Coverage of the recent General Accounting Office study of homeland security expenditures in the National Capital Region may leave readers with a false impression of what the region's jurisdictions have been doing ["D.C. Area Anti-Terror Spending Criticized; Homeland Security's Local Office Lacks Strategy, GAO Says," front page, June 24].
First, the region received several hundred million federal dollars immediately after Sept. 11, 2001. Much of it was targeted to strengthen the capacity of first responders. Emergency management officials have stressed that our region is better prepared as a result of the new equipment and frequent exercises and training supported by these funds.
Second, local, state and federal officials have come together to prioritize and disburse emergency funds. The National Capital Region is now the recipient of federal Urban Area Security Initiative funds to support emergency planning, training, exercises and equipment.
Third, this process has produced additional interoperable radios and personal protective gear for first responders and strengthened regional emergency planning. This planning and decision making will be expanded to incorporate a wider range of federal and state emergency funds.
The Council of Governments has facilitated much of the planning and analysis that has helped local, state and federal officials and the private sector strengthen preparedness in our region. We're not finished, but we are well on the way.
Board of Directors
Council of Governments
Charles C. Green's recent experience of being stopped, questioned and added to the Department of Homeland Security's watch list for writing a line of dialogue including the word "bomb" [Outlook, June 27] raised some serious questions about our approach to national security.
Even if we set aside the considerable civil rights implications of this incident, what about simple cost-benefit analysis?
In this time of limited resources, for every hour homeland security officials spend on a case such as Mr. Green's, what aren't they doing? Not screening air cargo and securing the ports? Not stocking communities with the latest emergency equipment or tackling other pressing, widely acknowledged challenges?
Has common sense become another casualty of the war on terrorism?