Tom Coburn Takes on the Zombie Apocalypse

I tell you, if Tom Coburn just stuck to shutting down the most egregious Homeland Security fearmongering boondoggle abuses rather than shutting down government itself, I might grow to love the man.

His latest effort (for which some of his staffers appear to have staged a very fun photo shoot) takes on the stupid things localities bought under the $7.1 billion Urban Area Security Initiative, which was originally intended to help likely terrorist targets (like NYC) prepare against an attack, but which turned into a big boondoggle for towns unlikely to be targeted.

The describes how Keene, NH (home of the Free State Project) tried to use a grant to buy its 40-cop police department–which has faced just one murder in the last two years–an armored vehicle to protect its annual pumpkin festival. Keene was not alone; the report has several pages dedicated to the graft Lenco Armored Vehicles has been conducting selling governments in Waukesha, WI and Santa Barbara, Carlsbad, Escondido, and Fontana, CA BearCats they have no need for using sole source bids.

The report attacks Pittsburgh for having bought an LRAD–which it used during the G-20–as “a kinder and gentler way to get people to leave.” It also describes how San Diego County used an LRAD to protect a speaking event with Darrell Issa, Duncan Hunter, and Susan Davis.

But the centerpiece of the report is the description of how first responders used grant money to attend a training session in a San Diego resort at which they were entertained by a Zombie Apocalypse simulation billed as “a very real exercise, this is not some type of big costume party.”

One notable training-related event that was deemed an allowable expense by DHS was the HALO Counter-Terrorism Summit 2012. Held at the Paradise Point Resort & Spa on an island outside San Diego, the 5-day summit was deemed an allowable expense by DHS, permitting first responders to use grant funds for the $1,000 entrance fee. Event organizers described the location for the training event as an island paradise: “the exotic beauty and lush grandeur of this unique island setting that creates a perfect backdrop for the HALO Counter-Terrorism Summit.

[snip]

The marquee event over the summit, however, was its highly-promoted “zombie apocalypse” demonstration. Strategic Operations, a tactical training firm, was hired to put on a “zombie-driven show” designed to simulate a real-life terrorism event.92 The firm performed two shows on Halloween, which featured 40 actors dressed as zombies getting gunned down by a military tactical unit. Conference attendees were invited to watch the shows as part of their education in emergency response training. Barker explained that, “the idea is to challenge authorities as they respond to extreme medical situations where people become crazed and violent, creating widespread fear and disorder.”93

According to the firm’s public relations manager, the exercise was brought about “utilizing Hollywood magic,” and setup in a “parking lot-sized movie set [with] state-of-the-art structures, pyrotechnic battlefield effects, medical special effects, vehicles and blank-firing weapons.”94 Barker added, however, “”This is a very real exercise, this is not some type of big costume party.”95

The report also criticizes the way cities scramble to define themselves as high risk, focusing particularly on Thousand Oaks-Oxnard, but also calling out his own state’s Tulsa for its recent UASI grants.

As per usual, DHS can’t justify much of this spending. Of particular interest, however, the report reveals that FEMA refused to give Coburn’s staffers data on how cities were defined as risks under the Bush Administration.

A fuller explanation of the reasoning for including 14 new jurisdictions in FY2008 was not given, however, and the risk scores for the FY2004-FY2008 DHS uses to award funds is neither public nor was it made available to staff upon request.69

69 Urban area risk scores were made available for 2009-2011. Despite the request, FEMA did not made the risk scores available for FY 2003-2008.

And the whole report is prefaced by some very sound remarks about security.

The balancing act between liberty and security has been tenuous throughout the history of our nation, founded upon basic freedoms granted by our Creator and protected from government infringement within the Bill of Rights of our Constitution. But a new element has been added to this equation over the past decade that threatens to undermine both our liberty and security— excessive government spending and insurmountable debt.

We cannot secure liberty and guarantee security simply by spending more and more money in the name of security. Every dollar misspent in the name of security weakens our already precarious economic condition, indebts us to foreign nations, and shackles the future of our children and grandchildren.

Yeah, Coburn is being a fiscal miser. But in this case, he’s absolutely right: this pork does nothing to keep us safe, it militarizes totally safe cities, and makes a bunch of corrupt contractors rich in the process.

Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Reddit0Share on Facebook0Google+1Email to someone

7 Responses to Tom Coburn Takes on the Zombie Apocalypse

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
Emptywheel Twitterverse
emptywheel RT @JustADCohen: Story merits more coverage: Energy Dept. inspector blocked from probing dismissal of Hanford engineer http://t.co/p521yIKi
2mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @9Joe9 Harder to track TV than YouTube. Tho NSA will have fun once everyone's on Internet TVs.
8mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @yaelwrites Yup. Cause torturing Muslims is more socially acceptable than torturing minks.
9mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV RT @cherylrofer: So now that the nurse in New Jersey has tested free of Ebola, she's free to go, right? I guess not. Science, people! http:…
20mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @9Joe9 Nah. Just piggybacking off their comments about hatchet man.
31mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel @armandodkos Will you watch for me in case we get close to 17?
31mreplyretweetfavorite
emptywheel If NYPD is going to start tracking everyone who watched lots of ISIL beheadings, does that mean all CNN viewers under surveillance?
34mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV RT @DrJudyStone: Must read:"I have been quarantined in NJ...The US must treat returning #HCW w dignity and humanity,” not as criminals http…
38mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV @libdemwasjailed And then there was Friday near Seattle.... #FuckTheNRA
40mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV RT @lrozen: Ron Klain should read this. 3 hours passed. No one in charge. http://t.co/Pbg7bDaVJy
49mreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV RT @lrozen: "Eight police cars escorted me to the University Hospital in Newark. Sirens blared, lights flashed." http://t.co/Pbg7bDaVJy #in
50mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @SarebrumSarah Trust me, the dog does not lead an overly taxing life....
52mreplyretweetfavorite
December 2012
S M T W T F S
« Nov   Jan »
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031