Statement By Attorney General Eliot Spitzer Regarding
New revelations about possible attacks on tunnels and transit hubs in the metropolitan region should make it clear that New York remains the number one terrorist target in the U.S.
Given that fact, the state and federal governments have a special responsibility to do everything possible to help protect New Yorkers from a wide range of threats.
A few months ago, in a speech to first responders, I raised concerns about whether this was indeed happening:
I criticized the federal government for sending anti-terrorism resources to states where the risk of attacks is low. I said New York needed the resources far more than mid-west states. Rather than heed this call, which was echoed by many, the federal government subsequently reduced anti-terror funding for New York by 50 percent. Just yesterday, some of those cuts were restored, but federal funding still is not adequate given the serious and continuing threat we face in New York. We need to fight for more resources, and I commend Senators Schumer and Clinton and Mayor Bloomberg for their ongoing efforts in this regard.
I also urged the State Legislature to approve additional anti-terrorism measures, including specific provisions targeted at those who facilitate or conspire to commit acts of terrorism. Unfortunately, the Legislature did not address this issue in the recently-concluded session. Lawmakers should pass the legislation as soon as possible.
I called on state and federal officials to share more information with first responders across the state. This remains a concern, according to many in the emergency service and law enforcement communities.
I urged state officials to learn from Hurricane Katrina, which highlighted the need to identify a firm chain of command in emergency situations, upgrade communications systems and ensure that various agencies coordinate and cooperate as much as possible. Recent flooding in the Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley underscores how important this is. Emergency service personnel performed admirably. Evacuations saved lives, but earlier warnings and a more coordinated response might have helped reduce certain types of property damage. For example, in some rural areas, farmers lost grazing livestock because they did not know about surging water levels.
Finally, I urged the State Health Department to stockpile vaccines and ensure that protocols are in place in the event of a flu pandemic. I commend the Pataki administration for its announcement today on this matter.
While some progress has been made, there is still much more to do with regard to terrorism. We cannot afford to ignore recent warnings. The disclosure of possible tunnel attacks, the fact that Canadian authorities arrested eight suspected terrorists at our northern border last month and the recent breakup of a suspected terrorist plot in Miami - these should all be calls to action.