During the first week in January when the UASI grants were announced, I expressed puzzlement over the decision to drop Las Vegas from the list of high-threat cities, writing on January 6th:
Shouldnâ€™t someone have done an intuitive gut check with the results, and asked â€œwhy is Las Vegas on our list of cities to stop funding? That makes no sense.â€
From the Review-Journal story:
In finding that Milwaukee, Jacksonville, Fla., and hurricane-devastated New Orleans were among the nation’s most inviting targets for the world’s violent extremists, Homeland Security bureaucrats assumed that Las Vegas had no convention centers, no military bases and just a couple of shopping malls. The agency listed Wynn Las Vegas as the city’s tallest building; it thought the 1,100-foot Stratosphere Tower was an amusement park. Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which hosts more than 100,000 people for the valley’s annual Nextel Cup race, apparently doesn’t exist…
Apparently, the short-term collapse of Southern Nevada’s tourist trade following the 9/11 attacks wasn’t enough evidence of the region’s economic vulnerability to a terrorist strike. The 6.2 million visitors to the valley’s convention centers last year don’t indicate enough potential “innocent victims” to warrant federal concern. That Nellis Air Force Base helps train the fighter pilots of U.S. allies? That’s apparently news to the Homeland Security bureaucrats.
And the fact that 17 of the world’s 20 largest hotels draw hundreds of thousands of visitors and workers within a few square miles every day? Well, that’s just not “critical infrastructure” — even with big shopping malls built inside the hotels.
Assuming this is true, which I don’t doubt, then it provides more than enough evidence for Sec. Chertoff to reinstate Las Vegas immediately into the UASI grant program. I still am somewhat incredulous that this decision was made in the first place. Anyone who has been to Las Vegas and/or followed al-Qaeda in the past decade knows that it’s one of the top 6-8 cities nationwide in terms of both threat and vulnerability.