1. #1
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    Default Huge Homeland Security Drill Planned

    Huge Homeland Security Drill Planned
    'Dirty Bomb' in Seattle, Disease in Chicago Part of Scenario for May 12 Exercise


    By Edward Walsh and John Mintz
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Monday, May 5, 2003; Page A09


    This is the scenario: At noon in Seattle, a hidden bomb explodes south of the central business district, causing more than 100 casualties. Significant levels of radiation are detected near the site of the explosion and it soon becomes apparent to local officials that this was no ordinary bomb, but a radiological dispersal device, commonly known as a "dirty bomb."

    The next day and some 2,000 miles to the east, people complaining of flu-like symptoms begin to trickle into hospitals in the Chicago area. Over the next 24 hours, the number of arriving patients escalates dramatically. Local officials diagnose the cause of the illness and ask the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to confirm their worst fear -- a deadly, biological agent has been released near Chicago.

    These fictional events are set to unfold over five days beginning May 12 in what federal officials say will be the largest homeland security exercise in U.S. history. Dubbed TOPOFF 2 (for Top Officials), the exercise will cost an estimated $16 million and involve more than 100 federal, state and local agencies, the American Red Cross and Canadian government agencies and organizations.

    Federal officials said TOPOFF 2 is designed to test the response to widely dispersed, almost simultaneous terrorist attacks using weapons of mass destruction, and to glean from the experience lessons that can be applied in case of the real thing.

    "We want to be able to test strategies, responses and protocols," Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said in an interview. "When you simulate people and technologies interacting, you learn a lot about your response capabilities."

    Another Homeland Security official said, "The whole idea is to stimulate lots of what we call 'free play,' where events are not scripted. We want to play out actions and see what goes on."

    This will be the second homeland security exercise staged by the government. The first occurred in 2000 in Denver and involved a mock germ warfare attack. News accounts at the time described a chaotic response to the fictional event, with government agencies jostling for control while critical decisions were delayed amid 100-person telephone conference calls.

    About 8,500 people will take part in this exercise, including officials in the District, Maryland and Virginia, who will activate their emergency operations centers on the day of the fictional radioactive explosion in Seattle. Officials said this would be the normal response in the nation's capital to an attack with weapons of mass destruction anywhere in the country.

    The participants will range from governors, mayors, county executives and other elected officials to police officers, firefighters, medical personnel and other "first responders" to a terrorist attack. They will also include hundreds of "evaluators" who will watch the unfolding events and report their findings on the response for later study.

    But Homeland Security officials said the lessons learned from the exercise will not be made public to prevent potential adversaries from benefiting from the information.

    In announcing plans for the exercise, federal officials stressed that no real weapons will be used to simulate the attacks. They also said that the scenario they have developed, while "credible," was not based on any U.S. intelligence findings on the plans of terrorist organizations.

    Planning for TOPOFF 2 began in June 2001. The elaborate scenario for the exercise was developed by government agencies with the help of outside experts in a number of fields, including bioterrorism and nuclear physics.

    Under the scenario, the Seattle and Chicago attacks are the work of two cells of GLODO, a fictional foreign terrorist organization that is said to have "a history of ruthlessness." Six days before the May 12 bomb explosion in Seattle, "credible threats" against the United States picked up by intelligence agencies cause the Department of Homeland Security to raise the national threat level from yellow (elevated) to orange (high).

    Meanwhile, over the weekend of May 10 and 11, GLODO agents in Illinois release a biological agent that takes three to six days before causing symptoms of illness in those who are infected.

    On May 12, a Monday, the bomb explodes in Seattle and federal officials raise the threat level to red (severe), triggering the opening of the emergency operations centers in the District, Maryland and Virginia. Throughout the exercise, there will be a live, eight-hour-a-day broadcast about the events on a fictional television network, which state and local officials around the country can follow and use to plan how they would respond locally to such developments elsewhere.

    Canada will participate in the exercise as part of the Smart Border Agreement, which was signed in December 2001. The Canadian role will include the response of national agencies, the province of British Columbia and the city of Vancouver to the spread of a flu-like illness carried by travelers on Air Canada flights from Chicago's O'Hare International Airport.

    Ridge said government officials are most concerned about the use of a biological agent that can spread from person to person, as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) does. He said that possibility, which will be simulated in the Chicago attack, is "the true nightmare scenario."

    The fictional scenario was devised by government officials and it includes a swift and effective response by law enforcement agencies. Within 36 hours of the first attack, the terrorists' "safe house" in Washington state and the Illinois sites where the biological agent was produced are identified, according to the scenario.


    2003 The Washington Post Company
    A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.

  2. #2
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    Post The AP story Re: same

    WASHINGTON (AP) - A few minutes before noon next Monday,
    hundreds of firefighters and police officers - including some in
    bright yellow "moon suits" - will gather near an old brewery off
    Interstate 5 in Seattle.
    It soon will seem as if a radioactive "dirty bomb" has
    exploded.
    Around the same time, hospital officials in and near Chicago
    will notice a sudden increase in people complaining of flu-like
    symptoms. Within minutes officials will confirm the presence of a
    deadly biological agent.
    The officials will be real, but the emergencies they are
    responding to will not be.
    The staged events are part of a weeklong drill aimed at testing
    the ability of local, state and federal authorities to handle a
    terrorist attack.
    Dubbed Topoff 2 (for top officials), the weeklong drills will be
    the first large-scale counterterrorism exercises since Sept. 11,
    2001. They were created by the Department of Homeland Security.
    Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge explained the drill and
    its purpose.
    "Let me be clear: This is a simulation," Ridge said Monday at
    a news conference. "This is a test. This is an exercise."
    Ridge repeated that several times as he and other officials
    tried to prepare the public - particularly those in the Seattle,
    Chicago and Washington areas - for the security drill, the most
    extensive of its type in U.S. history. The exercise will cost an
    estimated $16 million and involve more than 8,500 people from 100
    federal, state and local agencies, the American Red Cross and the
    Canadian government.
    "Our objective is to improve the nation's capacity to save
    lives in ... a terrorist event," including use of weapons of mass
    destruction, Ridge said.
    Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels said he was not worried that the
    security exercise would cause panic, noting that the event has
    received extensive publicity locally. Newspaper ads are planned in
    both Seattle and Chicago, and crews can already be seen preparing
    for the Seattle event, which will be centered near the former
    Rainier Brewery - now home to Tully's Coffee - just south of
    downtown.
    "Our intent is to let people know what we're doing," Nickels
    said.
    Officials declined to reveal details of what will happen, but
    participants know the Seattle event involves a mock dirty bomb - a
    crude combination of conventional explosives such as TNT packed
    with radioactive material - while the Chicago event involves covert
    release of a deadly biological agent.
    A detailed, 200-page scenario has been written for the drill,
    which officials said will be as realistic-looking as possible.
    Stand-ins will portray President Bush, Vice President Cheney and
    even press secretary Ari Fleischer.
    "There's a lot of role-playing, but I'll be playing myself,"
    Ridge said.
    Some details have been kept from the participants in order to
    make the exercise more realistic, said Ted Macklin, assistant
    director of the Office of Domestic Preparedness. The office has
    been planning the event since shortly after the first Topoff drill,
    three years ago in Denver and New Hampshire.
    "We want to keep responders guessing," Macklin said.
    Participants will range from governors, mayors, county
    executives and other elected officials to police officers,
    firefighters, hospital personnel and other emergency responders.
    Hundreds of evaluators will watch the exercise and report their
    findings for later study. Whatever lessons are learned are likely
    to apply to earthquakes and other natural disasters, as well as
    terrorist attacks, officials said.
    ---
    On the Net:
    Department of Homeland Security:
    http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/index.jsp

    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

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    Post More Info

    CHICAGO (AP) - The release of a deadly plague and a plane crash
    at Midway Airport will have Illinois emergency officials working
    overtime next week, but don't worry: This is only a test.
    Beginning Monday, Chicago and Seattle will take part in a
    weeklong drill created by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
    to evaluate the country's ability to respond to terrorist attacks.
    State, federal and local officials held a briefing Tuesday on
    the Illinois drill, which also includes a building collapse, a
    hazardous materials incident and other surprise emergencies.
    "The attack is not real. It is simply a simulation," said
    Edward Buikema, a regional director for the Federal Emergency
    Management Agency. "But the response will be as realistic as
    possible."
    The mock catastrophes will not put anyone in danger, nor will
    they affect the staffing of police and fire departments, city
    officials stressed. Off-duty officers and firefighters will be paid
    to take part, and few emergency vehicles will be used.
    But the public should not be alarmed to see smoke rising at
    Midway Airport, for example, or masked paramedics treating
    bioterror "victims," said Cortez Trotter, executive director of
    Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications.
    Signs and community policing volunteers will spread the word
    about the drill in affected neighborhoods, Trotter said, and
    traffic disruptions should be minimal.
    The federal government will pay an estimated $16 million to run
    the drills in Chicago and Seattle.
    The scripted terrorist attack actually is set to begin Saturday
    in Chicago when, unbeknownst to anyone, a terrorist group releases
    a deadly plague in aerosol form. On Monday, the group strikes
    Seattle with a radioactive "dirty bomb."
    Soon Chicago-area hospitals are overwhelmed with people with
    flu-like symptoms. By midweek, officials have connected the two
    events, diagnosed the illnesses and begun handing out drugs from
    the nation's stockpile.
    The week will end with law enforcement officials raiding a
    secret biological lab in Chicago and apprehending those responsible
    for the attacks.
    Mike Chamness, chairman of the state's Terrorism Task Force,
    said the drill will test top officials' ability to communicate,
    coordinate and effectively respond to a terrorist attack. Hundreds
    of evaluators will take notes and report back on possible
    weaknesses, as well as where officials did well.
    "What we learn from next week's exercise will help us in every
    city and state in the country," Chamness said.

    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
    Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

    *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
    On the web at www.section2wildfire.com

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