Wednesday, September 28, 2005

GS(3) Intelligence Briefing (9-28-05)

NOTE: GS(3) Intelligence Briefing is posted on a bi-weekly basis. As circumstances dictate, we may post special editions. The Briefing is organized into five sections: Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific, Americas, Global and Cyberspace. Each issue will provide insight on terrorism, cyber crime, climate change, health emergencies, natural disasters and other threats, as well as recommendations on what actions your organizations should take to mitigate risks. Starting in Sept. 2005, “Words of Power" commentary will also be posted on a bi-weekly basis. This commentary will explore a range of issues in the interdependent realms of security, sustainability and spirit. For more information, go to

Europe, Middle East & Africa
Six recent stories from Turkey, Lebanon, Spain, Mauritania, South Africa and Somalia underscore the sweeping regional scope of terrorism and how it can impact your business, threaten your family and destabilize your society wherever and whoever you are. The great question, though, the most difficult one to answer, is who really benefits from it, and who is really pulling the strings. Of course, the answer to that question is of a geopolitical and macro-economic nature, and answering it is taboo. Yes, terrorism arises from radical groups, and yes, much of it is “state-sponsored” by “rogue nations,” but there is more to the story, e.g., the involvement of great nations and global corporate interests, that should be understood better and more openly.
While traveling to the U.S., Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan talking to journalists on board about the recent assassination attempt in Kutahya, said, “As a matter of fact, this is the third assassination attempt directed against me, however, the previous ones were not so close.”  It is known that during his son Bilal’s wedding ceremony in 2003, members of the Revolutionary People's Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) had planned to assassinate Erdogan. But according to a report in the Sabah daily, the assassination attempt that was concealed from the public, took place a year and a half ago. A bomb placed 50 meters from the prime minister’s home in Istanbul was to be set off by remote control as his car approached the target area…(Zaman, 9-17-05)
May Chidiac, 40, a Lebanese Christian, and a TV news personality, was maimed when a bomb planted in her car blew up in the northern outskirts of Beirut…It was the 13th in a wave of bombings unleashed in February, when Lebanon's billionaire former prime minister Rafiq Hariri was assassinated in a huge bomb blast on the Beirut seafront. A German investigator is preparing to report to the United Nations secretary general on his inquiry into the murder of Hariri in October. (Agence France Press, 9-26-05)
Spain's High Court sentenced Imad Eddin Barakat Yarkas, alias Abu Dahdah (head of a Spanish-based Al-Qaeda cell that had been under investigation since 1995) to 27 years in prison for conspiring to commit murder in the 9/11 attacks. They also sentenced 17 other people, including a reporter for the Al-Jazeera television station, for between six and 11 years in prison…The reporter Tayssir Alluni secured an interview with bin Laden in Afghanistan in 2001…Alluni, who had insisted on his innocence throughout the trial, was accused of acting as a financial courier to the group...The court said Alluni was not a member of the Dahdah-led Spanish cell, but "collaborated... in determined fashion" with Al-Qaeda and used his position to pass information to and from members of the organisation. (Agence France Press, 9-26-05)
South Africa’s special Scorpions unit are investigating a claim that a clandestine organisation based in Cape Town shipped 10 al-Qaeda operatives to South Africa from Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2003 and 2004. The organisation allegedly set them up with almost £1-million (R12-million) and false South African citizenship - before they were transferred to Britain. (, 8-27-05)
According to he minister of internal affairs of Somaliland (northwestern Somalia), four Al Qaeda members were apprehended after a firefight in downtown Hargeisa. Although he did not explain what connects these men to Al Qaeda, he said they came from southern Somalia to kill Somaliland officials and international workers in Somaliland. Three police officers and three suspects were wounded in the fight, and four suspects escaped into the dark. (, 9-23-05)
In June, terrorists ambushed an army patrol in Mauritania and massacred 15 soldiers. The culprits readily identified themselves with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda group. Indeed, they received immediate congratulatory messages on the Internet from far-flung affiliates of the al-Qaeda, including the Iraq-based al-Zarqawi Jihad organisation… Following the attack on the Mauritania army, the July 6 issue of Morocco's leading tabloid, The Liberation, reported that the al Qaeda had a grand objective to establish terrorist bases in the Sahel similar to those existing in Afghanistan before the Taliban regime was dismantled two years ago. The Sahel terrain is as torturous as the Afghan caves and mountains when it comes to policing, making it an ideal hiding place for terrorists. (, 8-29-05)
  • Major corporations, particularly with operations or interests in the major cities of Europe, or in the Middle East or Africa, should have contracts in place with security services (e.g., Control Risk’s CR24) and emergency medical services (e.g., International SOS) to deal with the aftermath of terrorist strikes, and distribute laminated wallet cards containing vital information, such as 24x7 telephone numbers and emergency protocols for all employees. The annual fees for such services are insignificant for any corporation with revenues in the hundreds of millions, or even the tens of millions. The cost of producing and distributing the wallet cards to all your people is trivial. There is no excuse for not taking these actions, particularly if you have already invested in the security services and simply lack the intestinal fortitude or the caring concern to cut through the resistance and get those cards into the hands of your people.

Asia Pacific
The big four global accounting firms are beyond the point of merely salivating over the delicious profits to be realized in the Chinese economy during the decades ahead. They have already taken their first few bites and are dreamy-eyed at how fulfilling this meal is going to be: e.g., Ernst and Young plans to “more than double its China staff to over 8,000 within five years to meet the growing demand for professional services (Shenzhen Daily, 5-19-5), and Deloitte will “invest 150 million USD, increase its number of employees [in China] to 8000 or four times as many it is now, and push its operating revenue up to five times what it is now (People’s Daily, 6-2-05).
Well, unfortunately, like lawyers and doctors, accountants often do not really understand security and security-related risks, particularly the reputational dimensions of it; and global accounting firms, as Enron, Parmalat and other market-shaking scandals illustrate, can find themselves in trouble.
“The severe and widespread nature of corruption in China is becoming a major source of social discontent and poses a threat to the legitimacy of the country's leaders, according to experts at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Researchers at the Paris-based think-tank, which released its first comprehensive survey of China's economy earlier this month, also said that the problem posed a threat to the country's economic progress…“The economy is growing, so incidences [of corruption] are growing too,” said Janos Bertok, one of the OECD researchers in charge of evaluating corruption in China, and one of the authors of this month's ground-breaking report…Frederic Wehrle, a co-ordinator of OECD corruption research in Asia and also an author of this month's report, said that officials who received large kickbacks faced lengthy prison terms or even the death penalty, while such events were often reported in the domestic media. However, he said, China also needed stricter controls on people who pay bribes. “You cannot succeed in the fight against corruption if it is one-sided,” he said. He said that more could be done to encourage whistleblowers to come forward with allegations of wrongdoing. In recent years, many Chinese officials and bankers have escaped prosecution by fleeing abroad with large sums of money, often to other parts of Asia or to North America. The Ministry of Commerce has estimated that 4,000 corrupt officials have fled the country with roughly $50bn in the past two decades…”(Financial Times, 9-27-05)
  • Entering into the Chinese economy, where most of what you could merge with or acquire either started with the Communist Party or the Red Army, will expose your professional organizations (particularly those who assimilate thousands from the mainland workforce) to an array of threats and risks, including economic espionage on clients and involvement in corruption and money laundering. A coherent, rigorous background investigation process for all potential clients and all potential workers is a must, so is a world-class counter-intelligence program. But sadly, I do not expect that most organizations will do either. Therefore, expect trouble down the road.

The big stories related to Katrina and Rita that are being downplayed, misdirected or outright surpressed in the US mainstream news media are the environmental dangers (much worse than is reported), the death toll (much higher than is reported), the damage to the oil industry infrastructure in the Gulf (staggering) and the role of global warming (profoundly significant).
Hurricane Rita has caused more damage to oil rigs than any other storm in history and will force companies to delay drilling for oil in the US and as far away as the Middle East, initial damage assessments show. ODS-Petrodata, which provides market intelligence to the offshore oil and natural gas industry, said it expected a shortage of rigs in the US Gulf this year…Ken Sill of Credit Suisse First Boston said: “Early reports indicate numerous rigs are missing, destroyed or have suffered serious damage and several companies have yet to report. Rita may set an all-time record.”  The US Coast Guard said nine semisubmersible rigs had broken free from their moorings and were adrift…Rigs cost $90m-$550m to construct, depending on how sophisticated the structure and how deep the water in which it will drill. A rig ordered today is unlikely to be ready before 2008 or 2009, analysts said…Initial reports from companies are ominous. Global Santa Fe reported it could not find two of its rigs. Rowan Companies reported four rigs damaged, with two having moved, one losing its “legs” and the fourth presumed sunk. Noble has four rigs adrift, with two run aground one into a ChevronTexaco platform. (Financial Times, 9-27-05)
An estimated 80 percent of the buildings in the Louisiana town of Cameron, population 1,900, were leveled. Farther inland, half of Creole, population 1,500, was left in splinters… In Beaumont, five people, two adults and three children, died after moving their generator indoors so that it wouldn’t bother the neighbors or be stolen. The family had evacuated but after living in their cars and running out of money they returned to their apartment. (Associated Press, 9-27-05)
In Louisiana's coastal Cajun country, where Rita pushed up to 15 feet (4.5 metres) of sea water 35 miles (55 km) inland, Coast Guard, wildlife wardens and National Guard troops rescued hundreds of people from rooftops or atop water tanks…Two large refineries in Port Arthur, Texas, faced possible four-week outages and at least two others were damaged…(Reuters, 9-27-05)
AIR Worldwide Corp., based in Boston, estimated insured losses from Rita at $2.5 billion to $5 billion. That is far less than the estimated $35 billion in damage to insured property caused by Katrina last month, but still would put Rita among the 10 costliest storms, along with four hurricanes that swept through Florida last year…Rita also caused an estimated $300 million to $800 million in damage to insured property when it swept through the Florida Keys earlier in the week, according to EQECAT.  (MSNBC, 9-24-05)
This year has been the most active for hurricanes and tropical storms in the Atlantic since 1995. So far, the region has seen 17 tropical storms, compared with 19 in 1995. However, there could easily be several more storms between now and November, to make this the most active hurricane season for decades. (Financial Times, 9-23-05)
Super-powerful hurricanes now hitting the United States are the "smoking gun" of global warming, one of Britain's leading scientists believes. The growing violence of storms such as Katrina, which wrecked New Orleans, and Rita, now threatening Texas, is very probably caused by climate change, said Sir John Lawton, chairman of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution. Hurricanes were getting more intense, just as computer models predicted they would, because of the rising temperature of the sea, he said. "The increased intensity of these kinds of extreme storms is very likely to be due to global warming."  In a series of outspoken comments - a thinly veiled attack on the Bush administration, Sir John hit out at neoconservatives in the US who still deny the reality of climate change. Referring to the arrival of Hurricane Rita he said: "If this makes the climate loonies in the States realise we've got a problem, some good will come out of a truly awful situation." (Independent/UK, 9-23-05)
  • Those organizations with operations, people or interests in the Caribbean should remember that this hurricane season is not over, and next year’s will be as intense if not more intense. More storms are coming sooner and later, huge, fierce storms that act unpredictably. If you have disaster recovery, business continuity and crisis management capabilities you must test them and train on them regularly, revising them if necessary to reflect the rapid climate change we are undergoing. And, of course, if you have no plans you should look up the definition of criminal negligence in the jurisdictions you would be subject to.

The Indonesian government is struggling to meet the challenge of its bird flu outbreak, which does not bode well for the rest of the region, or the world as a whole.
“In Indonesia a taxi driver develops a fever and dies, the latest victim of the virulent H5N1 strain of bird flu. His wife grows ill and also dies. So do his children. And within 10 days so do many of his passengers, victims of a newly mutated virus that has finally found an efficient way to leap among humans. One of those unlucky passengers is a businessman heading to Jakarta's airport to fly home to Munich. On the first leg to Singapore he passes the virus on to an Australian grandmother sitting next to him and an Indian motorcycle magnate across the aisle. All make it home. All die within days. Before they do though, they each pass it on to dozens of people in the beginning of a frightening chain of infections. Welcome to the global flu pandemic. The scenario is, for the time being, fictional.” (Financial Times, 9-23-05)
There is a lot going wrong or undone in Indonesia.
Indonesia's efforts to stamp out bird flu are being cramped by a lack of funds, a shortage of veterinary doctors, and incomplete data on flocks of commercial breeders...Indonesia has not begun mass culls of infected birds because a recent outbreak of bird flu took authorities by surprise…(Reuters AlertNet, 9-27-05)
A week after the Indonesian government declared an "extraordinary situation", few measures have been taken to contain the disease…Despite advice from the WHO to carry out mass culls of poultry within a 3-mile radius of affected areas, the government has favoured vaccination as a less expensive option than a cull, due to the issue of farmer compensation. Indonesia's health ministry suspects that bird flu has affected 22 provinces in the country, with several towns in Java and South Sulawesi being the most seriously affected areas because of their high populations of poultry. (AKI, Jakarta Post, 9-26-05)
According to the Australian Foreign Minister, Indonesia was struggling to contain an outbreak of bird flu and had been slow in distributing drugs to counter the disease. (Courier-Mail, 9-26-05)
Meanwhile, as everywhere, awareness and education is inexpensive, effective and underutlized.
What is the key to combating bird flu? The answer may be as simple as good personal and environmental hygiene, but Jakarta health officials have been slow to share this information with the public…"We asked health officials to talk to local residents on how to deal with bird flu right after the closure of Ragunan Zoo," said Ragunan sub-district head Fihir Sadil.  But the campaign only reached a few locals since it was held in the sub-district office. The sub-district itself is diverse as kampong areas are located nearby upmarket residences.  Local health center staff have distributed flyers on preventive measures as well as the symptoms of bird flu…The health ministry's director for communicable diseases and environmental health  said if residents observed good hygiene the risk of the virus spreading would be reduced by 95 percent. "It will
also help us fight other diseases like hepatitis," he said. (Jakarta Post, 9-27-05)
Other governments in the region are scrambling to prepare their societies and develop their response.
Philippines said it was monitoring bird sanctuaries because of concerns that the seasonal arrival of migratory birds next month might bring avian flu to the country. The government also said it had ordered tighter surveillance of illegal trading of exotic birds in southern Mindanao island, and their immediate destruction if they came from bird-flu affected countries such as Indonesia. (Reuters, 9-26-05)
Labor wants the federal government to conduct an audit of Indonesia's ability to cope with the threat of bird flu. Federal opposition foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd accused the government of being complacent about protecting Australia from a global avian influenza outbreak. Mr Rudd said Australia should convene a regional foreign ministerial forum on avian influenza "to audit the capability gap across the region, including Indonesia, and to help our friends in the region fulfil those gaps.” (The Age, 9-25-05)
South Korea will go on alert from mid-October, government officials said, warning that the arrival of migratory birds could lead to another outbreak of the deadly virus. Officials at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said they will issue the alert next month and then begin special monitoring and quarantine precautions from November.  (Korean Times, 9-27-05)
The ministry of environment and forests has directed Assam to draw up a contingency plan to combat bird flu before migratory birds start arriving in the state…Alarmed by Delhi’s warning, the state forest department has convened a meeting of veterinarians, wildlife officials and other experts at the state zoo here. Quoting the ministry missive, sources here said the first flocks of three species — the bar-headed geese, the great black-headed gull and the great cormorant — migrating between Qianhai Hu in China and South Asia, mostly India and Bangladesh, have been sighted in the region…Tens of thousands of birds that could be carrying the virus are reported to have left the reserve in September and are headed for warmer climes across the Himalayas. These birds reach India mostly in early October.  (Telegraph, Calcutta, 9-27-05)
  • Too little too late? Better late than never? This is not the moment for clichés, this is a time for meaningful action. Those who engage in the harshest self-criticism, prepare for the worst and are very open with their populaces will fare the best. Those that tell themselves what they want to hear, do only minimum preparations and do not empower and engage their populaces will fail miserably. Your organization needs a bird flu specific crisis response plan. GS(3) Intelligence can help you if you do not already have one.

As the originator of the “CSI/FBI Computer Crime and Security Survey,” a study which did a tremendous amount of good but which should have been ended or radically redesigned several years ago (as I championed prior to moving on from my role as CSI Editorial Director), I am particularly interested in research on cyber attacks and related issues. One of the most intriguing projects is a semi-annual Internet security study that Symantec conducts. The data is compiled from 24,000 sensors monitoring network activity in numerous organizations in over 180 countries.
“In a report on robot program ('bot') activity for the period January 1 to June 30 2005, Internet security vendor Symantec found an average of 10,352 bots online per day. This compared with an average of 5,000 bots per day around December 2004. Bot networks are compromised computers on which attackers have installed software that listens for and responds to commands -- commonly over a chat channel -- allowing remote control of the computers.
Steven Deare, for ZDNET Australia, summarizes:
“The rise in bot activity follows the release of Microsoft's Service Pack 2 in August 2004, a free download issued by the vendor to combat a range of security exploits. Prior to its release, 30,000 bots per day had been recorded in July 2004. The 2005 rise was a sign that hackers and malicious users were fighting back against vendor patching, according to the report…Coinciding with the rise in bots, the report found denial of service (DoS) attacks jumped by 680 percent in the same period, to an average of 927 per day. Bot networks are commonly used to execute DoS attacks. "This increase in DoS activity is largely due to the corresponding increase in bot network activity. It may be related, at least in part, to financial motivation, as DoS attacks have been reported in extortion attempts," the report said.  Symantec also found such bot networks were available for hire. The report detailed an example from a chat service, whereby a bot network owner advertised the size, capacity and price of the network he was offerring. Customised bot binary code was available for between US$200 and US$300. (ZDNet Australia, 9-20-05)
Brian Krebs, in The Washington Post, observes, however, that this is only a narrow glimpse.
“…security experts say Symantec's estimates represent a small fraction of the global bot epidemic. The nonprofit SANS Internet Storm Center, which tracks hacking trends, sees an average of 260,000 bots each day being used to locate other vulnerable computers, said Johannes Ullrich, the center's chief technology officer…(Washington Post, 9-25-05)
  • There are so many false notions about cyber security. Some with expertise on the technical side see it self-servingly as a technical problem. Some with expertise on the human side see it self-servingly as a people problem. It is both, of course, and it requires a comprehensive program powered by a strong organizational commitment. You cannot rely on technology vendors alone to protect your information and information systems anymore than you can rely on governments alone to protect you and your family from bird flu or hurricanes. You have to address the growing threat of cyber crime by developing your own organizational will, understanding and capabilities.

Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: For more information, go to

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Words of Power #2: Indonesia’s State of Emergency on Bird Flu Demands Your Attention

NOTE: Words of Power is published on a bi-weekly basis, and alternates with the GS(3) Intelligence Briefing, also posted on a bi-weekly basis. As circumstances dictate, we may post special editions. "Words of Power" commentary will explore a range of issues in the interdependent realms of security, sustainability and spirit. The GS(3) Intel Briefing is organized into five sections: Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific, Americas, Global and Cyberspace. Each issue will provide insight on terrorism, cyber crime, climate change, health emergencies, natural disasters and other threats, as well as recommendations on what actions your organizations should take to mitigate risks. For more information, go to

“The World Health Organisation is warning of a catastrophic bird flu pandemic, and Indonesia has admitted it already has an epidemic after a five-year-old girl died and nine more patients were quarantined. The Prime Minister, John Howard, said yesterday the consequences of a bird flu pandemic would be "enormous", as Australia agreed to a request from Indonesia's Health Ministry to fund the purchase of 10,000 doses of the antiviral drug Tamiflu. In Japan, the Ministry for Agriculture said it was about halfway through the slaughter and incineration of 1.5 million chickens as it tries to contain the virus. Thirty-one poultry farms, all involved in egg production, remain under quarantine after testing positive during recent sweeps. The virus is estimated to have infected more than 10 million birds in Indonesia.” (Sydney Morning Herald, 9-22-05)

“Indonesia has been placed on an ‘extraordinary’ alert by an emergency cabinet meeting after the discovery of more suspected bird flu victims. Confusion surrounded the Government's measures to control the outbreak last night, with Jakarta's Governor and several cabinet ministers warning the alert would harm tourism…Authorities fear a pandemic of bird flu that could kill millions in Indonesia and in the region. The World Health Organisation official heading the battle against the potential Asian outbreak, Dr Hitoshi Oshitani, said the world could have just weeks to combat a pandemic before a catastrophic number of deaths.” (Tempo Interactive, 9-21-05)

Earlier this year, I participated in the development of a Bird Flu Crisis Response Plan for a global organization with significant interests, people and facilities in Southeast Asia.
On a regional conference call, organized to roll-out the plan for local implementation, there was push-back, particularly from Malaysia and Indonesia: “This is not a problem for us. Our newspapers are not telling us there is a danger here. There is no reason to do this plan. We are bird-flu free. This is a problem for Vietnam and Thailand, but not for us. You are making this into something more than it is not.”
Another individual, who had recently been charged with global crisis management responsibilities, responded weakly: “Well, perhaps we have the wrong information.”
Excuse me? “Perhaps we have the wrong information”?
I could not let such a misperception go unchecked. Two out of the three factors that go into the making of a pandemic were already in play. People’s lives and fortunes were at stake. The World Health Organization’s concern had been well-documented. The S.E. Asians had to get ready.
I spoke out, emphatically re-asserting the known science and the danger of pandemic, contradicting my co-worker and confronting the denial that the two crisis management team representatives from Malaysia and Indonesia were manifesting.
No, we did not have the “wrong information.”
Of course, in many corporate cultures, denial and self-interest are all-powerful.
In the ensuing months, the “Bird Flu Crisis Response Plan” was paid little more than lip-service by the global organization’s offices in the region, and I was admonished for my “arrogant and abrasive behavior” on the call.
Denial and self-interest had won out over science and security—once again. And although monster hurricanes fueled by global warming and health emergencies incubating in the world’s domestic animal and migratory bird populations pose great risks to your operations and the lives of your people, the greatest threat is posed by weak senior executives unwilling to expose themselves to professional risk for the sake of mitigating risks to people, operations and reputation.
At the time of my ill-fated conference call, the death count was at forty-six, and bird flu had spread through Asian poultry populations and been reported in nine Asian countries, including Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, South Korea, Thailand, Viet Nam and North Korea. Today, the death count is at least sixty-five, and as I reported in GS(3) Briefing for 8-30-05, the scope of the problem has expanded ominously: “Borne on the wings of the world’s waterfowl, bird flu is on the move. Reports from Siberia, Kazakhstan, Tibet and Finland reveal that geographical area of impact has expanded dramatically in the past several weeks. More ominously, migratory patterns suggest that infected birds heading south from China’s Lake Qinghai will bring the virus to the wetlands of India, Bangladesh, and other birds heading from southwest from Siberia and Kazakhstan will bring it to the Black Sea and Europe's largest wetlands in Romania and Bulgaria, where they will co-mingle with waterfowl from Scandinavia, Poland and Germany.”
The economic costs could be staggering.
“The economic cost of September 11 was $70 billion. The tab for the New Orleans flooding could top $200 billion. An avian flu pandemic could cost trillions. We are quickly learning the costs of not managing the risks of disaster. Spending to prepare for worst-case scenarios may be far cheaper.” Business Week, 9-19-05)
“Investment banks are starting to issue warnings on the risks avian influenza poses to the economies and financial markets of East Asia...CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets, the Asian investment banking arm of Credit Agricole of France, estimated in a report issued this week that the disease had already cost Asian countries $US8billion to $US12billion ($10.4billion to $15.6billion), mostly from the deaths or destruction of 140million chickens and other poultry. But the cost would be greater if the disease gained the ability to spread easily from person to person, a possibility not factored into stock and other asset prices…Citigroup has issued increasingly dire warnings, saying that avian flu could become much worse than SARS. Unlike SARS, influenza probably could not be stopped through quarantines or fever-recognition scanners at airports, because influenza victims become infectious up to a full day before they start exhibiting symptoms.” (Australian Finance Review, 4-7-05)
All organizations, particularly those with interests, people or facilities in South East Asia, should act on the following recommendations:
Monitor, on a daily basis, the spread of the virus regionally and globally via U.N. WHO, U.S. CDC and other authorities
Employ threat level designations, e.g., “Low,” “Medium” and “High” to signify status of countries where you have interests, people or facilities.Implement travel and office protocols for each threat level designation status
Push out awareness and education materials for your people living in and traveling to areas where bird flu has been detectedRevise your business continuity plans to factor in quarantines, etc. and mitigate the impact of such measures on your business operations
Be prepared to provide care for your people who fall ill, whether they are traveling or living in the regionNone of these recommendations should be news to those responsible for business continuity, crisis management, human resources and security in global organizations. And, indeed, those who already have plans developed should be well down the road to full implementation and have already undergone testing, and be actively engaged in training and raising awareness. Sadly, many organizations have not acted at all, and others have acted only minimally. Has your “Bird Flu Crisis Response Plan” already collected dust?
All your people traveling to or living in areas where bird flu has been reported should be provided, at a minimum, with prevention tips such as the following Mayo Clinic (
Avoid domesticated birds. If possible, avoid rural areas, small farms and especially any close contact with domesticated fowl.
Avoid open-air markets. These can be colorful or dreadful, depending on your tolerance level, but no matter how you see them, they're often breeding grounds for disease.
Wash your hands. One of the simplest ways to prevent infections of all kinds, hand washing is also one of the best. When you're traveling, alcohol-based hand sanitizers, which don't require the use of water, are an excellent choice. They're actually more effective than hand washing in killing bacteria and viruses that cause disease. Commercially prepared hand sanitizers contain ingredients that help prevent skin dryness. In fact, use of these products can result in less skin dryness and irritation than hand washing. Not all hand sanitizers are created equal, however. Some "waterless" hand sanitizers don't contain alcohol. Use only the alcohol-based products.
Watch your kids. Keep a careful eye on young children, who are likely to put their hands in their mouths and who may not wash thoroughly.
Steer clear of raw eggs. Because eggshells are often contaminated with bird droppings, avoid mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce, ice cream, and any other foods containing raw or undercooked eggs.
Ask about a flu shot. Before traveling, ask your doctor about a flu shot. It won't protect you from bird flu, but it may help reduce the risk of simultaneous infection with bird and human flu viruses.
No human cases of bird flu have been linked to eating poultry, although in at least one instance, the H5N1 virus was found in a package of frozen duck. Because heat destroys avian viruses, WHO officials don't consider cooked poultry a health threat. Even so, it's best to take precautions when handling and preparing poultry, which is often contaminated with salmonella or other harmful bacteria.
Wash well. Carefully wash cutting boards, utensils and all surfaces that have come into contact with raw poultry in hot, soapy water. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling poultry and dry them with a disposable towel.
Cook thoroughly. Cook chicken until the juices run clear and it reaches an internal temperature of 180 F.
Avoid eating raw or undercooked eggs or any products containing them, including mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce and homemade ice cream.
And, BTW, don’t waste precious time quibbling over whether or not to call it “bird flu” or “Avian influenza” or “H5N1,” just act now. It may not be too late to make a difference for your organization’s operations and for the lives of your people. Act now. At the very least, you will learn invaluable lessons about your organization’s strengths and weaknesses in crisis, and more importantly, you will be in a better position for the next global health emergency (an inevitability), and along the way, you will have sent your people a powerful message that their well-being, as well as that of their loved ones, is of great importance to you.
Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: For more information, go to

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

GS(3) Intelligence Briefing 9-14-05

NOTE: GS(3) Intelligence Briefing is posted on a bi-weekly basis. As circumstances dictate, we may post special editions. The Briefing is organized into five sections: Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific, Americas, Global and Cyberspace. Each issue will provide insight on terrorism, cyber crime, climate change, health emergencies, natural disasters and other threats, as well as recommendations on what actions your organizations should take to mitigate risks. Starting in Sept. 2005, “Words of Power" commentary will also be posted on a bi-weekly basis. This commentary will explore a range of issues in the interdependent realms of security, sustainability and spirit.

Terrorism, cyber crime, climate change, disease and poverty: you cannot cope with any of them in isolation. They are interdependent challenges and they must be met with a holistic approach. And, as Hans Blix has rightly observed, Global Warming will be responsible for far more deaths than Terrorism (the same could be true of Bird Flu – if it the third element of a pandemic kicks in).  The human race is already five years into a century that will define the next millennium. Will the global environment flourish and sustain us beyond the next two or three decades? Will the human spirit nurture and be nurtured more or less in the years ahead? How many of our fellow beings will suffer, or die or have their lives shattered financially or psychologically because of our brazen ignorance of what security really means? Just as the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, climate change, disease and poverty are interdependent, the means to overcome them (i.e., security, sustainability and spirit) are also interdependent.
The GS(3) Briefing for 9-14-05 is twice as long as usual. There is some context I want to establish on the security situation in Africa, especially in the light of the U.N. Millennium summit and the launch of the Clinton Global Initiative; I also want you to know as much as possible about the failures of the current US administration in response to Hurricane Katrina. In future Briefings, we will explore the security implications for specific African countries. And although Bird Flu is not addressed in the 9-14-05 Briefing, it is important to note that there has been a fourth Bird Flu death in Indonesia. The 9-28-05 Briefing will include a comprehensive update on this threat. If there is a development demanding your urgent action, we will post a bulletin before then. Meanwhile, the next Words of Power commentary will post on 9-21-05.

Europe, Middle East & Africa
“Africa: Up in Smoke?” (a study produced by a coalition of eighteen development and green groups) documents why global warming is now the most serious problem facing the planet’s poor. The fourteen African countries already subject to water stress or water scarcity will be joined by eleven more in the next twenty-five years. Rainfall is predicted to decline in the Horn of Africa and some parts of the south by as much as 10 per cent by 2050, while the land may warm by as much as 1.6C, all of which is likely to affect the crop harvests for hundreds of millions of people. The sea level around the coast of Africa is projected to rise by 25cm by 2050, and the west coast, currently affected by storm surges and at risk from extreme storm events, erosion and inundation, is likely to suffer even more. East Africa's coastal zone will also be affected: climatic variation and sea-level rise may decrease coral reefs along the continental shelf, reducing their buffer effects and increasing the likelihood of coastal erosion. (Independent/UK, 6-20-05
All these factors, the report says, call for a new model of development in Africa, in which strategies to increase human resilience in the face of climate change and the stability of ecosystems are central. Of course, it is not only a “new model for development” that is needed, but a new model for security as well. In unusually outspoken language, The UN’s annual Human Development Report for 2005, accuses the US of having "an overdeveloped military strategy and an under-developed strategy for human security.” "There is an urgent need to develop a collective security framework that goes beyond military responses to terrorism," it continues. " Poverty and social breakdown are core components of the global security threat."
The UN study also highlights the painful fact that parts of the U.S. are as poor as Third World countries. For half a century, there was a sustained decline in the number of US children who die before their fifth birthday. But since 2000 this trend has been reversed. The infant mortality rate in the US is the same as Malaysia, which has a quarter of America's income. Blacks in Washington DC have a higher infant death rate than people in the Indian state of Kerala. Child poverty in the US has increased to twenty percent. In the UK - which at the end of the 1990s had one of the highest child poverty rates in Europe - the rise in child poverty, by contrast, has been reversed through increases in tax credits and benefits.
The clash on world poverty centres on the US policy of promoting growth and trade liberalisation on the assumption that this will trickle down to the poor. But this will not stop children dying, the UN says. Growth alone will not reduce poverty so long as the poor are denied full access to health, education and other social provision.  India and China, the UN says, have been very successful in wealth creation but have not enabled the poor to share in the process. A rapid decline in child mortality has therefore not materialised. Indeed, when it comes to reducing infant deaths, India has now been overtaken by Bangladesh, which is only growing a third as fast.
The only way to eradicate poverty, it says, is to target inequalities. Unless that is done the Millennium Development Goals will never be met. And 41 million children will die unnecessarily over the next 10 years. (Financial Times, 9-8-05)
  • Businesses and other organizations operating in African countries need to not only factor in the environmental risks that global warming (i.e. climate change) will bring on, but also the security risks that it will aggravate. Remember one of the starkest and most painful lessons of the Post-Katrina Debacle, if the Bush administration had heeded the exhortations of both the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and Louisiana’s elected representatives and spent $100 million on shoring up the levees, they would not have to come up with over $100 billion in recovery and relief costs now. It is not just an issue for governments, it is an issue for any organizations with people, facilities and interests in Africa.

Asia Pacific
In early September, Typhoon Talim pounded Taiwan, Taiwan Power Co shut down generators in two nuclear power plants due to strong winds. Safety considerations prompted the company to cut the operation of its three nuclear power stations to 25 percent of capacity. Electricity was cut to 1.7 million homes. When Talim struck mainland China, at least 72 people died in floods and landslides. One hundred thousand people were evacuated in southern Japan in advance of Typhoon Nabi. Eight hundred thousand people were evacuated in eastern China in advance of Typhoon Khanun. In August, Typhoon Matsa struck Taiwan, disrupting water and power supplies to thousands of households. In July, Typhoon Haitang, with winds of up to 184 km/h (114 mph), hit the mountainous areas of north-eastern Taiwan. (AFP-BBC, 7/07-9-05)
Fifteen typhoons have hit Asia Pacific so far this year, and there are at least two months more to go before the end of storm season.
Meanwhile, according to 'Climate Change in India', a study released by Indian environment minister A. Raja and UK trade minister Ian Pearson, India is getting dangerously hot. The extreme weather situation of drought in states like Rajasthan and floods in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh at the same time is expected to become more rampant in the next 30-40 years. More so because of India's growing contribution to climate change due to increased greenhouse gas emissions. The farming areas of north India will likely be less impacted than the eastern parts, where the rise in temperature and lower radiation could reduce crop yield dramatically. Higher radiation in north India will reduce the impact of climate change there. Higher temperatures will also mean higher rainfall of 10-12 per cent in most parts of the country. But the concentration of rain is expected to shift to the central peninsula and west coast with less rainfall projected for the north and Northeast.  For farmers, the new rainfall pattern will be a mixed bag. Those in the Ganga, Godavari and Krishna basin are expected to get more rain while others will get less. The changed pattern is also likely to create a big problem in the form of new zones of malaria epidemic. The National Physical Laboratory says incidence of malaria may go down in states like Rajasthan and increase in states like UP and J&K. Climate change has also had an impact on the seas, especially the Bay of Bengal where the sea level is rising steadily and expected to rise to dangerous proportions. The Indian Institute of Oceanography says there’s been an increase in cyclones here along with increased maximum wind speed. “There is a co-relation between increased greenhouse emissions and sea surges because of the sudden heat emitted by carbon dioxide after rains,” the report says. (Hindustani Times, 9-9-05)
  • Organizations with people, facilities or interests in typhoon territory should review and revise existing Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plans to reflect the changing environment: i.e., more powerful typhoons, and more frequent typhoons.

  • Organizations in other areas, in particular South Asia, should perform risk analysis on the impact of global warming on their people, facilities and interests.

Toxic chemicals in the New Orleans flood waters will make the city unsafe for full human habitation for a decade, Hugh Kaufman, an expert on toxic waste and responses to environmental disasters at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has told The Independent. And, he added, the Bush administration is covering up the danger.
Kaufman said the way the polluted water was being pumped out was increasing the danger to health. The pollution was far worse than had been admitted, he said, because his agency was failing to take enough samples and was refusing to make public the results of those it had analyzed. "Inept political hacks" running the clean-up will imperil the health of low-income migrant workers by getting them to do the work. (Independent/UK, 9-11-05)
Oil storage tanks ruptured by Hurricane Katrina may have dumped as much as 3.7m gallons of crude oil into the lower Mississippi river and surrounding wetlands. Officials estimate the spillage at roughly a third of the volume of the huge spill when the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground off Alaska in 1989…(Financial Times, 9-8-05)
Of course, the environmental impact and the health threat are not the only stories that are being surpressed, the other one is the actual death count. Reporters and their camera crews are being denied and harried in attempts to record the recovery of the bodies.
In 2002, two FBI agents showed up at a law firm near Oklahoma City, asking questions about Mike Brown, a former employee being considered for a job at the Federal Emergency Management Agency…Jones was surprised Brown was being considered for job at FEMA but figured it wasn't impossible he could have risen high enough in local and state government to be considered for a job directing FEMA operations in Oklahoma. The agents quickly corrected him. This was a national post in Washington, deputy director of FEMA, the arm of the federal government that prepares for and responds to disasters around the United States. Jones looked at the agents, "You're surely kidding?" (ANITA KUMAR, St. Petersburg Times, 9-10-05)
The 2003 wildfires, in the western US, lasted seven weeks and burned three-quarters of a million acres. The billowing smoke was easily visible from space. By the time they were extinguished, 3,600 homes had been destroyed, 22 people were killed, and $2.5 billion in damages were amassed. How did Michael Brown perform? On 4-16-03, Gov. Gray Davis (D-CA) wrote to President Bush urging a disaster declaration. Eight days later, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sen Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and 10 House members from Southern California — seven of them Republicans — urged Bush to approve the request. On 10-24-03, just hours before the Southern California wildfires began to rage out of control, the Federal Emergency Management Agency denied a state application for $430 million to clear dead trees from fire-prone areas. The letter came six months after the governor’s office warned the agency that the state considered the dead trees an immediate threat to lives and property. [, 9-11-05]
Ideologically opposed to a strong federal role in disaster relief and obsessed with terrorism, the Bush administration let a once-admired agency fall apart. During the 1990s, FEMA was routinely praised as one of the best-functioning federal agencies. Its response to the Midwestern floods of 1993, the Northridge earthquake of 1994, and 1995's Oklahoma City terrorist attack are considered models of emergency response. By contrast, its performance during Katrina is almost universally acknowledged to have been abysmally poor. At first, FEMA's post-Katrina failure appears baffling: What happened to the once-great FEMA? But George Haddow, who served as the deputy chief of staff at FEMA under James Lee Witt, Bill Clinton's FEMA director, thinks that FEMA's current flaws are all too understandable - and are a direct consequence of the Bush administration's decision to pull the federal government out of the natural disaster-relief business and turn over more power to state and local officials…
The Bush administration's distance from local disaster-relief officials is by design. From the moment Bush stepped into office, he's been determined to move away from the coordinated state/local/federal disaster-relief approach used by Clinton. Instead, as Joe Allbaugh, Bush's first FEMA director, told a congressional panel in 2001, Bush wanted to pull the federal government out of the disaster-relief business and aimed to "restore the predominant role of state and local response to most disasters." The federal government became even less involved in natural disaster relief after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when FEMA's mission was shifted toward responding to terrorist attacks. In 2002, Congress created the Department of Homeland Security, and FEMA - which Clinton had elevated to a Cabinet-level agency - was made one department in the massive bureaucracy...
"You gotta do both," [Haddow] says. "You've got to fight terrorism." But you've got to respond to hurricanes and earthquakes, too. And when Bush declared a state of emergency in Louisiana on the Saturday before Katrina struck the Gulf, he made a promise to residents that he would respond, Haddow says. "People died because they couldn't get it right," he says. "People died because they didn't deliver on their promise."
[Farhad Manjoo,, 9-7-05]
  • Organizations should establish formal policies and standards on background checks for new hires, particularly for any individuals being considered for security and/or business continuity, etc. Professionals should be hired for these positions, and where they report within organizations should ensure that these group leaders have real, immediate and uninhibited access to the executive.  

On the fourth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, it is important to note that the Bush administration’s so-called “war on terrorism,” with its failure to follow thru on the manhunt for Bin Laden, its tragic detour into Iraq, its malign neglect toward the Middle East peace process, and its disregard for the Western Alliance, the UN and the Geneva Accords, has resulted in an increase in terrorist attacks and inspired countless new jihadees.
Richard A. Clarke, a former National Security Council and White House counterterrorism official, said yesterday that there were twice as many attacks outside Iraq in the three years after the 2001 attacks as in the three preceding years. Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda group "are no longer the traditional leaders as they were in the 1990s," Clarke said, adding that the terrorist leader had been building ideological groups from Afghanistan before 9-11-01, and that they had grown in the past few years into 14 to 16 separate networks. Clarke said that bin Laden and his top deputy, Ayman Zawahiri, exercise "symbolic control and provide broad-brush themes" and that most of the networks operate independently, but "there are some signs of cooperation among some."
…Clarke left the Bush administration in 2003 and has since alleged the Bush White House reacted slowly to warnings of terrorist attacks in early 2001…Clarke said that Iraq is drawing a relatively small number of foreign fighters who train there and return home, but "it is unclear to what extent they are drawn by the U.S. presence or how much the U.S. is a magnet." Overall, he said that "there are more people participating [in jihadist networks] outside Iraq because of the U.S. presence" in that country. "Al Qaeda has morphed from a hierarchical structure to a [worldwide] movement," he said. The goal of some is to create regional theocracies, he said, while others just want to overthrow their own governments. "They share the view that the U.S. is the great Satan and propping up governments that suppress Muslims," he said…
Clarke took sharp issue with President Bush's repeated statements that by fighting terrorists abroad, the administration is preventing attacks in this country. "That is illogical on its face," Clarke said. Citing bombings in Madrid and London, Clarke said that "absolutely nothing prevents them from coming here." (Washington Post, 8-31-05)
Two years ago, the Tamil Nadu Police uncovered a plan to set up a new group called the Muslim Defence Force by some locals who were allegedly in touch with a Gulf-based cadre of LeT identified as Abu Hamza. "Though this plan has been thwarted for the time being, renewed attempts are likely in future." Raman pointed to the growing strategic relations between India and Western countries such as the US, Britain and France. Western military ships have also called on south Indian ports. Referring to the detention of 13 suspected members of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) in Singapore in 2002 who were of Indian origin, he said this showed the Southeast Asian-based group "has already made some inroads into the community of Indian origin in this region. "It would be reasonable to presume that there could be others who remain undetected so far." Raman called for greater interaction by India, at the governmental and non-governmental levels, with the countries of the region and their security and counter-terrorism agencies.
"Bilateral cooperation with some countries such as Singapore has been quite good. Much more needs to be done." The writer pointed out that Tablighi Jamaat was an Islamic humanitarian organisation with headquarters in India and was formed during the British Raj with the ostensible purpose of making Muslims better Muslims. While its workers in India have confined their activities to its stated aims, its branches in Pakistan and Bangladesh have helped the Pakistani members of the IIF to recruit cadres for terrorist activities. (Hindustani Times, 9-12-05)
In Bangladesh, photographs of two men wanted for a series of bombings across Bangladesh have been released to the media. A home ministry spokesman said there would also be "huge cash rewards", although no amount was specified. The men are Abdur Rahman, head of Jama'atul Mujahideen, and Bangla Bhai, leader of Jagrata Muslim Janata. Both are banned Islamic militant groups. More than 400 small bombs exploded last month across the country, killing two people and injuring more than 100…In raids, police seized about 200 small bombs and arrested seven people in raids in Dhaka. Although no one has claimed responsibility for the bombings, leaflets found at bomb sites carried a call by the Jama'atul Mujahideen for the introduction of Islamic rule in Bangladesh…Police have arrested more than 200 suspected activists since the bombings. (BBC, 9-12-05)
  • Organizations operating in any country that is either involved in the US/UK “Coalition of the Willing” in Iraq or NATO/EU operations in Afghanistan, or has geopolitical importance vis-à-vis energy resources, should ask itself a series of simple but vital questions -- yes, GS(3) Intelligence will provide a list of them to you – e.g., 1) do you know if your facilities are located in close proximity to any embassies, financial institutions, tourist sites or business icons that could be likely targets of Al-Qaeda style attacks, and 2) what would you do if your office was gone tomorrow?

“An Ohio computer hacker who served as a digital button man for a shady internet hosting company faces prison time after admitting he carried out one of a series of crippling denial-of-service attacks ordered by a wealthy businessman against his competitors.
“In a deal with prosecutors, Richard "Krashed" Roby, 20, pleaded guilty in federal court in Toledo last month to intentionally damaging a protected computer, after launching a 2003 attack on an online satellite TV retailer that caused at least $120,000 in losses…
“Jay Echouafni, the 38-year-old satellite TV mogul who allegedly ordered and funded the cyberhits, went on the lam last year, and remains a fugitive from a federal indictment out of Los Angeles. In a related deal, 31-year-old Paul Ashley, former operator of the Foonet hosting service, admitted to recruiting three other computer intruders to carry out Echouafni's orders…Until it was shuttered by an FBI raid last year, Ashley ran Foonet from a basement server room in his suburban Ohio home. The enterprise enjoyed a double-edged reputation for providing hosting that could stand up to distributed denial of service, or DDOS, attacks, even as it gave safe harbor to members of the computer underground drawn to the bulletproof service…
“Ashley admitted he knowingly allowed clients and employees to control networks of compromised Windows machines, or "bots," from Foonet.
“That came in handy in October 2003, when Echouafni, a Foonet client, offered Ashley $1,000 to snuff out two websites.
“Echouafni, who was CEO of Massachusetts-based Orbit Communication at the time, allegedly claimed that competitors and had stolen his content and attacked his online business, which sold satellite TV gear over the web…
“The FBI described the ensuing attack as a tenacious, 10-day deluge that tracked RapidSatellite through three ISP changes, and briefly blocked and the website of the Department of Homeland Security, which had the poor luck of sharing service providers with Echouafni's rival.
“A concurrent attack allegedly launched by the other members of the crew took a similar toll on Apparently pleased with the results, Echouafni went on to purchase Foonet from Ashley, retaining Ashley as an employee and hiring Hall to handle cybersecurity for the company. “In February of last year, Echouafni allegedly ordered a third attack on another competitor,…
“Echouafni skipped out on $750,000 bail secured by his house in Massachusetts last year. Law enforcement officials believe he's now living in his native Morocco.  (Kevin Poulson,, 9-8-05)
  • Poulson’s excellent story for Wired is illustrative of the cyber crime underground serving unscrupulous business people who want to target their competitors, either to sabotage their operations or steal their proprietary information. Remember, only the low-end criminals get popped. World-class professionals with expertise of information age espionage rarely get detected, reported or apprehended or prosecuted.

  • Organizations with trade secrets or sensitive client information to lose, and are heavily invested in their reputations, should either have counter-intelligence expertise in-house or have an established, on-going relationship with a private counterintelligence service.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Words of Power #1: Truths Salvaged from Post-Katrina Debacle

Words of Power #1: Truths Salvaged from Post-Katrina Debacle

"We have been abandoned by our own country. Hurricane Katrina will go down in history as one of the worst storms ever to hit an American coast. But the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will go down as one of the worst abandonments of Americans on American soil ever in U.S. history. … Whoever is at the top of this totem pole, that totem pole needs to be chainsawed off and we’ve got to start with some new leadership. It’s not just Katrina that caused all these deaths in New Orleans here. Bureaucracy has committed murder here in the greater New Orleans area and bureaucracy has to stand trial before Congress now."
Aaron Broussard, President of Jefferson Parish, New Orleans

"Excuse my French everybody in America, but I am pissed…After 9/11, we gave the President unprecedented powers lickety-quick to take care of New York and other places…Now, you mean to tell me that a place where most of your oil is coming through, a place that is so unique when you mention New Orleans anywhere around the world, everybody’s eyes light up -- you mean to tell me that a place where you probably have thousands of people that have died and thousands more that are dying every day, that we can’t figure out a way to authorise the resources that we need? Come on, man…I need reinforcements, I need troops, man. I need 500 buses, man.... This is a national disaster…they’re thinking small, man. And this is a major, major, major deal … Don’t tell me 40,000 people are coming here. They’re not here. It’s too doggone late."
Mayor Ray C. Nagin

"Why did the Bush Administration fail to act according to the National Response Plan they created in December of 2004 to deal with an incident like Katrina? What do you do when the words on the paper don't match the action in the field? People are dying today in New Orleans because of the failure to provide immediate aid are dead in part because of the negligence of Michael Chertoff. That is a harsh judgment, but if you will take time to read the National Response Plan that was signed into effect in December of 2004 there is no other reasonable conclusion.
The current effort by the Bush Administration to blame the victims in Louisiana and Mississippi is bad enough, but they are in big trouble once Americans take the time to understand that they the Administration ignored it's own plan for dealing with a threat like Katrina. Why did they fail to implement the plan until it was too late to save lives along the Gulf Coast?"
Larry C. Johnson, former Central Intelligence Agency official

On Thursday morning, 9-01-05, I was standing in SFO, waiting for a flight, and watching a live CNN broadcast from outside of the Convention Center in New Orleans. The camera panned along a long line of exhausted, despondent Americans. They spoke directly to the nation, gesturing emphatically, and pleading for rescue, with their dead and dying neighbors sprawled out among them. The CNN reporter wondered aloud why there were no emergency personnel with megaphones, moving through the crowd, offering information or at least reassurance.
“It is Thursday,” I exclaimed to everyone within ear shot, “It is Thursday already.” It had been four days since Katrina hit land in New Orleans. Sadly, most of my fellow travelers stared off into space, with their backs to the disgrace being documented on the TV monitors.
The next day, 9-2-05, five days after Katrina’s land fall, the Los Angeles Times front page headline read: “Relief Effort Begins in New Orleans.”
Security is misunderstood. Both by those who implement it only to restrict, limit and control, and by those who resist it because they see it only as a means to restrict, limit and control. The truest synonym for security is protection. And protection flows from love. Yes, love. If you love something or someone, you feel responsibility for it, you want to nourish it, and protect it.
Security (i.e., protection), in its deepest sense, is an aspect of stewardship.
What happened to the people of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina would not have been allowed to occur if the Bush administration’s homeland security and crisis management capabilities were grounded in love and responsibility.  Katrina caused the devastation, but it was human ignorance, at best, or calculated indifference, at worst, that caused the debacle. The failure of two levees caused the flooding of New Orleans, but a failure of conscience and character at the highest levels of the U.S. government caused its descent into a hell-realm of misery and fear.

The Osama Clock Tells Time in More Ways than One
It has been 1,455 days since the horror of 9/11. Bin Laden, Zawahiri and Mullah Omar are still at large. But the Osama clock ( isn’t only a reminder that those who masterminded the slaughter of innocents on 9/11 have not yet been apprehended or terminated, it is also a means to measure progress in the effort to deliver “Homeland Security.” So how has the U.S. improved its security baseline, its risk analysis and its crisis management capabilities?
Last week, on ABC’s Good Morning America, George W. Bush said, "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees.” That inaccurate, misleading and self-serving remark was eerily reminiscent of similarly inaccurate, misleading and self-serving remarks about terrorists flying airplanes into buildings made by Condolezza Rice in sworn testimony during the 9/11 Commission hearings. And just as the record contradicts Rice on 9/11, it contradicts Bush on New Orleans. In 2004, the Times-Picayune ran a series of articles on the danger of the levees breaking during a hurricane and on the unsuccessful fight to thwart the Bush administration budget cuts that limited the US Army Corps of Engineers work to shore them up.
Bush’s own political allies also contradict him.
“John Breaux, the former Democratic Louisiana senator and close Bush ally, rejected the president's claim that nobody anticipated the failure of the city's levees, saying he talked to Bush about it last year.” (Newsweek, 9-12-05)
Four years after 9/11, the U.S. federal government once again failed its people.
There are many questions to answer.
Why was the Red Cross blocked from entering New Orleans?
What was the true impact of deployment in Iraq on the National Guard’s ability to respond to the disaster in New Orleans?
Why was Chicago’s offer of help spurned?
“Barely able to conceal his anger at the federal emergency response to Hurricane Katrina, Mayor Richard Daley on Friday recited a laundry list of steps that Chicago is ready to take to help victims and said he was "shocked" that the city so far has been asked to provide only one tanker truck. ‘We are ready to provide considerably more help than they have requested,’ Daley said...” (Chicago Tribune, 9-3-05)
Why weren’t pallets of food and water nothing dropped from the air to those who were supposedly unreachable by ground?
On 9-3-05, Stars and Stripes reported that there was concern about creating “chaos.”
“Airdropping supplies could actually worsen the situation, said Army National Guard Lt. Kevin Cowan, with the state Office of Emergency Preparedness. ‘Just like Afghanistan, you drop food, it creates chaos,’ Cowan said.” (Stars and Stripes, 9-3-05)
Incredible. New Orleans was already in a state of chaos.
Many of the city’s police officers turned in their badges; at least two committed suicide.
With its morgue filled to overflowing, its evacuation halted because of gunfire, and 250 patients to care for, the staff of Charity Hospital had to “subsist on intravenous sugar solutions” (AP, 9-3-05)
How is it possible that Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff could engage in the following interchange with Bob Siegal of National Public Radio (NPR), on Thursday, four days into the catastrophe?
Siegal: But, Mr. Secretary, when you say that there is--we shouldn't listen to rumors, these are things coming from reporters who have not only covered many, many other hurricanes; they've covered wars and refugee camps. These aren't rumors. They're seeing thousands of people there.
Chertoff: Well, I would be--actually I have not heard a report of thousands of people in the convention center who don't have food and water...(NPR, 9-1-05)
What took them so long?
“This is a national disgrace,” Terry Ebbert, New Orleans’ head of emergency operations FEMA,” told the BBC, “it has been here three days, yet there is no command and control.” (BBC, 9-2-05)
Newsweek reports “a strange paralysis” at the highest echelons of power.
“Up to now, the Bush administration has not hesitated to sweep aside the opinions of lawyers on such matters as prisoners' rights. But after Katrina, a strange paralysis set in. For days, Bush's top advisers argued over legal niceties about who was in charge, according to three White House officials who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the negotiations. Beginning early in the week, Justice Department lawyers presented arguments for federalizing the Guard, but Defense Department lawyers fretted about untrained 19-year-olds trying to enforce local laws, according to a senior law-enforcement official who requested anonymity citing the delicate nature of the discussions.” (Newsweek, 9-12-05)
Incredible. They have sent these “19-year-olds” to Iraq impose military occupation in hostile, alien environment, tens of thousands of miles away, i.e., Iraq, but they hesitated to send them into New Orleans?

Does Mother Nature “Hate Freedom” Too?
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Bush declared that Al Qaeda attacked the U.S. because it “hates freedom.” Like watching CNN on Thursday morning at SFO, that, too, was an unforgettable moment. Because it revealed that the President of the U.S. was either misinformed about the motives of the enemy or was intentionally misinforming the nation. Al Qaeda did not attack the U.S, because it “hates freedom,” it does not even think of the U.S. as free. Their primary aim was (and still is) to inflict economic and psychological devastation on the U.S. and force the withdrawal U.S. military forces from “Arab lands” in general and Saudi Arabia in particular.
Now, several years after 9/11, the U.S. has lost one of its major cities—not to weapons of mass destruction wielded by Middle Eastern terrorists, but to a monster hurricane that owes its ferocity and longevity to Global Warming. Well, tell me, does Mother Nature “hate freedom” too?
If a government does not understand the motivation of its enemy, it cannot protect its people, nor can a government that still refuses to acknowledge the preponderance of scientific evidence on Global Warming protect its people from the consequences. One of the priorities of GS(3) Intelligence and Words of Power is articulating the security implications of global warming and climate change, and providing recommendations on how to cope with those implications. (For more on the role of Global Warming in the formation of hurricanes, refer to GS(3) Intelligence Briefing for 8-30-05.)
Of course, there is another factor that will not be addressed adequately by most establishment politicians or by the U.S. mainstream news media, and that is the disproportionate impact of this catastrophe on the urban and rural poor of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Yes, the river of Denial is deep and wide in the U.S. It overflowed last week too.  

Wrong Message, Hollow Message, No Message At All
One of the most vital elements of crisis management is communicating the right message, in both words and images, with consistency and credibility.
Here are some lessons in what not to do.
Wrong message: On Tuesday, 8-30-05, Yahoo posted a photo of George W. Bush, with a caption that read: "President Bush plays a guitar presented to him by Country Singer Mark Wills, right, backstage following his visit to Naval Base Coronado, Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005. Bush visited the base to deliver remarks on V-J Commemoration Day. " Two days later, in a scathing editorial (“Waiting for a Leader”), the New York Times opined: “George W. Bush gave one of the worst speeches of his life yesterday, especially given the level of national distress and the need for words of consolation and wisdom. In what seems to be a ritual in this administration, the president appeared a day later than he was needed. He then read an address of a quality more appropriate for an Arbor Day celebration: a long laundry list of pounds of ice, generators and blankets delivered to the stricken Gulf Coast. He advised the public that anybody who wanted to help should send cash, grinned, and promised that everything would work out in the end…”
Hollow message:  “But perhaps the greatest disappointment stands at the breached 17th Street levee. Touring this critical site yesterday with the President, I saw what I believed to be a real and significant effort to get a handle on a major cause of this catastrophe. Flying over this critical spot again this morning, less than 24 hours later, it became apparent that yesterday we witnessed a hastily prepared stage set for a Presidential photo opportunity; and the desperately needed resources we saw were this morning reduced to a single, lonely piece of equipment. The good and decent people of southeast Louisiana and the Gulf Coast - black and white, rich and poor, young and old - deserve far better from their national government.” (Sen. Mary Landrieu, 9-3-05)
No message at all: On Thursday morning, the CNN correspondent, delivering the live eyewitness report from the streets outside of the Convention Center, wondered aloud why there were no emergency personnel with megaphones, on the scene, moving through the crowd, offering guidance or at least hope. They could have at least dropped leaflets, providing re-assurance, explanations for the delay and practical information on how to cope.

Crisis Management on the Back of a Match-Book Cover
In crisis management training sessions, I stress that your plan could be written on the back of a match book cover and prove more effective than big fat planning documents that collect dust on book shelves, IF you had real (i.e., tested and tempered) answers for just three questions:
1. Can you get the right people on the phone within 15 minutes of an event? (By the “right people,” I mean both those with the authority to make the sweeping decisions that need to be made, and those with the experience, expertise and knowledge to provide them with viable options.)
2. Do you have a process in place to communicate with and account for all your people?
3. What do you tell those you serve (e.g., clients, customers or citizens), how do you communicate with them and how do you prioritize such communications?
Communications, in general, are perhaps the single most important aspect of crisis management.
The post-Katrina debacle reveals failures to act on “lessons learned” from 9/11.
“New Orleans' emergency responders were plagued by communications trouble that raised comparisons with problems faced by the police and firefighters who responded to the 2001 attack on New York's World Trade Center. When Katrina roared ashore, it downed transmission towers needed to maintain radio and cellular telephone contact between emergency crews. Many have had to get by with walkie-talkies. ‘What were they thinking? You know a hurricane's going to knock down cell phone towers,’ said Paul Light, professor of public service at New York University. He and others said cities should have spent federal homeland-security money for satellite telephones and criticized the federal government for not assigning higher funding priorities to communities facing the greatest risks.” (Reuters, 9-2-05)
In my own private sector experience, developing hurricane response capabilities, we identified deploying satellite phones as a priority.
And yes, the plans I participated in developing were spurred by the likelihood of increased hurricane (and typhoon) activity as a result of Global Warming.

Empower People
Awareness and education is very inexpensive, and if done well, it is very effective.
The aim of awareness and education programs, whether developed for corporations or governments, should be to empower people – both in the workplace and in their homes.
Wherever I go, speaking to workforces throughout the world, from Singapore to Amsterdam, from Seoul to Mexico City, from Dublin to Bogotá, I suggest that everyone goes through the exercise of asking themselves three questions about their own personal crisis management planning:
1. What would you and your loved ones do if you had to evacuate your home in 15 minutes? What would that look like? What would you take if you could drive away? What would you take if you could only take what you could carry on your backs? Keep your important papers – not everything, just the most vital ones (i.e., marriage licenses, divorce papers, green card, passports, honorable discharge, etc.) in one place. Keep your dog’s leash, and your cat’s travel box in one place. Keep a flash stick handy with a recent backup of vital computer files. It fits snugly in your pocket.
2. Conversely, what would you do if you had to stay inside your house for five days? What would that look like? Of course, you need food, water, batteries, flashlights, and radios (preferably at least one that you can hand-crank to save on batteries), but you should also think about board games to distract the mind and pass the time, as well as ways to exercise at home to keep your endorphins flowing while you are pent-up.
3. How would you and your loved ones communicate if your normal means of communications (e.g., cell phones and instant messaging) were suddenly unavailable?  If could not call each other what would you do? If you could not meet at home, where would you meet? What evacuation route would you take from your home? What evacuation route would you take from work? What emergency procedures does your organization have in place? If you have school age children what are the school’s emergency procedures? Where would they children be taken? If you could not meet at home, where would you meet?
Of course, these recommendations would not have helped the poor of New Orleans, who could not flee on their own, and drowned in their attics (they needed the U.S. government to rescue them), but they could mean the difference for you and your loved ones in the next catastrophe, whether it be wrought directly by terrorists or indirectly by global warming. Remember, security is synonymous with protection. They flow from love and responsibility. They are aspects of stewardship. Who we really are is, in large part, determined by how we deal with crisis; and how we deal with crisis is, in large part, determined by how well we have prepared. The most powerful people in the world may have failed the test of love and responsibility last week, but in your own life you have the power to make certain that you will not.

Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: