Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Chertoff to cities: Drop dead

July 14: Saying his department "must drive improvement with a sense of urgency," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff
outlined plans yesterday to revamp his unwieldy department, including support for a push to change its funding formula so states more vulnerable to terrorist attacks would get a bigger share of the pie[, the Baltimore Sun, quoting Newsday, reported]. ...

Chertoff said he hopes to improve security at the nation's borders, ports and airports. He wants to speed up new technologies to detect bombs and better coordinate information-sharing with local officials.
July 15: AP reported that
[i]n New York and other big cities, commuters were fuming Friday after learning of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff's remarks that cities will have to pay to protect trains and buses because airplanes are a higher priority.

The federal government is temporarily footing the extra nearly $2 million a week New York is spending to move police officers from around the city into the transit system in the wake of the London terror attacks.

But in the long term, cities will be largely on their own when it comes to securing trains and buses....
New York City's mass transit system alone serves about 7 million riders a day and has already been the target of two attempted attacks. The Heritage Foundation, in the course of one of its periodic attacks on Amtrak, says that
[b]etween 1998 and 2005, about 183 attacks succeeded on rail targets, resulting in about 630 deaths and several thousand injuries. Any train operator should know that rail systems have become a popular target for terrorism.
I'm sure the train operators do know; unfortunately, Chertoff doesn't.

Adding insult to injury - or, I suppose, it was actually adding injury to insult - on Thursday the Senate approved
a $31.8 billion Homeland Security spending measure that rejected a plan to spend $1.16 billion on mass transit, favoring instead a competing $100 million proposal.
That is a 91% cut.

Chertoff rolled out the standard talking points about "priorities" and the airplanes-as-weapons line, but we know the real reason: Chertoff and his fat cat cronies don't ride buses. They don't take the subway. But they do fly. And besides, all those people on mass transit? They're all, like, you know, city people and who cares about them? They're not real Americans, anyway.

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