July 12, 2006

"Bean fest, but not Times Square... insect zoo but not the Statue of Liberty."

This really is shameful.

27 comments:

Gerry said...

You have to read the article to find it, but the states submitted lists of their vulnerable sites.

Times Square is not on there because NY didn't list it. The ant farm is because Indiana (or whichever state it was) did.

And when you have one state being stupid by not listing things that clearly should have been, and another listing things that clearly should not have been, you end up with really shameful disparities.

bearing said...

How did that happen? Did every state submit their own lists, and the feds just concatenated them?

Ann Althouse said...

So, Gerry, the Department of Homeland Security is just a mindless receptacle?

MadisonMan said...

I'm shocked, shocked I tell you, that a Federal Bureaucracy could foul something like this up!

It seems silly that the DHS would just accept at face value the lists sent by States. Surely they'd recognize there'd be padding by the States to increase funding!

Gerry said...

Not completely mindless-- if I am reading the story right, they took the lists and tried to assess them by risk and consequence, and found the results "unreliable." So at least they recognized they had compiled something that was not really useable.

They have that going for them.

The questions I have are along the lines of why they accepted the lists as-is, without doing some sort of sanity check and sending them back to the states for revision.

Internet Ronin said...

The Department of Homeland Security is a joke, it should never have been established. The damage it does to our security probably dwarfs whatever good it does, as this example demonstrates.

Bean festivals and ant farms? This completely clueless lunacy ranks right up there with INS giving Mohhamed Atta his green card six months after he flew the plane in the WTC. One should know better, but doesn't anyone working there know how to exercise judgment?

On second thought, maybe they do and this is the result.

Mike said...

I think Gerry's got it right. The conclusion of the first paragraph says "...the department's internal watchdog found." So they asked for lists, they got them, studied them, and found them wanting. What's shameful about that? Unless, Ann, you mean it's shameful that Florida, for example, submitted the ant farm. If that's what you mean, I agree 110%. Why aren't the people who would propose such a waste of tax dollars embarrassed by such behavior?

mcg said...

"I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you."

Wade_Garrett said...

I try to give the Bush administration a lot of leeway on security issues, even though I disagree with their social agenda. But, as a New Yorker, I feel as if my state, and other blue states, have really gotten short changed. A lot of important potential targets in New York, California, Michigan, and Massachusetts have been left off the list, or were added to the list only at a very late date. Furthermore, homeland security dollars are allocated to states based on their representation in the House, not by the number of potential targets. So, red states with few if any targets (i.e. Idaho and Kansas) get far more anti-terrorism dollars per capita than New York. Its shameful.

Right now I am living in Brooklyn, and working on Broadway and Wall Streets. I pass more potential terrorist targets on the way to work in the morning than, I don't know, 50 of 75% of Americans see in a year. It bothers me that my safety has been turned into a political football. Call me a Bush-hater, but something tells me that if the Empire State Building was in Texas, it would have been on that list.

Wade_Garrett said...

I think what she's saying is that it is shameful that it took this long to find and correct the error. 9/11 was almost five years ago.

Edmund said...

The largely unreported aspect to the story about HS "cutting" grants to New York and Washington, D.C. is that the grants were based on an evaluation of applications for specific projects sent in by states and local governments. The one detailed story I read said that NY and DC sent in quite a few crummy grant applications which were not funded. I guess they thought they would be able to get by on reputation, rather than doing the hard work of writing a good grant proposal.

Mike said...

Terry said: Furthermore, homeland security dollars are allocated to states based on their representation in the House, not by the number of potential targets. So, red states with few if any targets (i.e. Idaho and Kansas) get far more anti-terrorism dollars per capita than New York. Its shameful.

I agree completely, but I'd bet the ranch the problem lies with politics as usual in Congress. They appropriate the money, and Homeland Security has to get their budget passed. From this, to inappropriate spending of money meant for New Orleans levees, to Bridges to Nowhere, Congress thinks that tax revenue is pork to be divved up amongst themselves. And I don't see any likelihood that it will ever stop.

Christy said...

Yes, the states should have done a better job, but the states' submittals should have been merely a first step.

But what can you expect when federal agencies have someone like Deb Frisch as director of Decision, Risk and Management Sciences at the National Science Foundation. (If that indeed be true. There seems to no longer be such an organization within NSF.) Is she is an example of the sort our government turns to in helping set up risk assessment ....

It looks as though Homeland Security had no criteria for evaluation at all. Isn't this a tacit admission by them that they know they are a boondoggle with no real relevance?

XWL said...

I think this particular AP report (and the previous one about 'funding cuts') is dishonest.

NYC and DC, especially around major cultural institutions and sites, already have about as tight security as can be expected in a free society.

There have been massive expenditures in both places before and after the attacks on 9/11, on all levels, federal, state and local.

There is a limit to the security that money can buy, and I think that limit has been reached at places like the Statue of Liberty, and Congress, and Wall Street.

Not including those sites on a list of places that need more work and more funding doesn't mean that their protection doesn't remains a priority, it simply means that improving their security isn't as large a priority as securing other possible targets that exist throughout the country.

I'm sure there is a different list of expected targets, with likelihood of attack, and kind of attack, for every major facility across the nation.

These things the AP choose to report are just lower level political wrangling and infighting within the agency, but the real plans and lists are things that should be kept more secret, hopefully.

I don't want to know what we consider the top targets to be, and what the most likely type of attacks are expected to happen or cause the largest casualties, cause if the LAT or NYT prints that list, then the behavior of those actually planning to attack would change, and the chances of some place being targeted that wasn't prepared to thwart an attack would end up increasing dramatically.

Much of what the DHS does shouldn't be too open to public scrutiny, there should be oversight, but there shouldn't be too much public knowledge of specific details about the why, where, and how, sites are scrutinized and protected by the DHS. The more I know, the more the bad guys know, and I want to keep the bad guys guessing.

Art said...

Those weren't run of the mill ants in that "ant farm". Those were specially bred and trained ants specially equipped to sniff out Saddam's CBW installations.

And that "flea market" in Knoxville, TN?
That's right up the road from Oak Ridge. That, ladies and gentlemen, is actually the distribution point for America's nuclear weapons infrastructure. They just can't, um tell people these things. Classified, you know.

Mike said...

Per XWL's post: The ant farm is a diversion. Brillant!

Al Maviva said...

Before the screamingly radical draconian cuts in funding, NYC used to receive roughly 19% of Homeland Security total grant funds. After Bush's miserly, mean spirited cuts, NYC will only receive a tiny, eensy-weensy 17.5% of the total grant expenditure.

But don't blame me. I voted for Kodos.

PatCA said...

DHS is largely a boondoggle. The Democrats got their union (TSA, or Thousands Standing Around) and both the Dems and Reps got billions of dollars of pork to bestow on donors and voters.

AFter 9/11 people panicked and though the federal government because of its might and size should protect them. Now it's a typical government program: the most paperwork-savvy and politically connected get the dough.

DHS should be disbanded and site protection be entrusted to states who are more answerable to their constituents.

Todd said...

Look, I think you're all missing the point here. Where's that bourbon festival, and when is it held?

SippicanCottage said...

A terrorist attack on an ant farm?

Better call the Pink Panther:

Dead ant. Dead ant. Dead antDead antDeadantDeadantDead annnnnnnn ta!


Sorry.

-Peder said...

I think a per capita judgement here would be a terrible one. All of the noteworthy targes in NYC, for instance, would be covered by some centralized funds. You don't need 50 different units protecting 50 NYC landmarks.
But take a look at South Dakota. Mount Rushmore is an obvious target. But security used to protect it can't be used for anything else. Sioux Falls needs entirely different protection.
If aid was given out per capita, you'd have way too much fat in some spots and be way too thin in others. The best way to determine this would on some more objective basis than simply splitting the money evenly.

Mike said...

I'm not sure I'd have a problem with terrorists flying a plane into Mt. Rushmore.

Mike said...

Not that I have anything against George Washington.

downtownlad said...

Are we surprised?

Does anyone think George Bush really gives a damn about New Yorkers. I think he views an attack on New York as a convenient way of disposing of Democrats.

monkeyboy said...

If a goal for the terrorists is mass casualties, why attack on heaviliy defended football field (the super bowl) when you can attack a "flea market" the size of four football fields with no security.
This also addresses the the local non-affliliated groups like those in Florida. A homegrown cell in Dearborne is not going to New York City, where will they strike?
The states may have been out of line, but bombs can go off outside of the NYC and DC, like in Centennial Park in Atlanta or a Sbarros, or in any place where large numbers congregate. The Statue of Liberty is not the target, rather it is the people visiting.

Christy said...

I went back and looked at the executive summary and did some keywords searches of the report. No one at Homeland Security is denying that this is a far from complete or satisfactory database. Once again I get suckered in by a MSM piece. The CNN article (from AP) made me think the Homeland Security people had completed their work and the IG's office said "not so fast." (Did anyone else read it differently?) Not the case at all. Granted I think they should be further along, but they aren't satisfied with the flea markets either.

Just a thought, however. Do we really want to publish a database of critical infastructure?

Mike said...

I went back and looked at the executive summary and did some keywords searches of the report. No one at Homeland Security is denying that this is a far from complete or satisfactory database. Once again I get suckered in by a MSM piece.

Bingo, Christy. The benign explanation for the media's constant sensationalizing is that they do it to sell newspapers. We all know the less benign explanation.