Wakeup call in Times Sq.By PETER KING
New York Post
May 5, 2010
The alarm bells have now gone off at least 11 times in New York since 9/11. After Saturday night's failed Times Square bombing, let's hope we don't go back to sleep again.
Each terror plot disrupted in and around New York City should serve as a wakeup call to the fact that, even 8½ years later, the city remains the world's No. 1 terror target.
Unfortunately, it seems as if each time the alarm has sounded -- whether the recent Zazi plot to blow up city trains or the JFK pipeline plot -- we've hit "snooze" and refused to face the new reality: Islamic terrorists, in their quest to strike America again, have their sights set squarely on New York City.
This time, I hope, we'll all stay awake.
For citizens, this wakeup call means renewed vigilance, which street vendors Duane Jackson and Lance Orton and NYPD Officer Wayne Rhatigan exemplified when they teamed up to begin the evacuation of the heavily trafficked "Crossroads of the World."
For Washington, the wakeup call should mean increased funding for anti-terror efforts in and around New York City.
The arrest of alleged bomber Faisal Shahzad just 53 hours and 20 minutes later is a testament to the superb investigative skills of the NYPD and the FBI as well as the Customs and Border Protection officers who apprehended him. But for nearly a decade, the feds have shortchanged New York in homeland-security funding.
Yes, the metro area has received roughly $2 billion in homeland-security grants since 9/11 -- but that's just 7 percent of all such grants, nationwide. More important, it's not enough for the region to do all that's needed. Three examples:
* The NYPD and other law-enforcement agencies need more visibility over the city; an expanded network of security cameras is the obvious answer. With about $50 million more in federal funding, the NYPD could fully implement the Midtown Manhattan Security Initiative, which would serve as a force multiplier throughout Midtown by allowing NYPD to observe much more of the city than it can now.
* The PATH transit system needs $73 million more in the next year to strengthen its tunnels from attacks and provide better response measures. We can't ignore the security needs of nearly 80 million riders a year.
* The NYPD also needs more officers to support anti-terror efforts. More federal funding would allow the department to hire a cadre of officers that it could deploy throughout the city as threat assessments dictate.
Yet the Obama administration is actually proposing to cut or end key homeland-security initiatives in New York -- the city in which President Obama has proposed to put admitted 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed on trial in civilian court.
* For the last two years, Obama has sought to eliminate funding for the Securing the Cities Initiative, a successful federal-state-local partnership to prevent nuclear and radiological terrorism through a ring of detection devices in the tristate area around the city. Working with the NYPD, the Bush administration established the program and provided $80 million in funding in its first three years. But now the Obama team has decided that the NYPD should come up with the tens of millions for the program.
This is absolutely indefensible. Last year, I successfully urged Congress to provide $20 million in funding to the NYPD for Securing the Cities, and am engaged in a new effort with my congressional colleagues to secure the cash this year.
Yes, this initiative directly protects the lives of some 8 million New Yorkers. But by protecting Terror Target No. 1, it protects America -- and must be treated as a federal project.
* Also unacceptable is the administration's plan to dismantle the US Coast Guard's NYC-based Maritime Safety and Security Team -- putting the city at greater risk just two years after the deadly waterborne attack on Mumbai, India's financial center. The president must reverse this proposed cut to New York City's maritime security.
* The administration recently slashed federal funding for New York City-area mass-transit security by 28 percent and cut funding for area port security by 25 percent.
We dodged another bullet when the Times Square car bomb failed to detonate. The next time New York City comes under attack, we can't count on luck. The NYPD and other law-enforcement organizations should be able to count on renewed vigilance and increased federal funding.
Peter King is the ranking mem ber of the House Committee on Homeland Security and a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the only member of Congress to serve on both committees.