Empty Chairs at the Chemical Safety Board – When the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) was authorized by Congress in 1990 under the Clean Air Act amendments, it stipulated a five-person Board. For most of the last two years, the CSB has been operating at less than full capacity: only four of the five Board seats were filled. Now there are only three of the five required Board members, and all three men (Chair John S. Bresland, William B. Wark, and William E. Wright) were nominated during the G.W. Bush Administration.
The recent rash of industrial explosions and other damaging incidents (e.g., Valero Energy in Texas City, and American Acryl in Seabrook, TX) should compel the Obama White House to move quickly on nominating individuals for the CSB vacancies. An editorial last month in the Houston Chronicle criticized the current CSB chair for deciding against a probe of the Dec 5 incident at Valero’s Texas City refinery and the Dec 9 event at American Acryl in Seabrook, TX. The editorial’s lead was:
“If only a few workers die in an industrial accident, we won’t pry. That seems to be the philosophy of the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB)…”
CSB Chairman Bresland explained his decision was based on funding constraints, saying:
“We would like to investigate more accidents, but that would require additional resources from Congress.”
The follow-up question to Mr. Bresland from the Houston Chronicle could have been:
“Have you asked for more funding?”
Indeed some new leadership blood at the CSB should take advantage of the GAO recommendations from 2008, suggesting, among other things, that the agency “request necessary resources from Congress to meet its statutory mandate.”
Bin Laden Faxes Connect-the-Dots Picture Directly to Dept. of Homeland Security 😉 – WASHINGTON – Officials at the Department of Homeland Security confirmed today that al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden has faxed what appears to be a connect-the-dots picture directly to department headquarters.
High-ranking members of the department, including Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano, immediately held emergency meetings to plan a course of action to deal with the mysterious connect-the-dots picture in their possession.
“One option, just thinking out loud here, would be to connect the dots,” said Ms. Napolitano. “But first we want to look at all courses of action available to us.”
Ms. Napolitano said that prior to receiving the connect-the-dots picture, she received a personal wake-up call at her home from Mr. bin Laden himself.
“A wake-up call and a connect-the-dots picture in the same day almost make you think he’s trying to tell us something,” said Ms. Napolitano. “Add that to the smoking gun he just FedExed, and it starts to form a pattern.”
Yes, we need to fix our intelligence. Yes, we absolutely must live up to our own ideals, as President Obama is trying to do in banning torture and closing Guantánamo Bay. We can’t let this “war on terrorism” consume us. We can’t let our country become just The United States of Fighting Terrorism and nothing more. We are the people of July 4th — not Sept. 11th.
Excerpted from THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN in the NY Times
By encouraging hysteria over the terrorist threat, are making the threat of terrorism that much more salient. In the coming weeks, it will be worth remembering Al-Qaeda’s formula: small acts for big effect. The amateurish efforts of the Christmas bomber have brought a nation to its knees, and reduced us to fear and panic. Fear and panic make us do things that are ultimately self-destructive. Al-Qaeda knows this but perhaps we still don’t.
Why Didn’t We See This Simple Way to Defeat the Terrorists? – U. S. Rep. Peter King, the ranking Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, has simple, specific advice on how to defeat the terrorists:
From an interview on ABC’s Good Morning America:
George Stephanopolous: “You are saying someone should be held accountable. Name one other specific recommendation the president could implement right now to fix this.”
King: “I think one main thing would be to — just himself to use the word terrorism more often.”
Yep, that should do it. NOT!