U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge swept through Las Vegas yesterday, awarding tens of millions of dollars to Nevada for antiterrorism measures and touting a worldwide computer network that will enhance information-sharing between federal and local law enforcers, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal. By year’s end, he said, a select few in Nevada’s political, police, and firefighting circles will have unprecedented access to classified data about potential terrorist activities. Ridge who was flanked by Gov. Kenny Guinn and Clark County Sheriff Bill Young
At the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, Ridge announced the creation of a new task force to better coordinate public and private security. The task force will join Homeland Security officials with representatives from nine Cabinet-level agencies to help prevent terrorist attacks on symbolic events considered attractive to al-Qaida and other groups. Those include Fourth of July celebrations, the July Democratic National Convention in Boston, the August Republican National Convention in New York and the August Olympics in Athens.
Ridge, a decorated Vietnam veteran, called Las Vegas a “a city of great strategic importance” that is “a very high priority for us.” Ridge’s agency ranks Las Vegas, known for its excesses and indulgences, as among the 48 most-favored targets for a terrorist attack. “We draw attention to ourselves. We’re known as America’s place to play,” Young said. “Wouldn’t they (terrorists) love to hit us in our playground?”
Young seemed pleased at his department’s blossoming anti-terror arsenal. Of the nearly $37 million given to Nevada, Clark County will receive $10.7 million to use at its discretion.