Hundreds of New York nonprofit groups have gotten a slice of nearly $2 billion in national Homeland Security grants this year by claiming they face a "high risk" of a terror attack.
Many of those grants were warranted - but critics say some were just "ridiculous," says a New York Daily News report.
The grants include:
- A Long Island church got $150,000 because one of its members hosts a radio show where Islam is sometimes discussed.
- A Rochester children's museum got $75,000 in 2009 by claiming its colorful design made it a terror target from the air.
- The New York City Police Museum got $75,000 in fiscal 2008 to upgrade security because of its "symbolic nature."
"It's ridiculous," James Carafano, a security expert with the conservative Heritage Foundation, was quoted saying in the report. "It makes no sense."
"Carafano says the entire grant program has little value and would be better spent on active counterterrorism efforts," the report says.
Hundreds of New York nonprofits got $18.9 million of the $2 billion nationwide total because they were deemed to be at "high risk" of terrorist attack, the report notes. The money, usually $75,000 a group, is supposed to pay for equipment such as security cameras and metal detectors.
In fiscal 2008 and 2009, some 281 New York groups applied for these grants, says the report. Nearly half were successful, including the Intrepid and the American Museum of Natural History. Both pocketed $150,000.
The New York City Police Museum in Manhattan got $75,000 in fiscal 2008 to upgrade security with new cameras and locks it said were necessary because of its "symbolic nature," the report notes.
Questions about the nature of the threats faced by some of the groups emerged in a review conducted by New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services.
The 2010 study pointed to 10 "terrorist incidents" involving New York nonprofits since 1970. Three were related to abortion rights and only one had anything to do with the threat from Al Qaeda or like-minded groups.
As of March 2010, "no specific credible terrorist threat" against any New York nonprofit was identified, the report said.