Defending the Homeland


Surprise, surprise:

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, lawmakers doled out the money quickly, with few restrictions and vague guidelines. Left to interpret needs on their own—and with little regional coordination—cash-strapped local and state officials plugged budget holes, spent millions on pet projects and steered contracts to political allies.

The District [of Columbia] funded a politically popular jobs program, outfitted police with leather jackets and assessed environmental problems on property prime for redevelopment. In Maryland, the money is buying Prince George's County prosecutors an office security system. In Virginia, a small volunteer fire department spent $350,000 on a custom-made fire boat. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments used some of the money for janitorial services.


NEXT: Defending the Homeland, Pt. II

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  1. From the article: “The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments used some of the money for janitorial services.”

    But if our public agencies’ offices are dirty, then the terrorists will have won!

  2. But if our public agencies’ offices are dirty, then the terrorists will have won!


    It’s been a long time since that joke was funny. Let it rest.

  3. Jack:

    It was still funny.

  4. Your tax dollars at play.

  5. I don’t know if it’s related, but a nearby Connecticut suburb – and not one of the super-rich ones – has a Hummer H2 police car.

  6. Jack:
    Yeah, that was amusing.


  7. Jon H – hey, I’ve noticed a couple of police depts around where I live suddenly pimped out in H2s and other SUVs. . . just the last year or so. Now I wonder if this is where they got the $$$.

  8. I’ve gotten 2 “reverse 9-1-1” calls in my life. Both were traffic announcements about public festivals, within the past 2 years. I’m almost certain the city set the system up with antiterrorism money.

  9. If this was an article on, it would get the OBVIOUS tag.

  10. Like the expansion of powers under the “Patriot” Act, these things demonstrate the way in which the War on Terror is being used and misused. Basically, it has become an opportunity for law enforcement and other government agencies to do what they wanted to before: in other words, a pretext.

    The $87billion welfare payment to Iraq is another issue, though I suppose Halliburton wanted some return on its investment.

  11. I’d guess the fire boat is probably a reasonable purchase, unless the town has no structures near the water at all. It’s hard to tell without knowing anything about the location.

    At least it’s for ‘first responders’, and there remains concern about waterborne terrorism.

    But they might have gold-plated it, so to speak.

  12. joe,

    What is a “reverse 911” call?


    War profiteering is as old as, well, wars; also political careers based on attacking war profiteering are as old as wars. LBJ, as I understand it, made his career exposing such corruption, while creating some of his own.

    And this is not an American phenomenon. There are numerous examples of such in French history, especially in WWI, and tragically in WWII.

    Alexander the Great and the Khans and the Louis XIV and George Washington all had to deal with this problem.

  13. Jean Bart (aka the Merovingian): And your point is what? All those other places and other times were just that: other. Gengis Khan didn’t cost me a cent.

    This time it is the USA: it is my country, and it is my tax dollars. There is little excuse for welfare payments within the country; there is no excuse to make them abroad. And to make payments abroad in a manner that leads to conduct that is dishonorable or has the APPEARANCE of being dishonorable is plain unacceptable.

  14. Frenk,

    My point is that there is nothing you can do about it; except hack at it around the edges.

  15. The fireboat is not a waste of money.

    On 911, the water pressure disappeared from southern manhatten. So the NYCFD got their old fireboat out of mothballs and it helped put out the fires at the WTC.

    Fires along the waterfront or on boats full of combustible material need fireboats to put them out. Water main breaks might make this the only way to put out a warehouse fire. And “small towns” often send their people to local fires. A major fire might call out volunteers firement and ambulances from half a dozen towns in rural or suburban areas…just like 911 firemen came from all over NYC and NJ to help fight the fire…

  16. It was inevetible that they would run out tobaccoo settlement money someday.

  17. nancy reyes,

    Is a “firement” like a “breath mint?” 🙂

  18. Mero, Reverse 911 is a system in which the police/fire/public safety departments sends our pre-recorded telephone calls to all of the phone numbers in the district, or some subset thereof (residences, certain neighborhoods, etc). It was set up to allow quick notification in case of an emergency.

  19. joe,

    I see. He he he. 🙂

  20. Jean Bart: what you are proposing is to sit back while our tax dollars are wasted. I cannot accept this. If you want to waste your money giving out welfare, you should send a donation directly to some worthy liberal cause — Soccer Moms for Multiculturalism or some such.

    I, for one, cannot agree that we should simply sit back and observe while the government wastes our tax money because that is inevitable.

  21. What I find interesting about this story is the fact that “Overall, nearly 40 percent of the money remains unspent” and the local governments who “failed to spend or sign contracts for the full amount by a Sept. 30 deadline” lost the federal anti-terrorism free money. I guess that probably means Sept. 30, 2003, but I don’t know. It’s amazing (1) that the program encouraged the quick spending of money rather than a more deliberative process and (2) that some governments didn’t spend all the money. I always though a government could spend exactly as much money as it had every time. This proves me wrong. Some of the local governmetns actually exercised some restraint and didn’t spend 100% of the money.

  22. Sorry for the redundant post but here’s a gem from the story: “Another District agency directed $100,000 to the mayor’s politically popular summer jobs program, documents show. Forty low-income young adults were trained in first aid and other emergency skills, then paid to rap and dance about emergency preparedness as part of outreach efforts. The program was nationally recognized and a “brilliant” use of money, said Deputy Mayor Margret Nedelkoff Kellems, who oversaw spending.” ”

    If we can’t rap and dance about CPR, then the terrorists will have won.

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