are
The Department of Homeland Security may want to give promotions and more power to people in the Federal Emergency Management Agency which has the website http://www.fema.gov and who have experience dealing with natural disasters. I think they have more common sense and experience than many of the top people heading the Department of Homeland Security now.
I am glad you are talking about the importance of Declaring War with Iraq before we send significant numbers of land troops against Iraq. I hope people will write to members of Congress and demand that they start fulfilling all of their Article One, Section Eight War Making responsibilities.
I hope more of the media will discuss the fact that President Bush's Administration is denying Amendment Six rights to many citizens of the United States of America that President Bush calls enemy combatants. People may read what the American Bar Association says about enemy combatants at http://www.abanet.org/leadership/recommendations03/109.pdf.
I hope people will write to Republican Governors and Republican Senators and ask them to run against President Bush in 2004. I hope some Republican Governors and some Republican Senators will put country above party and run for President of the United States of America in 2004.
I also hope the Department of Homeland Security will have its own intelligence agency.
Kenneth Scot Stremsky
Mr. Berg-Andersson responds:
Personally, I do not- nor does anyone else on the Staff of TheGreenPapers.com- have the necessary expertise, of course, to offer advice on such things as, say, medical responses to terrorist attack or how to protect oneself from biological, chemical or even radiological/nuclear attack; even such ordinary materials as plastic sheeting and duct tape can be (and, as I have already pointed out in my 14 February Commentary, actually was [!]) misused once it becomes an apparent tool of protection against the possible effects of terrorist attack. The plain fact is: we have the governments- Federal, State and local- we currently have (which, of course, could all be- at least in theory- changed at the next election) and, like it or not, we are all going to have to pretty much rely on their instructions and expertise in such matters (which is why that Commentary cried out for improvement by those governments- with the focal point being the new Department of Homeland Security); all we on 'The Green Papers'- for example- can do, when it is deemed by ourselves to be appropriate, is to look at what instructions have been given (as well as how they are given) to the public and comment- positively or negatively- based on our own perceptions of same. In short, I personally don't think 'The Green Papers' is at all the proper forum for posting material on anti-terrorism protection apart from that our governments might be putting forth.
Having said this, I will nonetheless here offer at least a bit more detail regarding the advice I gave to many of my personal e-mail correspondents (friends, family, personal acquaintances) insofar as having a battery-powered radio handy is concerned, since- as a Radio Buff with long time experience in that hobby- I do know a 'fair piece' about that which I would be advising:
My suggestion is that one have available- at one's workplace, as well as at one's home- at least one battery-powered radio (which I would set aside for pretty much solely emergency use: though I would check on the batteries in it every few months [leaving a battery-powered device lying around for long periods of time leaves the device subject to potential damage from battery breakdown] as well as make sure I have relatively new batteries available with which I can replace the batteries in the device- in this case, the emergency radio- at least twice, should that become necessary). This radio should have- at minimum- two important capabilities:
1. it should be able to tune in AM (what the rest of the world tends to call "MediumWave" or "MW") domestic broadcast stations from beyond the local area: that is, it should have a bandspread (equivalent to length of dial, should the dial be analog- as opposed to digital frequency readout) that is large enough so that one can listen to stations in between, say, the local "powerhouses" (this would, of course, be most important to those who live in a more densely populated major Metropolitan area of the country). The reason for this is that it is possible domestic broadcasting could, in at least the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack, go down in one's immediate area (yes... a possibility, if not a probability: keep in mind that- although we are not talking about AM in this particular case- many local FM and over-the-air TV stations in and around New York City had their signal coverage greatly reduced- where it was not knocked out altogether- for a time once the North Tower of the World Trade Center [the one that had the antenna atop it which these were all using for transmission of their respective signals] was first hit on 11 September 2001; although, on that day, NYC AM stations- which generally have their own antenna systems at various locations scattered about a metro area- kept broadcasting that day and beyond... but what if the 11 September attacks had adversely affected where the broadcast studios of a number of powerhouse NYC AM stations were located? what if landline or other connections [microwave, say] between these studios and antenna systems had been compromised in some form or fashion?): in such a case, one might be forced to rely on less powerful AM stations elsewhere on the dial from which one could then glean necessary information as to what is going on (I am here thinking of a situation with no functioning electrical mains: hence, no cable or satellite TV, no stereo tuner and no computer [thus, no access to the Internet] in most cases).
At night (when AM/MW radio signals can travel at much greater distances via what is called Sky Wave Propagation or "Skip" than they can during the day- when signals at these same frequencies have to rely on Ground Wave Propagation), one could- should local broadcasting still be out- then conceivably pick up AM broadcast stations from other areas of the country (a few at some distance from one's immediate area) and, thus, also glean possibly useful information about what the actual story might be before one's local broadcasters are able to get back on the air.
2. it should also be able to tune in ShortWave...NOTE: one does not need some kind of fancy, so-called "World Band", radio [one with digital frequency readout and all sorts of other 'bells n' whistle's] for basic emergency SW Listening; nor does one need the so-called "boat anchor" multi-band receiver of yore... a simple, light-weight multi-band portable radio with analog/slide-rule dial would be sufficient (so long as- as would be the case with its AM/MW band- it has enough bandspread [again, relative length of said analog dial] to make tuning in SW stations fairly easy).
At minimum, however, I would recommend that said multi-band battery-powered radio be able to tune in at least the following frequency range: 6-12 MHz... the reason for this is that this range covers the 4 major International Broadcasting "night bands" (so-called because these frequencies- like those in the AM/MW range- propagate (that is, their radio waves travel) better when there is darkness- as opposed to daylight- between the transmitter and the receiver), these being the following:
49 meters (5950-6200 kHz [around 6 MHz on an analog SW dial])
During the evening "prime time" here in North America, foreign broadcasters beam programming our way (and in English, too!-- even if that is not the primary language of the particular broadcasting country): one would have to assume that a terrorist attack of regional- if not nationwide- impact here in the United States (just as was the case with September 11th) would be major news all around the globe. Thus, if domestic broadcasting should go down nationwide or at least regionally here in the USofA (all up and down the East Coast, for example- or throughout California)- as even more improbable as this might be re: local AM/FM/TV broadcasting going- in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack, one could then still be able to access foreign news services for preliminary information (at least in the evening local time, but only if one is able to receive the 6-12 MHz range on a battery-powered radio in the first place)
Now, if one's battery-powered radio can also pick up the International Broadcasting "day bands" on ShortWave (so-called because radio signals on these frequencies tend to propagate better in daylight than in darkness)-- among these are (these being the 3 main such "day bands"-- others elsewhere between 13 and 30 MHz [this latter being the traditional high end of ShortWave and the beginning of the VHF (Very High Frequency) range of the radio spectrum] tend to be less frequently used):
19 meters (15100-15600 kHz) [above 15 MHz on an analog SW
so much the better! (HOWEVER, it should be well noted that- even though being able to tune in these bands will allow one to access foreign broadcasters during the day at one's location- a.) there is generally less broadcast activity on these bands to begin with; b.) many countries will only broadcast in English to the Western Hemisphere during North American evening "prime time" [so they will then only be heard on the "night bands" already noted, and not these "day bands", anyway]; and c.) the "day bands" tend to be much more susceptible to changes in the ionosphere [the layer of ionized particles at various levels of the atmosphere which allow Sky Waves/"Skip" to be "bounced back" to Earth]: long-term due to vagaries in the 11-year Sunspot Cycle; short term due to such things as ionospheric "storms" of many hours, if not days, duration and the like... as a general rule, then, the "night bands" are much more reliable for "emergency" ShortWave reception (which is precisely why I, again, have recommended that, at minimum, a battery-powered radio be able to tune between 6 and 12 MHz as well as, of course, get better-than-average AM/MediumWave reception).