Monday, April 14, 2014

Marathon IED Drill Ran One Month Before Actual Bombings

Victory Post

One month before the Boston Marathon was attacked with improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the Massachusetts State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) hosted a Pre-Boston Marathon Tabletop Exercise. One of the exercise scenarios happened to be an IED explosion during the Marathon. This Lessons Learned document from FEMA details several exercises that were viewed as helping to prepare for the attacks that took place during the Boston Marathon. It states that, “on March 14, 2013, the MA State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) hosted the annual Pre-Boston Marathon Tabletop Exercise,” with a scenario, “focused on an IED explosion.”

Another Lessons Learned document from FEMA mostly repeats the previous one without the specific date, but makes clearer that the drill was for, “an IED incident during the marathon.”

This adds to several other examples of terrorism drills and exercises being planned and run during and around the time of the Boston Marathon.

Last year, a reliable eyewitness running the Marathon reported that there was a drill taking place during the event. Alastair Stevenson, the Cross Country Coach for the University of Mobile Alabama, had run numerous marathons but had never experienced the kind of security activities he saw going on at the Boston Marathon that day., an NBC affiliate from Mobile Alabama, interviewed the coach, who questioned whether there might have been some foreknowledge of the attack. Stevenson, told the local newscasters that, “they kept making announcements on the loud speaker that it was just a drill and there was nothing to worry about. It seemed like there was some sort of threat, but they kept telling us it was just a drill.”

The coach’s eyewitness account intensified concerns for many, that security officials had foreknowledge of the attacks and were not being honest with the public. The mainstream media virtually ignored this possibility and instead attacked those who dared to raise the issue. Numerous articles were written, mocking and deriding “conspiracy theorists” yet no major media wanted to talk to the coach from Alabama, whose story had helped spark the “theories.” The majority of the pieces written to debunk challenges to the official account just ignored the story completely.

Attempting to find out what other evidence existed of drills being run during the event, I spent several hours searching online and found statements from a Homeland Security analyst explaining that the Boston Marathon is secretly used to run disaster drills for training purposes. I posted an article on April 18th including the analyst’s statements, and other information I found, making clear that since at least 2007, emergency planners were holding disaster drills and terrorism exercises during the Boston Marathon without the knowledge of the participants or spectators.

In the article I included two presentations I dug up while searching government websites. Both are from the former Chief of Boston EMS, Richard Serino, who was appointed by Obama, as FEMA’s Deputy Administrator in 2009. The first presentation was dated from 2007 and mentioned the Boston Marathon being used in, “Planned Disasters” under the section, “Special Operations.”

The second presentation from 2008 titled, “Marathons – A Tale of Two Cities and the Running of a Planned Mass Casualty Event,” recommends utilizing, “special events and drills as opportunities to plan and train together…” The section titled, “Working with the Media,” states, “Their mission is to get a story. Building a longstanding relationship with journalists and reporters ensures that they get the right story and that they serve as a resource when needed.”

In the article, I highlight a quote from the former policy analyst stating, “Massachusetts is better prepared for a real disaster because every Patriot’s Day and Fourth of July is treated as a ‘disaster.’ He explains that organizers see these, “annual gatherings of hundreds of thousands of people” as perfect opportunities to, “evaluate new technologies” and “exercise disaster plans,” and that they are making the, “citizens of Greater Boston safer in case of a natural catastrophe or terrorist attack.”

Writing for, Lucien G. Canton suggests that the exercises being run during the Marathon were the reason there were so few fatalities in the attacks. He states that the, ”Boston EMS, as a matter of policy, treats the Boston Marathon and other large events as a mass casualty event. That means that all the equipment, facilities and staff required to respond to a mass casualty event were fully deployed at the time of the attack.” He clarifies that, “this does not mean they were ‘on alert’ or ‘on standby’ but were actually in the field…”

While researching Boston terrorism drills immediately after the attacks, the Operation Urban Shield training program kept coming up. I noticed that Boston had just ran the Urban Shield exercises in November of 2012, and doubted that they would have one scheduled so soon afterwards. Trying to find out when the Urban Shield exercise was scheduled for 2013, I checked the Boston Urban Shield website, but it was taken down at the time, showing only blank screens. Alternative news website, Truthstream Media covered the connection between Urban Shield and the Marathon attacks, highlighting how close the training exercises in 2011 and 2012 were to the real events. But no information had been released yet about Urban Shield 2013.

A few months later Anthony Gucciardi turned up an article from the Boston Globe which had acquired documents detailing plans for Urban Shield 2013. It turns out that, at the time of the bombing of the Marathon, officials in Boston were planning an exercise scenario that involved a domestic terrorist group that would plant backpacks full of explosives around Boston. The drills would require a massive collaboration of the very same law enforcement agencies using the same emergency response and investigation strategies that were required during the actual terror attacks.

Globe reporter Maria Cramer wrote, “before the training exercise was to take place, the city was hit with a real terrorist attack in frighteningly similar fashion.” The documents were given to the Boston Globe by an anonymous official who told them, “the real thing happened before we were able to execute.” The official chose to remain anonymous because the, “details of the planned exercise were confidential.”

The coincidences in the planning went further, “in the scenario, the terrorists would flee police in stolen cars…” and investigators, “would have to track down footage of the bombers caught by street surveillance cameras and the phones of ‘witnesses.’ “There were also false leads to keep investigators guessing,” the official told the Globe. Investigators in the drill, “would have to call on intelligence analysts to figure out which terrorist cell might be threatening the city.”

As amazing as the story was, I couldn’t find any other articles in the Boston Globe about it. No follow up, no statements from the groups running the program, no other coverage in the major media. There were plenty of articles attacking conspiracy theorists, and plenty of coverage of the most inane details of the attacks, but again they were silent on this particular story.

So how many IED drills were being run and planned around the race last year? And if these drills are so effective why aren’t the officials saying anything about them to the public? Was the Boston bombing a “dry-run disaster” that went live? Were the Tsarnaev brothers working as informants involved in a drill or as part of an FBI terror plot? As we approach the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Boston we are still waiting for the authorities to come clean on all the exercises and drills concerning the Marathon, and we are still waiting for the mainstream media to ask some questions.

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