Federal security cuts don't ensure safety
Hawaii's federal funding for antiterrorism is being cut this year to $13 million from last year's nearly $22 million.
PUZZLEMENT and anger greeted the announcement of antiterrorism grants by the Department of Homeland Security
to cities and metropolitan areas. Hawaii officials were placed in the awkward position of interpreting a drastic cutback in federal funds as affirmation that the islands are safe from terrorism. That is an optimistic assessment.
The department said the grants to Honolulu and 45 other urban areas were based on "risk and the effectiveness of applicants' proposed solutions to identified needs." Evaluations by law enforcement officials of the effectiveness of spending proposals resulted in cutbacks for cities with shoddy or poorly articulated plans, according to the New York Times.
For example, the department criticized New York City's plan to spend grant money on recurring costs, such as overtime pay to police officers guarding high-risk targets. New York's grant for 2006 was slashed to $124.5 million this year from $207.6 million last year.
The department's evaluation of risk came under fierce attack. A one-page list of factors given to New York officials said that the home of the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and Brooklyn Bridge has no "national monuments or icons."
Maj. Gen. Bob Lee, Hawaii's adjutant general, said the state's allocation of $13 million was down from last year's nearly $22 million because it is not considered a major security risk. The amount includes $4.7 million to the city, a drop from last year's $6.4 million. The city had asked for $33 million.
Lee has said in the past that Hawaii is relatively safe because tools of terrorism cannot be transported here by highway. Sensitive to the travel industry, Governor Lingle said the cuts mean "we are not seen as a place that will get hit." The state might feel safer as the suicide bomb attacks on tourist destinations in Bali in 2002 and Jakarta in 2003 become more distant.
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