Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Tale of Two Cities

Some thoughts on the Los Angeles School District cancellation fiasco today.

As a former intelligence officer at the NSA, I certainly understand the feeling on the part of the officials in Los Angeles that they needed to "err on the side of caution."

I once issued a report from the same feeling. It was a bit of a disaster. I tell the story in this video, the account of my fiasco starts at 2:55.

But in the current case, school officials in both LA and NYC received the same threat, from the same source.

Here's what they received. An email, originating in Frankfurt, Germany, threatened attacks at multiple schools.

The officials in LA apparently concluded that the fact the message originated outside the US was a significant factor and deemed the threat "credible."

The officials in NYC concluded that the fact the message originated outside the US was insignificant and this threat was "not credible."

LA closed all its schools. NYC was open for business and only later in the day revealed they had received the same threat and dismissed it.

While we are waging a war against Daesh, it is unacceptable that two massive municipalities received the same threat, responded to it in opposite ways, and apparently never communicated with each other.

Should not the officials of the two or three largest school districts in the USA automatically be in contact with one another when something so ominous as a district-wide cancellation was at stake?

If LA received a threat that would prompt them to all out cancel, should not they automatically be in contact with officials in, say, Chicago and New York to inform them of the threat and their response?

If that had happened today, they would have learned from NYC that the same response was received. And NYC would have told them that they did not deem it credible. NYC would have told them that cancellation was an overreaction. 

This time it was a hoax. And the proper response is what NYC did...nothing. But if next time it's not a hoax, these officials should not be making these critical decisions in isolation.

What happened today is a major embarrassment. Get your act together, School Officials. You expect me to have my lesson plans submitted on time every week or else. And yet people who make millions a year make mistakes this gigantic and there will be no consequences? Lives are at stake.