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Community Action

Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Tip O’Neil famously declared that “all politics are local.” In post 9/11 New York, that must include international politics. Unfortunately, the current administration’s defense-related international politics and policies have had a dramatically harmful local effect on the people of NYC.

The most basic duty of the federal government, enshrined in the preamble to our Constitution, is “to provide for the common defense.” Twice the victim of terrorist attacks, and a long-standing target of nuclear missiles, New York City is clearly on the front lines, ground zero for those who wish to see the United States obliterated. Oblivious to this reality, President Obama’s policies have endangered New Yorkers in a way no prior administration ever has.

As Islamic fundamentalists continue to both actively attack and seriously plan to assault American targets, the President appears reluctant to even use the phrase “War on Terror.” The Commander-in-Chief’s response to the latest terrorist act, the attempted destruction of a passenger airliner over the holidays, was almost nonexistent–-he took several days to merely address the nation. His cabinet officials and appointed “czars” didn’t even take time off from their vacations to respond to the incident. This inept and careless attitude towards the protection of the American people is best exemplified by President Obama’s Homeland Security chief, Janet Napolitano. Secretary Napolitano has stated that returning American soldiers, veterans of the Iraqi conflict, posed one of the greatest terrorist threats to our nation–perhaps one of the most ridiculous comments ever uttered by a presidential cabinet member in U.S. history, and a gross insult to our veteran community. Further, the Administration has been reluctant to fund sophisticated radiation detectors for the bridges and tunnels leading to Manhattan. These devices could prove crucial in preventing nuclear material from being smuggled into NYC’s central business district.

Even more threatening to our future safety has been the President’s disdain for the strategic defense of the American homeland. His proposals to cut key military programs, and his lack of support for technologies designed to knock down incoming missiles, leaves the entire nation–especially key targets like New York City–unnecessarily vulnerable.

Perhaps nothing illuminates the lack of concern for New York City’s safety more than the White House’s decision to try the Gitmo detainees in lower Manhattan. The decision is a remarkably poor one. First, the concept of holding civilian trials for those who engage in acts of armed attacks against America is unsupportable by any appropriate legal precedent. Were this concept followed in World War II, the backlog of cases against Nazi and Japanese troops would have shut down the entire American legal system. Second, to pick a venue as densely packed as lower Manhattan invites a terrorist retaliatory response that could devastate a community that, after 9/11, has already had its share of tragedy.

Finally, the extraordinary cost that will be borne by the New York City Police Department–and by all New Yorkers in inconvenience due to blocked streets and other security precautions–is an unfair burden on a city still recovering from the largest war time action on an American state since the Civil War. The Community Action Civic Association can be contacted at Visit our website at: newyorkcommunityaction.ORG/

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