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Friday, May. 09, 2003 at 7:28 PM
Operation Topoff - to take place in Seattle and Chicago, Mon, May 12, is designed to test the readiness of our emergency systems to meet a terrorist attack - and possibly to test the docility and credulity of the populace.
"Operation Topoff" a federal scheme (Homeland Security, no doubt) to test
readiness for a terrorist attack will take place in two locations Monday,
May 12, – Seattle, Washington, and Chicago illinois. One will simulate an
attack by a "dirty" bomb (unlike the clean, "surgical" bombs with which we
slaughter the civilians (women, children, the elderly and men) in
Afghanistan and Iraq, I suppose), and the other a biological attack of some
sort. In each case, hundeds of firefighters, hospital workers, medics,
police and other emergency response personnel will be diverted from their
usual duties to engage in war games - for which exercise the cities will be
reimbursed in the millions of dollars.
> "Police will close roads, county employees will set up shelters, volunteer
> victims will be taken to local hospitals, where some of the medical facilities
> will admit 'virtual' casualties.. . . . . . . . .
> Meanwhile, Seattle police and FBI agents will try to track the mock terrorist
> bombers.. . . . . . ."
>> - Seattle Times
Since there seem to be no plans to increase ordinary funds available for
real emergencies, the drill is more likely designed to "test" the docility
of citizens, and to further instill the fear of terrorism in them, perhaps
to ready the populace for the next invasion (location to be announced).
Of course, for uninsured people in real need of medical services, for the
homeless perpetually in need of shelter, for ordinary poor, underserved
non-volunteer victims of our nation's indefference, nothing at all will
change. Unless there is a terrorist attack and they become real victims of
it, their needs are unmet and ignored.
While hysteria is whipped up by our government - in its relentless search
for enemies to crush and colonies to add to the growing empire, and ever in
need of a cowed and compliant citizenry - it is amazing to me (and a gauge
of their true concerns) that the public health system in a huge city like
Los Angeles is barely hanging on from year to year. Doctors have turned
whistle-blower, reporting that four patients have died in recent months,
waiting in the emergency room at L.A. General Hospital - one woman in her
40s with a heart problem in need of intensive care, died after 30 hours in
"emergency." Less serious cases face a wait of three days, often. Local
clinics - the first line of defense - have closed all over the city, and
even the hospitals are threatened with closure. Jerry Brown's excellent
system of trauma centers became history during the Deukmejian administration
- and our current "Democratic" governor is indifferent to all but the needs
of prison guards and big biz pals. And now, in covering up his (and probably
most of our "representatives'") compliance in the Enron grand robbery of our
If a real terrorist attack should occur in L.A., bomb or germ - or even if
an ordinary epidemic of the sort we are seeing the resurgence of, our public
health system would collapse almost immediately. And while the free-market
wolves of Wall Street and Washington D.C. discuss cutting every service to
the poor, and cutting every tax to the rich, I suspect that a real plague
would remind them (perhaps too late) why America and other advanced nations
developed public health systems in the first place: to stop contagion before
it could reach the homes of the well-to-do.
Of course, perhaps Chicago and Seattle are in better shape. In case of real
terror, one can only hope so.
The last time Operation Topoff was tested - in Denver in the year 2000 - the
system was overwhelmed and the "operation" failed. No one died, of course,
but the fact that a modern American city couldn't meet the demands of a
staged disaster is ominous, to say the least. Perhaps, given enough extra
cash to carry out the little play, Seattle and Chicago will meet the
challenge. We may never know, since the current plans do not call for
releasing the results of these drills.
In other words, the exact state of our public services' ability to respond
to a citywide emergency is NONE OF OUR BUSINESS.
It's a scandal. No, it is worse - it is a mockery of our democracy, and
symptomatic of a new philosphy of governance in which MOST issues of
importance are none of the citizens' business.
But there is opportunity here, for human rights activists, antiwar
patriots, anarchists, health advocates, socialists, libertarians, and ohers
willing to engage in protest and civil disobedience, to take advantage of
the publicity in creative ways, and expose the Potempkin Village
demonstration for all to see.
Certainly, in the midst of a phony bio attack, a gas mask should go
unremarked, and in the welter of deliberately overturned buses and imported
rubble - the drill-inspired decor, a little real disorder is in order. How
about people dressed as the sheep they think we are? The black bloc might
prefer to go as black sheep. . . . . . .
In addition, since medics will be on the streets "working," and "shelters"
will be set up for volunteer victims, what an opportunity for homeless
people to demand shelter, and for those in need of medical attention to
insist that they, and not the "virtual" casualties be examined and treated!
An opportunity to expose the genuine, ongoing disaster of failing public
health systems, a government indifferent to a disastrous housing crisis,
and, since a majority of homeless people ARE working, the shame of a minimum
wage that does not cover basic living expenses.
After all, whose disaster is it anyway?
Whose disaster? OUR disaster!
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