California sets up terrorist alert systemgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
Staged Alert System To Be Implemented
Communities Will Be Warned Of Possible Terrorist Attacks
Daily Cal Staff/Sean Boyd
By STEVE SEXTON Daily Cal Staff Writer Friday, November 9, 2001
TREASURE ISLAND—After meeting with Bay Area mayors and top security advisors here, Gov. Gray Davis announced Wednesday that California will develop a staged alert system that would warn residents about possible terrorist attacks.
The system will be modeled after the alert system used during the state's energy crisis earlier this year and the federal government's warning framework.
Davis said the system will "give guidance to local communities as to the nature of a problem and the level of the precautions they should take."
"At least (the public) will understand the level of seriousness we are associating with a given threat," Davis said. "I think it is a good idea and it gets us all on the same page."
Improving communication among the different levels of government and with the public was the focus of the hour-long meeting with seven mayors, including Berkeley Mayor Shirley Dean.
The mayors all expressed their support for Davis' decision last week to announce the threat of attacks on California bridges. The decision, which was based on information the FBI this week said is not credible, elicited criticism from the bureau and has prompted many to question the way information is disseminated from federal authorities and released to the public.
Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown, who did not attend the meeting, has said warnings about possible attacks should come only from President Bush or Tom Ridge, secretary of homeland security.
Dean said, however, that Davis' announcement was appropriate because the threats specified a time frame and certain targets.
She noted, though, that the public will stop believing the warnings if too many are issued. She said the staged alert system would help the public classify risks and make informed decisions.
Defending his decision to go public with the threat, Davis said he "erred on the side of informing the public—treating them like adults—so they could decide for themselves what steps they could take, while at the same time enhancing security on the bridges."
Davis praised the work of Bush, Ridge and the Justice Department, saying, "We are all swimming in unchartered waters."
"They are doing as best they can to both protect us and inform us," Davis said. "We are trying also to strike the right balance between protection and informing the citizens of information they deserve to have."
An investment in trust and respect is needed to form a "seamless partnership" of federal, state and local governments, said Richmond Mayor Rosemary Corbin, who suggested the staged alerts to Davis.
"We are all going to have to work to make it happen," she said.
As a Coast Guard helicopter flew overhead, scanning the decks of the nearby Bay Bridge, and National Guard troops stood watch on the bridge, Davis said the increased security around California bridges and airports will remain in place for the foreseeable future.
Calling the Golden Gate the most famous landmark in California and the most famous bridge in the country, Davis said the bridge must be guarded because it is a "an attractive target" to terrorists and routinely appears on FBI lists of possible terrorist targets.
Davis said the additional security is costing between $400,000 and $1 million per day.
Mayor Dean and other mayors have complained that communication with the FBI is difficult. She also said the city's health department, one of only three city health departments in the state, is often overlooked. She said she stressed to Davis the importance of keeping all health departments informed, because for the first time, they may have to join fire and police officials on the front lines of an attack.
When asked about the strained lines of communication between local governments and the FBI, Davis' new state security advisor George Vinson, a 23-year veteran of the FBI, said, "it is a bit murky."
"Terrorism and intelligence as a business is a little murky," said Vinson, who serves as a liaison between the state and the Department of Homeland Security. "Intelligence and information is king in the fight against terrorists."
-- Martin Thompson (email@example.com), November 09, 2001
It looks like Davis is trying very hard to grab the spotlight for political purposes.
-- Loner (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 09, 2001.