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2006-06-08 / This Week's Attitude

This Week's Attitude Imbeciles At DHS Made A Terror-ble Decision

By Neil S. Friedman

Less than five years after terrorists destroyed the Twin Towers and other World Trade Center structures in lower Manhattan, and a portion of the Pentagon in the nation's Capitol, the brilliant minds at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) decided to cut anti-terror funding to those cities.

In its infinite wisdom, the DHS, headed by Secretary Michael Chertoff, last week announced New York and Washington, DC, most notably, would have anti-terror grants slashed 40 percent each. Chertoff added that the department's entire budget was trimmed, so these cuts, which affected other municipalities, were necessary.

The verdict more or less echoes President Gerald Ford's refusal to help bail out the Big Apple 30 years ago when it was on the verge of bankruptcy. Reading between the lines, the Daily News interpreted that decision with the headline: "Ford to New York: Drop Dead."

Nonetheless, the ostensibly subjective decision begs the question, "Why was New York the target of the biggest cut?"

One of DHS's lame excuses was that New York City has no national icons or monuments. Are they out of their @!~#$&* minds? How do I list them, let me count the ways - alphabetically, chronologically, or order of importance? Let's see, there are the Statue of Liberty, possibly the ultimate depiction of freedom around the world; the Brooklyn Bridge, the 118-year-old span has been the site of one terror attack and target of another plot; the Empire State Building, long known as the world's tallest building - only to be displaced by the now-obliterated Twin Towers - is the foremost symbol for New York state; the United Nations; Wall Street, the hub of the world's financial markets, and last, but not least in the hearts of Yankee fans, the one and only House That Ruth Built in The Bronx.

There you have it, Mr. Chertoff, just a small list of New York's iconic landmarks off the top of my head. Perhaps he's never been to any of them, but that doesn't make them any less significant or symbolic than the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument or the White House.

And, how could Chertoff forget that eight years after terrorists failed to bring down the Twin Towers, they returned - and finished the job. If Chertoff and the bozos at DHS don't think New York is still a primary, secondary or, at least, a tertiary Al Qaeda target, then they must be complete imbeciles.

One of the reasons given for the reduction of funds was that New York's anti-terror plan is unacceptable to DHS advisors. OK, that's fairly reasonable. But wouldn't it have been more prudent for Department of Homeland Security bureaucrats to confer with local officials about what they deem as the problem and make sure the city had time to meet their standards so the funds could be restored? Cutting the grants only exacerbates the dilemma and puts the citizens of the Big Apple more at risk.

It's been reported that DHS has been upset with the city government and law enforcement ever since the city developed its own anti-terror strategy to safeguard the transit system in the wake of the Madrid subway bombings without consulting them. But, presumably, New York City's anti-terror task force figured it could act more swiftly and judiciously than if it had to wait for the snail's pace of federal bureaucracy to jump in.

Created in the wake of September 11, 2001, the Department of Homeland Security has essentially been a bastion of bungling bureaucracy. Just look at how unhurriedly and badly it, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), performed last year in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Sadly, Homeland Security funding has been un-fairly disbursed from the outset. Consider the latest examples, according to a New York Times report: each New York resident is allotted $2.78, while Vermont and Alaskan residents each get $17.24 and $11.54, respectively. Wyoming's budgeted for $14.83 per person. Do DHS dummies really think maple syrup, snow and whatever's in Wyoming's vast open spaces deserve more protection than New York's numerous potential targets? In contrast, cities such as Louisville, KY, Omaha, NE, and Charlotte, NC, got 40 percent anti-terror funding increases. Maybe those cities needed more funds, but New York City, certainly a more feasible target, certainly doesn't deserve less.

Immediately following the announcement, Long Island Republican Congressman Peter King and Democratic U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton jointly expressed their ire over the anti-terror fund reduction.

Other past and current New York politicians soon joined the fray. Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani this week blasted the funding cutback by "incompetent bureaucrats." New York's senior U.S. Senator Charles Schumer said Monday he would introduce legislation that would require DHS to distribute terror funds according to risk, "not pork-barrel politics." Locally, State Senator Carl Kruger announced he planned sponsoring a resolution in Albany condemning the president's "slap in the face" to New Yorkers.

To compound the situation, on Sunday the federally-administered Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that the city's bio-terror funding would also be reduced - up to 15 percent.

Some New Yorkers are now wondering if the administration in Washington is bashing this blue-state city in retribution for not supporting its policies.

Well, if the feds can slash funds that may help keep New York safer and reduce the risk of another terrorist attack, then perhaps when New Yorkers submit their 2006 income tax forms next year, we should deduct 40 percent of what we owe to Uncle Sam in protest.

Just as the devastated portion of lower Manhattan was labeled Ground Zero that number now represents the sum total of common sense for those Department of Homeland Security officials who signed off on the new distribution of antiterrorist funds.

Their decision is not only dumb, but awfully terror-ble!

Brings to mind something Mark Twain once said: "Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it."

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