Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano mixes deception with poor math in NYC terror funds fiascoBy Michael Daly
May 18, 2010
Maybe someday President Obama will explain to us why it was a good idea to make Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano his Secretary for Homeland Security.
Among other things, it created the vacancy filled by Lt. Governor Jan Brewer, who went on to sign Arizona's disgraceful immigration bill.
Napolitano went on to declare "the system worked" after the underwear bomber boarded a jetliner with high explosives and to dismiss the Times Square car bomb as a "one-off" before Faisal Shahzad confessed to terror training in Pakistan.
In the aftermath of that attack and last fall's subway bomb plot, Napolitano cut funding for security on New York's mass transit lines by $53 million.
Only, she says she didn't, really.
She says that the administration gave New York $100 million in stimulus money for security.
So, by her math, we are $47 million ahead. This year, anyway, the stimulus being a one-off.
Prominent among the unconvinced was Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.). Napolitano sent him a letter Friday saying that New York has not even claimed $275 million in port and transit security funding it had already been allocated.
"In fact, New York has yet to draw down on any of the transit funding it received last year," she wrote.
The MTA reports that last year's allocation only began to trickle in this April and that most of it is still being held up by the bureaucracy at DHS.
As for the rest, both the MTA and the Port Authority say they are unaware of any available funds.
Monday, DHS said that the unclaimed sum had in fact jumped to $308 million since Friday's letter.
DHS says much of that huge sum is supposed to be claimed by the state Office of Homeland Security.
That is news to the people who are trying to protect our transit lines and port.
If what she says is so, Napolitano would do better sending a letter to the MTA than to King.
Rather than play politics with King, she should ensure the security money gets to where it actually provides security.
In the letter to King, Napolitano also said, "Given the sense of urgency we all feel, we are focused on working closely with Congress and our state and local partners to ensure these funds are put to work quickly to address important security needs in New York City and throughout the state."
By DHS's account, the unclaimed funds grew by $23 million over the weekend.
Yet in a time of war and fiscal crisis, the people who desperately need the money are unaware it is there.
Maybe it really isn't.
Or maybe much of the money is waiting to be claimed by the New York State Department of Homeland Security, as DHS suggests. Bungling in Albany would hardly surprise anyone. The state people did not return a call.
Or maybe the federal Homeland Security people are. A 2009 GAO report cited by King found that due to bureaucratic bungling DHS had disbursed only 3% of $735 million transit security funds awarded to New York and other localities from 2006 through 2008.
DHS insists it is addressing those problems and that the money is flowing.
Whoever is to blame, Napolitano should make sure it gets where it is supposed to go.