Yesterday's attempted terrorist attack on London mass transit — coming just two weeks after a successful terrorist attack killed 50 — has once again raised the question of what the U.S. is doing to protect its mass transit systems.
Rather than address that, however, the White House and the Department of Homeland Security have instead tried to spin comments made July 14 by DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff.
The strategy: Chertoff was misunderstood (by everyone). He really does care about the safety of millions nationwide that use mass transit daily.
Chertoff, you may recall, explained to the Associated Press why mass transit security should take a back seat to aviation security: "A fully loaded airplane with jet fuel, a commercial airliner, has the capacity to kill 3,000 people," he said, evoking 9/11 imagery. Then, he added words that infuriated urban leaders nationwide: "A bomb in a subway car may kill 30 people."
Why would Chertoff say such a thing? We have to assume he was following some larger Republican gameplan on how to spend Homeland Security dollars, for on the same day, the Republican-controlled Senate nixed two amendments to increase mass transit spending. Since the Madrid train bombing last year, Senate Republicans have now stopped five pieces of legislation regarding mass transit spending, including two proposed by Republicans.
But that brings us to the 24-hour news cycle following yesterday's attack. Seems some in the media wanted to know if now, after yesterday's attempted London attack, did Chertoff stand by his inane comments?
And wouldn't you know it, DHS and the White House, as if coordinating, tried to spin what Chertoff said.
DHS spokeswoman Valerie Smith told The Jersey Journal that the secretary understands the need to provide a well-rounded system of security.
"The Department of Homeland Security is concerned about all risks and vulnerabilities and is at work addressing each of them with the unique solution that each requires," said Smith, noting that part of Chertoff's comments were not included in the AP report.