How America abandoned true defense
Metcalf interviews Elizabeth Farah on lack of citizen protection

By Geoff Metcalf
Q: The January issue of "Whistleblower" is both fascinating and a little spooky. This is a great issue, even though it gave me a headache.

A: We're very proud of it.

Q: You should be proud of it. However, what do you follow something like this with?

A: Next month we're going to be discussing, in depth, borders and immigration. That should be spectacular.

Q: Let's focus on this month's civil defense issue. To some people, it is kind of an anachronism. It's something left over from the early '60s; they vaguely remember fallout shelters and duck-and-cover drills in school. There are a couple of charts in this issue that really struck me. We can't cover the whole 55-pages plus, and we're not going to try to. We want readers to buy the magazine.

A: That's true. We'll leave out some of the good stuff here.

Q: One of the charts I saw that was fascinating was the total dollars spent per person yearly for civil defense.

A: Per country.

Q: The numbers are a little dated, but I'd be curious to find out in the wake of Sept. 11 and our new Homeland Security Czar and everything else if this has changed, but please explain to our readers how the U.S. ranked among various countries of the world in how much money spent per person for civil defense.

A: Well, we're not dead last. We're second-to-last. France is a little worse at 15 cents per person, per year on civil defense. The United States comes in at 67 cents per person, all the way up through Switzerland at $33 per person. Now let's keep something in mind -- these are '85 figures. These figures are no longer accurate. We are spending less than that. I cannot tell you definitively, but there is no civil defense program for those of our readers who actually believe that there is a plan in place, that the federal government is doing its duty and has a civil defense system in place for its civilians. You'd be completely wrong. I went into this investigation pretty open minded. I must say, one predisposition I have is that I feel we should be defended. I don't think we should be defenseless. I believe America is worth saving, our civilization is worth saving. And I also don't want my children and your children to suffer horrifying, agonizing deaths or to be enslaved by a foreign power. I did have those preconceived beliefs beforehand. But as far as civil defense, I wanted to be pretty open.

Q: So what did you discover?

A: What I found was so shocking that it was hard for me to even get my hands on the whole issue. I didn't start writing until just days before my due date. No one in the federal government has any plan whatsoever in place should we be attacked either through a missile system or by terrorist bombs exploded within ...

Q: Whoa! Wait a minute. What is FEMA supposed do? Isn't that supposed to be their job?

A: No. Let me back up a little bit and explain the issue. Civil defense is a federal issue. It is a defense issue. It is not local, it is not a state issue and it is not an individual responsibility. Should any of your listeners/readers want to discuss that in any greater detail, I certainly will, because I think it's very, very important that everyone understand that when your federal politicians say, "This is not a federal issue; this is local or state," that you be able to counter that with the truth, which is this is a federal issue.

Q: One thing we do need to get to, and we'll do a little later, is you have a list of questions that people need to be prepared to ask their representatives.

A: And their representatives should be prepared to answer. With regard to FEMA, back in '79, Carter essentially was reorganizing government. He took an Office of Civil Defense that was very meager and emaciated within the Department of Defense, and he combined it with four other departments that related to some kind of emergencies. He combined them, and they called it FEMA, Federal Emergency Management Agency. At first, ostensibly, FEMA was supposed to address civil defense, and they did in a lackluster, superficial, ineffective way.

Q: Hey, that's three-fourths of their name: federal, emergency and management agency.

A: That's very true. The readers will be able to read in "Whistleblower" this month the interview I did with the director of public affairs at FEMA.

Q: That was the "Confusion at FEMA" piece.

A: Yes. It was shocking to me. I was breathless when I finished. I couldn't believe what I heard. One of the first questions, and perhaps the first question, was, "What plans are in place now, should the United States be attacked by a nuclear weapon or in a biological attack, which would be massive?" We're not talking about little envelopes of anthrax.

Q: Something epic and bad like smallpox.

A: Exactly. Dispersed and with potentially millions of victims. And he said to me, "We are not responsible for that. That is the Office of Homeland Security." And I said, "But sir, that agency is a month old, and they are purely ..."

Q: They're a coordinating agency. They don't have any real authority.

A: They are advisory. All they can do is advise. And three or four times during the interview, in fact half-way through and again at the end, he said, "We have nothing to do with this."

Q: Not my job, mon!

A: Yes, not my job. It's the Office of Homeland Security. I again would say, "Sir, it's just over a month old. Their phones are not even in place, because I was trying to reach representatives there, and they can't have a plan because they haven't been in existence long enough. So are you telling me there is no plan?

Q: And his response?

A: He said, "I can't answer that." I can't answer these questions. I don't know the answer.

Q: The guy you were talking to is the public affairs director of FEMA.

A: That's right. He referred me to the Department of Defense. The Department of Defense referred me to FEMA.

Q: Elizabeth, what is really distressing is you may have been the first person to ask him these questions.

A: They were blubbering -- not blubbering, but stuttering. When I finally got ahold of someone at the Department of Defense -- by the way, the people were all very polite -- but I can tell you that he had no idea that the role and mission of defense was defending Americans.

Q: The long piece you did titled "Give Me Shelter," about why civil defense is so crucial, it's a format that I recognize: It's a Q&A. Did you come up with the questions and seek out various answers, or is it an individual interview like the one you did with the guy from FEMA?

A: No, it is not with an individual. It's really my questions and my answers. It is the questions I think most Americans would have concerning civil defense. Why do we need it, for heavens sake? Whose responsibility is it? How would this be implemented? Does it actually work? How many people have been told that you don't even want to survive a nuclear war because there would be things such as nuclear winter, which is the fantasy of people who are very, very much against protecting America, because of various ideological predispositions. I wanted to pose the questions so that as people read through the article, they could move onto the next section feeling as if, "Well, OK, we got here. I want to finally get to a conclusion that I either agree or disagree with."

Q: A really interesting chart that you have in there is a comparison between military and civilian war victims. I think that is very significant. You note that in WWI, victims were 20-to-1 military; WWII was pretty much 1-to-1; Korea had more civilians than military.

A: It was 1-to-5.

Q: Vietnam was 20-to-1, and sadly -- and this is why this issue is so crucial -- in the future, as we get exposed to more domestic terrorism with international terrorism brought to our shores, what is the ratio between military and civilian casualties?

A: About 1-to-100. For every person in the military killed, a hundred or more civilians will be killed. When I called the Department of Defense and spoke to the person who was their representative to the Office of Homeland Security, he did not understand my question. We probably spent 30 minutes just breaking down semantically each word that I used. He did not equate "Defense Department" with defending American soil, Americans from death; NOT sending our men and ships and planes over to other countries and continents or sending our missiles to other continents.

Q: He didn't try to use the FEMA finesse and say, "It's not my job, it's FEMAs job," did he?

A: Yes, of course. He said it's not the Department of Defense, he said, "It's FEMA!" I said, "No, no, no ..."

Q: FEMA said it's you!

A: FEMA said it's you. He said, "Well that's not us, its FEMA. If you're talking about disasters ..." I said, "No, we're talking war, here." When a bomb is exploded in the United States, I don't care if it's a terrorist or if it's Saddam Hussein or if it's China, war has been declared. We are in a state of war. And those people who die, whether they are civilian or military, are casualties of war. Answer the question, what is our Defense Department going to be doing in the event of a nuclear war for our civilians' lives? Not treat whatever survivors there are and bury the dead. Which, I say, is the plan. Treat what survivors there are and bury the dead.

Q: Back in June of 2001, there was an exercise called "Dark Winter," and this wasn't the first time they had one of these puppies. The after-action report revealed, and I quote it, "An attack on the United States with biological weapons could cause massive civilian casualties, breakdowns in essential institutions, disruption of democratic processes, civil disorder, loss of confidence in government and reduced U.S. strategic flexibility. Government currently lacks adequate strategies, plans and information systems to manage a crisis of this type or magnitude. Public health is now a major national security issue. Constructive media relationships become critical for all levels of government. Containing the spread of a contagious disease delivered as a bioweapon will present significant ethical, political, cultural, operational and legal challenges." And we ask, what is our government doing to protect us? Yet from what you suggest, not a heck of a lot.

A: No. Not anything at all. Let me underline that: There is no plan in place that will save any life -- not one life -- other than a very small elite group of federal and state officials who protect themselves by taking shelter in underground bunkers with special ventilation systems. They will survive. Now I asked FEMA, tell me a bit about the 75 or 150 or more underground shelters that you have designated in order to maintain continuity of government. Now that's a catch phrase you need to know: "continuity of government."

Q: Command and control.

A: That is right. He leapt at that, because finally he thought that he had something worthwhile to say. He said, "Oh my, yes. We have that. We have to save the government. We will protect the government. The government will stay in place." And I said, "So you're telling me ..."

Q: You have covered your own butt, and everyone else is out in the cold?

A: No, I said, "In order to save government officials, they have to go underground in a shelter. But you don't believe I, or the rest of Americans can be saved by going underground into a shelter?" That's when he sent me to another agency. I was sent to the Department of Defense, National Security Agency, Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control, every single agency.

Q: Then what?

A: When I got to those agencies -- for example, the Office of Homeland Security -- they had the audacity to send me to the Department of Energy. Every time I asked a question with the word "nuclear" at its core, they would immediately assume that I meant a nuclear accident. I would try to explain, "I'm sorry, I don't care about nuclear accidents. They do not produce lethal fallout. This is not a concern. It will not kill millions of people. We're talking about war here, not accidents. They could not make that logical movement in their brain. They never could never quite get over it.

Q: So what was the last thing they did do in response to your questions?

A: At the Office of Homeland Security, they sent me to the Department of Energy.

Q: And their spin?

A: I didn't even bother to call them, because that was so ludicrous. But I did call other agencies, and I called local and state. This is the deal here: Your FEMA will tell you they turned civil defense over to the states and essentially dissolved civil defense at the federal level.

Q: Whoa. They decommissioned all those civil defense shelters ages ago. Listen, there is a lot of material in this month's "Whistleblower," and there is no way we can touch on it all here. However, how about defining exactly what civil defense is?

A: Sure. Civil defense can really only be defined one way: a nationwide system of blast and fallout shelters that are outfitted with the equipment and supplies necessary for civilian survival in the event of a nuclear, biological or chemical attack by any enemy. The definition is very narrow. Some people will try to incorporate evacuation procedures, quarantines -- let me tell you this definitively. That is impossible. Evacuation cannot work. Multimillions of people will die if we do not have a civil defense system. And the operative word is shelter. Sheltering is the only way that you can be protected from the greatest threats, which are, of course, nuclear and biological.

Q: An obvious question in the wake of that definition is this: We've got something like 250 million people. To provide shelter adequate to protect all of them, how much is that going to cost?

A: Billions of dollars. It will cost billions of dollars, and it depends greatly on the type of protection that you provide and how smart we are in spending the money.

Q: Is anybody even thinking about tax credits for people who put in their own shelters?

A: Let me say this, not one person in government even understood my question. I had to go through about 20 minutes to educate every one of these offices before they could even try to answer the questions. "No, we don't do this. We don't expect to do this. It's not our responsibility. Go elsewhere." No one understands it. It was well understood prior to these years. Although his administration is not the only evil involved in the dismantling of our civil defense system, as meager as it was, Bill Clinton was grossly responsible for some very egregious acts.

Q: Such as?

A: No. 1 is the fact that hundreds of thousands -- yes, hundreds of thousands -- of Geiger counters, which are the only kind of mechanism that can tell you when it's safe to come out of a shelter, were in place at every fire station, every police station, every local office across the United States. Hundreds of thousands, Clinton had them destroyed.

Q: Destroyed?

A: Destroyed!

Q: He didn't even try to sell them or give them to his buddies, the Communist Chinese?

A: No. Some states and some individuals -- for instance, Oregon -- each and every one of them, probably 2,000 of them, were saved.

Q: How?

A: By the two men who had one year to gather them all up and throw them away. I know where they are located. The same is true in Alaska, and there are a few other states that did get to save theirs. Other than that, I am assuming they all were destroyed like they were directed to be.

Q: Give us just a few other examples.

A: Oakridge National Laboratory in Oakridge, Tenn., was the site of the library -- the finest, most comprehensive library on emergency civil defense technologies and science. The order came down to defund the library and the laboratory and dispose of all volumes.

Q: Whoa, whoa. Are you talking about burning books?

A: Yes. I'm talking about disposing of the only, and the most comprehensive, library on these technologies in existence in the United States. It was federally funded by billions of dollars over a course of years from the late '40s through the '90s. Then it was defunded. First the laboratory, then the library and then the books were ordered destroyed.

Q: That is outrageous!

A: That is saved secretly. It has been saved in case it is ever needed again. But I can tell you that civil defense programs across the United States have been as egregiously and irresponsibly destroyed as that. Bill Clinton, among others, is responsible for it. I don't know that it came from his words, but the culture within FEMA during his administration was so anti-civil defense that people who were known to be high officials in civil defense have eliminated that time from their biographies, because they do not want people to even know they were involved in civil defense.

Q: It is beyond flummoxing that if you ask government officials, "What if, regardless of where it comes from, a smallpox outbreak and an Ebola outbreak simultaneously hit, and hundreds of thousands of people are dying. What is our government doing to protect us?" And you're telling us they have their thumbs up their noses?

A: Oh, they have a couple of plans that they are developing right now. No. 1, evacuation. Let me tell you what evacuation means. You don't have a plan. We know millions of people are going to die.

Q: So we're going to move them somewhere?

A: No, no, there is no plan for evacuation. They know it is a physical impossibility. But you've got to be able to say something. Recently, and I don't know if it is because of my interview, which very much flustered the gentleman with whom I spoke, they have come out and said, "Evacuation is the plan." But that is an impossibility and needs to be dismissed out of hand as foolishness.

Q: What if one of the alleged suitcase-size nuclear devices is detonated in Manhattan? What happens?

A: Immediately, thousands and thousands of people will die, depending upon the size of the weapon and how well they do in setting it off. But beyond that, if it is ground based, if it is able to kick up dust and dirt ...

Q: Elizabeth, I said New York City. Dust and dirt?

A: Remember what happened after the collapse of the Trade Center towers? Remember the dust that was there for weeks and weeks and months? That dust is the agent that carries nuclear fallout. If it is exploded in midair, there is no fallout. We're all OK except for those affected by the blast and the heat. But if you are affected by fallout, which anybody downwind -- millions of people in New Jersey, millions of people in Connecticut, millions of people in the states surrounding New York City and those in New York -- will be given lethal doses of radiation. You will watch as your family members die agonizing, horrifying deaths. It will not happen to most people that moment. It will take several weeks. It is like an AIDS death, but it takes a few weeks. It is horrifying! Your immune system is destroyed. The very nature of biological and nuclear weapons create the most horrifying deaths in the most massive numbers. And yet, because of the delayed reaction, so many of the casualties -- millions -- actually can be saved or prevented due to the fact that people don't even have to be in a shelter when the bomb explodes. They go immediately to their shelter. They have the ability to remain within the shelter for at least a few days to up to two weeks. And they come out and they rebuild that city and this nation. Otherwise, we are in for a catastrophe that makes Sept. 11 look like we stubbed our toe.

Q: Has anybody anywhere given any thought whatsoever to fallout shelters, beyond protecting the elite to maintain "continuity of government?"

A: No. If they have their way right now, we will be space cadets about this. We're not going to give it a second thought. We're too selfish, we're too focused on our music or our television and our entertainment and sports. We'll just go back to being what America has become: narrow-minded, selfish, greedy and thoughtless.

Q: Bread and circuses! Some readers have said they intend to find where the local government shelter is, and if they can't get in with their families, they intend to prevent the elite from getting out.

A: Geoff, there are no shelters. The only shelters that were in place after the Kennedy era -- he really did want civil defense, and of course our hero Ronald Reagan wanted the same thing. But forces defeated each one of those presidents and some congressional members who very valiantly fought for civil defense as well. There are no civil defense shelters. What did happen was across the country, millions of sites were identified that would be reasonable as fallout shelters. And when I say reasonable, that does not mean it would give you enough protection to truly survive heavy fallout. Those shelters were once stockpiled with water, food, medical supplies, etc.

Q: OK, so where is California Gov. Gray Davis going to go?

A: I'll tell you that. California has FEMA locations. Every state has FEMA locations.

Q: So what if Joe Citizen shows up demanding entrance to those fallout shelters?

A: They'd be shot. They'd be dead quicker. There is one in Deaton, Texas, and you can actually see that on the Internet.

Q: How about if we all make it a point to find out where these elite fallout shelters are and tell 10 people to tell 10 people to tell 10 people and post the eight-digit grid coordinate to websites?

A: That I agree with. You find out where Gray Davis is going, and then pointedly ask him the questions, "Why are you going to protect yourself and your family, and you are leaving us to die?" He can say, "This is a federal issue." But then the counter is, "Why aren't you demanding accountability from our federal government?"

Q: These people who seem so willing to sacrifice all their constituents and taxpayers are missing a key point. We are the mother's milk that provides them the existence they have. If all these hundreds of thousands or millions of people die, with them go the tax base and their financial sustenance.

A: They are going to ramp the IRS. I didn't do a lot of investigation into this, but I do know we are going to do something far more in-depth -- perhaps an expose, a book. But they actually have little plans in place for reinstating the IRS and tax collection after nuclear war.

Q: A listener/reader mentioned the tool "Access to Energy" and Arthur Robinson.

A: He's a good friend and lives right down the street from me.

Q: His newsletter points out how Oak Ridge realized we're never going to have civil defense nationwide, so they came up with the book "Nuclear War Survival Skills."

A: I'm glad you mentioned that.

Q: I saw the ad for it in "Whistleblower."

A: There are things that individuals can do. It's not a replacement for a civil defense system, but if you want to save yourself and your family, and you know that something is coming, there are expedient measures. It's not going to protect you from biological weapons like smallpox or anthrax, but it will protect you from nuclear fallout. So I suggest folks get that book. And there is a companion four-volume video set of step-by-step instructions on how to build each of those structures that are outlined in the book.