Skip to comments.Amtrak Blows $1 Bil In DHS Grants To Protect Against Terrorism
Posted on 08/04/2011 10:30:12 AM PDT by Nachum
Last Updated: Thu, 08/04/2011 - 12:54pm
Despite getting more than $1 billion from the U.S. government to bolster security, the nations passenger train systemknown as Amtrakremains vulnerable to a terrorist attack because the money wasnt spent efficiently to adequately protect the most vulnerable stations.
Its the last thing Americans need to hear in the tumult of an epic budget crisis and record-high unemployment, that tax dollars were wasted by yet another incompetent government agency with a bloated budget. Its an old, worn out story that gets repeated way too often.
In this case the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) failed to ensure that more than $1 billion in grants were appropriately spent to secure Amtraks 22,000 miles of passenger rail lines or its 500 stations sprinkled throughout 46 states. Nearly 30 million passengers use Amtrak annually and, to protect them from becoming victims of a terrorist attack, Homeland Security officials singled out high-risk stations in need of protection.
Then they doled out the tax dollars but never bothered to follow up that the projects got done, according to a DHS Inspector General investigation. DHS never required Amtrak to develop a corrective action plan to address its biggest vulnerabilities, approved lower risk projects and didnt document roles and responsibilities for the grant award process. As a result, some rail stations and the traveling public may be at a greater risk to a potential terrorist attack, the IG wrote in a report that was recently made public with extensive redactions.
Investigators visited four high-risk stations and observed that Amtrak did not take actions to mitigate some of the more critical vulnerabilities that had been identified years ago. As an example, they said that at one unnamed station terrorists could access . The information was redacted for security reasons, no doubt. Other examples were completely blacked out in the report.
The bottom line is that, $1 billion taxpayer dollars later, the nations train system is quite vulnerable to a terrorist attack. In fact, in its report the DHS Inspector General warns that terrorists will continue to target trains (remember Madrid and Mumbai?), explaining that passenger rail stations are especially attractive to terrorist targets because of the large number of people in a concentrated area. Furthermore, a terrorist attack in these areas with high passenger and cargo volumes could lead to a significant loss of life and economic disruption.
Homeland Security officials took their spanking gracefully, essentially agreeing with the IGs findings and promising to right the wrong. The agency concurred with all of the IGs recommendations, which include ridiculously basic things like ensuring that Amtrak uses grant funds to protect rail stations from terrorism.
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That picture would break Willie Greens heart.
Yeah, I'm sure they'll get right on it...
Quite a number of people take trains, even one as dysfunctional as Amtrak, to avoid TSA thugs performing invasive searches on 95 year-old grandmothers and six year-old little children. In fact, earlier this year TSA got thrown off the property in Georgia because they searched passengers detraining! Setting up the same type of airport security prior to boarding trains will send thousands back to their cars.
However the mentality is there that loyal Americans are the problem — Amtrak has banned photography, a popular railfan pastime, from Amtrak property unless you are traveling on the train (goodby-photos by grandpa at the platform are a no-no).
I bet there are pleanty of photos of amatrack execs during security study junkets to countries like england, france, japan or even china in order to study their trains...
“Then they doled out the tax dollars but never bothered to follow up that the projects got done...”
Because getting anything done wasn’t really the point of this spending. Omitted from the article is what the money WAS spent on.
I believe Amtrak is just holding most of the money until it comes up with a way to spend it. About a third has been spent, mostly on Amtrak police/k9 units and more CCTV systems.
Some of us ‘dead beats’ who live in the eastern corridor can and do use Amtrak regularly.
If you happen to be in NYC, the Excela will get you to the capital offices faster than flying.
I live in central Maine. I can leave my house at 6 in the morning and be in my hotel in Alexandria before 6 in the evening. I can’t do that by flying.
A billion or so wasted! Obscene. It is astounding how the government just pi**es away our money.
Are their any serious and valid audits of the money spent? Are these audits themselves audited by outside private firms? The theft of our money by the left is incomprehensible. Imagine the millions of people who willingly and happily participate in this grand theft that occurs throughout government at all levels.
The justice handed out to thieves in 1800's should be handed out to ALL these thieves.
“Amtrak has banned photography, a popular railfan pastime, from Amtrak property unless you are traveling on the train (goodby-photos by grandpa at the platform are a no-no).”
Who told you this ?
Amtrak policy (Amtrak Corporate Guidelines on Photography and Video Recording).
Note that it appears that non-commercial photography is o.k. except in restricted areas. It goes on to define a restricted area as station platforms and then says ticketed passengers are exempt provided photography occurs during the time they are preparing to board or immediately after alighting from a train. The policy is widely ignored, especially in small communities, but occasionally Amtrak police or rent-a-cops in bigger stations will show their authority.
Interesting enough, if the station platform is controlled by non-Amtrak entity (such as a commuter rail system), there generally is not a ban on private non-commercial photography. There are several recent cases going through the courts where well-known photographers (including a national magazine editor) have been harassed, cited, and even arrested for photographing trains and transit from publicly accessible areas including not only station platforms but grade crossings and even adjacent roads! It's really a stupid prohibition these days as cell phones have camera/video capability.
passenger rail stations are especially attractive to terrorist targets because of the large number of people in a concentrated area.
Just like the TSA screening lines in airports.
Yep. There was a shooting at LAX a few years ago at the check in line before the security gate.
News to me... I run from NY to Boston a couple times a week, and the foamers are out at almost every station. Never heard of anyone getting their stones broke over it.
They have scanners, mics set up, know our names... really creepy.
Train buffs are a strange breed.