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Homeland Security Chief Says U.S. Prepared for 2006 Storm Season

On the first day of the 2006 hurricane season, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff discusses the federal government's preparedness for another storm season after the devastation and chaotic response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Now, two different kinds of storms, and to our interview with the secretary of homeland security, Michael Chertoff.

    Mr. Secretary, welcome.

  • MICHAEL CHERTOFF, Homeland Security Secretary:

    Good to be here.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Storm one: the announcement yesterday of funding grants for homeland security, anti-terrorism, the cuts to New York City and Washington, the two target cities for 9/11. Why?

  • MICHAEL CHERTOFF:

    Well, first of all, Jim, I don't think it's fair to describe them as "cuts."

    Take New York, for example. Last year, New York got $200 million. This year, we're going to give them $124 million under this particular program. But last year was an artificially elevated number to make up from the very low grant the year before.

    If you average out the prior three-year grants, you're going to see this year is directly in line with what we've done over the last four years.

    The larger point is this: We've invested over half a billion dollars in New York since this department was stood up. We've given New York more money, by more than double, than any other city in the country. We've put a substantial investment in security which has built the baseline up.

    It's always been understood that, as we fortify New York, we'll begin to be able to spread the money to other places. So we're not minimizing the risk to New York; we're simply saying that we have built a lot of security and now we can afford to look to some communities that need some additional help.

  • JIM LEHRER:

    Then why is everybody in New York so upset, Mr. Secretary?

  • MICHAEL CHERTOFF:

    Well, that may be a question that's a little bit beyond my capability of answering. I think people reacted to the initial comparison of this year's number with last year's number.

    What they might not have realized is last year's number was artificially high to make up from the prior year which was artificially low. So I've suggested let's look at the average and you'll see that this year's grant is right in line with the average funding we've given New York, which has always been significantly higher than any other city in the country.