- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 16, 2001

Guiliani should advise Ridge on homeland security

Regarding Jed Babbin's excellent Oct. 11 Op-Ed column, "A tall job for a tough guy," and his suggestion that the head of the Office of Homeland Security, former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, establish a small panel of trusted experts, I have a suggestion of my own. I hereby nominate New York Mayor Rudolph Guiliani for a position on the panel, in the event that one is formed. With these two proven "tough guys" at the helm, I would have all the confidence in the world that even this tallest of jobs would be handled with the highest levels of expertise, effectiveness, toughness and gentlemanly grace. God bless America.


JOHN DOWLING

Sparta, N.J.

Columnist dead wrong on "Dark Winter"

As a co-director of Dark Winter the homeland security exercise conducted last June at Andrews Air Force Base I must respond to the dangerous mischaracterization of the exercise and its lessons presented by Steven Milloy in his Oct. 7 Commentary column, "Exaggerated threat of smallpox terrorism."

Readers should understand that the focus of the exercise was not smallpox casualties; it was the actions and coordination of federal, state and local leaders in the face of a major terrorist attack. (Had Mr. Milloy carefully checked his facts, he would have discovered that fewer people "died" in the Dark Winter exercise than died at Pearl Harbor.) It was a follow-up to an exercise conducted in February 2000, which investigated needs and capabilities in response to a small nuclear-weapon detonation in a U.S. city.

When planning Dark Winter, our goal was to explore the fault lines between government agencies at every level to see what information our leaders would need, what decisions they would have to make and what solutions are required to prepare America for a potential biological weapons attack. We picked a scenario we knew would create stress for existing organizations: a bio-attack with a disease that does not manifest itself for more than a week.

Although no one knows exactly what would happen in a major smallpox outbreak, our scenario was designed by some of the very best experts available: Dr. D.A. Henderson, the leader of the World Health Organization's efforts to eradicate smallpox; Dr. Tara O'Toole from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health; Dr. Scott Lillibridge, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Bio-Terrorism Preparedness Response Program; and Col. Robert Kadlec, one of the Defense Department's leading experts on bio-warfare defense.

Mr. Milloy's charge that Dark Winter was designed to incite civilian panic or increase budgets is simply false. I have granted more than 100 interviews for print, radio and television media since Sept. 11. In every case, I have counseled calm, reliance on federal and local officials who are working hard on improvements, and patience as they develop long-term solutions which will enhance the health-related security of our homeland. The probability of a smallpox attack is extremely remote. However, the probability of a low-tech biological attack, such as a small-scale attack using anthrax, the plague or tularemia is a possibility that requires preparation both immediate and long term.

I urge Americans not to put their heads in the sand. Osama bin Laden's organization has shown the way to a new generation of terrorists and international criminals who can use the global economy and the information revolution to create weapons previously available only to nation-states.

The challenge of bio-terrorism is far different from anything we have experienced. Meeting this challenge will require a multifaceted approach. Yes, we want clear lines of responsibility and quick communication in order to respond that is what Dark Winter was designed to encourage. Yes, we want additional research and stockpiling of vaccines, antibiotics and anti-viral drugs a lesson Dark Winter reinforced. And yes, we need to improve our public-health infrastructure a point Dark Winter drove home. Such expenditures would be modest and locally controlled. The public would benefit from Day 1, even if an attack never takes place. I do not see how any reasonable observer could object to such improvements in this time of uncertainty.


RANDY LARSEN

Director, Institute for Homeland Security

Arlington

Drug war helps organized crime

In their Oct. 12 Op-Ed column, "Don't forfeit war on drugs," Sens. Charles Grassley and Jon Kyl defend controversial Office of National Drug Control Policy nominee John Walters by stating, "He opposes efforts to legalize drugs, under whatever false flag they fly. That makes legalization advocates unhappy." Organized crime, however, no doubt is thrilled with the prospect of Mr. Walters as drug czar.

Tough drug laws are tantamount to price supports for organized crime. Thanks to the drug war's distortion of basic supply-and-demand dynamics, an easily grown weed such as marijuana is literally worth its weight in gold. If it were legal, growing marijuana would be less profitable than growing tomatoes. I, for one, do not approve of my tax dollars subsidizing mobsters.

Soft drugs like pot should be legal. The tax windfall would be tremendous. Regulating the sale of marijuana would allow for enforceable age controls and the separation of hard- and soft-drug markets. As long as pot remains illegal, consumers will continue to come into contact with pushers of harder drugs. Again, organized crime is thrilled with the gateway policy currently in place.

Now that we have an all too real enemy in the form of international terrorism, the $50 billion war on consensual vices is a luxury this country cannot afford. Messrs. Grassley's and Kyl's willingness to use the full weight of the criminal-justice system to prevent people from making unhealthy choices has dangerous implications. Diet is the No. 1 determinant of health outcomes. Fat people beware.


ROBERT SHARPE

Washington

Airport security is a job for government

House Majority Whip Tom DeLay obviously does not agree with the notion that the federal government is here to serve the American public ("Aviation security bill stalls in Senate," Oct. 11).

In arguing against having the federal government handle security at our nation's airports, Mr. DeLay states, "The last thing we can afford to do is erect a new bureaucracy that is unaccountable and unable to protect the American public."

Is Mr. DeLay suggesting that the federal government is "unable to protect the American public?" Does he think that lowest-bid, profit-driven private contractors such as those now supposedly safeguarding our security at the airports are more accountable to the people than their elected officials and those whom they direct in carrying out the people's business? Apparently so.

We disagree. Airport security should be treated as a law enforcement function, not mere commerce. The American public needs to have confidence that the skies are safe. It is not going to get that from some faceless security firm. Elected officials and the bureaucracy that helps them carry out the people's business are accountable to the people. If we aren't satisfied with the job they are doing, we can use public scrutiny and the ballot box to force change.

Try doing that with a private security firm worried about bringing up profits next quarter.


ADAM J. GOLDBERG

Policy Analyst

Consumers Union

Washington

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide