Bush to cut anti-terrorism funds
WASHINGTON – The Bush administration intends to slash counterterrorism funding for police, firefighters and rescue departments across the country by more than half next year, according to budget documents obtained by the Associated Press.
The Homeland Security Department has given $23 billion to states and local communities to fight terrorism since the Sept. 11 attacks, but the administration is not convinced that the money has been well spent and thinks the nation’s highest-risk cities have largely satisfied their security needs.
The department wanted to provide $3.2 billion to help states and cities protect against terrorist attacks in 2009, but the White House said it would ask Congress for less than half – $1.4 billion, according to a Nov. 26 document. The plan calls outright elimination of programs for port security, transit security, and local emergency management operations in the next budget year.
The Homeland Security department and the White House Office of Management and Budget, which is in charge of the administration’s spending plans, would not provide details about the funding cuts because nothing has been finalized. “It would be premature to speculate on any details that will or will not be a part of the next fiscal year budget,” OMB spokesman Sean Kevelighan said, because negotiations between the White House and the Cabinet departments over the budget are not finished.
The proposal to drastically cut Homeland Security grants is at odds with some of the administration’s own policies. For example, the White House recently promised continued funding for state and regional intelligence “fusion centers” – information-sharing centers the administration deems critical to preventing another terrorist attack. Cutting the grants would limit money available for the centers.