7/24/2014

Electric Power Grid Threats: I'm Happy San Antonio Police Chief McManus is Taking that CPS Energy Job

Just last week, our city's outstanding police chief announced that he was leaving the job.  William McManus will transition out of his role as San Antonio Police Chief over the remainder of 2014, giving the City of San Antonio about six months to get his replacement ready to go.



Why Would the Police Chief go to Work for the Electric Company?

Now, this isn't welcomed news to lots of us here in the Alamo City.  Chief McManus has been here for eight years now, and he's done a great job.

Why now?  Well, at first I thought since he is 62 and has been in law enforcement for four decades, he thought it was time to retire.  San Antonio is a great place to retire.  Sixty-two is a nice age for it.

But nope.  McManus isn't retiring:  he is moving into the private sector where he will be the "Senior Director of Security for CPS Energy," whatever that means.

Gave me pause:  Why would the utility company need someone at McManus' skill level?  

Well, in today's news I got the answer, I think.

And, boy howdy, it's not good.

Vulnerability of Electrical Power Structure is Target of Terrorists

Seems that Al Qaeda is plotting to attack the United States in more creative ways than blowing things up. There's news today of "cyber attacks" against specific targets, like places that supply electricity by these terrorists; news reports are that al Qaeda's Ayman al Zawahiri can be heard in a video hinting that the new terror targets are American infrastructure, which would include banks, financial systems, as well as electrical power grids.

Before you think, what a paranoid goof I must be -- consider this:

1.  The Wall Street Journal reported about the dangers of "grid terror attacks" earlier this month, with their story including descriptions of an actual attack on a substation in San Jose, California.  The story also delves into a recommendation by the Congressional Research Service to Congress that the federal government investigate and decide if individual power companies across the country have sufficient internal security protections or if the federal government needs to step into things and address increasing protections for our nation's electrical resources.

2.  The federal government is already putting pressure on independent utility companies to boost their security.   The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is seeking Congressional approval of its expanded agency power to orchestrate these increased protections, where the executive branch could demand that electric utility companies do specific things to protect their computer systems, and more.

Texas Border Mess - Ripe Opportunity to Enter Texas and San Antonio is a Great Target

We're all reading about the Texas - Mexico border mess, and if you think that all these people crossing into South Texas are toddlers and small children then you're an idiot.  There are MS-13 gang members as well as other gangsters sitting there among those being housed by Texas Border Patrol and being processed over to I.C.E.

Then there's that silent group, the people coming into the State of Texas that aren't getting caught by the authorities.  No one's talking as much in the media about this other migration -- who knows the head count per day for these folk.

There are people sneaking across the Rio Grande and into Texas from all over the world.  Nations that are enemies to our country have been well represented in this exodus.

This has been going on for years and most of us here in South Texas have lots of stories about it.  Family and friends finding prayer rugs during hunting trips down by Laredo - that's a comforting thought, isn't it?

Thing is:  San Antonio sure looks like a sweet spot for some evildoing.  Consider this:


  • We've got big operations of both the CIA  and the NSA  here in town.  
  • We've got BAMC where Sgt. Bergdahl was decompressed within minutes of downtown and Alamo Square. 
  • There's the historic Fort Sam Houston Army Post along with Randolph Air Force Base.  Lots of military might calls San Antonio home.    
  • And, of course, our city sits at the juncture of two major interstates:  U.S.35 (connecting the United States southern and northern borders) and I.H.10 (connecting our east and west coasts).  


If I were a wrongdoer, I sure would find San Antonio a tempting target.  Which means I am very, very happy that Police Chief McManus is going to be the man in charge of protecting our City Public Service facilities.

Of course, maybe I just read too many Nelson DeMille novels.  Although one of his thrillers had a Boeing 777 with all its passengers and crew mysteriously perish long before that Malaysian airliner disappeared without at trace....

Just what I'm pondering this week.

10/28/2013

Richard M. Nixon Grand Jury Testimony Transcript from July 1975 - Read It Here

Public domain discoveries on the Internet never fail to amaze me - there's so much out there!  Project Gutenberg alone could keep you staring at a screen for days, but I digress.  Today, as I was surfing around for a public domain image, I stumbled upon something fascinating.

Well, I find it fascinating, at least.

It's the complete transcription of the Grand Jury testimony given by President Richard M. Nixon back in the summer of 1975 -- along with notes from those questioning him and other amazing stuff.  Okay, geeky-amazing.  Granted.

I remember my mother being very (VERY) involved in all the Watergate stuff back as it was happening, she would watch the televised proceedings for hours at a time -- and I vaguely remember bits and pieces of things.  Leon Jaworski was from Houston; John Dean testifying with his young, blond wife at his side.  The Nixon wave as he got on the helicopter.  And, of course, Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman in All the President's Men. (Sigh.  I think I saw that movie five times during the first two months it was in the theatre.)

Richard Nixon Testified?  I Did Not Know That.

However, I don't remember Nixon ever giving testimony - so finding this deposition transcript was a real find for me.  I did not know this existed -- wow.

The testimony was taken in San Clemente, California, almost a year after Nixon had resigned.  (Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974; the deposition began on June 23, 1975 as part of District of Columbia grand jury proceedings which began in January 1974 (see page 4 of the transcript).)

Richard Nixon's 1975 Deposition Transcript Can Be Read Online 

Consider the "areas of inquiry" delineated for that first day of testimony (pp. 5-6):
1. The circumstances surrounding the 18 and a half minute gap in the tape of the meeting between you and Haldeman on June 20, 1972. 
2. Aspects of alleged receipt of large amounts of cash by Charles Rebozo or Rose Mary Woods on your behalf, and financial transactions or aspects thereof between Hr. Rebozo and you. 
3. Attempts to prevent the disclosure of the existence of the National Security Council wire tap program through removal of the records from the FBI, matters dealing with threats to reveal the existence of such records, and the testimony of L. Patrick Gray at his confirmation hearings in the U.S. Senate upon his nomination to be permanent Director of the FBI. 
4. Any relationship between campaign contributions and the consideration of ambassadorships for five persons: Ruth Farkas, J. Fife Symington, Jr., Vincent deRoulet, Cornelius V. Whitney and Kingdon Gould, Jr., and 
5. The obtaining and release of information by the White House concerning Lawrence O'Brien through use of the Internal Revenue Service.
Why Read Nixon's Testimony Now?

For one thing, it's very entertaining from a lawyer point of view - or maybe that subset of lawyers that have taken and defended many, many depositions.  For example, I chuckled at the top of page 26 when Nixon has just testified about one memo and how maybe it came across his desk and next, there's the introduction of another exhibit with the question, do you see this notation "... the president has seen your memo ...."  It's that "are you lying then or are you lying now" sort of exchange that gets the questioning lawyer all pumped up and the defending lawyer ready to strangle his client.

For another, it's history.  Plus, it's a great example of our political system in action -- this is the former President, of all people, who is being grilled here.  Maybe you'll find your own reasons....

Click on the image to go to read the first file containing his testimony.  There are several others, as well as other files with other stuff, i the complete Nixon Grand Jury Records stored online by the GPO.


10/08/2013

Truckers Are Going to Washington and I'm Worried (Read their Press Release Here)

Truck drivers are a different breed, and I can say that because my dad used to drive a truck, long ago.  So when I heard about all these truckers deciding they were going to have their own march on the nation's capital - just like the motorcycle folk did a while ago - I thought, well that's exciting.

I pictured all these 18-wheelers rumbling from all parts of the country, gathering together somewhere near Virginia or something and then parading into Washington, D.C., with horns blaring.  (Who hasn't driven up to a trucker and asked him to toot that loud horn?  I remember doing that in high school, driving along while my friend Cindy signaled from the passenger side window, her long blonde hair blowing in the wind.)



Truckers know their own mind and they're an independent bunch.  When I heard that someone was saying that they were going to "arrest" some of the politicians, I thought it was the trucker version of spin, just getting things all fired up.  (This was confirmed by the Washington Post.)

Then Twitter cancelled their account, I can't get into their website, and there's all this jabber online about how these folk are troublemakers coming to town without a welcome mat.

Read their press release here.  Their new Facebook page is still going strong, last I heard. (Their first Facebook page was deleted by Facebook.)

I'm all for people standing up for what they believe in, and the Constitution does start out with those three little words, "We the People."  So if a big bunch of truck drivers want to go to the nation's capitol to have their say on things, that's fine with me.

Here's the thing.

Things appear to be very, very tense with all sorts of law enforcement agencies right now.  There was the shooting of the single mom who was driving around near the Capitol with her baby and no gun in a very risky way last week.  There was the story today about the seniors who were kept under armed guard at the Old Faithful Inn at Yosemite National Park -- the tourists from Japan thought they had been arrested.   You get the idea.

It's tough to be a cop, and I respect what they have to do.  During my years representing kids in Child Protective Services cases, I came to see things that made me respect law enforcement all the more.

It's tough being a truck driver, too.  Long hours on the road, pressure to meet deadlines, the new HOS rules and all those new regulations -- no one got rich being a trucker, and it's a dangerous job in its own right.

So I'm praying that these truckers and these police officers don't clash physically and that no one gets hurt when all those big rigs start rumbling down the Beltway. Because they ARE coming.  

Seriously, I'm praying for the safety of everyone there because I'm worried it is going to be somewhat of a powder keg.  And if you want to pray too, I think that would be great.

May God bless America - the land of the free, and the home of the brave.  Now more than ever.



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