Congressional earmarks for pet projects still are being attempted on law enforcement and antiterror projects despite criticism of the process. USA Today reports that Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) asserted that the little-known National Drug Intelligence Center was about to take charge of the “vitally important” terrorist no-fly list. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence had recommended that the NDIC, in Murtha’s hometown of Johnstown, Pa., be closed for poor performance. The Justice Department said there are no “current” plans for such a transition. Murtha got the House Intelligence Committee to approve a $23 million “earmark” for the facility anyway.
An earmark application for $500,000 to give anti-terrorist training to Phoenix police doesn’t mention that the amount is six times the cost of the program. Nor does the application letter, from Rep. Ed Pastor (D-AZ) disclose that police already have paid for the anti-terrorist training themselves and are no longer seeking federal funds. Phoenix police Lt. Richard Gehlbach sought funds to hire Rafi Ron, former security chief at Israel’s Ben-Gurion Airport, to train 20 airport officers in how to spot terrorists by their “behavior pattern.” The program, used by police in about half a dozen other American cities, has been criticized by the ACLU as infringing on privacy. Ron’s company offered to tailor training to American “sensitivities,” Gehlbach said. The price was $84,000 for a week of intensive training.