At a time when national security remains a high priority, it seems that a $7.1 billion Homeland Security Department grant program would focus on terrorism. But according to an investigation by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK, the program paid for 13 sno-cone machines in Michigan, a $98,000 underwater robot in Ohio, and an armored vehicle in New Hampshire that patrolled a pumpkin festival.
Coburn’s report, “Safety at Any Price: Assessing the Impact of Homeland Security Spending in U.S. Cities” begins with this introductory letter:
The Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and the attacks of September 11, 2011 will forever be etched in our collective memory and forever serve as painful reminders that the enemies of freedom are many and our security often comes at a steep price—in dollars, lives and liberty.
We no longer can assume our distant shores from foreign lands or having the greatest military force in the history of the world are enough to protect us. We now live with the reality terrorists are within our midst and they may look, sound and act like us, but they hate everything we are and the values we share.
The balancing act between liberty and security has been tenuous throughout the history of our nation, founded upon basic freedoms granted by our Creator and protected from government infringement within the Bill of Rights of our Constitution. But a new element has been added to this equation over the past decade that threatens to undermine both our liberty and security— excessive government spending and insurmountable debt.
We cannot secure liberty and guarantee security simply by spending more and more money in the name of security. Every dollar misspent in the name of security weakens our already precarious economic condition, indebts us to foreign nations, and shackles the future of our children and grandchildren. Our $16 trillion national debt has become the new red menace not only lurking in our midst, but created and sustained by shortsighted and irresponsible decisions made in Washington.
The report declares the program has created “waste, inefficiency and a false sense of security.” In an interview with the Washington Guardian, Coburn said the problem with the program is that checks were issued with no guidelines as to how the funds should be disbursed.
“Number one is, they don’t know where they are spending the money, and there’s no oversight to how the money is being spent,” Coburn said.
The report ridiculed cities’ use of grant funds to pay for officials’ to attend the HALO Counter-Terrorism Summit in San Diego in late October which featured a ‘zombie apocalypse’ demonstration, promoted as “the marquee event” of the summit.
The investigation also questioned several humorous videos produced by local communities featuring characters named “Disaster” and “Preparedness”, which actually did little to address fighting real threats.
Read more at the Washington Guardian.