The Katrina Diary
Many of us have been arguing for a comprehensive risk/threat management
strategy that recognizes that we live in a single risk threat
We have not applied the principles of risk/threat management to the
development of Homeland Security policy. We did not apply them before
911 and we are not applying it now. This in turn led to the
events of 911, our lack of success in Iraq, and played a role in the
events that took place in New Orleans.
Were risk/threat assessments and management policy properly developed
and implemented we would have policy analogous to that described by Sun
Tsu who wrote that the general who knew his enemy and knew himself
could never be defeated. Unfortunately, our approach has not
even achieved a victory for every defeat that we have suffered.
Not having a policy based on risk/threat management means that inside
the beltway the interest groups, bureaucrats and Congress have a great
leeway in determining how Homeland Security money will be spent.
There are no obstacles placed by reason, logic, and common sense in
front of the
development of that policy. This is the underlying problem, which
enabled terrorists to succeed in attacking the United States on 911,
and in a variety of disasters that have taken place since then.
The forth branch of our government, the media, is complicate in this
system. The media depends on the interest groups, the bureaucrats, and
lawmakers more than those groups depend upon the media. With the
consolidation of the media in the United States, the media identifies
more strongly with these groups than they do with problems that the
individual confronts when dealing with government. It isn't news if the
government screws you over. It would be news if you won in a case
in a court of law against government.
Our law is derived from a system of
government in which the King and his servants had immunity for their
acts, because if they killed you there was nothing that anyone could do
about it. Today if a government action or inaction result in
people dying it is news, but that doesn't mean you should expect to win
such a case in a court of law.
Government is about unity. Its not unity with you. It's about
unity within the agency, the department, the branch of government and
the government as a whole. Government is a tribal organization, and
you, the average citizen, are not a member of that tribe. You are an
object that government believes needs to be controlled.
Government believes that it is “THE FORCE” that is the only cause for
order in the universe, and therefore it needs to be free to be
incompetent, irresponsible and lawless.
There are circumstances in which government may need to act to restore
order. Innocent individuals may be harmed in the process.
The problem is that having the freedom to be incompetent,
irresponsible, and lawless, is that this is the direction in which
When a disaster like this happens under our system of government the
people are ultimately to responsible for providing the force for change
because we have a form of government that can be changed by amendment
and the people can elect new representatives.
Emergency managers are like little fish in a big pound filled with
fish that have sharper teeth. The organizations and individuals
are involved in the planning and response to disasters simply do not
have the power to impose a risk/threat management policy other than
that which the community leaders will permit, if they want to retain
employment. Risk/threat management is based upon determinations
of the probability of events taking place and the consequences of that
event. If the hurricane had not caused the dikes to fail the
emergency mangers involved may have lost their jobs had
they advocated or implemented a more aggressive evacuation
A similar disaster could take place anywhere in the United States with
the same results. This is something that you should be upset
about and you have the opportunity to do something about it before that
disaster takes place. How many of the people now complaining
about the consequences of the process been involved in their local
community's disaster planning process or understand the risks and
threats which exist in their own community?
Because the vast majority of people are not involved in the policy
development process and don't understand risk/threat management, by
default, interest groups, bureaucrats, and representatives, are making
decisions that may, like for the people of New Orleans, have life
consequences for them.
The Disaster Center
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