Printer Friendly

TERROR FUNDING BAFFLING COLLEGES, HOSPITALS, JPL NOT ON LIST OF L.A. TARGETS.

Byline: Troy Anderson and Lisa Friedman Staff Writers

WASHINGTON - The federal Homeland Security Department's list of 73 Los Angeles County sites that will get specialized terrorism protection left local officials puzzled Thursday because it includes some low-priority targets and leaves off such high-profile potential targets as universities and hospitals.

A copy of the list of sites that will receive part of $12.9 million in extra security funding for the state was obtained by the Daily News and reviewed by several officials.

According to the list, the Fallbrook and Valencia malls qualified but not the Beverly Center. Stadiums, arenas and other entertainment venues made the list but officials questioned why it also included the Long Beach Grand Prix event.

``There is no rhyme or reason to Homeland Security funding, nor Homeland Security awareness in Los Angeles,'' said Councilman Jack Weiss, a former federal prosecutor deeply involved in security issues.

``Why should the Glendale Galleria qualify for something that the Beverly Center didn't qualify for? It just looks so scattershot, it's hard to believe there are federal standards.''

Federal and local officials would not discuss specifics of the list of county sites, deemed critical resources by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The list includes everything from Westfield Shoppingtown Topanga Plaza in Woodland Hills, Northridge Fashion Center and the Valencia Town Center to banks, transportation systems, refineries and chemical plants, and entertainment venues such as Staples Center and Pasadena's Rose Bowl.

But they noted that some sites not on the list might be funded through other Homeland Security programs.

The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, for example, have received more than $27 million in security grants from the Transportation Security Administration since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

And Los Angeles International Airport has received more than $256 million to reimburse costs of installing permanent explosives-detection systems integrated with checked-baggage conveyor systems.

Still, local officials and terrorism experts questioned the rationale behind the compilation.

``It certainly wasn't put together with California in mind,'' said Ed Broomfield, homeland security grants program manager for the Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management.

``I wouldn't say that any of them are not targets, but are they the most important targets? Quite a few of them are not,'' he said. ``Just scrolling down the list, it looks like they only hit about 50 percent of them right on.''

Broomfield said he believes shopping malls and amusement parks could be potential targets, but he also questioned placing the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on the same list as Universal Studios, which police say they once found in an al-Qaida videotape.

``That could be a target, but it's certainly not a top target,'' Broomfield said of the race venue. ``Also, the Valencia Town Center is not really high up there on the target list.''

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena, questioned why the Jet Propulsion Laboratory or major hospitals didn't make the cut.

``I hope the department has a rational basis,'' he said. ``It does seem somewhat arbitrary.''

Sites on the list will get grants under the new federal Buffer Zone Protection Program, which allots $50,000 per potential terrorist target. About $1.3 million went to the city of Los Angeles.

Law enforcement agencies plan to use the money to purchase equipment ranging from metal detectors to surveillance cameras.

While the Department of Homeland Security in its press releases describes the program as focused largely on ``chemical facilities, dams and nuclear plants,'' the grant application also makes commercial assets like shopping malls, arenas and theme parks eligible for funding.

The agency does not in its public documents, however, clarify how those potential terrorist targets should be prioritized.

Los Angeles Police Department Cmdr. Mark Leap, the assistant commanding officer of the agency's counterterrorism and criminal intelligence bureau, would not discuss specific sites but said his office was largely responsible for coming up with the list.

Using a new system known as Operation Archangel - which analyzes data to prioritize potential terrorist targets - Leap called the list ``a living thing.''

Leap said he could not speak about why one shopping mall, for example, might be on the list and not another. But he noted that the list could easily change based on threats and new intelligence.

``It may expand or contract based on a number of factors,'' he said. ``To look at a list that was prepared yesterday, it may be out of date by this morning.''

Both Leap and the LAPD's counterterrorism chief, John Miller, acknowledged that a larger list of 605 critical sites created in the weeks and months after the 9-11 terrorist attacks was subjective and often differed inexplicably from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

They described Operation Archangel as a way of narrowing down that list based on objective criteria. Some of the criteria, involving intelligence, is secret while some, such as population levels or the level at which a potential attack would hurt a particular economic sector, are more obvious.

``It's not an exact science,'' Cmdr. Mike Grossman of Los Angeles County's homeland security office said.

Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Michelle Petrovich said criticisms that the list appears random ``is not a characterization that's in any way accurate.''

She said the federal agency relies closely on state and local input.

Lisa Friedman, (202) 662-8731

lisa.friedman(at)langnews.com

CAPTION(S):

box

Box:

SITES TARGETED FOR TERRORISM FUNDS

SOURCE: Department of Homeland Security

Gregg Miller/Staff Artist
COPYRIGHT 2005 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 
Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 15, 2005
Words:904
Previous Article:EMMY NOMINEE LIST SHOWCASES NEWBIES.
Next Article:CONTROLLER HAS GUIDED PLANES SINCE 1959.


Related Articles
JPL RETIREES VOLUNTEER FOR MEDICAL-TECHNOLOGY PROJECTS.
FORMER JPL GUARD FACING CHILD PORNOGRAPHY CHARGES.
BROTHERS TO GIVE $1 MILLION CHECK TO LOCAL COLLEGE; SCIENCE CENTER TO GET MONEY.
JPL CANCELS OPEN HOUSE SECURITY TAKES TOP PRECEDENCE.
Amid terrorist threat at N.J. headquarters, prudential makes security highly visible.
THREE KILLED IN VAN CRASH CAR POOL CARRYING JPL EMPLOYEES PLUNGES OFF ROAD.
SURVIVORS SHAKEN BY VAN CRASH FIVE REMAIN HOSPITALIZED AFTER THEIR TERRIFYING RIDE.
JPL WORKERS ARE MOURNED GRIEVING SPREADS NATIONWIDE AFTER CRASH KILLS COMMUTERS.
NO CHARGES AGAINST DRIVER WHO KILLED 3.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters