Yak Attack

A place to unwind and spend some time yakking.

Monday, April 03, 2006

A wolf in sheep's clothing

Lew went to a Home Show over the weekend. We'd done work for some of the vendors present at the event, so he stopped by to show his support for our customers. On a table near the enterance, pamphlets about emergency preparedness sat snuggly between real estate flyers and business cards. He picked up one titled "Disaster Preparedness Handbook," so I could read it. Lew was being nice-- he knows I feel being prepared is important and that I blog about it on occasion. He didn't look the pamphlet closely until he got home and gave it to me. After we looked at together, this freebie highlighted for us the darkness lurking under the surface. We know it's there, but we don't often talk about it.

My first question about this particular "Handbook," (from this point forward, I'll refer to it as the Handbook) was what organization is the Washington Military Department--Emergency Management Division. They co-authored the Handbook with the Washington State Department of Health. I checked out their website, and I was still in the dark. Washington state had a military department-- since when, and who are they?

After checking the sidebars on the left and right side of the EMD's home page, I had a "duh" moment. There was a button at the top toolbar that said Military Department. Pressing it brought me to the website for the Washington National Guard, although the wimpy, washed out title stating "Washington Military Department," fades into the background due to the color photos and navigation buttons surrounding it.

After cruising around the National Guard site for a bit, I stumbled upon a .pdf titled, Strategic Plan 2004 Final. I haven't read the whole document yet (it's 64 pages), but under first skim, it appears to be a plan for this state military department's scope and direction during the years 2006-2011. On page 12 of the document, under "Performance Assessment," I discovered that some time back in 2003/2004 (this is a vague guess based on the wording used in this section of the document and the publishing date on it of 04-12-2004), Washington's National Guard, Emergency Management and E-911 became intergrated into the umbrella agency of the Washington Military Department. I must be living under a rock, because you'd think as a news-reading and watching person, I would have picked up on this at some point, especially when I read about the department's mission.
The Military Department mission is unique in state government. It requires a
seamless, interconnected relationship with all levels of government throughout
the state. When disasters strike, the Military Department has the state lead and
must work with other federal, state and local agencies to protect the lives and
property of Washington citizens and businesses.
Every time I read the word seamless in a government document I get the chills. Nothing good ever comes from "seamless, interconnected relationships," in the government realm. It means that draconian measures will pop up and seek to rule our lives, but when we try to search for the source, the "seamless" trail is as convoluted as a plate of spagetti. I didn't even need to read past the front cover to know the Handbook was a bearer of bad news. But, like Pandora, I had to satisfy my curiosity.


At 8:45 PM, Blogger Don Bangert said...

Seamless as if the state and local emergency response teams were a mere extension of the federal government. A type of proxy rule. May be? May be not? Who knows?

Thanks for bring this to light, though. I can't confirm this, but I believe this is a product of federal funding granted under homeland defense. If memory serves, I believe Washington State was to use a portion of the grant money to coordinate all the emergency response bodies under one controlling head.

At 8:43 AM, Blogger lewlew said...

Seamless as if the state and local emergency response teams were a mere extension of the federal government. A type of proxy rule. May be? May be not? Who knows?

Yes, I believe, from what I've read so far, that this is the case. The list of "partners"; the quotes about how we're a "benchmark" state (that means other states are modeling their response serives after our integration); the types of drills being held in our state (the Wa Military Dept. website has a year long calendar-- take a look at it).


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