Preemption Starts At Home

After the intial allocation of tens of billions of dollars to state and local governments following the 9/11 attacks, the Department of Homeland Security has reduced several states’ financing by significant levels. New Jersey, for example, lost about $39 million in federal funding even though it contains “the most dangerous two miles in America.” A former Coast Guard commander, Stephen Flynn summed it up: “We put more resources into securing the average large bank in Manhattan than we do for the entire security of Port Newark. That’s just irresponsible.”

It seems ridiculous that the Bush Administration, who modeled its entire “war on terror” on the idea of preemption, is not properly funding state and local agencies. If this administration is so concerned with acting before the terrorists act on us, shouldn’t securing our own soil be a top priority? And though Congress has repeatedly voted on increasing our budget in Iraq, our own homland security budgets are cut.

An attack on a chemical plant in Northern New Jersey could easily cause 100 times more destruction to Manhattan and the surrounding areas than 9/11. Across the country there are more than 100 chemical plants that pose a risk to 1 million people or more. It is inexcusable that the political impediments that exist — a clear result of lobbying from the chemical industry — now outweigh the safety of our nation’s citizens.

— Jay Heidbrink