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Righting the Ship

March 15, 2007 A former submarine commander takes the helm at the Homeland Security Department's troubled science shop. Rear Adm. Jay M. Cohen, retired, was commander of a U.S. submarine at the height of the Cold War. With a smile, he explains that besides overseeing everything on board, his job was basically to...

Sniffing Out Threats

March 1, 2007 New York's mystery odor shows that modern sensors are limited in their ability to detect airborne chemicals. On Jan. 16, the city of New York gave up. It had been a week since an unknown, pervasive odor had seeped into parts of Manhattan. City officials decided to call an end...

Geographic Cure

February 21, 2007 Federal emergency response faltered in the face of a crippling wave of hurricanes in 2004 and 2005. National Disaster Medical System teams were short on staff, lacked vital equipment and had to rely on their cell phones to overcome communications problems, according to reports by legislative investigators and internal critics....

Geographic Cure

February 1, 2007 The emergency medical system returns home, hopefully to better health. Federal emergency response faltered in the face of a crippling wave of hurricanes in 2004 and 2005. National Disaster Medical System teams were short on staff, lacked vital equipment and had to rely on their cell phones to overcome communications...

The Sniff Test

December 1, 2006 Machines might be able to detect chemicals or explosives in suspicious bags, but dogs also can go anywhere, give comfort or intimidate, and learn. The subway system in Philadelphia was having a problem with suspicious packages. Each unattended backpack or bag that could not be confirmed as unthreatening occasioned a...

Emergency preparedness exercises remain an imperfect science

November 22, 2006 It is now an infamous hurricane. Category 3 upon landfall, it ripped through the Gulf Coast region, fulfilling worst fears by hitting low-lying New Orleans. The storm "brought sustained winds of 120 [miles per hour], up to 20 inches of rain in parts of southeast Louisiana and a storm surge...

Search: 'Spending'

November 1, 2006 New law calls for an online database taxpayers can use to track government contracts. The bipartisan sponsors of the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act are proud of their achievement. The law instructs the Office of Management and Budget to create a searchable online database of virtually all federal transactions...

Disaster Drills

November 1, 2006 Practice doesn't make perfect. It is now an infamous hurricane. Category 3 upon landfall, it ripped through the Gulf Coast region, fulfilling worst fears by hitting low-lying New Orleans. The storm "brought sustained winds of 120 [miles per hour], up to 20 inches of rain in parts of southeast Louisiana...

Retail to the Rescue

October 1, 2006 Business is a largely untapped source of help for disaster planning and response. It was the largest preparedness exercise of its kind. The first TOPOFF in May 2000 simulated simultaneous chemical, biological and radiological attacks in three cities. Thousands of personnel from 18 federal agencies and various state and local...

One-Hit Wonders

October 1, 2006 Focus on threats-after they happen-foils security spending, critics say. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff would like to share some statistics. In preparation for hurricane season this year, the Homeland Security Department has four times as many trucks of ice and four times as many meals in stock as it did...