The money has been spent on things like improving sensors to detect an attack and on building up a stockpile of drugs to combat various pathogens like anthrax. Faced with the prospect of terrorists releasing a bioweapon that spawns a deadly nationwide epidemic, quickly overwhelming hospitals and other health services, surely this seems a reasonable outlay.
As with dirty bombs, the main thing keeping us safe from bioattack is the nature of the weapon itself. The most dangerous and virulent pathogens, like the Ebola virus, kill their victims too quickly, so an infected person is able to spread the disease to only a relatively small number of people before succumbing.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ebola has an incubation period of 2 to 21 days and kills 50 to 90 percent of those infected within two weeks of the onset of symptoms. This produces terrifying but limited and short-lived outbreaks. The second problem terrorists face is how to infect victims with their disease of choice.
Anthrax is seen as a particular threat because it occurs in spore form, meaning that it can be transported easily and will remain potent for decades. In principle, inhaling just a couple of spores could spark a fatal infection. More realistically, being exposed to several thousand spores would be required for most people to develop symptoms, but that still amounts to a dose weighing far less than a millionth of an ounce.
The attacks sparked frenzied countermeasures among the general public, with people ironing their mail to kill spores and reports of people attempting to obtain personal stockpiles of the antibiotic Cipro. The government set up more elaborate schemes to use electron beams to sterilize mail. Compare this with the average annual death toll of 36, Americans from ordinary influenza.
Chemical weapons are a more clearly evident risk: The sarin nerve gas that cultists used to attack the Tokyo subway killed 12 and injured hundreds in As a consequence, stockpiles of the nerve gas antidote, called Chempacks, have been put in place in cities around America, and detection systems are being developed to warn of an attack and have already been deployed in a few places like Grand Central Terminal in New York City. First responders have also been provided with field supplies of nerve gas antidote, with each ambulance in New York City, for example, carrying 60 Mark I kits, says Neal Richmond, former deputy medical director of the New York Fire Department.
All that said, for those caught in a chemical attack, the available countermeasures are not exactly reassuring. In such an event, the rules for treating victims that most people have come to expect from emergency responders are altered. Rather than treating the sickest first, rescuers would treat the most likely to survive first, evacuating those who can walk or crawl to a decontamination area before sorting out the rest.
In a chemical attack, the task of first responders would be further complicated by their bulky protective suits. If that stabilizes the victim long enough to reach hospital care, chances are he will survive, as more antidote can be administered as needed to keep counteracting the nerve gas.
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Another big part of the homeland security boondoggle is the formula used to dole out federal funds. Since then, there have been attempts to reform the formula to distribute funds based on the actual risk posed by terrorists. Unfortunately, these attempts have resulted in sometimes ridiculous results. And so pork still abounds, prompting Congressmen Anthony Weiner and Jeff Flake to produce a list last March of the most absurd homeland security grants they could find.
The only silver lining is that these absurd preparations are probably not going to be needed. Because terrorists like getting as much bang for their buck as anyone else, which is why conventional explosives, not exotic weapons of mass destruction, will probably continue to be their primary weapon of choice. The natural instinct—evacuate—may not be your best option, and in fact most Department of Homeland Security plans do not envision anything like attempting to evacuate an entire city except in the extremely unlikely event of the aftermath of an atomic bomb blast.
Mostly this is because these kinds of attacks are much more limited in their geographic impact than our fear would lead us to believe and also because evacuating cities quickly is very difficult, as was demonstrated by New Orleans and the Hurricane Katrina debacle. With the subways out of commission, another 2. The governments were trying to pit each side against the other, and the Catholic Church put a scare into people. The church accused the natives of having pagan rituals, and sacred ceremonies had to be done in private, underground, until the s.
Children in Akwesasne have the option of attending public schools on either side of the border, and Lazore attended high school off the reserve in nearby Massena, New York. He says that tension between the non-natives and natives off the reserve is as strong now as it was in his youth. The Massena townspeople are afraid of the Mohawk land claims because they are afraid that they will lose the property taxes that support services if the natives get the land back.
It is blown out of proportion. I could choose not to be an American citizen. The Mohawks, after all, have an alliance with the U. And some natives have renounced American citizenship, but then it is hard to get a job. For example, Lazore says, they can use the greater prescription drug benefits as a U. However, the governments urge residents of Akwesasne to choose one set of benefits from one government.
The duality in national government matters is also reflected in local government. In Akwesasne, every local governmental service has a Canadian and a United States counterpart in the respective districts. Duplicate health clinics, housing offices, education departments, environmental offices, police forces—the services listed in the Akewesasne telephone directory are nearly mirror images. To supervise the delivery of all these services, the governments of the United States and Canada set up two Tribal Councils, one on either side, with the members elected by popular vote.
In , the New York State Legislature passed a law recognizing three trustees and a clerk as representatives of the Mohawks.
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This body evolved into the present St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council, the elected and federally recognized government of the Mohawk people in the U. New York State and the United States deal exclusively with this elected council in a government-to-government relationship. Likewise, in , the Canadian government created a tribal council now known as the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, or MCA, as the elected jurisdictional authority in Canada.
Chief Lorraine White was elected to the St. Regis Council of Chiefs in A lawyer by training, Chief White sees increased communication as a key to working through the governmental red tape caused by the border. The St. Regis Tribal Council works closely with the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, and, when appropriate, with the traditional leaders. This council is the traditional governing body and for centuries has been responsible for the social, cultural, economic, and political integrity of the Mohawk people.
The hereditary chiefs are chosen by a head matron or a clan mother for each clan family.
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Once chosen by the clan mother, the chief is approved by the sitting Mohawk Nation Council. Decisions are made by consensus rather than majority vote, and there are no elections. Jake Swamp is a life member of the Council of Chiefs, and he meets almost weekly with other chiefs of the council. We often have to do the opposite of what [elected governments] tell us—that is the only way they understand. We can sit around a table together, and they may listen, but when you go away, they ignore you and forget about you. Everything we gained we had to go to jail to win.
The only way to change is through defying the governments, because the system is too powerful. We always had our own government. And it is a thorn in their side. The elected tribal system is an imposed government, the same as the elected government in Iraq—everything done on the reservation is determined by whoever controls the economy, and if people vote for the wrong person, they lose theirjobs.
Established between A. Constitution, and the U. Such power can assure that justice and healthfulness continue. People and nations need to exercise just enough power to maintain the peace and well-being of the members of the confederacy. Wampum belts are used by several Northeastern Native American nations as records of treaties, historic events, tribal law, and philosophical principles of life. The belts are made of purple and white clamshell beads. The Two Row Wampum, or Guswenta , consists of two horizontal purple bands running parallel across a white background.
This graphic is intended to show that national governments should operate separately, side by side, and not interfere with the actions of the other. The federal governments have their own version of the Two Row Wampum. The treaty was signed in in the wake of the Revolutionary War and was intended to address mounting tensions between Britain and the United States. The first problem is that the treaty was between the U. On the U. As difficult as it has been for Mohawks dealing with dual governments and the border between them, their problems have become exponentially greater since the border hardened after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
In his living room heaped with files of official reports, Faith Keeper and Mohawk leader Mike Mitchell answers calls from federal government officials, local civic leaders, and university researchers. Mitchell is a strong man with a no-nonsense business manner. He served as elected Grand Chief of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne from to and from to He describes a summit he organized in March to address concern over increased border security.
The meeting attracted delegates from Canada, the United States, and the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Everyone understood that we have to go beyond a fear mentality. When the terrorist attacks occurred, says Mitchell, the U. The tighter security has been especially hard on the people of Akwesasne, many of whom cross the border daily to visit family or go to jobs, stores, or cultural events.
To complicate matters, some of the reserve in the Canadian sector is on the southern shore of the St. Lawrence River, adjacent to the U. There is no customs office there, so residents of this part of Akwesasneare are expected to travel many miles out of their way to report their crossing at the official customs office at the international bridge.