A Profile in Bureaucratic Spending
There’s something emblematic about states’ attempts to tweak homeland security programs in order to apply federal dollars to tangential matters:
More openly than at any time since the Sept. 11 attacks, state and local authorities have begun to complain that the federal financing for domestic security is being too closely tied to combating potential terrorist threats, at a time when they say they have more urgent priorities.
“I have a healthy respect for the federal government and the importance of keeping this nation safe,” said Col. Dean Esserman, the police chief in Providence, R.I. “But I also live every day as a police chief in an American city where violence every day is not foreign and is not anonymous but is right out there in the neighborhoods.” …
Local officials do not dismiss the terrorist threat, but many are trying to retool counterterrorism programs so that they focus more directly on combating gun violence, narcotics trafficking and gangs — while arguing that these programs, too, should qualify for federal financing, on the theory that terrorists may engage in criminal activity as a precursor to an attack.
Could be I missed something, but I don’t recall any of the 9/11 attackers having displayed any of those precursors. More likely these state and local authorities are providing an example of the inherent problem with big government: It creates a big pool of somebody else’s money (taken under force of law) to be pulled and sliced across layers of bureaucracy, until its expenditure is scarcely related to the arguments for its allocation.