Thursday, February 13, 2014

"Homeland Security": basic information, lots of pix, from the establishment viewpoint, in your supermarket checkout line

Sometimes, mass-market supermarket gloss books really are worth picking up in the checkout line. At a Harris Teeter in Arlington VA I picked up a Media Source full-sized mag-book. “Homeland Security: Surveillance, Detection, Prevention and Protection”, by Charles Piddock.  It is published as part of a consumer series by Source Interlink Media and does carry some ads. 
The book, 130 pages, contains 20 short chapters about all the major topics.  All the text is heavily illustrated with photographs that would normally be difficult for any person to take on his own (or probably prohibited).  That alone is a reason to consider picking it up.  The attitude is one of moderation and is somewhat pro-administration.
One of the more important chapters is the third, “Learning from History” with accounts of past terror and disorder, like Shay’s Rebellion the Whiskey Rebellion, and the Ku Klux Klan. The author explains the Alien and Sedition Acts, which some people see distantly connected to the Patriot Act.  He doesn’t mention that Woodrow Wilson jailed people for criticizing the WWI military draft. 
The book gives detailed pictures of the Boston Marathon bombing of April 15, 2013, with at least one graphic picture (perhaps inappropriate) of a male victim and his leg injury right after one of the blasts.  There is a timeline of the lockdown of the entire Boston area until Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured.
The book does cover the NSA in detail, and includes pictures of the new data center in Utah.  It discusses Bradley Manning (Chelsea) briefly, and Edward Snowden in more detail. 
There is a chapter “Why do they hate us?” but the explanations are pretty standard, a lot of it based on religion, and don’t go into the psychology of the individual terrorists as I think the author could.
There is a chilling chapter on how terrorists work, with a presentation of, for example, the Unabomber. It talks about kidnapping and says (while presenting Danny Pearl) says that it can happen to anyone.  Does that include, within the US itself? 

There is a sobering discussion of weapons of mass destruction.  The author plays down somewhat the threat of radioactivity dispersion devices and crude nuclear weapons or suitcase nukes, widely speculated about after 9/11.  It does have a page for a “Digital 9/11” and suggests that the nation could go back to the 19th Century after a cyber attack.  There is a picture of Richard A. Clarke above that discussion.  But the author doesn’t mention electromagnetic pulse (EMP), discussed several times already on this blog in various books, and that threat is much more likely that a cyber attack alone to bring about an authoritarian, righteousness-based “revolution”.
The last section is Careers in Homeland Security, but it does not mention one agency, the National Counterterrorism Center in Tysons Corner VA, discussed here Jan. 6 in a review of a book by Priest and Arkin.

I thought the YouTube video of Department of Homeland Security Social Media Policy for employees would be interesting. The video does mention that personal and work lives are blurring today in a manner not known or appreciated until a decade ago. 

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