Friday, June 16, 2006

Katrina relief money funds erotica and exotica while DHS Chief slashes counter-terrorism dollars

"A $200 bottle of champagne from Hooters and $300 worth of 'Girls Gone Wild' videos were among items bought with debit cards handed out by FEMA to help hurricane victims, auditors probing $1 billion in potential waste and fraud have found." Article.

In yet another Katrina related FEMA fiasco, auditors reported earlier this week up to $1 billion in fraud by purported victims of the worst natural disaster in US history. Emergency money that was supposed to be used for "legitimate disaster needs" was instead spent on strip clubs, vacations, and jewlery.

Anecdotally, there's been buzz about suspected fraud since the first relief checks were being written, but now the early numbers suggest that the scope was far greater than anyone could have reasonably suspected. The Washington pundits rightly are up in arms about what can be done to plug the gaping holes in a system that could allow this to happen in the first place.

I'm more concerned about what this says about us as a people that in a crisis, we could take emergency money for food and instead spend it at strip joints. Abner's been writing on these themes for a while. Check his post on Enablement as a good place to start.


RELATED: Even as Katrina's FEMA fiascos continue to grow, Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff (whose agency manages FEMA) and his bureacratic minions decided to cut counter-terrorism funding to New York City by more than 40% ($83 million) while raising it in smaller cities like Louisville (up 70 percent), Charlotte (64 percent) and St. Louis (31 percent). The rationale for the cutbacks included the preposterous finding that New York contains no "national monuments." Apparently in the space between the ears at DHS, the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, United Nations, and even the departed World Trade Center carry the same national significance as, say, Peoria's Main Street or Apple Valley's orchard farms.

In response, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly outlined 17 reasons (actual terror attacks and/or foiled terror plots in the city since 1990) why New York should receive the lion's share of counter-terrorism dollars:

UPDATE, 6/16: "Cherty" passes the buck, once again, this time blaming consulting giant Booz Allen for the funding cuts.


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