Toilet Terrorism: Commodes Explode at Department of Homeland SecurityDecember 10th, 2012
A while back, two employees from the Department of Homeland Security were injured while in the line of duty, no pun intended. The Washington Post reported that two toilets exploded in a Washington DC building shared by the General Services Administration and DHS. One worker was injured significantly enough to require hospitalization, but easily recovered.
No extremists claimed responsibility, as the explosion was not set off by Al Qaeda terrorists, but rather by faulty building maintenance. The control mechanism on the building’s water tank malfunctioned, causing a geyser-like blast to erupt from toilets. Shards of porcelain burst forth from the blast as projectiles, causing injuries in their wake.
Department of Homeland Security Embarrassed
US intelligence and security services have declined in credibility of late. Recently, CIA Director David Petraeus was forced to resign after surveillance measures revealed that he was compromising himself by engaging in an affair. The ATF and FBI have been implicated in the Fast and Furious scandal in which drug cartels were given assault rifles which were later used in attacks on US border guards.
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security has also been the subject of ridicule after the organization released reports suggesting that US military war veterans, supporters of third party candidates, homeschooling activists, and other groups of American citizens may be potential domestic terrorists. DHS has continued to make these types of claims in reports on an ongoing basis.
Building Security Not a Priority at DHS HQ
Hollywood depicts US intelligence and security facilities in high-tech splendor. Jack Bauer from the TV series 24 always got his briefings in futuristic facilities filled with fancy new tech. However, the reality is a bit more modest.
The building shared by DHS and GSA was built in the ’30s and has an outmoded plumbing system. Without proper maintenance, the building’s storage tank lost pressure, allowing the system to take on air. After the commode lines were packed with air, the next flush behaved like a lit fuse, unleashing the pressure in a blast.
This type of toilet explosion is rare in the plumbing world, but predictable given the system being used in the building in question. One would think that an agency charged with national security would have more intense maintenance and security procedures than other buildings. Plumbing affects a building’s water supply.
While this incident was hardly a massive disaster that disabled the security of the United States, it does serve to prove the humanity of DHS as a bureaucratic agency. Building maintenance is a basic function of any organization that manages the use of real estate. The integrity of buildings used by security personnel also has operational relevance — if DHS has such poorly maintained buildings, how can we be sure they are safe from attacks?
Once again, the Department of Homeland Security exposed itself as a disorganized, mismanaged agency incapable of accomplishing its primary mission.
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