Our enemies have sights set on NYC, cutting funding only opens the door

Al Qaeda, its affiliates and sympathizers want nothing more than to attack America again, and they want to do it in New York City.

To prevent this, New York needs more federal homeland security funding. Clearly, the Obama administration doesn’t understand that.  

Seventeen years after the first attack on the World Trade Center and eight-and-a-half years after the toppling of the Twin Towers, New York City remains target No. 1 of Islamic terrorists.    

New York City has been the intended target of at least 11 disrupted terror plots since 9/11.

In my office, we keep a list. 

In 2003, police unraveled plans to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge.  The next year, terrorists conspired to bomb Herald Square. In 2006, law enforcement disrupted a plot to attack a tunnel connecting New Jersey to Manhattan. In 2007, investigators foiled plans to blow up JFK airport. In 2008, a native New Yorker, arrested in Pakistan, told of an al Qaeda plot to bomb the Long Island Rail Road. A year ago, the FBI stopped a planned attack on New York synagogues. Last fall, Najibullah Zazi was stopped short of blowing up New York City subway trains. This month, America saw an explosives-laden SUV nearly exploded in Times Square.

One would expect the Obama administration’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – to understand the terrorist threat to the United States of America is aimed primarily at the Big Apple. But, sadly, they don’t.  

Last week, just days after the failed Times Square car bombing, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano inexplicably slashed the 2010 homeland security funding for the NYC metropolitan area. DHS cut New York’s mass transit security funding by 27 percent and funding for New York City area port security by 25 percent. 

This news was a slap in the face for New York, which endures a daily terrorist threat unlike any other U.S. city. 

After their decision to cut New York’s homeland security funding, DHS officials added insult to injury with their baffling attempts to defend the indefensible. 

After hearing bipartisan outrage, DHS claimed New York was actually getting more money because of a one-time payout from President Obama’s “stimulus” package last year. DHS even enlisted the Democratic National Committee to attack me for my vote against the stimulus. I think they were attempting to say that because I voted against the stimulus with some money that eventually went to New York, I was somehow voting against properly funding anti-terror efforts in New York. But, really, they ended up admitting to holding homeland security money hostage in the stimulus.

Next, DHS tried the always-popular “blame Congress” routine. They claimed New York’s funding was cut because Congress appropriated only $300 million each for transit security grants and port security grants.

The truth is President Obama requested only $250 million from Congress for each of the grant programs. At $300 million, Congress gave more money than what President Obama wanted.

In what was their latest, and most laughable, attempt to explain away their big mistake, Secretary Napolitano accused New York transit and port agencies of sitting on piles of cash, refusing to spend the money they’d been awarded in recent years. In reality, according to a 2009 GAO report, DHS bureaucracy and red tape have prevented agencies from spending much of their grant money quickly.  Secretary Napolitano deserves thanks for shedding new light on this problem at DHS. 

As if these massive Obama administration cuts to transit and port security funding were not bad enough, they come on the heels of another unfathomable swipe at New York City. For the past two years, President Obama proposed to completely eliminate funding for the Securing the Cities Initiative, a highly successful program to prevent nuclear and radiological terrorism through a ring of detectors in and around New York City. Just as what happened in Times Square, we are nearly certain the next attack on New York will come from the suburbs. And the likelihood is increasing that terrorists will try to use a radioactive dirty bomb.

With the president himself warning that we face a great threat from nuclear materials, it makes zero sense to cut funding for a program such as Securing the Cities. After the Bush administration funded it with $80 million, the Obama administration sought to eliminate funding last year. Fortunately, Congress provided $20 million. This year, Obama has again proposed nothing, but I am working with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to secure the necessary funds for this vital program. Protecting New York is about protecting America. A dirty bomb attack in Manhattan, the world’s financial capital, would cripple America’s financial markets and, perhaps, collapse our economy.

Terrorists have their sights set on New York in their quest to destroy America. In recent years, the terrorists have increased, not decreased, their efforts to attack New York. The Obama administration must follow suit by increasing, not decreasing, homeland security funding for New York. 

King is the Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and Chair of the National Security Solutions Group.