Should We Just Give Up and Die Now, Save Worry and Handwringing?

You know, from time to time I receive emails from the US Embassy regarding closures, hours of service changes and (not within recent memory) legitimate issues I should be aware of as a US citizen.  But this mail, received on Friday the 13th, my time, has got to take the cake.  I mean if the world is really this dangerous, is it even worth breathing?

A clear case that illustrates what I say about what our once fearless and proud society has become that perhaps makes some Americans wonder …  folks, we didn’t used to be this way.  Skulking in the shadows and afraid of our own shadow.  My little miniature Schnauzer, Otto, who sometimes hides under the bed during lightning storms is certainly braver, overall, than the guys and gals at the State Department who feel that warnings like this are needed by American citizens.  I think they missed a couple serious concerns in their warning.  People have been killed ort injured by chunks of “blue ice”falling off aircraft on the way to the airport … and I also heard that breathing in tobacco smoke is hazardous to our health too … didn’t see those clear and present dangers addresses.  Everything else imaginable?  Yep, and a little more.

How to Move to the Philippines Manual

The original mail was all crowded together and hard to read … I’ll spread it out a bit so you can read it easier and lie awake and worry all night as I now will (NOT)

U.S. Embassy Manila

Warden Message

August 12, 2010




August 12, 2010

The Department of State has issued this Worldwide Caution to update information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world.  U.S. citizens are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness.  This replaces the Worldwide Caution dated February 12, 2010, to provide updated information on security threats and terrorist activities worldwide.

The Department of State remains concerned about the continued threat of terrorist attacks, demonstrations, and other violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests overseas.  U.S. citizens are reminded that demonstrations and rioting can occur with little or no warning.  Current information suggests that al-Qaida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in multiple regions, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.  These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics including suicide operations, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, and bombings.

<<<< Ever ask yourself, if they know so much about these guys, how come, with the billions in no-bid contracts for private mercenary forces, the clandestine forces of the CIA, the Department of State’s own clandestine forces, PLUS the entire US military and our allies, we still have done virtually nothing for years now, except send out emails alleging “current information”? >>>

Extremists may elect to use conventional or non-conventional weapons, and target both official and private interests.  Examples of such targets include high-profile sporting events, residential areas, business offices, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, public areas, and locales where U.S. citizens gather in large numbers, including during holidays.

U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure.  Extremists have targeted and attacked subway and rail systems, as well as aviation and maritime services.  In the past several years, attacks have occurred in cities such as London, Madrid, Glasgow, and Moscow.

<<<< Notice that according to this, no city or country, with the possible exception of Antarctica is safe? >>>>

Credible information indicates terrorist groups seek to continue attacks against U.S. interests in the Middle East and North Africa.  For example, Iraq remains dangerous and unpredictable.  Attacks against military and civilian targets throughout Iraq continue.  Methods of attack have included roadside improvised explosive devices, mortars, and shootings; kidnappings still occur as well.

<<<< Damn, and here I was planning a leisurely vacation in Iraq.  I mean are they so stupid that they think you and i are dumb enough to know that an active war zone might be a little unsafe to travel in? >>>>

Security threat levels remain high in Yemen due to terrorist activities there.  The U.S. Embassy has had to close several times in response to ongoing threats by Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).  U.S. citizens have been the targets of numerous terrorist attacks in Lebanon in the past and the threat of anti-Western terrorist activity continues to exist there.  In Algeria, terrorist attacks occur regularly, particularly in the Kabylie region of the country. In the past, terrorists have targeted oil processing facilities in both Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

<<< Another example of the extremely obvious.  Likewise a perfect example of how our country deals with threats .. we close the embassy and scurry inside, that’ll teach the bad guys who is boss >>>

A number of al-Qaida operatives and other extremists are believed to be operating in and around Africa.  Since the July 11, 2010, terrorist bombings in Kampala, Uganda, for which the Somalia-based, U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility, there have been increased threats against public areas across East Africa.  The terrorist bombing in two public venues in Kampala, which resulted in 74 deaths, highlights the vulnerabilities of large public gatherings in East Africa and around the world. Additionally, the terrorist group, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has declared its intention to attack Western targets throughout the Sahel, which includes Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, and has claimed responsibility for kidnappings, attempted kidnappings, and the murder of several Westerners.

U.S. citizens considering travel by sea near the Horn of Africa or in the southern Red Sea should exercise extreme caution, as there has been a notable increase in armed attacks, robberies and kidnappings for ransom at sea by pirates.  Merchant vessels continue to be hijacked in Somali territorial waters, while others have been hijacked as far as 1,000 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia, Yemen, and Kenya in international waters.

The U.S. government maritime authorities advise mariners to avoid the port of Mogadishu, and to remain at least 200 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia.  In addition, when transiting around the Horn of Africa or in the Red Sea, it is strongly recommended that vessels travel in convoys, and maintain good communications at all times.  U.S. citizens traveling on commercial passenger vessels should consult with the shipping or cruise ship company regarding precautions that will be taken to avoid hijacking incidents.  Commercial vessels should review the Department of Transportation Maritime Administration’s suggested piracy countermeasures for vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden.

<<< Another huge example of the obvious.  Don’t worry, though, effective countermeasures are being taken against these pirates by, among others, the Chinese navy.  Yep, you got it.  We’ll sit and watch US-flagged vessels get attacked and depend upon the Chinese to protect American citizens.  I watched a show about cruise ships the other night and one of the drills the crew has to practice is to shoot fire hoses at potential pirate boarders.  According to some idiotic, gutless rule, American merchantmen are now not allowed to carry weapons of any kind.  Whose brilliant peace initiative was that.  Disgusting.

Did you also notice the impeccable logic in the advice to mariners?  Since merchant ships have been attacked as far as 1,000 miles off the Somalia coast, mariners are advised to remain at least 200 miles off the costs.  Why is that, to save the pirates having to otherwise expend the 1600 miles round trip fuel they would otherwise have to expend?  I mean if you are going to issue a warning, at least have a purpose behind it … like since the pirates have a known range of a thousand miles, wouldn’t remaining 1200 miles off the cost have some safety merit?  I guess I am totally ignorant in the ways of the sea, or government warning logic. >>>>

The U.S. government continues to receive information that terrorist groups in South and Central Asia may be planning attacks in the region, possibly against U.S. government facilities, U.S. citizens, or U.S. interests.  The presence of al-Qaida, Taliban elements, Lashkar-e-Taiba, indigenous sectarian groups, and other terror organizations, many of which are on the U.S. government’s list of foreign terror organizations, poses a potential danger to U.S. citizens  in the region.  Terrorists and their sympathizers have demonstrated their willingness and capability to attack targets where Americans or Westerners are known to congregate or visit.  Their actions may include, but are not limited to, vehicle-born explosives, improvised explosive devices, assassinations, carjacking, rocket attacks, assaults, or kidnappings.

Some examples include Pakistan where a number of extremist groups continue to target U.S. citizens and other Western interests and Pakistani officials. Suicide bombing attacks continue to occur throughout the country on a regular basis, often targeting government authorities such as police checkpoints and military installations, as well as public areas such as mosques, and shopping areas.  In Afghanistan, remnants of the former Taliban regime and the al-Qaida terrorist network, as well as other groups hostile to International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)/NATO military operations, remain active.  There is an ongoing threat to kidnap and assassinate U.S. citizens and Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) workers throughout the country.  In India there is a continuing threat of terrorism as attacks have randomly targeted public places frequented by Westerners, including luxury and other hotels, trains, train stations, markets, cinemas, mosques, and restaurants in large urban areas.

Supporters of terrorist groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, al-Qaida, the Islamic Jihad Union, and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement are active in the Central Asian region.  Members of these groups have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and have attacked U.S. government interests in the past.  Previous terrorist attacks conducted in Central Asia have involved improvised explosive devices, suicide bombings, assassinations, and kidnappings.

Foggy Bottom metro sign <<< geez, Uzbekistan and Eastern Turkistan and even Afghanistan, were they wantonly murder innocent medical aid workers requires a special world-wide notice to “inform the (clueless) American public”?  Interesting enough, they don’t issue any warnings regarding the hazards of doing humanitarian relief work around Israel … I suppose getting the crap beat out of you by a Us “ally” isn’t as painful and dangerous as if it had been an attack by al-Qaida.  They also, this time, seem to have completely ignored the Philippines (perhaps a first), where the MILF and other al-Qaida-backed groups have been operating with virtual impunity for years, and were undisclosed American forces operate combat support missions on a daily basis.  Very selective in their warnings and areas of interest these folks from Foggy Bottom. >>>>

Before You Go

U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security.  U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  By registering, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency.

U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal security.  For additional information, please refer to “A Safe Trip Abroad.”

U.S. government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert.  These facilities may temporarily close or periodically suspend public services to assess their security posture.  In those instances, U.S. embassies and consulates will make every effort to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens.  U.S. citizens abroad are urged to monitor the local news and maintain contact with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

As the Department of State continues to develop information on any potential security threats to U.S. citizens overseas, it shares credible threat information through its Consular Information Program documents, such as Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as Country Information. In addition to information on the Internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, outside the United States and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Friday, Eastern Time (except U.S. federal holidays).

American Citizens Services
U.S. Embassy, Manila, Philippines
Telephone: (63 2) 301-2000  extensions 2246 or 2567
Fax: (63 2) 301-2017

<<<< OK, enough editorializing.  I’ve complied with my civic duty and the request of the department of State to pass the information on to all US citizens in my organization.

Can’t write any more, I have to crawl under the bed with Otto and drag my computer in their with me, anybody know if I can book a flight to Antarctica? >>>>


  1. says

    Of course they issue this after I book my flights. They must have just been waiting for that :-)

    The problem is, if there ever were a real threat how would we know the difference when this kind of communication is standard now. Would it be “Worldwide Caution, No Really We Mean it This TIme”?

    • says

      Exactly. It’s like a background drone of traffic when you live near a freeway … you’ll never even notice it after a few days, then someone else will come visit and say, OMG, what’s that noise? Using up time and resources to tell people it might be dangerous to travel in Iraq strikes me as a pretty lame waste of time, even for a government swivel servant, which I were for many years.

  2. Bruce Michels says

    I understand that you have to aware of your surroundings, but I think the State Department is trying to involk a sense of paranoia within the American Public
    so they will tuck tail and run home. I believe they are trying to instill they feeling that
    the world is a blood thirsty place and Americans are on the top of the list.
    Heck they been giving warnigs like this scince I was in the Navy 20 yrs ago, did it stop us saliors nope. Besides who would want to go to those arm pits anyway.
    You know from what I read you have a better chance of being killed,assualted ,robbed or any number of crimes here in the USA than in a foreign country. Maybe they want you to stay home so they can tax you more and once you die by natural or unnatural causes they can put the inheiritance tax on you.

    • says

      Yeah it’s about time I wrote a ‘safety and security’ article again. You know the last year I lived in the US my home was broken into three times. The first year I lived in the Philippines, there were six murders within five miles of my former US home. After that, I kinda quit counting. In spite of our Stalwart State Department, I count safety and security as one of the big plus factors about living in the Philippines.

    • says

      I dunno, Laurence, some of those rides at Disney World are pretty scary ….. better tag them, Parental Discretion Advised 😉

  3. Jade says

    I have worked on a number of private merchant ships chartered to the US govt transiting the Persian Gulf – Aden – Red sea segment of the passage. These ships have a locked gun locker on the bridge. This should not be a surprise. There are pee-wee league sized baseball bats for anyone use in the engine room and the bridge. There is a navy contingent of escort personnel on board for this passage. I do not think think that I am giving out any secrets. This should be obvious.
    Hope that I do not get myself in any trouble for relaying my observation.

    • says

      Thanks for that update, Jade. It’s good to know there is at least some provisions being made. I have to say this whole piracy thing lately mazes me. Fighting a war to try to enforce democracy on a people is one thing … a difficult thing, and one with many views and opinion. But boarding and shooting at vessels in international waters. That has been a clear cut crime in any nation’s book and it ought to be dealt with swiftly and forcefully. there’s no excuse at all for the molly-coddling, pacifist way we are dealing with the situation today … naval force is there to be used against clear and present criminal acts.

  4. John in Austria says

    The US isn’t the only country that issues these warnings. I know you can find them on the Canadian government website and most likely on UK site as well. They all seem to be worded the same as well – a common writer?

    • says

      They all copy each others websites, John 😉 One day here in the Philippines I was watching a public service announcement on the TV regarding an incoming storm. Some of the precautions/preparations advised were to keep your car full of gas, carry extra blankets and clothing and to make sure you had property inflated snow tires and tire chains in the trunk? Huh?!?!?!? At the end of the segment was the USA FEMA logo, it was clearly just downloaded from FEMA’s site without even a review by the channel broadcasting it.

      Tire chains? Mmm, I used to swear by a brand called “Weed V-Bar” chains, wonder if they are available at my local auto supply store?

  5. chasdv says

    The world has always been a dangerous place if we act foolishly.

    As George Carlin once said: “I believe nothing the government tells me,nothing,zero”.
    regards Chas.

  6. jody says

    I wonder does anyone issue warnings to those souls who travel in the vicinity of Camden, NJ.

    Holy Cow.

    I guess more gunfire is heard in Camden in one night than in all of the Philippines during an entire decade.

    I guess i might have to hire some mercenaries the next time I drive down to Philly and have a Blackwater Team on standby in case I need to be extracted from hostile territory.

    • says

      You’ve got that right, Jody. When I was in the military and stationed in south Jersey I had a part-time job moving cars on and off the docks in Camden and South Philly. It paid well, but I quit it and found something different, becuase I had two little kids at home and I didn’t like the danger aspects of driving new cars in some of those neighborhoods by myself. I guess I’m just a bit of a chicken. I often think of those days when I get queries from people about how I cope with living in the “dangerous” Philippines.

      So many Americans don’t know their.our own country, a country with the highest percentage of the population in jail of any country in the world, and a LOT more people who ought to be in jail, but basically just take territories of our larger cities and make them their own … Blackwater wouldn’t deal with some of the places Camden cops have to …
      Blackwater is a commercial company who can pick and choose their battles, our law enforcement establishment in the US doesn’t have Blackwater’s luxury of choice (or firepower).

  7. jody says

    Better still. Why not a division posted to the Patterson Area with instructions to keep the interstate open at all times

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