Take Notice: The 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar

January 9, 2014

2014-NCTC-Counterterrorism-Calendar-spiral-boundIf you didn’t catch the Washington Post “In the Loop” article by Al Kamen this week entitled “Counter terror calendar 2014 is out!,” you’ll be pleased to know that yes, the 2014 edition of the National Counterterrorism Center’s annual Counterterrorism Desk Calendar is now available for ordering on the U.S. Government Bookstore.

Image: Cover of the 164-page 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar from the National Counterterrorism Center depicts the 2013 bombings at the Boston Marathon. Photo Credit: David L. Ryan / Boston Globe.

The goal behind the Counterterrorism Calendar is to educate and inform both professionals– first responders, military, intelligence, law enforcement and other counterterrorism personnel– as well as civilians about the threats of international terrorism and how to prevent, respond or mitigate these threats against the United States both at home and abroad.

History of U.S. Government Inviting Citizen Involvement in Domestic Security

Since its founding, America has had a history of inviting its citizens to participate in its own defense. Even with the danger of British sympathizers turning them in, brave revolutionaries posted recruiting posters on behalf of the Continental Congress such as the one below that invited Americans to “Take Notice” and help General Washington and the Continental Army defend against “the hostile designs of foreign enemies.”

revolutionary-war-take-notice-recruiting-posterImage: This Revolutionary War recruiting poster urged brave and able-bodied young men to “take notice” and join forces with General Washington and the Continental Army in the fight against “foreign enemies,” in this case, the British. Photo Credit: Bettmann/CORBIS

In World War 2, the Federal Government issued numerous similar domestic campaigns reminding citizens that it was their civic duty to “defend America” and inviting citizens to help support the war industry and to be vigilant against spies, saboteurs and other actions by the enemy both at home and abroad.

Defend-American-Freedom It's Everybody's-Job- World War II 2 propaganda poster for civilian workersImage: U.S. Government World War II propaganda poster urging civilians to participate in the war effort. Source: University of North Texas Digital Library

Today, the war is a War on Terror, and the U.S. Government still needs involvement and vigilance of its citizens and allies, whether in the United States or abroad, to identify and protect against terrorists.

The 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar

Under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the National Counterterrorism Center or NCTC serves as the primary organization in the U.S. government for integrating and analyzing all intelligence possessed or acquired by the U.S. government about international terrorism, including data from U.S. Federal agencies like the CIA, NSA, Defense Intelligence Agency, and the FBI as well as other domestic and international sources.

First published in a spiral-bound daily planner format in 2003, just two years after the World Trade Center attacks, the Counterterrorism or CT Calendar from the NCTC is published annually. According to the NCTC, their 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar:

…provides information on known terrorist groups, individual terrorists, and technical information on topics such as biological and chemical threats.This edition, like others since the Calendar was first published in daily planner format in 2003, contains many features across the full range of issues pertaining to international terrorism: terrorist groups, wanted terrorists, and technical pages on various threat-related topics.

Features of the Calendar

In addition to serving as a desk calendar / event planner, the 164-page 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar also serves as a tutorial on international terrorism and a gallery of “most wanted” terrorists.

The right-hand page of the planner has the event planner dates along with key historical events of significance to terrorists that might be used to plan future terrorist activities. For example, on January 8, 1998, terrorist Ramzi Ahmed Yousef was sentenced to life plus 240 years for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombings.

On the left-hand pages are photos, maps and/or data on terrorists and terrorist organizations around the world, from Africa and the Middle East to Europe and the Americas.

Map-Somalia-based-al-Shabaab-terror-attacksImage: Map denoting locations of major terrorist incidents likely committed by the Harakat Shabaab al-Mujahidin—commonly known as al-Shabaab, a “clan-based insurgent and terrorist group” operating in and around Somalia. Source: NCTC 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar

“Terrorism tutorial” information ranges from cultural—details about the Islamic Calendar; the spelling of Arabic names and terms; lists of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs), and logos used— to technical –  information about Chemical-Biological-Radiological-Nuclear-Explosive (CBRNE) weapons commonly used by terrorists, from suicide bombs to sarin gas, and how to detect and mitigate them.  For example, who among us would recognize the terrorist threat from these innocent-looking beans?

Castor-beans-used-to-make-ricinImage: Photo of castor beans from which the deadly toxin ricin is extracted. Ricin is poisonous if inhaled, injected, or ingested. Source: NCTC 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar

“Wanted” Terrorists

Providing the real drama of the calendar are the full-page “Wanted” poster-style pages of an individual terrorist, complete with photo (if available), aliases, his terrorist activities, the reward offered, and how to report information about him.

One of the largest rewards, $25 Million, is offered for information leading to the capture of Ayman al-Zawahiri, also known as “The Teacher” or “The Doctor” who is a physician and the founder of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad. According to the CT Calendar:

“This organization opposes the secular Egyptian Government and seeks its overthrow through violent means. Al-Zawahiri is believed to have served as an advisor and doctor to Usama Bin Ladin. He has been indicted for his alleged role in the August 7, 1998, bombings of the US embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. The embassy bombings killed 224 civilians and wounded over 5,000 others.”

Wanted-page-of-terrorist-Ayman-al-Zawahiri-of-Egyptian-Islamic-JihadImage: Extract from the “wanted” page of Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaida leader and founder of Egyptian Islamic Jihad. Source: NCTC 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar

Civilian Involvement

Finally, the NCTC carries on the civilian involvement tradition by including instructions for citizens of the U.S. and other countries on how they can help fight terrorism. Pages on” Indicators of False Travel Documents”, “Radicalization”, and how U.S. residents can report suspicions are provided. Additionally, the  Rewards for Justice (RFJ) Program is described in detail, wherein the U.S. Secretary of State may offer rewards for information that prevents or favorably resolves acts of international terrorism against US persons or property worldwide.

On the last page is a Bomb Threat Call Procedures form with valuable details of questions to ask and information to note about the caller, such as his or her voice (accent, age, tone, language) and background sounds. Did you note if the caller was clearing his throat or had an accent? Were there sounds of machinery in the background? What kind? Any and all details could help law enforcement.

Aspects-to-note-about-Bomb-Threat-CallerImage: Table from the Bomb Threat Call Procedures form. Source: Page 160 of the 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar.

Forewarned is Forearmed

Like the tradition of the best Government civilian campaigns since the founding of the Nation, the National Counterterrorism Center’s annual Counterterrorism Calendar is simultaneously meant to alert and inform us, making both civilians and professionals alike aware of the very real dangers around us and educating us on what—and whom—to look for. With the cover photo depicting the 2013 bombings at the Boston Marathon– where ordinary citizens were instrumental in identifying and locating the terrorists responsible– the importance of having an informed and involved citizenry has never been clearer.

How can I get a copy of the National Counterterrorism Center’s 2014 Counterterrorism Calendar?

About the Author: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


Go-to Guide on Hazardous Materials for First Responders

November 2, 2012

After my electrical power was restored late last night in northern Virginia following Hurricane or Superstorm #Sandy, I was caught up with images of the devastation that has affected millions from the Caribbean up the East Coast and even to the Midwest of the United States. Even the first floor of my house where I used to live in New Jersey on the Hudson River across from Manhattan was flooded. (Our best wishes go out to everyone affected by the storm!)

As in so many emergencies, the heroes of Superstorm #Sandy are definitely the first responders from firemen, police, National Guard, and emergency medical personnel  who rushed to deal with emergency situations even while the storm was at its height. These first responders have to rush into extremely hazardous conditions, often with live power lines, broken gas lines, or work around sewage, spilled chemicals, or other pollutants, such as is happening in Hoboken, all while trying to save lives.

IMAGE: Hazmat personnel (at back in yellow) test contaminated water around half-submerged cars float in a flooded parking lot in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in New York City. (Credit: Justin Lane/EPA)

Published by the experts at Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) in conjunction with Transport Canada, the Emergency Response Guidebook 2012 is the newly updated guide for use by transporters, firefighters, police, and other emergency services personnel who may be the first to arrive at the scene of a transportation incident involving a hazardous material or “Hazmat” as it is usually referred to in the United States.

The Emergency Response Guidebook 2012, or ERG as it is known popularly to those who use it, provides first responders with a go-to manual to help deal with hazmat accidents during the critical first 30 minutes. PHMSA’s goal is to place one of these ERGs into every emergency service vehicle nationwide.

While the subtitle is: “A Guidebook for First Responders During the Initial Phase of a Dangerous Goods/Hazardous Materials Transportation Incident,”  it can be used during any emergency incident where hazardous materials are present.

The Guidebook is organized to provide first responders individual pages or guides on how to deal with each kind of hazardous material. It recommends a three-step process:

  •  STEP ONE: Identify the HAZARDOUS MATERIAL by finding either the Name of the Material or the Identification Number (4-DIGIT ID after UN/NA) of the material from a placard or orange panel on the container or from the shipping paper or package.
  • STEP TWO: Identify the 3-digit GUIDE NUMBER in this guidebook that corresponds to the material name or number.
  • STEP THREE: Follow the GUIDE INSTRUCTIONS carefully on the corresponding orange-bordered numbered guide page.

IMAGE: Fully-suited hazardous materials first responders at a chemical spill drill.  The 4-digit Hazardous Material Identification Number 2880 is clearly shown on a placard on the tanker. Credit Guy McCarthy

How to use the ERG 2012

Here is the cross-reference to the Guide number to follow for the above hazardous material # 2880, which we find is Calcium hypochlorite, corresponding to Guide number 140 in the ERG.

IMAGE: Cross-reference for hazardous material ID number to the ERG Guide number.

Looking up Guide number 140, we find that water is to be used to deal with this particular material, not dry chemicals or foams such as from fire extinguishers. Each Guide page also discusses how to handle small or large fires of this material, fires involving whole tanks for trailer loads, spills or leaks of this material, and first aid for anyone injured by this substance.

The ERG 2012 also provides guidance for responding when the hazardous material is unknown, with a Table of Placards and Emergency Response Guide to Use On-Scene.

Whom do the first responders call?

Since first responders can’t have the answers to every time of hazardous material incident, the guide provides a list of toll-free, 24-hour emergency response hotlines to call for the United States and U.S. Virgin Islands, and numbers to call for incidents involving military shipments with explosives, ammunition or other dangerous goods, as well as CBRN (Chemical-Biological-Radiological-Nuclear) incidents and terrorist or criminal incidents involving IEDs (improvised explosive devices), pipe bombs, car bombs, suicide vests and more . It also includes numbers for all provinces in  Canada, including bilingual French-English phone numbers, and hotline numbers for Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and Colombia.

And finally, a terrific glossary of terms helps decipher some of the jargon.

Firemen, bomb squads, CBRN teams, police, emergency medical personnel, military police and other first responders  have a hard enough job to do without risking their lives dealing with broken pipelines, overturned tankers, bombs, spills, and other hazardous materials. Fortunately the Department of Transportation provides this excellent tool to help keep them—and us—safer. That’s something we can all respond to.

HOW DO I OBTAIN Emergency Response Guidebook 2012”?

  • Buy a print copy online 24/7 at GPO’s Online Bookstore. NOTE: Save 60% off the original price of $28. Now only $10.
  • Buy it at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.

Find this and other books for Emergency Management and First Responders under the Security, Defense & Law Enforcement category on our new online bookstore.

About the Author:  Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


Hawks vs. Doves: The Joint Chiefs and the Cuban Missile Crisis

October 18, 2012

50 years ago this week, the world stood on the brink of nuclear war as the Cuban Missile Crisis unfolded. The United States finally decided to first blockade rather than immediately attack Cuba to prevent the Soviet Union from finishing installation of missiles that could reach the continental United States. This article introduces the little-known story of the battles between the “hawks” and the “doves” in the Kennedy Administration as related in a new publication, The Joint Chiefs of Staff and National Policy, Vol. 8, 1961-1964.

When President John F. Kennedy finally announced the naval blockade of Cuba and the reasons for it on national television, Americans huddled together, practiced nuclear drills, and prayed for some peaceful solution to prevent all-out nuclear war. Only decades later did the full story of brinkmanship, bravado and brilliance come out about what really happened behind the scenes during those two weeks.

Image Credit: The Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records

A little known side of the story comes from the top military commanders who were serving the Kennedy administration during the crisis, found in the surprisingly fascinating book titled The Joint Chiefs of Staff and National Policy, Vol. 8, 1961-1964, from the Office of Joint History of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Kennedy Administration

This accounting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during this tumultuous period in the history of American foreign affairs goes beyond the normal third party historian’s post mortem, since the author was actually able to meet with several members of the joint chiefs in the 1970’s to add more of their personal insights, including Admiral Arleigh Burke, Admiral George Anderson, General Lyman Lemnitzer, Chairman during 1960-1962, and the Chairman who succeeded him, General Maxwell D. Taylor.

Image: President John F. Kennedy meets with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Photograph includes: (L-R) United States Marine Corps General David Shoup; United States Army General Earle Wheeler; United States Air Force General Curtis LeMay, President Kennedy; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Maxwell Taylor; United States Navy Admiral George Anderson. West Wing Lawn.  White House. Washington, D.C. Credit: Robert Knudsen. White House Photographs. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston

What results is an interesting amalgam of history and a peek into the tensions between military joint chiefs and the civilians to whom they reported. Describing the relationship of the Kennedy administration and the military establishment, author Walter S. Poole says: “During 1961-1962, relations between the JCS and their civilian superiors were often awkward and even confrontational” particularly between Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara and Lemnitzer.

The old-school Joint Chiefs were concerned about the new approach to foreign policy being espoused by the Kennedy administration, and tensions grew. According to the author:

“What most concerned the JCS was an apparent erosion of US credibility that emboldened communist leaders to pursue more adventurous policies. President John F. Kennedy and Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara pursued what they conceived as more flexible approaches to strategy and crisis management.”

Quick Background on the Cuban Missile Crisis

In 1962, the Soviet Union was losing the arms race with the United States. In late April 1962, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev conceived the idea of placing intermediate-range missiles in Cuba to double the Soviet strategic arsenal and provide a real deterrent to a potential U.S. attack against the Soviet Union from the Jupiter missiles the U.S. had just placed in Turkey.  Ever since the failed Bay of Pigs invasion the previous year, Fidel Castro felt a second attack by the U.S. on Cuba was inevitable, so he agreed to host the missiles as protection.

Image: Initial U.S. intelligence estimates of possible U.S. targets within range of the nuclear-capable Soviet SS-4 medium-range ballisticmissiles (MRBMs) and SS-5 intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) found by the U-2 spy plane surveillance photographs if they were launched from Cuba.  Credit: Bettmann/CORBIS

On October 15, 1962, the National Photographic Intelligence Center confirmed that secret reconnaissance photographs from an American U-2 spy plane flight the day before were finally able to definitively prove the suspicion that Soviet medium-range and intermediate-range ballistic missiles capable of hitting Atlanta, the Midwest, Washington, DC, and even Los Angeles and Seattle were indeed in place and in the process of being installed and ready in Cuba within days. In response, President Kennedy and Secretary McNamara assembled the Executive Committee of the National Security Council call “ExComm” as a task force that, together with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and experts from the State Department and other intelligence agencies, would debate the United States’ options to deter the Soviets from nuclear escalation.

To Blockade, Strike or Invade?

Earlier in September 1962, after cloud-obscured U-2 photos had hinted at Soviet build-up in Cuba, the Joint Strategic Survey Council had submitted a recommendation for blockading rather than invading Cuba, on grounds that a blockade would be less dramatic, require smaller resources, cause fewer casualties, and be more plausibly related to upholding the Monroe Doctrine. In his 1823 annual message to Congress, President James Monroe had established this doctrine followed by the U.S. ever since that warned European countries not to interfere in the Western Hemisphere, stating “that the American continents… are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.

However, as the crisis unfolded, the primary debate among the military commanders of the Joint Chiefs was over whether to carry out an all-inclusive attack against Soviet and Cuban forces on the island or a surgical strike confined to just attacking the missiles themselves, the nuclear storage sites, and Soviet MiG planes.

Both President Kennedy and McNamara thought that an all-inclusive attack would inevitably lead to invasion of Cuba, and then possible counter-attacks elsewhere by the Soviets or escalation to all-out war.

But General Taylor reported that the Joint Chiefs and the combatant commanders felt “so strongly about the dangers inherent in [only] the limited strike that they would prefer taking no military action. They feel it’s opening up the United States to attacks which they can’t prevent, if we don’t take advantage of surprise.” Taylor added that his personal inclination was “all against invasion, but nonetheless trying to eliminate as effectively as possible every weapon [present in Cuba] that can strike the United States”.

According to the reports by the author, the Joint Chiefs were opposed to only attacking the medium-range ballistic missiles themselves, saying it would incur “an unacceptable risk” and that not attacking the enemy’s planes would expose the continental United States and Puerto Rico to air attack and could cause unnecessary casualties among the garrison at Guantanamo and the forces assembling for invasion.  Instead, the JCS initially recommended “also hitting tactical missiles, aircraft, ships, tanks, and other appropriate targets, as well as imposing a ‘complete’ blockade.


Image: A meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Security Council in the Cabinet Room during the Cuban Missile Crisis, October 29, 1962, 10:10-10:58am. Clockwise from left: Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy (standing); Assistant Sec. Defense Paul Nitze; Dep. USIA Dir. Donald Wilson; Special Counsel Theodore Sorensen; Exec. Sec. NSC Bromley Smith; Special Assistant McGeorge Bundy; Sec. Treasury Douglas Dillon; Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson; Ambassador  Llewellyn Thompson; William C. Foster; CIA Dir. John McCone (hidden); Under Secretary of State George Ball (hidden); President John F. Kennedy; Sec. State Dean Rusk; Sec. Defense Robert McNamara; Dep. Sec. Defense Roswell Gilpatric; Chairman JCS Gen. Maxwell Taylor. Credit: Photo by Cecil Stoughton, JFK Library ST-A26-18-62

The Blues vs. the Reds

Even more fascinating was the story of the war gaming techniques used. To quickly develop two alternative scenarios for the President to consider, the ExComm task force split into two groups that constantly exchanged position papers and critiqued each other’s work. The “Blues,” who were to prepare the scenario for a surprise air strike, included General Maxwell Taylor, Robert Kennedy, Treasury Secretary Douglas Dillon, Director McCone, Dean Acheson, and McGeorge Bundy. The “Reds,” drafting the blockade option, included Chief of U.S. Naval Operations Adm. George Anderson, Marine Corps Commandant David Shoup, Secretary Rusk, Deputy Secretary Gilpatric, and Theodore Sorensen.

Image: On October 11 last week, certain documents from Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy’s personal papers about the Cuban Missile Crisis were declassified. In it was the above personal list of who RFK thought among the ExComm were the “Hawks” who favored an air strike (shown in the right column labeled “Strike”) vs. the “Doves” who favored a blockade of Cuba (in the left column). Note that the “Chiefs” meaning the Joint Chiefs of Staff along with General Taylor are shown on the “Hawks” Strike side of his list on the right.  Source: The National Security Archive

In less than two days, two complete scenarios were prepared and presented to President Kennedy on October 20, with competing input coming from the Pentagon and the State Department.

From this insider accounting of events, we learn that the Chairman thought that the probable sequence of events to be green-lighted would be: a political approach; a warning; air attack on the missile sites; blockade; and, if necessary, invasion, with the earliest air strike date set for October 21 (optimally the 23rd), and an invasion to begin on October 28.

However, to find out exactly what happened and how the drama played out behind the scenes, pick up a copy of this fascinating book.

HOW DO I OBTAIN The Joint Chiefs of Staff and National Policy, Vol. 8, 1961-1964”?

  • Buy it online 24/7 at GPO’s US Government Online Bookstore.
  • Buy it at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.

Find this and other Government publications about Cuba in our Cuba collection.

About the Author:  Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


Four Decades since Détente and SALT

May 18, 2012

Forty years ago next week marked a historic point in Soviet-American relations. On May 22, 1972, President Richard Nixon landed in Moscow for an unprecedented week-long summit with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, Premier Alexei Kosygin and other Soviet officials that culminated in the SALT I Treaty and marked the height of the détente era.

In honor of this four decade anniversary, I thought I’d write about an insightful publication by the State Department entitled “Soviet-American Relations: The Détente Years, 1969-1972 that covers this important period that marked a détente or a “thawing” of Cold War relations between the two superpowers.

Extremely interesting are the forewords by both Nixon’s Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin. In them, they talk about their personal relationship that forged “The Channel” of communications between the two governments that finally led to the breakthrough in negotiations.

Kissinger reminisces:

On March 25, 1971, according to the transcript of a telephone conversation with Soviet ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin, I remarked: “When we are both out of government service, which will be a lot later for you than for me, I hope you will let me read the reports you send in on me.” … My remark to Dobrynin was an interlude in what evolved into almost daily exchanges. What was later named “The Channel” began as a general exchange of views. Starting in 1971, the Channel became the principal venue for U.S.-Soviet relations.

Don’t change “The Channel”  

According to Kissinger in “The Détente Years”, “The Channel” became one of the pathways of change, and “produced a number of significant agreements”, including:

  • an agreed approach on Strategic Arms Limitation (May 1971);
  • the conclusion of an agreement regarding access to Berlin (September 1971);
  • the announcement of a Soviet-American summit agreement (October 1971); and
  • President Nixon’s visit to Moscow (May 1972), at which agreements, the most important of which were a treaty regulating Ballistic Missile Defense and a five-year freeze on deploying additional offensive strategic weapons, were concluded. The two sides also published an agreed statement on principles of international conduct.

Image: Nixon and Brezhnev shake after signing the SALT treaty on May 26, 1972 (Source: Corbis Images).

Pass the SALT, please

The highlight of the publication is the discussion about the lead-up and issues during the Moscow Summit and the final negotiations of the SALT I Treaty.

SALT I, the first series of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, had begun in November 1969 to explore ways to halt or reduce the arms race, particularly nuclear weapon proliferation. This week of meetings from May 22 to 26, was set up after those years of negotiations to finalize and sign a number of agreements that increased cooperation and reduced the mutual nuclear threat between the two nations.

Image: Nuclear Limits. (Source: Time Magazine, 1972)

On May 26, Nixon and Brezhnev signed the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I), the most significant of the multiple agreements reached during the Moscow summit. The terms of the SALT treaty limited the USSR and the United States to only 200 anti-ballistic missiles each, which had to be split between two defensive systems.

One good (hand)shake leads to another

Among all the handshakes at this Moscow summit was another for the “Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on Cooperation in the Fields of Science and Technology” which laid the groundwork for the first joint Soviet-US space flight. Called the Apollo Soyuz Test Project or ASTP, the ASTP flight lasted only nine days from July 15-24, 1975, but led to another famous handshake… this time in space.

Image: Photo of the famous handshake between Astronaut Thomas P. Stafford (f.g.) and cosmonaut Aleksei A. Leonov after a successful linkup in space of the Americans’ Apollo and the Soviets’ Soyuz spacecrafts on July 17, 1975  (Source: NASA ASTP gallery).

Innovation = Bureaucratic dismay

All in all, this publication provides unique insights from the players involved about the diplomatic communications and procedural changes and innovations that were put in place on both sides to eliminate the logjam in relations between Soviets and American administrations since the end of World War II. And sometimes these changes were done “outside” the normal processes.

As Kissinger explains in the book:

Paradoxically, the Channel worked best so long as the bureaucracy did not know of its existence. While that was the case, the participants in the interdepartmental machinery had an incentive to adjust their positions toward what they thought was feasible; in general, no one wanted to assume responsibility for failure by inflexibility…

For all the bureaucratic dismay it caused, the Channel was an innovative attempt to transcend the formalities of an increasingly bureaucratized diplomacy. It helped contain crises, saw America through a period of domestic divisions and sketched prospects for a more peaceful world.

HOW DO I OBTAIN “Soviet-American Relations: The Détente Years, 1969-1972”?

  • Buy it online 24/7 at GPO’s Online Bookstore.
  • Buy it at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.
  • Find it in a library.

About the Author:  Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (Bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


Vote for the top Government news story of 2011

December 26, 2011

2011 was a momentous year in Federal Government-related news and as such, it was a banner year for important Government publications, as demonstrated by our 2011 Year in Review collection available from the U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO).

But which Government news story was the most significant, in your opinion? Vote in our poll below, and then see the publications that follow that relate to these important stories:

Note 1:As of January 27, 2012, this poll is NOW CLOSED with the final results showing above, but feel free to click on the SHARE THIS link to pass on the results to others.
Note 2: This is a non-scientific user poll. Results are not statistically valid and cannot be assumed to reflect the views of the Government Printing Office customer as a group or the general population.

Following are the Federal Government publications that relate to each of these important 2011 stories:

2011 News Story   Related Federal Publication(s)
9/11 tenth anniversary   Ten years have passed since that tragic day, but the memories are still strong. 2011 saw some excellent publications about that day, including a 10th anniversary edition of Pentagon 9/11 and a reprinting of the 9/11 Commission Report, all of which you can find in our 9/11 Collection: A Decade of Remembrance.

Assassination of Osama bin Laden  FBI Terrorism Research and Analysis Project (TRAP) A Navy SEALS team located and killed Osama bin Laden this year, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks and many other Al Qaeda and insurgent terrorist attacks. This 2011 publication, Terrorism Research and Analysis Project (TRAP): A Collection of Research Ideas, Thoughts, and Perspectives, V. 1analyzes causes and possible responses to terrorism as presented at the FBI Terrorism Research and Analysis Project (TRAP) Symposium of international academics and law enforcement personnel.

Death of North Korea’s Kim Jong Il   The recent death of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Il, marks an uncertain time for the Korean Peninsula and the entire region. North Korea: A Country Studyreviews the history and the dominant social, political, economic, and military aspects of contemporary North Korea before this.

Deep Water BP Gulf oil disaster report  Deep Water: The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling, Report to the President, January 2011 In January of this year, the National Commission on the BP (British Petroleum) Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling released its controversial Deep Water: The Gulf Oil Disaster and the Future of Offshore Drilling, Report to the President, January 2011. This best-selling publication offers the fullest account available of what happened in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010 and why, and proposes actions, changes in company behavior, reform of government oversight, and investments in research and technology that will be required to avert future disasters.

End of the war in Iraq  Battleground Iraq: Journal of a Company Commander There is an interesting White House timeline about the Iraq war at the end of which is a link to the Joining Forces initiative with which one can express one’s support for the troops. GPO’s bookstore has a number of books about Iraq, but two stand out as best-sellers. Battleground Iraq: Journal of a Company Commander gives a realistic account by Major Todd Brown of his experiences as a U.S. Army company commander in Iraq from April 2003 to March 2004. Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experienceexamines the Iraq reconstruction experience, and provides 13 take-away lessons for future contingency relief and reconstruction operations.

  • Buy them in our online bookstore:

a)      Battleground Iraq: Journal of a Company Commander

b)      Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience

Japan earthquake and tsunami  Field Operations Guide for Foreign Disaster Assessment and Response Natural disasters were big in the news this year, and the Federal Government was involved in responding to them, from the National Guard in the U.S. to foreign response teams overseas. For example, in response to the tragic earthquake and resulting tsunami and nuclear reactor problems in Japan, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) that included disaster response experts, urban search and rescue teams, and nuclear experts from the U.S. Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The Field Operations Guide for Disaster Assessment and Responseis used by USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) for DART teams and other disaster assistance personnel when responding to foreign disasters like the Japan situation.

Last Space Shuttle flight  NASA and Space Shuttle publications including "Wings-in-Orbit" 2011 marked the end of NASA’s three-decade long space shuttle program when, on July 21, the final space shuttle mission ended with the shuttle Atlantis rolling to a stop at its home port, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA has published a number of terrific books about the program which you can find in our NASA and Space Shuttle Publications, along with a new set of beautiful color bookmarks, one for each shuttle and the best-selling Wings in Orbitbook.

U.S. economy and the Federal budget  Books about Government and Politics, including the Federal Budget and the Economy It seems every newscast this year has covered the US economy, Federal Government budgets and deficits and differing opinions about options to address them. You can find the President’s original budget submission published this year and subsequent analyses and responses to it in our collection of Books about the Government and Politics, including the Federal Budget and the Economy.

How can you find even more Federal Government publications? We have assembled many collections of Federal publications on our year-round Gift Guide and in our Special Collections page on GPO’s online bookstore.

About the Author: Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (Bookstore.GPO.Gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public. 

 


Are We Really Prepared for the Worst?

July 13, 2011

Guest Blogger Matthew Brentzel takes a look at the capabilities of U.S. Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) response teams.

Every so often, I look back on those horrific atrocities committed on September 11, 2001.  I remember being in middle school, where the teachers were reluctant to inform us of what was going on.  I also remember the news stories questioning the capability of our country to deal with such a catastrophe.  Although we are surrounded by fear and uncertainty in trying times, we can always find relief by looking towards the brave men and women that put their lives on the line for the good of our country.

Events like this have occurred before.  I’ve heard stories from my grandparents about Pearl Harbor and the impact it had on history.  We can all agree that these events were truly awful, but we must also accept the fact that we live in troubled times and events like these may be minor compared to the crises that could occur.  Are We Prepared?: Four WMD Crises that could Transform U.S. Security, by the Center for the Study of Weapons of Mass Destruction takes a stab at discussing this heated topic in a serious but effective manner.

I really want to stress “serious, but effective.”  Through a series of four crisis scenarios, Are We Prepared? looks at such issues as nuclear proliferation, the release of chemical weapons, and even a nuclear explosion in a major city.  Perhaps most of us are more inclined to worry about preventing these events rather than preparing to respond to them, but there are times when prevention is not enough and response is necessary.  While reading this book, at first I was taken aback by its willingness to accept the possible losses in one of the scenarios, but this approach enlightens the reader by stressing the high importance of applying appropriate countermeasures. This clear, concise report delves into four different crisis simulations in detail, including preventative measures and how we can be ready to counter such events.  It also goes on to discuss the policy implications of each of these crises for the United States as a whole.

Perhaps the frightening subject matter may prevent some from reading it, but Are We Prepared? documents what we need to do to succeed in the future against an enemy for whom we perhaps can never be fully prepared.  In addition, although at first I was reluctant to believe it, this book helped me realize that we will be able to move on as a nation even though the events it describes could severely alter our future.  The only question is, “Are we prepared?”

If you are interested in politics or international relations, you can find this fascinating book on the US Government Printing Office online bookstore or browse it in a library.


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