Terror plot shows New York needs federal dollars, Mayor Bloomberg saysBy Celeste Katz, Lore Croghan and Elizabeth Hays
September 28, 2009
Mayor Bloomberg said Sunday the just-foiled plot to bomb the city shows the feds need to cough up more money to protect New Yorkers from "dirty bombs."
"These events are a disturbing reminder that we can't - and I can tell you we won't - be complacent when it comes to protecting our city against terrorism," said Bloomberg, calling on Congress to restore $40 million in terror funds that were cut from next year's budget.
"As horrific as the attacks of 9/11 were, a nuclear explosion could be infinitely worse," he added.
Denver shuttle bus driver Najibullah Zazi, 24, was arrested Sept. 19 and charged with plotting to bomb the city around the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Bloomberg was joined by Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Rep. Pete King (R-L.I.) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) at a news conference at the Citigroup Center in Manhattan - which was targeted in a potential terror attack uncovered in 2004.
Kelly said the city last year spent $300 million to guard against terror attacks - and needs all the federal money it can get.
"Unfortunately, we're funding almost all of this effort on our own dime," he said.
This spring, the Obama administration cut all funding for the Securing the Cities program - Kelly's signature push to ring the region with radioactive sensors on bridges, highways and tunnels to sniff out improvised nukes.
Local lawmakers helped ensure that at least $10 million was restored in two bills currently making their way through Congress.
As early as this week, Congress will begin hashing out exactly how much will go to the city, which got $73 million in the past two years and has already placed detection devices at major entry points into New York.
In a separate news conference, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who is leading the Senate push, said he plans to "call everyone I can in the White House" and Congress to make sure the full funding comes through.
"Bottom line, the recent arrests show how vulnerable New York is," he said. "We're the No. 1 target in the world."