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Afghanistan and the War on Terrorism

(Photo from The Guardian)

Afghanistan and the War on Terrorism

       Fighting terrorism is a different situation than fighting a conventional war because it is not about one nation in conflict with another nation.  Terrorists embody an ideology which conflicts with established culture and values.  In the case of Afghanistan and Al Qaeda, radical interpretations of Islam were used to recruit jihadists to wage guerilla warfare against all people in the West and even other Muslims who did not agree with their interpretation (9-11 Commission, 2004, pg. 55-68).   This defies both the jus ad bellum and jus in bellum traditional requirements for just war.

Jean Bethke Elshtain and the War on Terrorism

       Osama bin Laden fought as a freedom fighter (mujahideen) in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union.  After the Russians were driven out of the country, he organized the terrorist group, Al Qaeda.  The CIA did not become aware of Al Qaeda and its leader until 1996-1997 (9-11 Commission, 2004, pg. 55-68).  After the August 7, 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Osama bin Laden became one of the FBI’s “most wanted fugitives” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017, pg. 390).  After the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush ordered the creation of the Department of Homeland Security with Executive Order No. 13228 on October 8, 2001 (Exec. Order No. 13,228, 2001, pg. 51812). 

       Although Osama bin Laden and the majority of 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, the Al Qaeda training camps were located in Afghanistan.  In fact, forces within Afghanistan and Pakistan were collaborating with the terrorists.  Al Qaeda also had the support of regular citizens in both Afghanistan and Pakistan who felt a strong hatred for the United States.  The Taliban, a fundamentalist Islamic group, had taken over large parts of Afghanistan and supported the use of terror against the West (9/11 Commission, 2004, pg. 47-68).

       Invading Afghanistan was a natural response to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.  But the U.S. military should have stayed focused on destroying the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan before embarking on a war in Iraq, especially since the 9/11 Commission found no involvement by Iraq with the attacks on the World Trade Center (9-11 Commission, 2004, pg. 47-80).  Imposing economic sanctions on Pakistan instead of giving them economic aid, in my opinion, might have yielded results sooner.

       The invasion of Afghanistan was justified, from the point of view of Jean Bethke Elshtain, because “those who launched the 9/11 attacks cannot be reasoned with, in the manner the ‘humanists’ would like – and that no change in U.S. policy would have that effect – for the simple reason that: they loathe us because of who we are and what our society represents” (Rengger, 2018, pg. 220-221).

What Role did the U.S. have in Afghanistan Beyond Military Action?

       “In October 2001, the United States of America initiated air strikes on Afghanistan, followed by a ground offensive called Operation Enduring Freedom, to topple the Taliban government and drive out Al Qaeda forces hosted in Afghanistan following the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States” (Bella, Giacca, & Casey-Maslen, 2011, pg. 47, 48).  A new government was installed, and with a new regime in control, U.S. troops became peacekeepers, which undermined the original military offensive.  Al Qaeda and the Taliban continued to push back at the expense of American troops.  Although bin Laden was finally killed in 2011, this did not extinguish Al Qaeda or the Taliban.  The U.S. concentrated on re-building Afghanistan, and a new terrorist threat emerged under President Obama: ISIS.

       Elshtain believed that the United States’ War on Terrorism was just because “the United States must take the lead – not alone, to be sure – but it must take the lead in defending human dignity. ‘As the world’s superpower’”” (Rengger, 2018, pg. 221).  If the United States failed in Afghanistan, in my opinion, it is because we lost sight of our goal to destroy the terrorist camps and the power of the terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  By not going in and finishing the job, the United States left itself open for more terrorist attacks on American soil, especially since the Taliban now control Afghanistan.

Given the Larger Human Rights Implication that Elshtain Addresses, what Role did the World at Large have in Combating Terrorism?

       Few countries in the world have been left untouched by terrorism, whether it is direct terrorist attacks or taking in refugees from war-torn countries.  For security reasons alone, the United Nations and all countries in the world should be working together to address the issue – which certainly will not go away anytime soon.

       Ultimately, it is the non-combatant citizens who suffer the most when terrorists are wreaking havoc in a country.  According to Amnesty International (2011): “The Taliban and related insurgent groups in Afghanistan show little regard for human rights and the laws of war and systematically and deliberately target civilians, aid workers, and civilian facilities like schools (particularly girls’ schools)” (Bella, Giacca, & Casey-Maslen, 2011, pg. 51).

       The larger humanitarian issues of violence, refugees, homelessness, poverty, and starvation affect all nations in one way or another, and all nations have a moral obligation to address it.  Elshtain called it the “principle of equal regard, faced with a terrible situation, an enormity, one is obliged to think about what is happening, and to conclude that the people dying are human beings and as such equal in moral regard to us” (Dissent, 2005, pg. 60).                                                                                                                                         

References

9-11 Commission. (2004). 9-11 Commission report. Retrieved from

https://www.9-11Commission.gov/report

Bellal, A., Giacca, G., Casey-Maslen, C. (2011, March). International law and armed non-state 

       actors in afghanistan. International Review of the Red Cross 93(881), 47-79.

       Retrieved from https://www.corteidh.or.cr/tablas/r27089.pdf

Dissent, The Editors. (2005, Summer). Interview with jean bethke elshtain. Dissent. Retrieved

       from http://www.dissentmagazine.org/wp-content/files_mf/1390329368d1Interview.pdf

Exec. Order No. 13228, 66 Fed. Reg. 196 (October 10, 2001)

Haddow, G.D., Bullock, J.A., & Coppola, D.P. (2017). Introduction to emergency management.

       (6th ed.). Cambridge, MA: Elsevier

Rengger, N. (2018). Jean bethke elshtain (1941-2013). In D.R. Brunstetter & C. O’Driscoll

       (Eds.), Just war thinkers: From cicero to the 21st century (216-226). Abingdon, Oxon: 

       Routledge

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

December 23, 2021; April 1, 2022

Copyright 2021-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

5 Comments »

Attachment Disorder and Crime

Abstract
Attachment disorders arise when children experience prolonged and persistent abuse and neglect.  They are unable to form attachments and respond to the world with anger, defiance, and aggression.  They resist authority figures and defy social rules.  Without early intervention, these children are at high risk for delinquency, criminality, and the commission of violent crimes.

Attachment Disorder and Crime
       Criminologists recognize that antisocial behaviors, which are more common in males, can lead to an increase in criminality and violent crime (Siegel, 2012).  Much of their research has been based on John Bowlby’s attachment theory.
       Psychoanalyst John Bowlby studied Lorenz’s research on imprinting.  He concluded that “children come into the world biologically pre-programmed to form attachments with others, because this will help them to survive” (McLeod, 2007).  Failure to make secure attachments can lead to “affectionless psychopathy” later in life (McLeod, 2007).
       “Attachment is an enduring affective bond characterized by a tendency to seek and maintain proximity to a specific person, particularly when under stress” (Levy, 2000).  This bond is created between mother and child during the nine months of pregnancy and the first two years of life (Levy, 2000).  The mother-child bond is unique and forms through social releasers — behaviors that ensure a reciprocal response between mother and child (McLeod, 2007).  Smiling, eye contact, holding, rocking, touching, and feeding are cues which create a “mutual regulatory system” (Levy, 2000).
       When the mother-child bond fails to develop, infants can suffer from severe colic and feeding difficulties, fail to gain weight and reach important developmental milestones, remain detached and unresponsive, refuse to be comforted, and respond too readily to strangers (Attachment Disorders, 2014).
       Children need a “secure base” to learn trust and reciprocity, qualities which lay the foundation for all future relationships (Levy, 2000).  They must be able to explore their environment without fear and anxiety so they can attain full cognitive and social development (Levy, 2000).  A strong, secure attachment between mother (or other primary caregiver) and child helps the child to learn self-regulation (self-management of impulses and emotions) (Levy, 2000).  The child has the opportunity to form a strong self-identity, competence, and self-worth and to create balance between dependence on the mother and his own autonomy (Levy, 2000).  A secure base allows the child to learn empathy and compassion and to develop a conscience (Levy, 2000). A well-established core belief system helps the child to evaluate himself, his caregiver, and the world around him (Levy, 2000).  He learns resourcefulness and the resilience to cope with stress and adverse events (Levy, 2000).
       Even adopted infants can “develop healthy attachment relationships” in the first year of life if raised in a safe and secure environment by a caregiver who is consistently responsive to their needs (Reebye, 2007).  Children with Down Syndrome tend to develop attachments later, during the 12-24 month period (Reebye, 2007).
       Secure attachment allows children to develop positive patterns of cognition, behavior, and interaction which help them to survive successfully within the family and society at large (Levy, 2000).  They internalize altruism, empathy, compassion, kindness, and morality, qualities which lead to proper social behavior and social cohesion.  They learn to view themselves, the caregiver, life, and the world as essentially good, safe, and worthwhile.
       Children who do not develop secure attachments experience just the opposite.  They learn to view themselves, the caregiver, life, and the world as hostile, dangerous, and worthless (Levy, 2000).  By age four, these children exhibit symptoms of chronic aggression — “rage, bullying, defiance, and controlling interactions with others” (Levy, 2000).  These are the children who overwhelm the child welfare and juvenile justice systems and carry diagnoses of conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and antisocial personality disorder.  Children with severe attachment disorder typically engage in cruelty to animals, bed-wetting, fire-setting, pathological lying, and self-gratification at the expense of others.  They are predatory and vindictive, controlling and manipulative.  They lack empathy, remorse, and a moral conscience.  They are unable to form close relationships with others because they never experienced it themselves.
       Adults with these traits are often labeled psychopaths and may become serial killers and mass murderers (Levy, 2000).  The motivations for their crimes are manipulation, dominance, and control.  They feel powerless and inferior, committing horrific crimes against others as a way to release their frustrations and hostilities (Levy, 2000).
       But why do some children fail to develop a secure attachment to their mother or other primary caregiver?  Researchers have determined several common factors — “abuse and neglect, single-parent homes, stressed caregivers, parents with criminal records” (Levy, 2000).  Other factors include parental mental illness, substance abuse, and a history of maltreatment.
       Within the family, persistent conflict and violence lead to childhood anxiety, fear, and insecurity.  Children learn that violence is an acceptable way of dealing with life (Levy, 2000).
       Poverty, living in an unstable community rife with violence, access to weapons, and graphic depictions of violence on TV and in the movies desensitizes children.  They learn to “express feelings, solve problems, boost self-image, and attain power” through aggression and violence (Levy, 2000).       

 Prenatal drug and alcohol abuse, maternal stress,  birth complications, prematurity, nutritional deprivation, and genetics can lead to inherited personality traits and brain damage that interfere with learning, attention spans, and impulse control.  Compound this with a firmly-established attachment disorder, and a child is likely to be difficult to control, impulsive, hyperactive, defiant, aggressive, indifferent to learning, and angry (Levy, 2000).
       Children who are maltreated are often found in foster care, kinship care, adoptive care, and orphanages (Chaffin, 2006).  This includes children adopted from other countries.  They grow up in unstable environments, without the consistent affection and nurturing required to develop secure attachments (Chaffin, 2006).  They may grow up with suppressed anger that causes them to “seek control, resist authority, engage in power struggles and antisocial behavior” (Chaffin, 2006).  They become self-centered, resist close attachments, and eventually fall into delinquency and criminality (Chaffin, 2006).
       Teenagers still need a “secure base” as they wrestle with independence versus security (Mathew, 1995).  If a teenager has developed a secure attachment to his mother or other primary caregiver, he will weather the storms of adolescence with more resilience and adaptive abilities to cope with stress and change.  A strong, loving family environment teaches teenagers social competence and self-confidence.
       Adolescents who grow up in unstable, inconsistent homes torn apart by conflict and violence develop “psychopathology resulting from the inability to function competently in social situations” (Mathew, 1995).  “Delinquency, addiction, and depression” grow out of “inadequate problem-solving” (Mathew, 1995).  The teenager suffering from attachment disorder is incapable of interpreting and responding to social cues in appropriate ways (Mathew, 1995).  They view the world as a hostile place, attribute hostile intentions to other people, and respond aggressively.

       Decades of research have found clear links between early childhood abuse and neglect, attachment disorder, and delinquency and violence later in life.  It is not surprising, then, that children under age twelve have committed some of the cruelest crimes or that adolescent males are three times more likely to commit violent crimes than their female counterparts (Levy, 2000).
Method

Process
       Research was conducted online through EBSCO and Google Scholar using the keywords “attachment disorder,” “John Bowlby,” and “attachment disorder and crime.”
Results
       Attachment theory has been around for a long time.  It has been studied and expanded on by others.  A lot of research is available concerning attachment theory, maternal deprivation hypothesis, reactive attachment disorder (RAD), disinhibited social engagement disorder (DSED), secure base distortion, rage theory, disordered attachment, disorganized attachment, disoriented attachment, and insecure attachment.  These are all variations on the same theme — early childhood abuse and neglect lead ultimately to emotional detachment, dysfunction, anger, defiance, and aggression.
Discussion
       Traditional psychotherapeutic tools are ineffective on children suffering from attachment disorder because these children are unable to trust others and form the therapeutic bond necessary to engage in treatment (Levy, 2000).  Without early intervention, however, these children are at high risk for risky behaviors, criminality, and incarceration.

       Several treatment modalities have been developed to help children overcome their attachment difficulties.  Most focus on learning how to trust and feel secure.  One of the more controversial, Holding Nurturing Process (HNP), involves forcibly holding the child and maintaining eye contact, which is supposed to promote secure attachment and self-regulation (Chaffin, 2006).  HNP has been associated with the death of several children, however, and criminal charges have been filed against some attachment therapists and parents (Chaffin, 2006).
       The most effective attachment therapies allow the child to gradually build up trust with a committed therapist who then works with the child to re-program patterns of negative thinking and behaving (Levy, 2000).  Therapy is based on the individual needs of the child and involves family, school, and community.  The child learns positive coping skills that help him to function successfully within the family and society.
       Parents and other primary caregivers can undergo Corrective Attachment Therapy in order to enhance their parenting skills and learn specific tools for dealing with a difficult child (Levy, 2000).  Parent and child must go through therapy simultaneously so that they both learn mutual caring and respect; open up to feelings of affection; set up limits, rules, and boundaries; share empathy and compassion; and learn how to be in tune with one another (Levy, 2000).
       If high risk families can be identified early in the process, families can be enrolled in special programs and children can receive the treatment they need to overcome the damage already done.   

References

Attachment disorders. (2014, January). American Academy of Child & Adolescent

       Psychiatry. Retrieved from 

http://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_youth/Facts_
       For_Families/FFF-Guide/Attachment-Disorders-085.aspx.
Chaffin, M., Hanson, R., Saunders, B., Nichols, T., Barnett, D., Zeanah, C., Berliner, L.,
       . . . Miller-Perrin, C. (2006). Report of the apsac task force on attachment therapy, reactive
       attachment disorder, and attachment problems. Child Maltreatment, 11(1), 76-89. doi:
       10.1177/1077559505283699.
Levy, Terry M. & Orlans, M. (2000). Attachment disorder as an antecedent to violence and
       antisocial patterns in children. In Levy, Terry M., Editor, Handbook of attachment inter-
ventions (pp. 1-26). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Mathew, S., Rutemiller, L., Sheldon-Keller, A., Sheras, P., Canterbury, R. (1995). Attachment  

       and social problem solving in juvenile delinquents (Report No. 143). Washington, D.C.:
       Educational Resources Information Center.
McLeod, S. (2007). Bowlby’s attachment theory. Simply Psychology. Retrieved from

http://www.simplypsychology.org/bowlby.html.
Reebye, P. & Kope, T. (2007). Attachment disorders. BC Medical Journal, 49(4), 189-193.
Siegel, Larry J. (2012). Criminology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

(The references did not all format correctly.)

Dawn Pisturino, RN

Mohave Community College

Criminology 225
November 29, 2016

Copyright 2016-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

20 Comments »

Rebel Without a Cause: Juvenile Delinquency

ATTENTION: SPOILER ALERT!

       After World War II, Hollywood struggled to re-define itself.  Box office revenues stagnated, and Hollywood needed new markets to keep going.  The teenage market was an obvious choice.

       Post-war prosperity in the 1950s made it possible for the middle-class to own houses, cars, and the latest work-saving appliances on a widespread scale.  After the fear and deprivation of the war years, Americans wanted to enjoy their new-found prosperity.  Television invaded American homes, bringing new entertainment and exposure to the latest products.  The consumer economy had begun.

       Teenagers had unprecedented pocket money and leisure time.  While their parents climbed the social ladder and hung out with friends at the country club, teenagers necked in the back seats of cars and danced to the latest rock and roll tunes. Hollywood targeted teens to become the new movie-going generation (Lewis, 250, 255).

       The upbeat world of the 1950s cringed under the shadow of nuclear war and an increasingly aggressive Soviet Union.  Beatniks mourned the impending death of humanity in coffee houses and cafes.  The McCarthy years dragged on, and the fear of Communism ran rampant throughout the country.  At the same time, a new kind of socially-conscious movie was being made to highlight problems in American society (Lewis, 228).  Juvenile delinquency became a hot topic.

       Nicholas Ray’s 1955 movie, Rebel Without a Cause, explores the alienation and delinquency of “upper-middle-class white suburban teenagers” (Lewis, 253).  The movie was filmed using Cinemascope widescreen technology and Warnercolor.  Starring James Dean, Sal Mineo, and Natalie Wood, this tense melodrama was meant to serve as a wake-up call to parents: take care of your children, or they will go down the wrong path (Lewis, 253).

       When the movie opens, it is Easter in Los Angeles, California, 1955.  Jim Stark (James Dean) is lying on the pavement, drunk, playing with a mechanical monkey.  It is a poignant scene that shows a lost character who is torn between childhood and adulthood.

       Jim Stark is hauled off to jail and becomes aware of John/Plato (Sal Mineo) and Judy (Natalie Wood).  The three troubled teens are required to speak to the juvenile officer, who tries to understand them.

       Judy cries about her father, who pushed her away when she reached puberty, and complains that she feels unloved by him.  She craves his attention, runs out of the house, and wanders around alone after dark when they get into a conflict over wearing make-up and grown up clothes.  Judy is trying to grow up, but growing up means losing closeness with her father (fear of incest).  She cannot understand why he is pushing her away because nobody has talked to her about it.  Her anger and despair lead her to hang out with the tough high school gang, The Wheels, and the gang’s leader, Buzz.

       John/Plato is an abandoned and neglected rich boy whose black maid is paid to raise him.  It is his birthday, and he is angry because his parents are divorced, his father is not involved in his life, and his mother stays away on vacation.  He has been picked up for shooting some puppies, a deviant behavior that is considered nowadays to be a precursor for sociopathic/psychopathic serial killers (Siegel, 353).  Although his black maid appears to sincerely care for him, calling him “her boy,” she is powerless to help him.  John/Plato appears to be emotionally unstable, starved for love, rejected by his peers, vulnerable and gullible, and physically and emotionally immature. 

       While waiting to see the juvenile officer, Jim Stark annoys the other police officers by wailing like a police siren, making obnoxious comments, and exhibiting a negative, sarcastic attitude.  In one scene, a deep-focus camera shot captures the three troubled teens through windows: Judy sitting in the office with the juvenile officer; John/Plato waiting in the office next door; and Jim sitting on a chair in the background.  The viewer understands that these three troubled teens will eventually get together, connected by their common suffering and antisocial behavior.

       Jim’s mother and father show up at the police station wearing a mink coat and a tuxedo.  They have been at a party at the country club.  Jim’s father laughs and minimizes his son’s drinking.  After all, the family has just moved to Los Angeles, and Jim has not made any friends yet.  The parents bicker, blaming one another; and Jim’s father says to him, “Don’t I buy you everything you want?”  Jim covers his ears and cries at his parents, “You’re tearing me apart!”

       Jim loses control, punches the juvenile officer, and bangs on the desk.  He is in danger of going to juvenile hall.  His parents admit that they have been moving frequently because of Jim’s behavior in order to protect him and their own reputations.  It becomes clear that Jim’s father is weak and cowardly.  His mother is a nag.

       On the first day of school, Jim is bullied for being the new kid.  He tries to befriend Judy, but she smokes cigarettes and hangs out with the tough crowd.  John/Plato looks up to Jim and tags along behind him, calling him “my best friend.”  During the field trip at the Griffith Observatory, the teens are exposed to a presentation about the universe and a nihilistic commentary about the insignificance of earth and human beings.  Jim and John/Plato can both identify with this.

       Jim gets into a knife fight with Buzz, the leader of The Wheels.  At the end of the fight, they agree to compete in a “chickie run.”  Jim doesn’t know what this is, but he agrees to do it as a matter of honor.  When he consults his father, his father cannot give him any worthwhile advice.    Later that night, Buzz is killed when his jacket gets caught on the door, and he is unable to escape from the car.  His car goes over a cliff, and all the members of the gang take off.  Jim confesses to his parents what happened.  His mother wants to move.  His father tells him to keep quiet.

       Jim wants to do the right thing and confess to the police.  The police ignore him and tell him to go home.  Gang members think he has squealed and go after him.  A live chicken is hung up over the door of Jim’s house, scaring his parents.  Jim and Judy hide out in an abandoned mansion.  Parallel to this, the gang attacks John/Plato, and his black maid chases them off.  In his mother’s room, he finds a child support check from his father, gets angry, grabs his mother’s gun, and takes off for the abandoned mansion.

       At the mansion, the three teens pretend that they are a nuclear family, bemoan the presence of troublesome children (they should be drowned), and isolate themselves from reality.  After John/Plato falls asleep, Judy and Jim go off by themselves.  The gang shows up, and John/Plato goes nuts when he finds out that Jim and Judy have left him alone.  He shoots one of the gang members.  The police show up.  John/Plato runs off to the nearby Griffith Observatory, and he shoots at the police.  Jim and Judy get into the Observatory, take the bullets out of the gun, and escort John/Plato out of the Observatory.  John/Plato does not realize the gun is empty and points it at the police.  The police shoot and kill him.

       At the end, Jim breaks down and cries “Help me!”  His father finds renewed strength and courage and promises to be there for him, no matter what happens.  Jim’s mother finds new respect for her husband.  The family is saved.

       The importance of a strong family and good communication are highlighted throughout the movie.  No matter how much wealth a family has, wealth cannot give a child what it needs to be happy, secure, and well-grounded.  Parents are responsible for raising good citizens who contribute to society.  Nicholas Ray sent this message loud and clear when he made Rebel Without a Cause. 

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

February 13, 2018

Copyright 2018-2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Works Cited

Lewis, Jon. American Cinema: A History. New York: Norton, 2008.

Ray, Nicholas, Dir. Rebel Without a Cause. Perf. James Dean. Warner Bros., 1955.

Siegel, Larry J. Criminology. Belmont: Wadsworth, 2012.

9 Comments »

Sociopath vs. Psychopath: What’s the Difference?

This explanation of sociopath vs. psychopath comes from a class I took. “Psychopath” is a term used mostly in criminal justice. Many people have fallen prey to sociopaths and psychopaths, which is why it is important to recognize that these types of people exist in society.

Sociopath vs. Psychopath:

“The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), released by the American Psychiatric Association in 2013, lists both sociopathy and psychopathy under the heading of Antisocial Personality Disorders (ASPD). These disorders share many common behavioral traits which lead to the confusion between them. Key traits that sociopaths and psychopaths share include: 

  • A disregard for laws and social mores
  • A disregard for the rights of others
  • A failure to feel remorse or guilt
  • A tendency to display violent behavior”

Sociopaths

“Sociopaths tend to be nervous and easily agitated. They are volatile and prone to emotional outbursts, including fits of rage. They are likely to be uneducated and live on the fringes of society, unable to hold down a steady job or stay in one place for very long. It is difficult but not impossible for sociopaths to form attachments with others.  In the eyes of others, sociopaths will appear to be very disturbed. Any crimes committed by a sociopath, including murder, will tend to be haphazard, disorganized and spontaneous rather than planned.”

Example: O. J. Simpson

Psychopaths

“Psychopaths are unable to form emotional attachments or feel real empathy with others, although they often have disarming or even charming personalities. Psychopaths are very manipulative and can easily gain people’s trust. They learn to mimic emotions, despite their inability to actually feel them, and will appear normal to unsuspecting people. Psychopaths are often well educated and hold steady jobs. Some are so good at manipulation and mimicry that they have families and other long-term relationships without those around them ever suspecting their true nature.”

Example: Ted Bundy, Charles Manson

NOTE: There is no cure for these disorders, and medication does not work.

Dawn Pisturino, RN

September 21, 2021

9 Comments »

Community Engagement: The Boston Marathon Bombing

Photo Credit: Britannica

The Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013 changed how police departments communicate with the public during important emergency events. For the first time, social media played a critical role in communicating information about the bombings and capturing the culprits (Haddow, 2017).

On the day of the bombings, Commissioner of Police Ed Davis held a press conference. He calmly explained what happened and reassured the public that Boston had a comprehensive emergency response plan in place. The FBI, State Police, National Guard, and ATF were already in the city, offering their services. The Commissioner exuded confidence, control, and common sense. He asked for the public’s help in capturing the perpetrators (Global Breaking News, 2013).

Commissioner of Police Ed Davis and the Boston Police Department were committed to providing accurate, timely information to the public and keeping the lines of two-way communication open. He asked people to stay home and away from crowds for their own safety. He asked people to call the Mayor’s hotline and the Boston PD TIPS line with information (Global Breaking News, 2013).

The Boston Police Department was a leader in using social media to communicate with the public. Photos, videos, and information were shared through Twitter, Facebook, and websites. Inaccurate information was quickly corrected. It was noted by Bar-Tur that “BPD’s presence online helps reinvent the whole notion of community policing for the 21st century” (Haddow, p. 185, 2017). When the Tsarnaev brothers were finally caught, Boston Police Department tweeted a resounding “CAPTURED!!!” (Haddow, p. 185, 2017).

Instead of cowering in fear and feeling powerless, the Boston community was kept involved. This community empowerment contributed to situational awareness and the recovery of Boston after the event.

Global Breaking News. (Presenter). (2013, April 15). First press conference boston marathon

       bomb attack [Video file].Retrieved from (link not working):

Haddow, G.D., Bullock, J.A., & Coppola, D.P. (2017). Introduction to emergency

       management. (6th ed.). Cambridge, MA: Elsevier.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

October 7, 2019

Copyright 2019-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

4 Comments »

The Evolution of Emergency Management in the United States

Associated Press

What is “emergency management?”  According to Haddow, Bullock, and Coppola (2017), “the definition of emergency management can be extremely broad and all-encompassing.”  It is an evolving discipline whose priorities have changed in response to diverse events, political leadership, and scientific advances.

The nature of the events and the responses of political leaders have been the most influential in shaping emergency management priorities and organizational structure.  Since emergency management “deals with risk and risk avoidance” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017), no single event will be handled in precisely the same way.  A terrorist attack like 9/11, which was a major criminal event that involved foreigners and foreign countries, will have a much greater impact on the psyche of the American people and affect a broader range of government departments, than a natural event like a hurricane or earthquake.

The U.S. Constitution “gives the states the responsibility for public health and safety – hence the responsibility for public risks – with the federal government in a secondary role.  The federal role is to help when the state, local or individual entity is overwhelmed” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).

What kind of events can hit American communities?  Natural events include floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, storm surges, tornadoes, wildfires, land movements such as avalanches and mudslides, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, severe winter storms, drought, extremes of heat and cold, coastal erosion, thunderstorms, lightning, and hail.  Technological events can include building fires, dam failures, hazardous material incidents, nuclear and radiation accidents. 

Criminal events include terrorism and the potential use of biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).      

On May 31, 1889, the South Fork dam in Johnstown, PA failed, and “unleashed 20,000,000 tons of water that devastated” the town and killed 2,209 residents (National Park Service,2017).  The failure was caused by inadequate construction, maintenance, and repair.  This event caught the attention of the entire world, and people banded together to help “the Johnstown sufferers” (National Park Service, 2017).

In 1803, Congress passed legislation authorizing federal funds to help a town in New Hampshire destroyed by fire.  This set the precedence for federal involvement in local events.  But it was under Franklin D. Roosevelt “that the federal government began to make significant investments in emergency management functions” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).

The Reconstruction Finance Corporation and the Bureau of Public Roads were authorized “to make disaster loans available for repair and reconstruction of certain public facilities” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017) in the 1930s. The Tennessee Valley Authority – established to produce hydroelectric power – also sought to reduce flooding in the valley (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).

The Flood Control Act of 1936 authorized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers “to design and build flood-control projects” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).  Now, “humans could control nature” and promote growth and development in areas previously unavailable (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).

The 1950s and the Cold War brought a whole new dynamic to the discipline of emergency management.  Scientists had succeeded in creating a whole new arsenal of weapons with the capability of destroying the world.  The potential for nuclear holocaust was so great, “civil defense programs proliferated across communities” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).  People built bomb shelters to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.  A feeling of paranoia gripped the entire nation as U.S. politicians engaged diplomatically with representatives from the Soviet Union.                                                                            

The Federal Civil Defense Administration (FCDA) was a poorly-funded department “whose main role was to provide technical assistance” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017) in the event of nuclear attack.  In reality, however, it was the civil defense directors at the local and state levels who shaped the policies and response to potential disaster.

The 1960s focused attention on natural disasters, and the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 was passed by Congress.  The National Flood Insurance Program was subsequently created, which helped to ease the burden on homeowners located in flood areas and to act proactively before the floods began.  This legislation emphasized “the concept of community-based mitigation” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).  When communities joined the NFIP, they committed themselves to passing local ordinances which controlled development in floodplain areas.  The federal government produced floodplain maps to support these ordinances.

George Bernstein, who became head of the Federal Insurance Administration under President Richard Nixon, strengthened the program by “linking the mandatory purchase of flood insurance to all homeowner loans that were backed by federal mortgages” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).  This led to the Flood Insurance Act of 1972.

During the 1970s, “more than 100 federal agencies were involved in some aspect of risks and disasters” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).  The fragmentation, conflicts, and confusion that resulted were no different on the state and local levels.  When Three Mile Island occurred, these problems became all-too-apparent to the general public.  As a result, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was created by Congress under President Jimmy Carter, with the director reporting directly to the president.

Reorganization Plan Number 3, which created FEMA, sought to establish the following guidelines: FEMA workers “were to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to major civil emergencies” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017); the agency would demand “the most efficient use of all available resources” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017); “emergency responsibilities should be extensions of federal agencies” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017); and “federal hazard mitigation activities should be closely linked with emergency preparedness and response functions” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).

In the 1980s, civil defense became the priority under President Ronald Reagan.  Director Louis Giuffrida reorganized FEMA, moved multiple departments into one building, and placed the agency’s priority “on government preparedness for a nuclear attack” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).  Giuffrida resigned after a financial scandal, which undermined the credibility of the agency.  The new director, Julius Becton, worked to restore “integrity to the operations and appropriations of the agency” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).  Under Becton’s leadership, natural hazards like earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods were given a low priority, confirming that the agency “continued the pattern of isolating resources for national security priorities without recognizing the potential of a major natural disaster” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).

Senator Al Gore, during Senate hearings, questioned FEMA’s priorities and its preparedness in the event of a major earthquake.  FEMA was pressured to create an earthquake preparedness plan which “would later become the standard for all of the federal agencies’ response operations” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).

Under George H.W. Bush, multiple natural disasters occurred – including Hurricane Andrew – which affected people’s perception of FEMA.  “People wanted, and expected, their government to be there to help in their time of need” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).  FEMA was perceived as weak and ineffective.

James Witt was appointed Director by President Bill Clinton.  Witt had extensive experience in emergency management and reorganized FEMA to support community relations, the efficient use of new technology, and an emphasis on “mitigation and risk avoidance” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).

The 1990s heralded a new wave of natural disasters.  FEMA successfully handled the Midwest floods of 1993 and initiated “the largest voluntary buyout and relocation program to date in an effort to move people out of the floodplain . . .” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).

Director Witt became a member of Clinton’s cabinet and persuaded state governors “to include their state emergency management directors in their cabinets” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).  This is how important emergency management had become.

The bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 and the Oklahoma Bombing in 1995 reaffirmed the notion that terrorist events fall into the category of “risks and the consequences of those risks” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).  Emergency management has been an important part of handling similar events.

FEMA’s Project impact: Building Disaster-Resistant Communities heralded “a new community-based approach” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017) that required communities “to identify risks and establish a plan to reduce those risks” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).  The ultimate goal was for the community to “promote sustainable economic development, protect and enhance its natural resources, and ensure a better quality of life for its citizens” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).

Project Impact was defunded under President George W. Bush.  After the unexpected earthquake in Seattle, however, FEMA received a lot of praise from Seattle’s mayor, and the program was restored.  Seattle, it turned out, had been “one of the most successful Project impact communities” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).

The events of 9/11 proved the effectiveness of FEMA when “hundreds of response personnel initiated their operations within just minutes of the onset of events” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).  FEMA was then incorporated into the newly-formed Department of Homeland Security and lost much of its effectiveness and power.  The new National Incident Management System (NIMS) fell under the auspices of the Director of Operations Coordination (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).

The threat of Hurricane Katrina off the Gulf Coast in 2005 prompted President Bush to declare “a disaster in advance of an emergency event for the states in the projected impact zone” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017) and caused DHS/FEMA to shoulder the responsibility.  Their response was a failure.

Obama’s appointee, W. Craig Fugate, designated victims of disasters as “survivors” and developed the Whole Community concept which emphasized “preparedness partnerships that had been developed among federal, state, local, private sector, voluntary, and non-profit entities” (Haddow, Bullock, & Coppola, 2017).  Involving people from all sectors of the community has increased the effectiveness of emergency management response to disasters.

The history and development of emergency management prove how events influence and shape government policies, departmental organization, leadership priorities, and government response to national emergencies.  When all citizens get involved, emergency preparedness and response protect communities and mitigate the costs of recovery.

Dawn Pisturino

Thomas Edison State University

August 8, 2019

Copyright 2019-2021 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

References

Haddow, G.D., Bullock, J.A., & Coppola, D.P. (2017). Introduction to emergency

       management. Cambridge, MA: Elsevier Inc.

National Park Service. (2017). Johnstown flood national memorial pennsylvania.

       Retrieved from http://www.nps.gov/jofl/index.htm.

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Remembering the Oklahoma City Bombing 1995

Oklahoma City bombing

Photo by By Staff Sergeant Preston Chasteen – Defense Imagery

The 1995 Oklahoma City bombing is considered “the deadliest and most destructive act of domestic terrorism” in American history. Using a fertilizer bomb which cost around $5,000, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols partially collapsed the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and “destroyed or damaged 324 buildings in a 16 block radius.” The glass shattered in another 258 buildings in a radius of 55 miles. Damages were estimated at $650 million. Deaths totaled 168 people, including 19 children in the building’s daycare center, and injured around 700 people.

The event did not affect Oklahoma City alone. The small town of Kingman, Arizona, the Mohave County seat, was suddenly catapulted into the national news when it came out that Timothy McVeigh had been living in Kingman just months before the bombing. His Army friend, Michael Fortier, helped him to plan the bombing. When the FBI raided his mobile home, they found over 100 detonators.

How do I know this? I live outside Kingman, Arizona. And Timothy McVeigh had lived in the Kingman area on and off for several years. He was an occupant at a particular motel in Kingman. He worked at a local True Value hardware store. At one time, he worked at a well-known casino in Laughlin, Nevada. My husband, who was a Pit Boss at the time, knew him as a fellow employee. McVeigh drove an old yellow Buick which I saw drive by our house on more than one occasion.

Timothy McVeigh had become friendly with well-known pro-gun, anti-government activists in the area. A few months before the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma bombings, strange things were happening around Kingman, Arizona.

A large fertilizer explosive device was exploded out in the remote desert near the living ghost town of Oatman, which has never been explained or solved. At least 2 bomb threats were called in to Black Mountain Elementary School in Golden Valley. The perpetrators were never caught.

After the Oklahoma City bombing occurred on April 19, 1995 (the two year anniversary of the end of the Waco, Texas stand-off), the FBI descended onto Kingman to investigate the Kingman connection. Residents responded to this invasion by selling T-shirts which read, “I Survived the FBI.” In spite of their presence and the investigation, I have always believed that some of the conspirators got away. They simply disappeared underground.

Could the Oklahoma City bombing have been prevented? Probably not. There was no way to predict that the strange happenings around Kingman would lead to such a major man-made disaster. They appeared to be random events. But hindsight suggests that they could have been exercises conducted by the conspirators, leading up to the BIG EVENT.

One thing is certain: “the Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995 . . . raised the issue of America’s preparedness for terrorism events.” Since emergency management as a discipline deals with risks, the avoidance of risks, and the consequences of risks, it made sense to include terrorism under the big umbrella.

FEMA was an independent agency then which had grown in status and importance under President Bill Clinton. As a result, the agency was able to respond to the bombing within 45 minutes of notification of the event. Section 501(b) of the Stafford Act gives FEMA primary authority to respond to a domestic disaster, and this authority was exercised for the first time with the Oklahoma City bombing. FEMA coordinated with the FBI to preserve and control the crime site. This experience helped to clarify responsibilities and authority in future disasters.

Oklahoma was well-prepared for the disaster. The immediate response was to publicly request the assistance of all medical personnel in the area. Volunteers and volunteer organizations, such as the American Red Cross, arrived to help. Hospitals set up triage stations. Local law enforcement and EMS personnel utilized their excellent training. The state of Oklahoma had already worked hard to perfect coordination between the Public Works Department, the National Weather Service, and the National Guard. The Department of Public Safety had already developed a strong disaster plan. The entire state was involved in responding to the disaster. This has been dubbed the Oklahoma Standard.

In the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, FEMA created Project Impact: Building Disaster-Resistant Communities which asked communities “to identify risks and establish a plan to reduce those risks.” This kind of community-based action is exactly what is needed to mitigate (prevent) events from happening and to keep communities prepared to respond effectively after the event has happened.

Source: Haddow, G.D., Bullock, J.A., & Coppola, D.P. (2017). Introduction to emergency

       management. Cambridge, MA: Elsevier Inc.

Dawn Pisturino

August 13, 2019

Copyright 2019-2020 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

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Remembering the Laughlin River Run Riot 2002

 

Laughlin River Run Riot 2

Laughlin is a small township in Clark County, Nevada which lies along the Colorado River, across from Bullhead City, Arizona. It takes about 25 minutes to drive from Laughlin to Needles, California. Laughlin boasts a constable and a handful of police officers. For intensive law enforcement needs, it relies on the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department – located 90 miles away in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Laughlin is known for its nine casinos and annual Laughlin River Run, a motorcycle gathering which began in 1983. On April 27, 2002, Laughlin made the national news when a deadly brawl broke out between two rival outlaw motorcycle gangs: the Hells Angels and the Mongols.

The Flamingo Hotel (now called the Aquarius) was host to the Hells Angels, while Harrah’s was filled with Mongols. Around 2:15 am on Saturday, April 27th, approximately 35 Hells Angels entered Harrah’s and verbally engaged with about 40 Mongols hanging out in Rosa’s Cantina bar. The brawl began when Hells Angels member Raymond Foakes attacked a member of the Mongols. Two Hells Angels died by shooting, and one Mongols member died by stabbing. Dozens of people were injured, including sixteen who were transported by EMS to Western Arizona Regional Medical Center in Bullhead City, Arizona and University Medical Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Police confiscated 50 knives and numerous guns.

There were about 140 police officers on patrol in Laughlin for the event. Police immediately shut down the town, closing off all exit routes. Hundreds of law enforcement officers and SWAT members arrived from Kingman and Bullhead City, Arizona; Needles, California; and Las Vegas, Nevada. The casinos shut down, stranding people wherever they were.

My husband was the Pit Boss on graveyard at the Golden Nugget, where tensions between the Hells Angels and the Mongols first flared. According to him, customers who were stranded there were given pillows and blankets and allowed to sleep around the pool.

Police interviewed more than 500 people, and surveillance tapes clearly showed what happened. They arrested several people. Harrah’s made counselors available to guests and employees and opened an information hotline. Then they re-opened the casino on Saturday afternoon. In fear of retaliation, the town was kept on tight security and police watch. Bikers who were free to leave left en masse on Sunday morning.

Harrah’s later lost a lawsuit which claimed that the casino knew about tensions between the two outlaw motorcycle gangs and did not do enough to beef up security. Harrah’s denied all responsibility.

The motives for the brawl were based on years of gang rivalry between the Hells Angels and the Mongols. A vendor selling Hells Angels gear was harassed by Mongols members at the event. A Hells Angels biker was found dead by police along Interstate 40 near Ludlow, CA. He was on his way home from Laughlin to San Diego. Police determined that he was killed about an hour before the riot.

The River Run Riot, as it is now called, spurred the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department to increase police presence, information sharing, and surveillance for future Laughlin River Runs. Officers from the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms manned checkpoints with special firearm-sniffing dogs to disclose hidden firearms. The curfew for juveniles from 6 pm to 5 am was continued, and glass and metal drink containers were prohibited.

The Laughlin casinos, which chip in to pay for security and law enforcement presence, increased their hotel prices and made the River Run much less friendly to outlaw biker clubs. The River Run began to draw fewer crowds, and some anti-Laughlin biker gatherings emerged. The costs became greater than the benefits, and the last Laughlin River Run was held in April, 2019.

The remarkable response by law enforcement to the incident minimized the deaths and injuries that could have occurred. The multi-jurisdictional cooperation between Arizona, Nevada, and California brought a number of people to justice and helped make towns and highways safer, during and after the event.

Dawn Pisturino

September 9, 2019

Copyright 2019-2020 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

Contact author for sources.

 

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