Digital Version of March/April 2015
Digital Version of January/February 2015 Print Edition
New York’s terror funding cut despite recent attack
|Faisal Shahzad on tape|
Just weeks after yet another terrorist attack was narrowly averted, this time in midtown Manhattan, lawmakers in Washington, DC, have decided not to reconsider funding cuts for New York’s transit and port security grants. The announcement regarding funding cuts is expected to be made by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Thursday.
In that announcement, New York will see a decline in federal funds for public transportation from $153.3 million to $110.6 million. Port security funding will decline from $45 million to a smaller $33.8 million. The combined cuts in funding represent more than 50 percent less security funding than New York received for both programs last year.
Meanwhile, the California Emergency Management Agency announced May 14 that it is expecting to receive the same amount of security funding as last year.
And this, despite a team at Northwestern University announcing that, according to their research, New York’s anti-terrorism program is already under-funded by 33 to 49 percent.
Outraged politicians, including Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who was recently selected by the Republicans to lead the party’s new National Security Solutions Group, called the decision by Washington, “dangerous and unconscionable” and accused the White House of “playing games with numbers.”
“It’s an absolute direct slap in the face to the people of New York,” the Long Island congressman said.
“The Times Square attempt served as a wake up call for many, but apparently not for the Obama Administration… The threat against New York City, the top target of al-Qaida,” King said, “is increasing, not decreasing.
“New York should get first shot, because we’re the number one target,” he added.
In fact, according to a recent report released by the University of Maryland, when it comes to terrorism in the U.S., New York has been -- and remains to this day -- the most targeted city in America.
But DHS claimed the Big Apple will actually see an increase of $47 million in combined transit and port security funding because the state is receiving approximately $100 million in additional stimulus funding.
In a letter obtained by The Hill newspaper that was sent to New York lawmakers on May 14, Janet Napolitano wrote, “Let me assure you that DHS is thoroughly committed to supporting New York City's first responders and overall preparedness against acts of terrorism and other disasters. We recognize the unique security challenges that New York City faces.”
The note from the Secretary did nothing to quell King’s frustration. “This letter is a cheap political attempt by the Obama administration to cover up and hide the fact that it has shortchanged New York.”
But Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) still expressed dissatisfaction with the federal government’s decision. “When it comes to terrorism, there should be a bigger pie, and we should get a bigger piece of the pie in light of recent events,” he said
“Instead of distributing funding all over the country, they should focus their attention where the greatest threat exists, right here in New York.
“For the administration to announce these cuts two weeks after the attempted Times Square bombing,” Schumer continued, “shows they just don’t get it and are not doing right by New York City.”
Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) added his frustration to the fray. “Cutting Big Apple homeland security funding to the core is mind-boggingly bad judgment,” he said.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) also said she was “deeply disappointed by this news.”
Meanwhile, Mayor Michael Bloomberg was in London on May 11 looking into that city’s extensive network of security cameras, as a possible model for Manhattan. A network of cameras and sensors known as the “Ring of Steel” is already in place in Lower Manhattan, and there are plans currently underway to have the same network installed in and around the area where the alleged Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, had tried to implement his failed attack.
But how the Mayor plans on paying for the new cameras, if he does decide on installing a citywide system, is anyone’s guess.
“There is always the threat of terrorism,” Bloomberg said while overseas meeting with the London Police chief superintendent and transport commissioner. “That’s what really this is all about, in being able to deter, prevent -- and if God forbid something happens, apprehend -- the people that caused it.”