2006-08-02 / Features

Maloney, Weiner Cite Mideast Conflict In Demanding DHS $

BY JOHN TOSCANO

Wiener and Maloney explained that the grants are specifically intended for installation of security measures... Wiener and Maloney explained that the grants are specifically intended for installation of security measures... Citing reports that the outbreak of hostilities between Israel and its neighbors could spark terrorist attacks in New York City, two local Members of Congress have appealed to the federal Department of Homeland Security to release $25 million in homeland security grants for the city's museums, hospitals and religious institutions.

Congressmembers Anthony Weiner and Carolyn Maloney told DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff that reports indicate that Hezbollah is targeting those private, non-profit institutions in the United States, particularly in New York City, including Jewish institutions.

Operatives with the terrorist groups, the lawmakers said, have sent video and photographs of possible United States terror targets, including synagogues and Jewish community centers, back to Lebanon and Iran. The FBI has been in contact with Jewish community leaders, Weiner and Maloney added.

Last year, Congress appropriated $25 million to bolster the security of non-profit organizations such as the Museum of Modern Art and the New York Public Library, but the DHS still hasn't solicited applications or announced a timetable for when the grants will be distributed.

"Once again, the Department of Homeland Security is putting its incompetance on display," Weiner (D-Queens/Brooklyn) said. "New York City's museums, hospitals and religious institutions are spending millions to protect themselves while DHS ignores Congress and sits on critically needed security funds."

M a l o n e y (D-Queens/Manhattan) added, "Can these people get anything right? Only they would have the lack of common sense to withhold these resources while we face a threat. Since they had trouble identifying any of the national icons or monuments in our city, maybe they haven't heard of any of our worldfamous museums, hospitals or religious institutions, either."

Both lawmakers referred to the recent $84 million DHS cut in funding to New York City for anti-terror money.

Tensions are mounting in the Middle East, fueling credible threats against U.S. targets, and Maloney and Weiner demanded swift action in a letter to Chertoff. Given his department's "abysmal track record with risk-based funding", the Members of Congress also demanded that the grants be based solely on threat.

They said in the letter to Chertoff, "We urge you to make sure that there are no further delays, and that the grants are distributed to the places that need [them] most."

Wiener and Maloney explained that the grants are specifically intended for installation of security measures such as surveillance cameras, barriers and controlled entry systems at the institutions being singled out as potential targets- yeshivas and synagogues throughout the five boroughs.

The program, which in 2005 sent $5.4 million in nonprofit funding to protect dozens of the city's institutions, included 30 yeshivas and synagogues, Weiner and Maloney pointed out.

They wrote Chertoff: "Congress is aware that protecting homeland security is a burden, logistically and financially, being borne not just by government, but by hundreds of nonprofit organizations that are also potential targets of terror. Museums, hospitals, religious institutions and other organizations are being forced to spend thousands, if not millions, of dollars protecting themselves."

Yet months after Congress allocated $25 million to help the non-profits to defend themselves, DHS has failed to release the money, they complained.

"In light of recent news that Hezbollah is targeting institutions in the United States, particularly in New York City, we are writing to request that you [e]nsure that those dollars be granted to recipients as soon as possible," they wrote.

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