Sunday, June 04, 2006

DHS and the "Three F's"--Fear, Fairness and Fu-something else

Michael Chertoff using his immense psycho-kinetic powers to levitate the new Magic 8-Ball "threat matrix" device that reveals to him and him alone who will attack the US, when and where, and who deserves security moolah. He can also steal your watch without you noticing.

The DHS has almost halved “anti-terror” grants to Washington D.C. and New York City, redistributing the savings from the $1.7 billion budget to other states by using a shiny new risk assessment formula.

I for one am comforted to know they have a new risk assessment formula because the one being used around August 6th 2001; the old “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S.” formula didn’t work out very well.
And let’s not forget the formula applied in the 2004 election to Ohio’s Warren County (where it only takes 5,000 people to be a “city”). No one saw that coming (except Dick Cheney and obviously we can’t keep bothering him about where the next attack might take place).
Apparently the DHS feels that the entire U.S. is fair game for freedom hating freedom-haters so anti-terror funds should be distributed equally because equality is what America is all about.

And what’s the new risk assessment formula all about? How does it all work?
Well according to spokesman Russ Knocke the DHS "...crunches millions of bits of data in a powerful new matrix” to determine where anti-terror funding is most needed.

To give you some idea of the scale of the task, a million bits is the equivalent of about 15 pages of text!
advances in data storage have resulted in a “floppy disk” that can hold a whopping 11,520,000 bits (or 1.44 "megabytes"), thus making the task of defending the United States a lot easier.

As for the “matrix” Tracy A. Henke, assistant secretary for grants and training at DHS can’t provide exact details of the newer, fairer system but apparently it include factors such as population, vulnerable assets and intelligence information, all of which are assessed by review panels made up of officials from 47 states who can’t be identified (I guess the three unrepresented states had to attend their kids’ school play or some such). Grants are also judged on the “effectiveness” of the applicant’s planning as well as spelling and neatness of the great applications.

As an example, DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff gave high marks to NYC for their current security efforts, suggesting that NYC didn’t need as much money any more, and had to “ding” the city $83 million for a poor job in articulating its needs and filing by fax instead of electronically even though a state official provided a written affirmation of the successful application and that the city could “log in” anytime to view it (ever tried to log-in to a fax?)

Also working against New York is the fact that as Ms. Henke carefully explained certain landmarks, bridges and tall buildings assumed by most New-Yorkers to be landmarks, bridges and tall buildings were counted in other categories such as bridges and tall buildings (but NOT landmarks). Additionally NYC apparently has way too many financial institutions worth less than $8 billion, and no public transportation infrastructure worth mentioning (a lot of it is undergound so who would notice, really?).

The famed Manhattan skyline with it's towering 5th-floor walkups, as seen from Washington

As Tony Snow pointed out to the whining press:

The point of homeland security, as I said before, is to provide security for the entire homeland”: Hence, Lousville Kentucky deserves a 41.2% increase to help protect its racetrack whilst Omaha, Nebraska—home of Offut Air Force Base and the Strategic Air Command deserves a 38% increase in funds, just in case it ever receives a credible terrorist threat. It never has of course, but as it is also home to a slew of insurance companies; well you know how they like to insure against disasters.

Frankly the New York politicians are simply crying about losing federal money, money they and the liberal elitist New Yorkers don’t really need.

As Michael Chertoff said: “…I do think it's fair to ask this question: After a city gets $500 million, more than twice as much as the next-largest city, is it correct to assume they should continue to get the same amount of money year after year after year after year with everybody else dividing up what remains?"
And he’s right, of course! Why indeed should a city of 8 million (NYC) get more than twice as much money as the next largest city (Los Angeles, population 3.8 million )? Because aren’t they both American cities, and don’t the terrorists hate all Americans?

Besides, as Tony Snow also pointed out, just because NYC lost $83 million this year, the grants for preventing and preparing for terrorist attacks will be reconsidered annually and could change if some grand and unforeseen need arises—like perhaps someone flying fuel-laden hijacked airliners into tall landmark buildings. Or just blowing something else up that's really big and well known in a highly populated, symbolocally significant area---like say, Wyoming or Kentucky.


Red Tory said...

Hey, wasn't the World Trade Centre just a bunch of "tall office buildings" before 9/11? Some people even thought they were pretty damn ugly.

I guess a structure can only become a "landmark" once it's been obliterated from the skyscape.

In any case, this new redistribution of funds is just pork-barreling at it's worst.

5th Estate said...


I focused on the staggeringly flawed justifications provided. If the Bloomberg admin really is doing a great job in securing NYC, I'm all for the DHS scaling back it's funds--assuming NYC can sustain on its own the "great job " it is doing.

But as Chertoff and his minions can't offer up even that argument coherently but instead talk about "fairness" and a mysterious "powerful matirx" that fails to acknowledge all the characteristics of New York that make it such a clear target for anyone trying to impress anyone else for whatever reason, well that's my most obviousw thesis--the leadership of the DHS is staggeringly incompetent.

But beyond that lies the prol-barrel politics, and beyond that lie the 2006 elections. I care about that, but what really makes me nuts is the transparent ingnorance, stupidity and arrogance of those in whom we US citizens are supposed to trustand accewpt as our superiors!

betmo said...

calm down- no need to get your blood pressure too high. we are stuck with these bozos in the executive office for a while longer. the idiots in congress- well we can get rid of them sooner. you have to pick your battles and realize that the admin is going to try and pick the bones clean and get as much money as possible to the faithful districts before mid term elections. that's the real issue right? i mean- kentucky, wyoming, nebraska, utah- all bastions of red as i see it. new york- not so much. besides, we have to protect all of the national landmarks in wyoming- like cheney's house that he doesn't live in.

5th Estate said...

assuming the money does actually get spent on sensible things--like interoperable radio systems for firist responders and if the need is there, I'm all for it--and I don;t then see how that would help much politically.
If someone siphons off some dough to use in their campaigns or leverage some particular support or action that would be another matter entirely.
It does rather look like a political manouver bbut I don't know.
WHat does gall me is the sheer stupidity of their explanations.

DoctorBoogaloo said...

Well, now that the borders are secure and cargo containers are being fully inspected, we should all breathe a little easier.

Oh, wait....

But then again, Secretary Chertoff did a fine job last fall with hurricane Katrina.

Oh, wait...

Yeah, it's good he has a new plan. But this one ain't it.

Red Tory said...

The justifications were indeed hilarious. Didn't some DHS press flunkie prattle on about not forgetting her roots in the midwest by way of justifying the new distribution of money. Complete nonsense. Then there was the idiot who compared the new formula to "grading on the curve" and proudly declared that he was familiar with this methodology because he was usually on the lower end of it. Brilliant!

5th Estate said...

those are great--those didn't appear in my three sources. If all the stupid explanations and excuses were gathered into one article it might change the general reaftion from complaining about the cuts to asking why such demonstrably stupid people are in charge of so much money and such a serious task. Oh wait..that's not news, is it?

Carl said...

And what’s the new risk assessment formula all about? How does it all work?

Well, see, they get the latest Rassmussen Reports congressional election polls, see...

Carl said...

Then there was the idiot who compared the new formula to "grading on the curve" and proudly declared that he was familiar with this methodology because he was usually on the lower end of it.

I saw that, and my first and only reaction is, "Whatever happened to the best and the brightest?"

Ellie said...

great post and nice blog btw. Thanks for visiting my place. :-)

I live in NYC and I think this is absolutely ridiculous. Over the summer I went to Washington D.C. and there were helicopters going overhead constantly. It was really anoying and I finally asked someone why there were so many helicopters. And he said because of 9/11. There is no such thing in New York. Not like I want helicopters, but still. New York was the hardest hit on 9/11 yet the helicopters get sent to DC. Then they cut back on our funding. What is there to attack in Nebraska? Where in Nebraska is there a city of 8 million people? There's a cornfield. Oh yea, lets save the cornfield, who cares about all the buildings in New York. It's just the financial center of the world, one of the largest cities in the world, etc etc. No big deal.

This reaffirms my belief that these people view national security as bs. They really don't care that much about it, because if they did, they wouldn't distribute the money unilaterally, they'd give it where it is needed. This further disgusts me becuase if the threat is so real and imminent as the republicans would have you believe, then why the hell can't they distribute the money right to prevent an attack?!

betmo said...

nyc lost it's funding because new york is a blue state- period. the reds have their panties in a bunch because they are losing ground- except in places like wyoming, nebraska, kentucky, etc. i just want dhs to be scrapped and done right. i will not argue with the repubs that we need some security- but the sorry system we have now- not only does not make us secure- but is just a siphon for money going into right wing coffers.

Snerd Gronk said...

Karl: I saw that, and my first and only reaction is, "Whatever happened to the best and the brightest?"

SG: Clea(R)ly they've been largely out foxed ...


Snerd Gronk said...

MoBet: the reds have their panties in a bunch because they are losing ground- except in places like wyoming, nebraska, kentucky, etc.

SG: Not so! ... As I understanding it , from right inside Chertoff's office, the money is being sent there because it will be safe from flooding and hurricanes and levee breachs, etc.


thepoetryman said...

Oh my! The irony is palpable! Hoooooo Agggghhhh!