Top NYPD Terrorism Official To Criticize Security Grant System

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The New York Sun

At a Senate committee hearing tomorrow, the New York City Police Department’s top terrorism official will label the federal government’s system of giving out homeland security grants “incomprehensible, incoherent, and an embarrassment,” according to his prepared statement released last night.

Because the NYPD devotes much of its resources to daily counterterrorism and intelligence operations, the system of allocating grants — which favors technology and equipment proposals and not operations or intelligence gathering — leaves New York with less than it needs, Deputy Commissioner of Counterterrorism Richard Falkenrath will tell the committee.

“It appears that New York City is being disadvantaged because we are ahead of the curve, and that our funding needs are different from those of many other jurisdictions precisely because we have attended so many of these needs ourselves, for so long,” his statement says. “We need the federal government to step up and adequately share the burden of these ongoing costs to defend vital national assets in New York.”

Noting with alarm the rising number of cases of “home-grown” terror cells — groups that don’t necessarily have a direct relationship with terrorist groups like Al Qaeda — Mr. Falkenrath says that local and state law enforcement increasingly has a role to play in preventing a terrorist attack.

“The country is under-investing in the sort of capabilities most needed to combat the most dynamic element in the spectrum of terrorist threats — the ‘homegrown ‘ element — to the homeland,” he says. “Such threats are most likely to be detected by dedicated investigators with both intimate knowledge of the population in question and mastery of human intelligence tradecraft who are backed by the full power and resources of a major law enforcement agency.”

A former terrorism adviser to President Bush, Mr. Falkenrath will tell the committee that the NYPD gets more intelligence from other members of the intelligence community and foreign law enforcement than from the Department of Homeland Security, which he says has failed to come up with a plan for sharing terrorism intelligence with local authorities. The NYPD has 10 detectives stationed in eight foreign countries, including Tel Aviv and Sydney, and plans to spend about $178 million on counterterrorism next year.

Mr. Falkenrath also will recommend the federal government make better use of Homeland Security’s “terrorist watchlist,” especially by the Transportation Security Administration. He will call on the federal government to come up with better criteria for assessing critical infrastructure, create better preventive measures for chemical attacks, and devote more resources to port security.

The New York Sun

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