The Department of Homeland Security has ranked the District in a low-risk category of terrorist attack or catastrophe, the Washington Post reports, putting it in the bottom 25 percent of U.S. states and territories, as part of a decision that will cost the city millions in anti-terror funds, according to city and federal officials.
The news came as angry officials from New York and Washington demanded explanations for why the department slashed funds in a separate urban anti-terrorism program by 40 percent for the metropolitan areas hit hardest by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
New York will receive $124.5 million in anti-terrorism grants for cities at high risk of attacks, a deep cut of some 40 percent described as "a knife in the back" by one lawmaker.
The national capital region, which encompasses Washington and its Maryland and Virginia suburbs, will receive $46 million, compared to $77.5 last year.
The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday announced grant amounts for 46 cities, divvying up a $740 million pool of funds.
"It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out these are two cities still at risk," D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey told the Washington Post.
Homeland Security officials told the Post that D.C. had far fewer potential targets than larger jurisdictions, like California. They told the newspaper the decisions came after an elaborate process aimed at fairly dividing anti-terror funds.
Meanwhile, according to the Homeland Security Department, New York has no national monuments or icons, a determination that led to a 40 percent cut in anti-terrorism funding. And New Yorkers are seething over the news, and some are demanding the firing of Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff.
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., charged that the Bush administration had "declared war on New York" with its decision to reduce anti-terrorism funding by $83 million while increases went to cities like Jacksonville, Fla., Louisville, Ky., and Omaha, Neb.
"I'm not begrudging any other city, but why would you cut the No. 1 target in the country by 40 percent?" said King, who demanded an investigation. "How can you possibly justify that?"
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., on Thursday said President Bush "should not come back to New York and stand with us" until his administration comes up with more money to keep New York safe.
"Anyone who can't see New York monuments at risk is blind as a bat when it comes to homeland security. This is wrong and unfair, but also outrageous," Schumer said. "The bottom line is this is abandoning New York."
A worksheet made by the federal government to explain the decision, obtained by The Associated Press, said the city had just four major financial assets at risk, and no national monuments or icons — a description ridiculed by New York officials.