After Times Square bombing, should New York get more anti-terrorism funding?
Historically vulnerable cities like New York claim they need more anti-terrorism funds. After Faisal Shahzad's attempted Times Square bombing, will the Department of Homeland Security agree?
On Tuesday, two and a half weeks after the botched Times Square bombing attempt, Faisal Shahzad finally appeared in the Federal District Court in lower Manhattan to be formally charged with five felony counts, including two that could lead to life imprisonment.Skip to next paragraph
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Mr. Shahzad was in court for an initial appearance which normally happens within a day or two of an arrest. But, the Justice Department says he has waived his right to a speedy court appearance and has been providing the government with what it termed “valuable intelligence.”
Neither he nor his attorney, Julia Gatto, a federally appointed defender, made any statements. The next legal step for Shahzad, a Pakistani-American might be a formal indictment or he might even plead guilty. Judge James Francis ordered he be held without bail.
But, in the weeks leading up to Shahzad’s official arraignment, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been raising questions about whether New York is getting its fair share of federal anti-terrorism funds.
“We never get our fair share,” he told a reporter in Washington on a recent visit. “The one thing we’ve got to make sure is that we don’t just willy-nilly give everybody Homeland Security money ... when they don’t really need it.”
Has Mayor Bloomberg found room for improvement in the funding system, or is he trying to get a larger share of the $2.7 billion that the Homeland Security Department proposes to spend on state and local antiterrorism activities in 2010?
Maybe he means it both ways.
After 9/11, Congress decided that every state should receive antiterror funds, whether or not it had experienced a terrorist attack or threat. This fiscal year, each state will receive at least $6.6 million. The total price tag: $842 million. A separate amount, adding up to about the same figure, will go to 64 urban areas.
Underlying this spending – and Bloomberg's assertion – is a basic issue: Should the money be spent where terrorists have struck before or anywhere a potential target exists?
"This is a politically charged issue," says Daniel Kaniewski, deputy director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University in Washington. "It's easy to make the argument that rural states and the Midwest should not get as much funding, but they need some level of funding to support their unique security challenges."
Many cities eligible for funding have nuclear power plants, refineries, deep-water ports, military bases, and airports – not to mention Internet hubs. One academic study picked Boise, Idaho, as a big potential terror target because it is situated 42 miles downstream from the Anderson Ranch hydroelectric dam.
But different priorities emerge if one looks at where terrorists have struck before. According to a study by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), more than half of all terror attacks in the United States since 1970 have occurred in New York or California.