I’ve just been reading through the transcript of Sec. Chertoff’s press conference earlier today to announce the UASI grants – an event that I had previewed in this post below. I appreciate his blunt talk at the press conference, with lines such as:
The purpose of the UASI program — indeed, the purpose of all Homeland Security funding — is not to generate popularity for the secretary or for the Department of Homeland Security.
One key point from the event: the AP story yesterday indicated that these grants would consider risks other than terrorism. Chertoff flatly refuted that:
This program is tied to risk of terror. So we’re operating within the terms of the program. But the kinds of capabilities that we are considering to be appropriate as needs-based funding are capabilities that would certainly do double duty in the case of catastrophe. So, for example, capabilities to evacuate people would obviously have relevance in a terrorism case, with a certain kind of attack, but would also have relevance in a natural disaster of a certain kind. So we are broadening our sense of what is need and what is an investment justification to take account of things that may do some double duty.
Yesterday I expressed concerned about a possible shift away from terrorism as the key gauge of risk for this program. I’m glad that this is not the case.