Friday, September 10, 2004


That warm, late-summer day. That clear, blue-sky day. It was the darkest day of my generation.

It was America's single largest loss of civilian life in war. It changed the way Americans think and act. And we promised it would never happen again. We would pay any price to see that it never happened again.

And we spent billions to make sure another 9/11 never happened again.

So what has that money bought us?

Here's a short list:

* $2 million to store the Smithsonian's collection of preserved frogs, lizards, and assorted critters
* $4 million for a civilian research center in Acadia National Park
* $90,000 for the Steamship Authority that opperates ferries to Martha's Vinyard

Since 9/11, we have increased federal spending 31.5%. Brian Riedl of the Heritage Foundation has looked at that spending. By last year, he found that more than half of it has nothing more to do with defense or homeland security than having the words "defense" or "homeland security" added to old, defeated spending plans.

Americans will never forget the images they saw of the World Trade Center on 9/11. But Congress saw an opportunity to spend millions on pet projects.

Money went primarily to states fortunate enough to have Congressmen on the Appropriations Committee. That's why places like Kentucky and North Dakota got more anti-terrorism money than places like Washington, D.C.

But the Washington Post reported even cash-strapped D.C. and its suburbs spent money on questionable things:

* $519,000 for rent and janitoral services
* $100,000 for a summer job program
* $35,000 on parkas, caps, and polo shirts displaying a county agency's logo

Again, all money in bills stamped "Defense" or "Homeland Security."

Personal Perspective

On 9/11, on Capitol Hill, I watched television reports as planes hit the World Trade Center. Outside, I could see the smoke from the Pentagon. I ducked for cover at the roar of jet engines.

It turned out to be an F-16. I've never felt safer than when I saw that full combat load and shining white star on it's wings as it banked above the Capitol. I never felt more crushed than when I realized we needed that full combat load and shining white star over the People's House to make me feel safe.

The spending on Homeland Security is supposed to make us all feel safe. But you're getting shortchanged.

Pearl Harbor Day

On Pearl Harbor Day, 2001, less than three months after 9/11, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) stood in the Senate and read a list of 245 items added to the Defense Appropriations Bill that had nothing to do with defense.

Since then, the list has only gotten longer:

* $500,000 to buy a camera system to take mug shots
* $300,000 to computerize Washington DC's parking ticket system
* $950,000 for the "Institute for Tribal Government"

Again, all money in bills stamped "Defense" or "Homeland Security."

Somewhere, in some cave or slum, or in some desert or jungle, Osama bin Laden still waits and watches for another opportunity.

Somewhere in a Maryland county, they're watching eight, $20,000 plasma screen TVs, bought with your homeland defense money.

And the list goes on...and on...and on.

Links to Pork Barrel spending of Homeland Defense Money:

Heritiage Foundation: Pork in the Aftermath of 9/11
Lawgeek: Cities get little help, Small towns flooded with 9/11 money
USNews & World Report: 120 Pork Projects added to 2003 Military Construction Bill
Citizens Against Government Waste: 10,646 Pork Projects added to 2004 Appropriations
Christian Science Monitor: Some of the Pork Barrel Projects your paying for in the name of Homeland Security

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