Thunder and lightning are barreling over New York City as I write – a fitting backdrop to the storm of criticism which has greeted the Department of Homeland Security's 40% cut in anti-terror funds to New York City and Washington DC, the victim cities of 9/11.
The front page of The Daily News has called for DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff's resignation. According to Rep. Peter King (R-NY), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, the Bush administration has "declared war on New York." Michael Bloomberg, the city's outspoken Republican mayor and a major Bush fundraiser, pointed out "when you stop a terrorist, they have a map of New York City in their pocket. They don't have a map of any of the other 45 places [on the DHS list]."
Rupert Murdoch's right-wing New York Post called it "shocking" that "New York City will get its vital anti-terror funding chain-sawed from $208 million this year to $124 million next year – even though security experts agree it is vastly more threatened than any other city in the country."
DHS claims that cities with "shoddy or poorly articulated plans" had their grants cut. In fact, according to 60 Minutes:
No American city has done more to defend itself against a terrorist attack than New York. Its police department, 37,000 strong and larger than the standing armies of 84 countries, has transformed itself from a traditional crime-fighting organization into one that places a strong emphasis on fighting terrorism. A thousand cops have been assigned to work exclusively on a new "terrorism beat." And, in an unprecedented move, New York has even stationed its own cops overseas.
Police overtime and security equipment are equally important expenses for which federal help is needed, yet Homeland Security's grants are intended to be used only for infrastructure. Yet even infrastructure takes years to develop. It can't be planned and built when there's extreme budget uncertainty.
To claim that New York's anti-terrorism plan is "shoddy" is an insult to eight million Americans, and especially the NYPD that protects them.
Most absurd of all is DHS's determination that New York has – get this – no national monuments or icons. (Word on the street is that Hillary Clinton is sending Chertoff postcards of NYC landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and Empire State Building.) It's this claim that directly gives away the politics behind DHS's new "formula." New York City and Washington DC don't vote for Bush, so he and his administration have no use for them, their monuments, or their people.
The Executive branch of the federal government is the entity that's supposed to represent and protect all the people, not just certain constituents. Unfortunately it's currently headed by a man who knows only politics, and isn't even good at that. How can we be surprised when Bush's cronies play politics with anti-terrorism money when their role model is a man who took over 50 years to learn that "in certain parts of the world" "tough talk" like "bring 'em on" could be "misinterpreted"?
Chertoff needs to go, but so do Bush and Cheney – now, not in two and a half years.