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DHS Runs Out of Pork Loin (Update & Bump Up)

The Department of Homeland Security yesterday slashed anti-terrorism money for Washington and New York, part of an immediately controversial decision to reduce grant funds for major urban areas in the Northeast while providing more to mid-size cities from Jacksonville to Sacramento.

The announcement that the two cities targeted on Sept. 11, 2001, would suffer 40 percent reductions in urban security funds prompted outrage from lawmakers and local officials in both areas, who questioned the wisdom of cutting funds so deeply for cities widely recognized as prime terrorist targets. The decision came less than five months after Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff unveiled changes in the grants plan intended to focus funding on areas facing the gravest risk of attack. […]

Homeland Security’s grant programs have drawn criticism from cities both large and small; many have felt slighted by what they maintained was a haphazard and unfair distribution plan. This year’s round of grants was supposed to ensure that enough money goes to areas at highest risk of terrorist attack by employing risk scores, effectiveness tests and 17 “peer review” panels consisting of homeland security professionals from 47 states.

But department officials struggled yesterday to defend the latest outcome even as lawmakers in both parties denounced them. Most experts and many government officials had expected that the new review process would lead to more money, rather than less, for major terrorist targets such as Washington and New York.

So many targets I don’t know where to begin. Let’s start with the easiest first . . .

It would be nice to think that DHS actually came up with a sound and well-vetted formula for allocating funds that also had some kind of subject-matter-expert governor that could adjust any runaway math that might produce dodgy outcomes, but when you read that they’ve calculated that NYC has no national monuments or icons any confidence that once existed begins to wane.

Having said that . . .

Nothing against any city fathers that didn’t get a big enough plate of spare ribs but try to get something into your head: it isn’t about you and it isn’t about your city. I love politicians and experts jockeying for front-runner status in the future-target pageant. They’re “shocked,” they’re “stunned” and they “scoff” and the decisions being made about what they are sure are still prime terrorists targets. While it is true that terrorists like big cities, they like monuments, they like symbolism . . . they also like shock and horror and lots of dead bodies. If it is too hard to make that happen in Charm City or Murderopolis they’ll head to the Corn Palace or Carhenge because that’s where they can act. Dead Americans in Danville and dead Americans in Philly are still dead Americans: Allah is pleased either way.

Al-Qaida isn’t one restaurant anymore; it’s a franchise. You don’t need a lot of money to join and hell you don’t even need a letter from the home office. This means a future that is less likely to see 9/11 II and more likely to see little Fallujahs coming to a town near you (with a domestic 7/7 somewhere in the middle). You don’t have to take my word for it; talk to anyone working AT/CT in the domestic arena (off the record) and they’ll tell you what time it is.

Who is (or bloody well should be) prepared for crisis of ANY kind, terrorism or otherwise? Major metro areas! If you haven’t established, tested, re-tooled and re-tested your defenses and responses by now then shame on you. Did you learn nothing from Katrina? Uncle Sam’s reach is only so far and it only arrives so soon. He’s been doing his part for four+ years; time to share some of the pain.

The sad part is that DHS, warranted or not, is going to get the screws put to them by the check writers. You think the fiscal dance related to the bridge to nowhere was irritating . . .

Update: Captain Ed provides additional details, including some simple math that indicates DHS used a paring knife, not a chain saw. He also reminds everyone that DHS gets its money from Congress, which makes the representatives from the various aggrieved states seem a little foolish for in effect shortchanging themselves.

I on the other hand submit that it isn’t simple foolishness, but perhaps a bi-polar disorder that is in play. How else to explain the fact that Congress may have short-changed the Department because their ability to figure out how to spend the money might be less than ideal?

Only in DC . . .

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji

Michael Tanji spent nearly 20 years in the US intelligence community. Trained in both SIGINT and HUMINT disciplines he has worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, and the National Reconnaissance Office. At various points in his career he served as an expert in information warfare, computer network operations, computer forensics, and indications and warning. A veteran of the US Army, Michael has served in both strategic and tactical assignments in the Pacific Theater, the Balkans, and the Middle East.