Dear Black Bag Confidential Reader,
I’m sure most of you are busy with food shopping or house cleaning or packing to visit relatives this week, but please take a moment to check out these five must-read articles.
There’s plenty of valuable information, including one extra step you should take to stay safe for the holidays.
The tragic combination of drought, civil war and lack of support from the international community has drastically intensified the humanitarian crisis in Syria. It’s gotten to the point where doctors are burdened with the unthinkable task of deciding whose lives they are able to save with their limited supplies and dwindling staff. It’s a travesty that any nation must endure this heartbreak, and I certainly hope a situation like this never develops in the United States. But you never know what might happen, so it’s important to be ready for anything. Food and water storage is a critical piece of emergency preparedness. For water, you should stockpile one gallon per person per day. For food, I’d recommend making a 30-day meal plan, factoring in all three meals each day. That will be a good indication of what food you need. If you generally use a cup of rice for dinner each night, you’ll need 30 cups of rice for 30 days of storage.
Mother Nature can be a cruel and unpredictable mistress. Any number of natural disasters could force you to leave your home — wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes — sometimes with little to no warning. Which is why you need to be ready to leave your home, and leave your home fast, at a moment’s notice. In an emergency situation, I believe everyone ought to be able to evacuate from their home in 10 minutes or less. You should establish a simple, straightforward plan and designate everyone’s roles and responsibilities ahead of time. And be sure to do a dry run (or several). If you’ve made the proper arrangements, you shouldn’t have any problem getting out of your house in under 10 minutes.
A good buddy of mine who’s worked in the intelligence business for 38 years wrote an interesting piece about the election for my Spy & Survival Briefing newsletter last month. (If you’re not already a subscriber to my newsletter, click here.) He said that after working under several different administrations, “Republicans tend to support intelligence officers more than Democrats. And they give us more leeway to utilize our skills. Democrats limit a lot of things that we’re allowed to do and make it much more difficult to gather the intelligence we need to keep our country safer. What’s more, Republican presidents divert more money to ICF (intelligence contingency funds) for operations and work assets — basically, intelligence officers can do what they’re meant to do.” Now that we’ve got Republican-led executive and legislative branches, we will see if intelligence officers get the funds and the freedom they need to squash terrorism both in the U.S. and abroad.
I’m a huge proponent of privacy. Unfortunately, it’s becoming harder and harder to protect one’s privacy in public spaces. In your home and online, however, there are plenty of things you can do. One of the simplest precautions you can take is taping a piece of paper over the webcam on your computer. Criminals can easily hack your webcam and spy on you in your most intimate moments. And if a common criminal can do it, the government could too.
To ensure that everyone makes it home to their loved ones for the holiday, each one of us needs to be on our very best driving behavior. As an added safety measure, be sure you have a 72-hour kit in the car for each member of your family. If you encounter unexpected winter weather, or your car breaks down for any reason, you’ll want to be prepared in case help can’t reach you immediately.
And speaking of the holiday, Black Bag Confidential won’t be publishing on Thursday, so please enjoy a restful and delicious Thanksgiving Day. We will resume normal publishing next week.