Saturday night's attempted car bombing in Times Square shows that New York continues to be in the cross-hairs of the terrorists. New York City has always been the terrorist's prime target and every possible effort has to go into fighting them so that these attacks are not successful. This includes putting appropriate funding into terror-fighting efforts so that law enforcement has the tools and the manpower it needs to protect the city. Instead, the Obama administration has been cutting funding for anti-terror programs.
As the risk of a successful terrorist attack in New York City has increased, federal funding from the Obama administration designed to thwart such attacks has declined. This is an amazing fact, given the out-of-control spending in Washington these days. While funding has gone down there have been numerous attempted terrorist acts as well as additional attacks that discovered while they were still in the planning stages. For example, there is the Zazi case, in which the Bull's-eye was directly on New York City, just as it was in Saturday night’s attempted car bombing in Times Square. President Obama needs to recognize that there are terrorists out there who are at war with us, and he has to fund the necessary programs to protect against their attacks.
Subways, trains and buses have been hit by terrorists in attacks around the world. We know that Zazi, who recently pled guilty, was targeting the New York City subway system. Nonetheless, funding for NYC’s Transit Security Grant program was reduced by over 25%, or almost $45 million dollars. The overall funding went from $153.3 million down to $110.6 million.
The ports are also a key area to protect in order to keep the city safe, yet the funding for the Port Security Grant Program was reduced by about 25%, or over $11 million dollars. The funding went from $45 million down to $33.8 million. In addition, a program to install radiation detectors in New York ports has also been stalled.
In the midst of this, with at least $54 million having been cut to finance anti-terror efforts in New York City, the Department of Homeland Security said in December it was increasing the region’s urban security funding by $6 million. However, this still leaves New York with about $48 million less than it had before.
The way things are headed, New York is bound to face more attempted terrorist attacks.
Everyone has to be vigilant, but we shouldn’t have to rely on hero street vendors to notify police that there is a bomb smoking in a car in order to avert disaster -- as happened on Saturday.
New York needs to have programs in place to stop such attempts long before it reaches the point this latest one did in Times Square, causing the crossroads of the world to be shut down on a busy, beautiful evening. Let’s spend the money to have the anti-terrorist programs we need in place so that we can keep this wonderful city safe. If New York is hurt, the entire country will feel the ramifications, as we learned on 9/11.
Annemarie McAvoy is a former federal prosecutor. She currently is a consultant and teaches Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing at Fordham Law School in New York City.
Fox Forum is on Twitter. Follow us @fxnopinion.