National Security

  • No place suffered more severe of a psychic blow from the Sept. 11 hijackings than New York City. One chilling dimension of the attacks illustrates how complicated the recovery effort became. Death certificates were issued for 2,746 people in the wake of the tragedy.

  • The state of New Mexico receives money from the federal government in the form of grants to help pay for defeating threats from terrorists, preparing for potential catastrophes and prosecuting criminal cases that arise on the southwest border where national security challenges are exceptional compared to what other areas of the country may face.

  • One of the major contributions New Jersey made to homeland security in the United States is Thomas H. Kean. A former Republican governor of the Garden State, Kean was chair of the 9/11 Commission, which investigated and eventually reported in telling detail the events surrounding the Sept. 11 hijackings. The commission’s final 2004 report contained a list of recommendations for the U.S.

  • We first sent an open-records request to New Hampshire’s Department of Safety under the state’s Right-to-Know law in September of 2008 asking for records showing how federal anti-terrorism grants had been spent there since 2001. Officials responded that it would take at least 15 business days to determine what records were available and what they were free to withhold under legal exemptions.

  • The state of South Carolina was among the first to openly rebel against a controversial Bush-era program known as Real ID, which called for tougher security features in driver’s licenses to prevent terrorists, criminals and illegal immigrants from fraudulently obtaining identification.

  • George W. Bush signed Homeland Security Presidential Directive 3 in March of 2002, which established a color-coded system for notifying the country of increased dangers from terrorist threats.

  • Authorities in the state of Wyoming refused to turn over detailed records showing how federal homeland security grants have been used there since 2001. As with other states, we were seeking computer records containing individual grant transactions hoping to detect larger trends in how local beneficiaries have invested the money.

  • In our profile of Pennsylvania, we described how emergency managers there faced tough criticism over the poor handling of a winter storm in 2007 that led to what Gov. Ed Rendell publicly described as a “total breakdown in communications.” He heard about the storm’s severity from stranded citizens, not officials. Pennsylvania wasn’t alone.

  • The nation’s first homeland security secretary, Tom Ridge, in 2003 pointed to West Virginia as an example of preparedness done right while standing on the steps of the state capital building in Charleston. “Your regional approach and your use of common training, exercises and equipment is setting an example that the other states must follow,” the Charleston Gazette quoted him as saying.

  • Washington State set the standard for transparency and completeness in responding to open-records requests with information about homeland security grant spending for this project. We even used computer records supplied by authorities there to show others how we’d like to receive the material.