Saheli*: Musings and Observations
Thursday, September 23, 2004
 
Nuclear Security: Comments from Colin

(To read the whole post, please click on permalink/Full Post.)
Last week I wrote about the Administration's misplaced priorities in providing the nation with nuclear security. I mentioned the MMRS (Metropolitan Medical Response System) and Rep. Markey's fight to save the program from, amazingly, cuts by the Department of Homeland Security. I knew about this vaugely because my friend Colin McCormick, a AAAS Science Congressional fellow, was one of Markey's aides on this, but I had never actually talked to him about it. Colin (or, should I say, Dr. McCormick) is about to go back to coaxing photons into cool new formations, but he feels so strongly about the issue that he sent me the following email which was too long to post in comments:

Go Rupa. You're absolutely right that flaws in our nuclear power security are one of the biggest real-world threats we face today -- far more serious than the relatively minor threat of incoming nuclear balistic missiles that we are nevertheless spending $10 billion a year to defend against. The crux of the problem is that the nuclear industry, like all industries, resists government safety regulation for the simple reason that it cuts into profits. Case in
point:last fall a computer at a nuclear power plant I will not name was infected by the Slammer worm computer virus. This generic virus took down some safety monitoring systems for many hours, and one can only wonder what a targetted terrorist virus could do to our nuke plants. Despite the obvious threat, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) which is responsible for US civilian nuclear safety, refused to modify the rules governing computer security at nuke plants. Not necessary, they argued. Too expensive, was the subtext. Sadly, the NRC has industry's interests first, and the American people's second.

The Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS) was the subject of an agressive attack by the Administration, despite the fact that the program is relatively cheap ($50 million) and highly praised as the most effective Federal first responder program by firefighters across the country -- I should know, because I was Markey's staffer on this and talked to lots of them before writing the legislation that helped save it. As best we could tell, the Administration was going after MMRS for three reasons.
First, it is too decentralized for their tastes, since each city gets to decide how best to spend the dollars they get for their local preparedness. This Administration hates not being in control. Second, it was a program they didn't create; they have launched the Cities Readiness Initiative to replace it, which as far as I can tell does the same thing in a worse way -- but is a "Bush Initiative". And third, DHS is in some serious trouble with funds for the Strategic National Stockpile, the Federal stockpile of anti-terror drugs. Specifically, DHS bought a hell of a lot of a particular kind of smallpox vaccine, that is of questionable effectiveness. Embarassing questions were being asked last spring about smallpox preparation, and I and others believe the Adminsitration was looking for a ready program to raid for cash to make a rapid purchase of another smallpox vaccine for the SNS. MMRS appeared to be an easy target. Thankfully their attempts in the spring to "reprogram" FY2004 money were blocked.[Ed. Check out this pdf.]
The FY2005 funds for MMRS are in fact not yet secure.
While the House appropriations bill for Homeland Security includes all $50 million for the program, the Senate bill includes no funds. When the two bills are reconciled in conference this fall, it's likely that the program will only get about half funding, meaning that over 100 cities in the US will have their funds to prepare local first responders for terrorist attacks cut in half. Why? In the bigger picture, I think it's ultimately because DHS --under this Administration -- wants things done its way or no way.
Rather than letting cities decide how to best prepare for attacks on their local turf, DHS wants to keep control and determine things from the top. Can't trust those locals, I guess. Wish somebody would tell the locals that before November.
 


<< Home
Saheli Datta started this when she was a journalism student at Columbia in New York. Now she lives in the Bay Area. *Old people call me R. New people, call me Saheli. Thanks! My homepage. Specifically, my links. Email me: Saheli [AT] Gmail [dot] Com

ATOM FEED



Spring 2006: Guest Bloggers!
Colin!
Rishi | Scott | Emily
Echan | Robert | ToastyKen

MAIN:ssrdatta.blogspot.com
Email me!
Ways to help the Tsunami Victims Here

Want this badge?

ARCHIVES
01/01/2003 - 02/01/2003 / 09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003 / 10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003 / 11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003 / 12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004 / 01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004 / 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 / 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 / 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 / 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 / 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 / 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 / 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 / 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 / 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 / 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 / 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 / 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 / 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 / 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 / 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 / 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 / 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 / 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 / 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 / 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 / 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 / 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005 / 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006 / 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006 / 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 / 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006 / 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 / 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 / 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006 / 07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006 / 08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006 / 09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006 / 10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006 / 05/01/2010 - 06/01/2010 / 09/01/2014 - 10/01/2014 /


Blogs I Read (Or Try To)
113th Street
american footprints(Nadezhda & Praktike)
ANNA's Diary
Apartment Therapy
Armchair Generalist
Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
Dave Barry
The Bellman
Mine's On The 45 (Brimful)
Campaign Desk (CJR)
ChennaiCentral
ClimateBoy
Combing the Sphere
Crooked Timber
Daily Dose of Imagery
The Daily Rhino (Bong Breaker)
Dark Days Ahead
The Decembrist
Brad DeLong
Atanu Dey on India's Development (Deeshaa)
Daniel Drezner
Ennis
Ephemera
Cyrus Farivar
Finding My Voice
Forsv
Neil Gaiman
Ganesh Blog
Geeky Chic 2.0 (Echan)
Geomblog
Green Ink!
Heliolith
Alexandra Huddleston
Iddybud (Jude Nagurney Camwell)
Indeterminacy
India Uncut
InSpiteOfEverything
Intel Dump: Phillip Carter et al
The Intersection (Chris Mooney)
Jesus Politics
John and Belle Have a Blog
Mark A. R. Kleiman
KnowProse (Taran Rampersad)
1Locana
Maenad (Nori Heikkinen)
Scott McCloud
Mind Without Borders
Electrolite: Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden
Corey Pein
Political Animal(Kevin Drum, formerly Calpundit)
Kevin G. Powell
QuakeHelp (South Asian Quake)
Radiation Persuasion (Nick)
Reneebop
Rhinocrisy
Scott Rosenberg(Salon.com)
Rox Populi
Felix(&Rhian)Salmon
samVaad
Nick Schager
Idea Spout: Daniel Sanchez
Sepia Mutiny
Amardeep Singh
Snarkmarket (Robin Sloan & Matt Thompson)
South-East Asian Earthquake and Tsunami Blog
SreeTips: New To Sree
Steprous (Bear)
Robert Stribley
Subjunctive.net:klog
Talking Points Memo: Joshua Micah Marshall
Tech Policy
TiffinBox
A Tiny Revolution
To The Teeth
TreeHugger
Unfogged
VatulBlog
Venk@
Manish Vij
Vinod's Blog
War and Piece
Nollind Whachell
Wonkette
WorldChanging
Matthew Yglesias:Old
Yglesias:Tpmcafe
Zoo Station:Reuben Abraham
Ethan Zuckerman
Zwichenzug



Some Categories

Blogs focusing on policy, politics, and national security:
Armchair Generalist
Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
The Decembrist
Brad DeLong
Daniel Drezner
Eschaton(Atrios)
Green Ink!
Iddybud (Jude Nagurney Camwell)
Idea Spout: Daniel Sanchez
Informed Comment: Juan Cole
Intel Dump: Phillip Carter
The Intersection (Chris Mooney)
Irregular Analyses
Jesus Politics
Mark A. R. Kleiman
Liberals Against Terrorism(Nadezhda & Praktike)
Political Animal(Kevin Drum, formerly Calpundit)
Talking Points Memo: Joshua Micah Marshall
War and Piece
Wonkette
Yglesias:Tpmcafe

Photo Blogs
Daily Dose of Imagery
Ephemera
Alexandra Huddleston
Radiation Persuasion (Nick)
TiffinBox

Columbia Journalism Folks
Apartment Therapy
Back To Iraq 3.0 (Chris Albritton)
Campaign Desk (CJR)
Ranajit Dam
Cyrus Farivar
Alexandra Huddleston
InSpiteOfEverything
Corey Pein
Nick Schager
Zoo Station:Reuben Abraham

Literature, Fiction and Entertainment
Dave Barry
Neil Gaiman
Electrolite: Patrick Nielsen Hayden
Scott McCloud


A Note on Comments
Haloscan is not very good at counting comments. If a comment thread is more than three months old, and you think there might be comments, please click the comments link even if it indicates zero comments. It won't display the true count properly. Thanks!


A note on permalinks
I find that a lot of people don't know about permalinks. When you want to have someone read a specific blog entry, then you should find that blog entry's permalink, click on that, and send them the resulting browser address. Otherwise they will just be sent to the blog in general, and between your reading the blog entry and your correspondent's or audience's getting to it, a whole slew of material may have pushed the entry off the front page. In this blog, the permalinks are the timestamp at the end of the entry. (Feel free to frequently send your friends and family permalinks from my blog!)







Weblog Commenting and Trackback by 
HaloScan.com Powered by Blogger