Newt Gingrich at last week’s GOP Debate:
The fact is, we have enemies who want to use weapons against us that will lead to disasters on an enormous scale. And the original goal was to have a Homeland Security Department that could help us withstand up to three nuclear events in one morning. And we need to understand, there are people out there who want to kill us. And if they have an ability to sneak in weapons of mass destruction, they’re going to use them. We need to overhaul and reform the department, but we need some capacity to respond to massive events that could kill hundreds of thousands of Americans in one morning.
So stop hiring airport screeners and admonishing people to “say something if they see something” and start training mortuary technicians and admonishing people to stockpile food. Because if we had massive events that killed hundreds of thousands of Americans in one morning we’d have a mess on our hands. Think of the immediate logistical problems alone: burying the dead, moving the living to safety, triage, moving doctors to where they can help. Much of the national infrastructure would freeze up. People would be hungry, angry, and frightened.
These are all problems for which the government has a plan. It it is probably not a very good plan (it may not be possible, depending on your definition of “withstand,” for us to withstand three simultaneous nuclear “events”), but it’s a plan that we can take out of the cold-war file drawer, blow the dust off of, maybe update a little bit for the new millennium, and hand off to Janet Napolitano. “Janet, drop what you’ve been doing, and get us prepared to implement this plan.”
Many dollars and lost opportunities later (we could have used those billions to help secure the world’s nukes), we’re prepared to respond to a single nightmare scenario that will probably never happen.
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