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Queens Chronicle

Officials slam cuts to anti-terror funding

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Posted: Thursday, December 17, 2009 12:00 am

Given the upcoming New York trial of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other co-conspirators, along with the recently uncovered terrorism plot by alleged al-Qaeda operative Najibullah Zazi, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and other law makers have blasted the Obama administration for again reducing the state’s counterterrorism funding.

“When the administration is wrong, they’re wrong,” Schumer said in a statement. “New York is being asked to shoulder many burdens and remains the prime target of terrorists so it makes no sense for the administration to cut this money. This is an unfortunate decision and I am going to fight to reverse it in the coming budget.”

Rep. Peter King (R-Long Island) echoed Schumer’s sentiments, calling the cuts “indefensible.”

Funding for the Transit Security Grant program has been reduced by 28 percent from $153.3 million to $110.6 million. The Department of Homeland Security provides the grants to “protect critical surface transportation infrastructure and the traveling public from acts of terrorism, major disasters, and other emergencies.”

DHS has also cut the Port Security Grant by 25 percent, from $45 million $33.8 million. Its purpose is to “protect critical port infrastructure from terrorism, particularly attacks using explosives and non-conventional threats that could cause major disruption to commerce.”

A spokeswoman for DHS referred inquiries about the cuts to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which did not return requests for comment. The White House also did not respond, though the Daily News said administration officials contend that the losses have been offset by funds awarded through the economic stimulus program.

This is not the first time Schumer and King have protested anti-terror cuts. In October they and Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn) announced that they would work to get funding restored to the Securing the Cities initiative, a DHS pilot program conducted in New York, which creates a multi-layered ring of sensors at key entry points to the tri-state area to

detect nuclear material before it can enter the city. King and Clarke secured $40 million for the program and Schumer was able to secure $10 million in the Senate.

Many other officials fear the new cuts will jeopardize the safety of the city and spoke out against them.

“The decision by the Department of Homeland Security to make cuts to these important counterterrorism and security grants is nonsensical — particularly because we know that New York remains a target for terrorists,” Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Queens and Brooklyn) said in an email statement. “The number of domestic terror threats has actually risen this year. So now more than ever, we can’t afford to be complacent.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) agreed. “New York City continues to be the most targeted city in the country by terrorists and cutting this funding is simply the wrong approach,” she said in an email. “I will continue to fight in Washington to deliver the security funds that New York needs to combat terror and safeguard our communities.”

Welcome to the discussion.