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July 15, 2006

Safeguarding Amish Country Popcorn 9/11, "War On Terror"  Politics

Your tax dollars at work. Indiana's IndyStar, via Digby:

About three miles from the nearest town, Brian Lehman's popcorn factory near Berne has somehow ended up on the federal government's list of potential terrorist targets.

"I don't have a clue why we're on the list. We're on a gravel road, not even blacktop. We're nowhere," said Lehman, owner of Amish Country Popcorn, which employs five people.

Nevertheless, Amish Country Popcorn is one of 8,591 places or events in Indiana that the Department of Homeland Security regards as serious potential terrorist targets, according to an inspector general's report that raised questions about the accuracy and relevance of what's known as the National Asset Database.

Indiana has about 30 percent more listed potential targets than New York (5,687) and nearly twice as many as California (3,212), putting Indiana atop the nation's list of potential terrorism targets.
What's more, the number of potential Indiana targets rose from 322 in 2004 to 8,303 in 2005.

Amish Country isn't the only odd-sounding site in the federal database.

Without divulging specifics, the list includes 77,069 U.S. sites where terrorists might strike — including a flea market, a petting zoo, ice cream parlors, several Wal-Marts and a tackle shop.

The government's database is used to determine how much states should get out of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal anti-terrorism grants. [...]

The findings drew the ire of some lawmakers, particularly in New York, which saw its portion of funds shrink this year.
"Now we know why the Homeland Security grant formula came out as wacky as it was," Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., told The New York Times. "This report is the smoking gun that thoroughly indicts the system." [...]

The list may have become inflated because states were left to interpret a request for potential targets however they wanted.

Pam Bright, a spokeswoman for the state's Homeland Security Department, said federal administrators asked Indiana to make a list of "critical infrastructure and resources," not a list of potential terrorist sites.

"There was not a clear definition of what they wanted, so Indiana took the safe side and submitted all of our important infrastructures," Bright said. "If that's not what they wanted, they should have sent it back and said that's not what they wanted. [Emphasis added]

Amish Country Popcorn. It makes us laugh, but it should also make us angry. It would be one thing if somebody at DHS carelessly published a bogus list. But this is much worse than that. This information made it all the way through the grant process for allocating over $700 million in Homeland Security funds to the states. Imagine the level of incompetence and inattention that requires.

I've said this before, but it really does matter whether people in government believe in government. The Bush regime is full of people who don't believe in the public good and don't believe government has a legitimate, useful role to play in safeguarding and supporting the public good. They have an ideological distrust of of government. It's small wonder, then, that they suck at governing. Boy, do they ever.

Posted by Jonathan at July 15, 2006 04:36 PM  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb