Lack of Attack Readiness Laid to Financing Delay by U.S.
Many state and local governments say they are unprepared to deal with a major terrorist attack because of Washington’s delay in providing them with billions of dollars in emergency-response aid that was promised shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks. The promised aid — a $3.5 billion package that President Bush announced more than a year ago, most of it intended to provide equipment and training to local police and fire departments — has been tied up on Capitol Hill since fall, a victim of partisan squabbles and Congress’s failure to complete a 2003 budget. While a budget that includes something close to the $3.5 billion was finally approved today by Congressional negotiators, it will take months for most of the money to reach state and local governments. Because of the delay, many large police and fire departments that expected to receive the extra federal aid last year say they have been forced to postpone or cancel the purchase of protective suits, biochemical detectors and communications equipment that would be used to respond to an attack that included weapons of mass destruction. Some cities say they have delayed counterterrorism training sessions for police officers and firefighters. Full Story