BILLIONS in States’ Homeland Purchases Kept in the Dark
*** Billions in States’ Homeland Purchases Kept in the Dark ***
By Eileen Sullivan,
..."About $8 billion in homeland security funds has been doled out to states since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, but the public has little chance of knowing how all of that money is being spent.
Of the 34 states that responded to CQ Homeland Security inquiries by press time, 12 have laws or policies that preclude public disclosure of certain details on homeland security purchases. The reason, state officials say, is that the information could be useful to terrorists.
Many states, such as New York, will disclose broad categories of purchases, such as personal protective gear, but will not specify the type of equipment, which company makes it, how much it costs or where it is going. Many states’ nondisclosure clauses are included in their freedom of information acts"...
..."The non-disclosure policies are troubling, said secrecy expert Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists.
'Accountability is the price we pay. We’re giving away the ability to hold public officials accountable,' Aftergood said in a telephone interview. 'More than we value public oversight, we fear a nebulous terrorist threat, and it’s really changing the character of American political life.'"...
..."Security and Accountability: Some states are still developing disclosure policies on homeland security purchases.
New Jersey, for example, is soliciting public comment on proposed rules to clarify what can be made public and what cannot..."
"...Lawmakers recently passed a law that would make some homeland security information public, but Hagedorn called the bill 'a half-ass effort to open up information'..."
"...Alabama also forbids disclosure of homeland security spending specifics"...
"... staff member for the House Homeland Security Committee : 'We’re spending billions of dollars every year on grants to state and local governments . . . there should be some expectation [of] accountability.'..."