Your Attention Please.
23.41.00 - Mark
Edit: Oct 10, 2005 - At least one person who has read this post felt it was a how to on bombing schools. They acted on that misinterpretation and on October 10th, 2005 I was questioned by an FBI agent. Let me make it clear that this post is not a how to bomb schools, its a post on how I would minimize the impact of a bombing if it was to happen. I may explain how to carry out a bombing, but emergency services are constantly developing practice scenarios to learn how to best deal with diasters, and thats what I do here. Skim over that if you want, but make sure to read the last three paragraphs, thats the important part of this post. For more on the questioning, See here
This was written shortly after a bomb evacuation drill at the lovely High School University about 12 hours before the actual blogger time. so enjoy
There is a bomb in the building. Please leave your Intelligence Behind.
I'm writing this minutes after a "Bomb Evacuation Drill" and like nearly everything else in this post 9/11 era it is a prefect example of group think cluster-fucking. Thats not to say that the drill didn't go smoothly, it did for as much was planned, but they aren't thinking about what the effect would be. Let's say I'm a bomber, and thats not too far of a stretch because as I have pointed out in the past its extremely easy for anyone to cook up a bomb (google anarchist's cookbook) make a decent remote detonator (cell phone and some cheap electronics) and combine them to make things go boom. So what exactly happened during this evacuation drill?
Congregations. Each building has a designated location to goto where they call for an evacuation. Thats not one location for each building, its more like three or 4 evacuation locations for all the buildings
If I was joe bomber and wanted to do the maximum human damage possible at High School University, I would build one or two bombs for each location into the trunk of a car (something cheap, like a used Geo Metro, a Kia, or a truck - which oh by the way - would blend perfectly with the types of cars students here are driving) Now park them near the evacuation areas the school has designated (all of them at the edge of a parking lot) On a busy day all the parking spaces are filled so you can't have bodies floating around freely, they're all confined to a certain space. Call in the threat (being specific that the device is in one of the buildings) and when everyone is evacuated, remotely detonate and tada, maximum kill zone. Proceed to watching the TV news coverage while running out of country - say Iraq. So the school's evacuation plan for bomb threats is bull.
Notice I said threats. As I see it the only reason someone would threaten to blow up a building is 1) if they're bluffing and want something out of it or 2) want to inflict maximum damage (as pointed out above). The one type of "bomb threat" that the plan actually works for is of the unexpected i.e. your 9/11s and train bombings, and you'll forgive me if I can't find the 9/11 commission document that talked about the threat issued to us by the attackers around 8am the morning of the attack.
So it fails when the attack is unannounced (most likely), it fails miserably when the attacker wants to do the most damage possible, and it doesn't do anything either way when the threat is a bluff. So what's the point, at least beyond the "feel good" effect? Anyone? Anyone?
Now that I've outlined so much of this I'd really hate for it to come back and bite me in the ass so here's how you get away from this centralization. Train all the teachers and staff to form distributed groups. The campus here (like at most schools) has a shit load of space available so you can very easily spread groups out in parking lots, grassy areas, baseball fields, etc. You can still have a handful sweep the buildings, and really need to (if for nothing else - to look for the bomb) Since the number of groups is significant, you'll see and communicate with the "evacuation cells" when they move back into the buildings (people are nice and stupid, mostly the will follow - especially in groups).
Of course this isn't going to be able to stop a really determined attacker. They will always be able to do significant damage, but as we're learning from middle eastern groups, a single Cell Unit is extremely hard to take down, and the challenge grows exponentially when you try and take down more at once. I don't know why this isn't a normal practice in emergency planning.
Keep in mind this concept is for schools, where the cells are virtually pre-made. The corporate challenges are different, but as the survivors of 9/11 proved, people on the ground organize themselves faster a lot more effectively than the hierarchies you find built into school environments.