How Good are our Analysts? Homeland Security Issues Facing the Next Administration.

We have said from the beginning that predicting the past is for amateurs and academics, but accurately predicting future events is for true professionals.  Rather than pointing out that our previous articles have been spot on and proven out by recent events we will reach back to 2007.  The following memo was written by one of analysts as a short brief for whoever became the staff for the next president back in 2008.  We believe the accuracy of the predictions are a shocking testament to our accuracy.  Not only were the effects of natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy predicted, but the housing collapse, economic recession, failing infrastructure and power grid, dysfunctional health care, and even forest fires being set by terrorists were accurately identified as problems the Obama Administration would face!

The following is an exact cut and paste without edit of the August 2007 memo:

Homeland Security Issues Facing the Next Administration


The security of the homeland will face an unprecedented list of complex challenges in the coming year.  The next President can expect to inherit numerous lingering security issues as well as new and dire threats that will require fast and adaptive solutions.  This paper identifies critical shortfalls in contingency planning regarding how overlapping effects of a crisis significantly increase the overall magnitude of the threat.  


In short, a single limited crisis incident can usually be contained and reacted to.  These type contingencies have been analyzed and prepared for in detail.  Unfortunately, this one dimensional approach only identifies point of impact operations and does not deal with the much more catastrophic results of multiple overlapping incidents that occur whether by design or chance.  These type scenarios could be deemed as “worst case” and will quickly overwhelm even the combined capabilities of regional emergency services.  Even more frightening is the fact that not only can these events happen by chance, but a multi-dimensional attack can be planned and orchestrated by terrorists utilizing low technology and minimal coordination.  


Historically speaking, a single incident of even massive magnitude such as a natural disaster, bombing, or economic crash has been recoverable.  On the contrary, recovery against multiple disasters within a short time frame has crippled nations and brought about entire geopolitical shifts.  This ripple effect can begin quietly in a realm such as economics, but when coupled with a terrorist attack and or a natural disaster, the effects are dramatically magnified.  A real time sample vignette to illustrate this ripple effect could transpire as such:


Time: Labor Day Weekend 2007


Background:  A downturn in housing has caused the economy to slide into a recession while the federal funding has already been strained to the limit by a still on-going war.  Further, money to fund infrastructure modernization and repairs has been diverted to fund the war leaving bridges, damns, and power grids dangerously ill maintained.  Record heat waves have caused droughts across the nation and set record demand for energy that has increasingly relied on gulf oil imports as a result of the war in the Middle East.


Situation:  A Category 4 hurricane strikes the still recovering Gulf Coast turning the region into a flooded disaster zone.  Further massive fires have been spreading across the dry drought stricken United States as small bands of terrorist cells initiate a low tech coordinated arson attack across the country.  


Effects:  Normal emergency response teams are paralyzed to act in the flooded hurricane effected regions as they have been over committed fighting massive forest fires that have now begun to spread into residential and urban areas.  Due to power lines being damaged by fire, wind, and water and a high energy demand for cooling, power grids have begun to shut down leaving entire regions of the country without power.  The combined effect sparks looting and riots further deteriorating the system.  Martial law is declared, but implementation becomes difficult as forces are unavailable, not networked, and unable to span the massive scale of the crisis leading to a vulnerability culminating point.


The direct attack:  Just as the nation is most vulnerable, a terrorist sleeper cell is activated to conduct an attack of mass effect.  The results are catastrophic and will require years and perhaps decades for America to recover from.


Latent effects:  General anarchy develops leading to a massive economic downturn.  Further, failure of health care facilities and standing water from flooding leads to outbreaks of disease further exasperating the already critical situation. 


The above vignette is not a doomsday prophecy, but rather a very realistic scenario that could play out in present time across the nation.  DHS and the incoming administration must prepare the department for these ripple effect contingencies.  Although much more difficult to prepare for, immediate actions must be taken to specifically address the potential for ripple attack style events like above to be initiated by terrorists seeking to asymmetrically cripple the United States.  


As we further improve the security of our homeland, our enemies continue to adapt and find new ways to strike and the foundations of the United States.  Based on this, the Department of Homeland Security must work in concert with the next administration to continue to invest in threat analysis that seeks to predict how terrorists will asymmetrically evolve and develop new and to date unseen tactics for offensive attacks.  Recommended actions for DHS include war gaming the potential impact of different ripple chains, developing disaster drill scenarios that take the ripple effect into account, and developing a hardened and redundant logistics infrastructure that is reminiscent of the Cold War era.  A premium must also be placed on unconventional creative thinking as well as the development of agile, adaptive, and networked plans that can be rapidly implemented.

August 31, 2007


No one has a crystal ball, but they myriad of events illustrated in this memo certainly have come to pass and are developing as of the writing of this post.  We will continue to provide you visionary analysis with an unprecedented record of accuracy.  We hope that our analysis will help you understand the daily events happening globally and how they will affect you.  Armed with this knowledge you will be better able to make decisions critical to the protection of your life, liberty, and wealth.

See link for more information on arson as a terrorist weapon:

By Guiles  Hendrik

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