Wednesday, October 3, 2001
The possibility that terrorists might already be on American soil and trained to use chemical or biological warfare against its citizens chilled the room during U.S. Rep. Greg Walden's address to the Hood River Rotary Club on Sept. 27.
"There is an interconnected network of terrorist organizations that are more than willing to share their resources and intelligence against us," said Walden, who made the local stop to brief community members on federal action in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 tragedy.
He said it would be a "tightrope walk" to find the balance between protecting citizens and not infringing upon their civil liberties.
"We've got to be citizen soldiers in this war on terrorism," said Walden. "We're not going to ride roughshod over the constitution but the people who died don't have civil liberties anymore and the loss of 7,000 people pales with what could happen if we had a small pox or anthrax outbreak," he said.
Walden said that security forces knew that terrorist groups had been trying to acquire nuclear weapons for years but were uncertain about whether they had been successful in that endeavor. He said an intelligence gap had been created when federal agents had been prohibited from supporting known terrorists by paying them for information. Due to that lack of knowledge, Walden said it was also unclear how far terrorists had gotten in development of biological and chemical weapons.
"I don't want everyone to go into a panic but we need to be prepared," he said.
Because of a looming threat on the homefront, Walden said federal agencies were busy scouring immigration and other records that could help pinpoint potential terrorists who had infiltrated into the American population. For example, he said there were currently 7,200 Iranian students enrolled in U.S. colleges whose activities were not tracked once they had signed up for classes. He said although citizens needed to be vigilant during a long campaign against terrorism, it was important that people of Middle Eastern descent not be targeted for abuse or retaliation since the terrorists were not representative of the mainstream Muslim faith, but were a "radical" element which was perverting those religious beliefs.
Walden said before a military campaign was waged against terrorist camps, federal officials were trying to force international banks to cut off their available operating capital and, subsequently, drive them out of their hiding places.
"Our victories will come one bank at a time, our victories will come one terrorist at a time," he said.
He said potential national security measures could include requiring passports for people crossing into the United States from the Canadian border and possibly federalizing airline security employees and providing them with better training.
Walden said whatever expanded powers Congress gives government officials to protect U.S. citizens during a time of crisis needed to have a "sunset clause" so that they had to be re-addressed once the conflict had ceased. He said that move would protect the fundamental freedom and openness which America was founded upon.
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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"
Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge