Y2K - Clinton Plans To Use Fed And State Emergency Command Centers

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from the Washington Post- curiouser and curiouser - martial law is on it's way folks.......

By Stephen Barr Washington Post Staff Writer 1-8-99

The Clinton administration plans to enlist federal and state emergency command centers in the fight against the Year 2000 computer "bug," a presidential adviser said yesterday. John A. Koskinen, chairman of the President's Council on Year 2000 Conversion, said the council would pull together existing emergency response centers run by the Defense and State departments, intelligence agencies and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to address problems that might be faced by citizens, communities and states on Jan. 1, 2000. Koskinen and a number of computer industry experts dismiss doomsday predictions of widespread power outages and telephone failures in 2000 but caution that many small companies and local governments that have not paid much attention to the so-called Y2K bug may face short-term disruptions with an impact similar to a severe winter storm. "If we're going to have emergencies, they are going to look like normal ones, but the unique thing will be that we may have a series of them all at once, domestically and internationally," Koskinen saidin an interview. "So our focus is now on how to coordinate, to create a coordinating mechanism to ensure that we have, in fact, got all of these command centers and response systems operating together." He said FEMA would soon meet with state emergency response teams to develop plans to deal with Year 2000 computer problems as they arise. Koskinen's remarks came as the administration expanded its efforts to make the public aware of possible Y2K problems. At a press conference yesterday at the Federal Trade Commission, he announced the creation of a toll-free telephone number that consumers can call to obtain information about the Year 2000 computer glitch. The 24-hour number, 1-888-USA-1900, offers general information about household products, preparations by power and telephone companies, other economic sectors and the federal government. Information specialists will field questions from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. Jodie Bernstein, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said that in most cases the specialists would not be able to answer questions about specific brands and recommended that consumers contact manufacturers directly. Brochures addressing typical consumer questions may be obtained by calling 202-FTC-HELP (382-4357). Information also is available on the Internet from the president's council (www.y2k.gov) and the FTC (www.ftc.gov), officials said. Y2K, the computer industry's shorthand for the Year 2000 computer problem, stems from the use in many computer systems of a two-digit dating system that assumes the first two digits of the year are 1 and 9. Without specialized reprogramming, the systems will recognize "00" not as 2000 but as 1900, possibly causing computer malfunctions. At yesterday's news conference, Koskinen released the council's first status report on industries' efforts to fix their computer systems. The report says that major industries are paying attention to Y2K but notes that several industry associations are still working to gather data from their members. The large telecommunications companies described "substantial progress toward updating their systems. However, less information is available regarding smaller organizations," the report said. Koskinen's council, the report said, "is eagerly awaiting" the results of an Air Transport Association survey that will indicate the Y2K readiness of major passenger airlines. Results are expected within the next two months. Koskinen repeatedly expressed concern yesterday that small to medium-size organizations are not preparing for possible Y2K disruptions. Data in the report appeared to support his concern: A December 1998 survey of 500 counties in 46 states by the National Association of Counties found that roughly half did not have a plan for addressing Y2K issues. A recent National Federation of Independent Business survey indicated that as many as a third of small businesses using computers have no plans to assess their Y2K exposure. While the report acknowledged that "international activities is the area for which there is the least amount of information," it concluded that most countries "are significantly behind the United States in efforts to prepare critical systems for the new millennium." The report said that "lack of progress on the international front may lead to failures that could affect the United States, especially in areas that rely upon cross-border networks such as finance, telecommunications and transportation." Nations that ranked themselves as "least prepared" on Y2K telecommunications issues included those in Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia

-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), January 09, 1999


it is my understanding that martial law means that the civilian government is not operating, or has been superseded, an example being the virgin islands in 1989 when hurricane hugo went thru. you may recall that government broke down there when the cops and national guard participated in looting along with the rest. the governor had to call in the feds. but if the civil government is functioning, you don't have martial law. for example, troops were called out to assist during last year's ice storms, the red river flood, and this week's blizzard, but it wasn't a case of martial law. maybe some experts out there can clarify this for us.

after hurricane hugo, i was involved in emergency communications to the island of st. croix, and i still have copies of the heart-rending messages from people begging for help. that experience taught me that if all hell breaks loose, i'd rather have martial law than anarchy. how about you?

-- jocelyne slough (jonslough@tln.net), January 09, 1999.


Just as you said, sending in federal troops to help keep order and assist with manpower and equipment during a disaster or emergency does not constitute martial law. Martial law should be invoked only under extreme circumstances, since suspension of civil government places civilians under military law, and whatever statutes were used to invoke martial law. For example, under civil law, it is illegal for federal troops to fire on citizens. (Think about Waco) Martial law must be in effect before such action can be taken. The problem is that the entire body of civil law is suspended and individual rights as we know them disappear. In cases of local disaster or disturbance, martial law works only because of its localized nature and reasons sufficient to declare it. The rest of the populace of the nation would not tolerate those conditions permanently. However, it is an entirely different situation if martial law was declared for the entire country. There is no one left to protest, no one to say OK, martial law is no longer necessary, time to go back to civil government.

jocelyne, you seemed to be arguing against the need for martial law, and I certainly agree with that. What I don't understand is why you reversed course at the end and said you'd rather see martial law than anarchy. Those are not the only choices.Wasn't that your original point?

-- Elbow Grease (Elbow_Grease@AutoShop.com), January 09, 1999.

If the federal government really believes that Y2K will create no more problems than a storm, why all the talk about coordinating emergency agencies and activating the National Guard on Dec. 31, 1999? (Some states are already planning this) I believe that martial law is normally only declared in extreme circumstances. IF Y2K becomes bad enough, it is entirely conceivable that martial law could be declared. However, it would certainly not be called for if it is no worse than "a storm".

-- Sue Conibear (conibear@gateway.net), January 09, 1999.

Andy, thanks.

So many leads and clues to follow up on, huh? I completely agree with using troops in emergency situations to help. L.A. riots and Northridge quake were perfect examples of that strategy "working." They left when no longer needed.

As for localized Martial Law, in inner cities, perhaps, but there are other options. If ML continues for any extended period of time then the government would create a lot of activists out of the general populace. Not to mention within the troops themselves. I'd expect many of them to be the "we the people's" front line of offense in that case.


-- Diane J. Squire (sacredspaces@yahoo.com), January 09, 1999.


____________________________________________________ NATIONAL EMERGENCY By definition in 36 CFR 1236.14, the technological emergency eminent in the year 2000 dilemma qualifies it as a potential national emergency that can seriously degrade or threaten the national security of the United States. If the year 2000 problem is not addressed in a proactive manner, the impact to the Federal Government could be unsurmountable.


Also in this document, definiton of "mission critical."

-- S.Rathers (srathers@hotmail.com), January 09, 1999.

Amend that to "Mission Essential."

-- S.Rathers (srathers@hotmail.com), January 09, 1999.

"If the federal government really believes that Y2K will create no more problems than a storm, why all the talk about coordinating emergency agencies and activating the National Guard on Dec. 31, 1999?"

My theory on this, and mind you this only my theory, I did not read it anywhere, is that it is just like any other contigency plan. You have to think about it before hand and have the plans laid out even if you never have to use them. If you don't have the plans, and a problem arises that could use those said plans, well your going to damn well wish you had gone ahead and made them. There is nothing worse than trying to make these type of decesions "on the spot"


-- Rick Tansun (ricktansun@hotmail.com), January 09, 1999.

Elbow Grease: "Those are not the only choices."

Name some other choices. "Choices", you say. Will we have choices? Hard to tell at this point.

I don't believe Jocelyne suggested that, anyway. I read her statement as saying, if anarchy develops, she'd prefer martial law to the spread of anarchy. Think Watts, or LA, but without confinement to particular neighborhoods. I'm with Jocelyne.

-- Tom Carey (tomcarey@mindspring.com), January 09, 1999.

my post was intended to stimulate some clarification of what martial law means, since so many people seem to be confused by the term. again, just because troops are helping out in an emergency, doesn't mean you have martial law. if the local, state, or federal government is in control, and if the legislatures and regular police forces are operating, you don't have martial law.

the only occasion that i recall where a state or territory declared martial law, was the u.s. virgin islands, island of st. croix, after hurricane hugo in 1989, because the regular forces had broken down.

possibly there have been other occasions, but i can't think of any.so my point is that martial law is very rare, and conditions would have to be extreme to warrant it. those conditions were met on st.croix, believe me! normally no one with any sense would PREFER martial law, but it sure beats total anarchy, IMHO.

-- jocelyne slough (jonslough@tln.net), January 10, 1999.

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