OUR TWILIGHT ZONE GOVERNMENT. Via Atrios, I see that ABC News is reporting that the Department of Homeland Security's explanation for cutting anti-terrorism funds to New York is that "New York has no national monuments or icons." Really? You can see the DHS form that asserts this here (PDF). Says ABC:

That was a key factor used to determine that New York City should have its anti-terror funds slashed by 40 percent--from $207.5 million in 2005 to $124.4 million in 2006.

The formula did not consider as landmarks or icons: The Empire State Building, The United Nations, The Statue of Liberty and others found on several terror target hit lists. It also left off notable landmarks, such as the New York Public Library, Times Square, City Hall and at least three of the nation's most renowned museums: The Guggenheim, The Metropolitan and The Museum of Natural History.

The form ignored that New York City is the capital of the world financial markets and merely stated the city had four significant bank assets.

How much do you want to bet that this form was approved by someone connected to or appointed by the administration or congressional Republicans? Clearly, it was filled out by an idiot. But the only way such a massive error could have wended its way so far upstream as to enter the 2006 DHS budget plan is if an utterly incompetent boob signed off on it first. And the most likely way for such a person to gain a position of sufficient authority to approve an error of this magnitude is through political connections. The Daily News is right on this one: Michael Chertoff should step down. It truly boggles the mind that this idiocy could have passed without notice through the DHS bureaucracy; even more mind-boggling is The Daily News' allegation that it might have been "vengeful payback by a petty bureaucrat who tangled last year with the NYPD and wound up humiliated."

The DHS budgetary plan should be sent back to the department for a rewrite that reflects reality. And Chertoff really needs to go. He already lost New Orleans -- now he writes off New York, too?

--Garance Franke-Ruta

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