Alaska is trying to determine how to spend $2 million in federal homeland security aid. The New York Times says the Department of Homeland Security rejected Alaska’s proposal to buy a jet, but indicated it would be “happy to entertain” further proposals for the money. Alaska is flush with domestic security grants, on a per-resident basis second only to Wyoming and about three times the amount allocated to New York over the past two years. A desolate area of 7,300 people that straddles the Arctic Circle recently bought $233,000 worth of emergency radio equipment, decontamination tents, headlamps, night vision goggles, bullhorns, and rubber boots.
The billions of federal dollars for terrorism preparedness are being doled out in much the same way as money for schools, bridges and other routine federal projects. Federal money is distributed by a formula that places a higher value on spreading the wealth among states than on assessing where the risk of a terrorist attack is greatest. The federal 9/11 commission harshly criticized the spending pattern, urging Congress to “not use this money as a pork barrel.” Former Senator Slade Gorton (R-Wa.) said there were concerns that small states would be left vulnerable if money were funneled only to the most threatened. “If you harden some targets, you soften others,” he said, suggesting that terrorists would go shopping for targets in states where there was less protection.