CommunityPam's House Blend

Homeland insecurity

Skeletor can’t even ensure that his own office is safe. The Wackenhut folks hired to handle security at the Department of Homeland Security were not adequately trained on how to handle suspicious substances, or given skills necessary to protect a building in a post-9/11 world. The guards blew the whistle on Chertoff.

The guards have taken their concerns to Congress, describing inadequate training, failed security tests and slow or confused reactions to bomb and biological threats.

For instance, when an envelope with suspicious powder was opened last fall at Homeland Security Department headquarters, guards said they watched in amazement as superiors carried it by the office of Secretary Michael Chertoff, took it outside and then shook it outside Chertoff’s window without evacuating people nearby.

…A litany of problems were listed by the guards, whose pay ranges from $15.60 to $23 an hour based on their position and level of security clearance. Among their examples of lax security:


_They have no training in responding to attacks with weapons of mass destruction;

_Chemical-sniffing dogs have been replaced with ineffective equipment that falsely indicates the presence of explosives.

_Vehicle entrances to Homeland Security’s complex are lightly guarded;

_Guards with radios have trouble hearing each other, or have no radios, no batons and no pepper spray, leaving them with few options beyond lethal force with their handguns.

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UPDATE: Wackenhut is a company that has provided an interesting level of competence, at agencies throughout the government. Look at this list of shame, courtesy of EyeOnWackenhut:

Wackenhut Security Problems

Foreign-owned security conglomerate Wackenhut has not fared much better guarding other government facilities.  There have been multiple security problems at U.S. nuclear facilities and Army bases under their protection.

Wackenhut’s performance guarding our most sensitive nuclear facilities has been plagued by security blunders. Since Bush entered office Wackenhut has:

• Been caught cheating on security drills at the Y-12 nuclear weapons site in Tenn.
• Botched a similar security drill at the Nevada Test Site (NTS).
• “Systematically” violated weapons inventory and handling policies at NTS.
• Been found not providing the training they were reporting they had done at Y-12 site where guards were also found to be working excessive overtime.
• Inappropriately stored explosives at NTS.

The security contracts for Oak Ridge Nuclear Laboratory, Y-12 National Security Complex and the Nevada Test Site are all out to bid.

Problems have also been persistent at the Army Bases they guard (large PDF!):

• Wackenhut hired felons and granted them access to base facilities before they had security clearances.

• Guards forced to use rusted weapons and old ammunition.
• Broken gates, no searchlights and old radios with dead batteries.

Wackenhut Security is contracted to protect:

• Department of Homeland Security Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
• 7 DOE sites, including their Washington, D.C. offices
• 18 U.S. Army Bases
• More than half of the nation’s nuclear power plants (31)

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Pam Spaulding

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