National Security

  • Flying on a commercial airliner changed forever after Sept. 11, and travelers have grown accustomed to the greatly enhanced security measures implemented since the hijackings, including thousands of new screeners hired by the fledgling Transportation Security Administration to search passengers and bags for dangerous items.

  • Attempts to learn more about how the state of Georgia has spent its homeland security grants since 2001 turned out to be an exercise in frustration.

  • Florida is a leading recipient of homeland security grants in the United States due to its significant population and major tourist attractions. And it’s received hundreds of millions of dollars over the years to recover from various disasters, namely hurricanes that pummeled the state’s coastline.

  • When historians look back on the early part of the 21st century, they may be tempted to attribute the phrase “homeland security” and its patriotic connotation to former president George W. Bush. But the movement to create a Department of Homeland Security began when Bush was still governor of Texas.

  • The Department of Homeland Security does more than just hand out anti-terrorism funds to states. It also makes hundreds of millions of dollars available annually to firefighters for station construction projects, hiring and retaining personnel, response vehicles and protective gear. Like other states, Montana has benefitted from the assistance.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • So-called “needs assessments” are critical for determining where a community is vulnerable to catastrophe or terrorism. The federal government has required them of states in order to justify how they planned to use the $29 billion in homeland security grants Washington has handed out since Sept. 11. What safety and law enforcement equipment might be necessary to fill known security gaps?

  • Explosives expert William Hakim of the Oregon State Police thought the device was merely a hoax. But that mistake on a December day in 2008 would become a tragedy no amount of money in homeland security grants could prevent.

  • For a period after Sept. 11, it seemed that every facet of public safety in Pennsylvania was under fire – not from terrorists but from investigators and auditors exposing ineptitude, abuse and neglect. Report after report raised questions about whether mismanagement and other problems posed more of a threat to the Keystone State than an assault from Mother Nature or Osama bin Laden.

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