Friday, March 8, 2013

DHS implements sequester cuts, treats national security as a low priority

The Department of Homeland Security started to implement $4 billion in cuts, engineered by the White House under the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA), also known as sequester.

Sequester regulations require every federal agency to cut the same percentage from each program, but heads of federal agencies (such as the DHS) have the ability to "reprogram" funds in order to reduce spending only on lower priority items. Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn said that this “provides a unique opportunity for each federal department to reduce spending in each program on those expenditures that are less essential.”

Instead of reducing its unbridled bureaucratic spending, the DHS threatened citizens with longer lines at the airports and reduced staffing on the southern border. The DHS spokesperson stated that sequester “would roll back border security, increase wait times at our nation’s land ports of entry and airports, affect aviation and maritime safety and security, leave critical infrastructure more vulnerable to attacks, hamper disaster response time and our surge force capabilities and significantly delay cyber security infrastructure protections. In addition, sequestration would necessitate furloughs of up to 14 days for a significant portion of our frontline law enforcement personnel, and could potentially result in reductions in capabilities across the department.”
In his February 21, 2013 letter to Janet Napolitano, Senator Coburn said that according to OMB projections, at the end of fiscal year 2013, DHS "would carry forward more than $9 billion in unobligated balances,” which “has not yet been spent, nor even assigned to a specific project, raising the question of why we would not start by reclaiming these funds.” Senator Coburn rightly demanded that Napolitano “provide an explanation for what these funds are for and whether the agency has considered them for sequestration.”
After spending over $35 billion dollars in eight years, on October 7, 2011 the DHS finally unveiled its criteria for “First National Preparedness Goal.” Senator Coburn’s report rightly noted that “DHS’s delay in issuing preparedness goals for almost a decade… contributed to misdirected UASI spending, including significant expenditures on projects not related to preventing and responding to terrorist attacks.”

Here are some examples of how the said anti-terrorism funds were spent by city officials, with approval of the DHS:
  • Officials in Michigan purchased 13 sno-cone machines
  • Liberty County spent anti-terrorism funds to buy a hog catcher
  • One notable event that was deemed an allowable expense by DHS was the HALO Counter-Terrorism Summit 2012. This 5-day summit was held at the Paradise Point Resort & Spa, on an island outside San Diego. First responders were allowed to use grant funds to pay the $1,000 entrance fee. The marquee event was its highly-promoted “zombie apocalypse” demonstration, designed to simulate a real-life terrorism event. It featured 40 actors dressed as zombies, all of whom were gunned down by a military tactical unit. Those zombies were meant to represent average American citizens. Officials explained that “the idea is to challenge authorities as they respond to extreme medical situations where people become crazed and violent, creating widespread fear and disorder.”
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