By Alan Caruba
New Jersey is not likely a target of terrorist plans, though I suppose as vulnerable as anywhere else, reaped approximately $1,481,990 recently from just one program administered by the Department of Homeland Security. Overall, DHS will provide $34.6 million in direct assistance nationwide this year and, since 2005, has disbursed more than $69.7 million in equipment and training.
Designed to help first responders such as law enforcement and emergency services by enabling them to purchase equipment, as my eye scanned three pages of cities and towns I noticed that the Neptune Township police will buy something called video detective. So did Glen Ridge where I was briefly editor of the local weekly. Neither my current hometown nor former one, both of which border Newark, received any grants. Newark received none, perhaps because the city bought a new garbage truck with a former grant.
Suffice it to say, Avon by the Sea, Chatham, Surf City, Perth Amboy, or Tewksbury are not likely to find themselves fighting or responding to terrorist attacks and please do not ask me how New Jersey Fish & Wildlife Law Enforcement got a piece of the action, purchasing night vision goggles.
I am happy to see my State’s first responders cash in on yet another federal government program. I am sure that people in other States feel pretty much the same. What’s a Homeland Security Department for if it can’t spread the money around? But is that security or politics?
In March, Michael Chertoff, the director of DHS, addressed the Northern Virginia Technology Council and, after reading his speech, I am very happy I am not Michael Chertoff. If ever an impossible job was created, it is his. Consider that he administers twenty-two existing “legacy systems and functions”, all cobbled together into one big bureaucracy whose purpose is to keep us alive.
Anyone familiar with even just one bureaucracy knows the insanity, insularity, and lethargy that exists when its public servants realize they barely have to pay any attention to Congress except at budget review time and almost never to the public.
Chertoff, a lean man who has earned the respect of everyone who has encountered him, including the many criminals and miscreants he sent to jail as a district attorney, defined five “overarching goals” for DHS.
(1) Protecting the nation from dangerous people. (2) Protecting the nation from dangerous cargo “or things coming into the country.” (3) Protecting and hardening our critical infrastructure. (4) Strengthening our emergency preparedness and response. And (5) “making sure that we have a fully-integrated and fully-unified department which is effectively managed…”
As to the last objective, I suspect it may well be sometime into the middle of this century before that happens, if ever. The children of current DHS personnel will possibly be the best candidates to replace them, having been raised listening to dinner table discussions about the need for full integration and unification of XYZ agency with ABC agency.
Chertoff does his best to keep fears of an Islamic cataclysm muted. When it became clear that England is a hotbed of Jihadist plans to kill the infidels of London’s Chelsea, Belgravia or Mayfair districts, he said that the problem in America is less severe. No pockets of radicals such as the poor Brits must ferret out.
However, Investor’s Business Daily on February 26 begged to differ noting that, “right across the Potomac from his office is the second-highest concentration of Muslims in the country. Baileys Crossroads, Virginia, is teeming with Islamic radicals just as hostile to the U.S. government as their counterparts in London.”
The article described Baileys Crossroads as “the heart of the Wahhabi corridor, which includes the safe houses where the (9/11) hijackers stayed and the mosque where they and dozens of other terrorists have worshipped.” It is home to the Virginia Jihad Network in an area locals now refer to as “northern Virginiastan.”
There are a number of comparable concentrations that include Dearborn, Michigan, Bridgeview, Illinois, and, in my home State, Jersey City. This long established hotbed of Islamism was not on the latest list of cities to receive a DHS grant to buy anything.
I hope and pray that DHS knows what it’s doing. I take some comfort knowing there has not been another attack in the United States like 9/11, but I am cynical enough to think that the Arabs are smart enough to know not to awaken Americans from their slumber until another time of their choosing.
Alan Caruba writes a weekly column, “Warning Signs”, posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center, http://www.anxietycenter.com/. His book, “Right Answers: Separating Fact from Fantasy”, is published by Merril Press.
© Alan Caruba, April 2007