Volume 19 • Issue 4 | June 9 - 15, 2006

Editorial

Reckless anti-terror cuts to New York

Protect the American people from terrorism.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s job is simple to state but somehow political appointees in Washington D.C. have gotten so caught up talking about “matrixes” and other nonsensical jargon that they have lost sight of what they are supposed to do. You’d think living in the nation’s capital, one of the two American cities most at risk to suffer a terrorist attack, would be enough motivation to take their jobs seriously.

The other city of course is ours — New York City, where federal anti-terrorism money is being slashed by 40 percent. Why did the feds do it?

It’s hard to figure out what goes through the minds of people who don’t think straight but there is reason to believe that political considerations played a role. The Daily News reported that Homeland’s assistant secretary, Tracy Henke, who oversaw this misguided process that relegated threats to a secondary consideration, was originally a recess appointment whom the Senate thought was too political for such an important job. The Republicans are desperate to keep control of Congress and it does appear the anti-terror money was spent politically, as Mayor Bloomberg, a Republican, has suggested.

It would be foolish to assume that there is no chance of an attack in Middle America and clearly some money should be spent around the country, but risks and actual threats must be the most important factor.

We can’t help but suspect that Homeland Security resents the justifiable praise N.Y.P.D. commissioner Ray Kelly gets for his extraordinary anti-terror efforts. We have taken Kelly to task for going too far at times, but no city in the country protects itself from terrorists better than New York.

It costs money. Homeland Security Michael Chertoff seems put upon because the city expects large federal grants every single year. But he won’t get any medals if there are no attacks three out of four years.

He and his aides have thrown out excuse after excuse. If they didn’t want to pay for N.Y.P.D. overtime to guard national targets then they could have asked Kelly to change the application to needed equipment.

Somehow Chertoff and Henke believe that there is no national monument or icon anywhere in the city. Here in Lower Manhattan alone we live near several potential targets including the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, the New York Stock Exchange, the Freedom Tower site and the W.T.C. memorial site. Islamic terrorists have attacked Lower Manhattan twice and we need to do all we can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

What should President Bush tell heads of state worried about whether their diplomats will be safe living in New York and working at U.N. Missions?

“It’s really up to the city to make sure your people are safe because I won’t provide the money needed to protect them,” or “I know Al Qaeda wants to attack New York again so I have given the city everything it needs to protect your citizens and mine.”

The answer should be easy, Mr. President.


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