After tweeting his disdain for the mayor of London in the aftermath of Wednesday’s terror attack there, Donald Trump, Jr. returned to living and working and raising his kids in a city that his father’s budget would leave dramatically more vulnerable to just such an attack.
Last week, word that President Trump’s budget would cut $190 million in Homeland security funding to New York prompted NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill to say the move would deprive the city of “the backbone of our entire counterterrorism apparatus.”
“This funding is absolutely critical,” O’Neill said. “It is the cornerstone of preparedness and prevention against terrorist threats, and enables us to do what we can do to keep the city secure.”
In a tweet of his own, O’Neill said, “Under @POTUS budget, virtually all fed funding to #NYPD eradicated. Entire counterterrorism apparatus in nation’s top terror target hobbled.”
Donald, Jr. was tweetless about the peril to his hometown, but he went right to Twitter after Wednesday’s attack in London in which an English-born terrorist killed four using an automobile and a knife:
“You have to be kidding me?!: Terror attacks are part of living in big city, says London Mayor Sadiq Khan.”
Donald, Jr. was quoting a headline to that effect in the British newspaper The Independent. He included a link to the article, but perhaps the headline was all he read—as if it were CNN unplugged—- and he thought it applied to Wednesday’s attack.
In fact, the article was dated September 22, 2016 and Khan was in fact responding to an attack in New York and seeking to reassure his constituents that every possible measure was being taken to protect London. The body of the article quotes Khan as saying, “Nothing is more important to me than keeping Londoners safe.”
Khan went on, “I want to be reassured that every single agency and individual involved in protecting our city has the resources and expertise they need to respond in the event that London is attacked.”
He added, “The terrorists are evolving their tactics and we have got to evolve our response to them all the time. I am afraid the consequences of a terror attack are very very scary. They want to kill. They want to maim and terrify. It is my job to try to make sure that we are as safe as we can be.”
Not even the son of a president who is prepared to leave his hometown dramatically more vulnerable to attack in time of war could rightly disagree with Khan’s sentiments.
One of 21 terror plots that have targeted New York since 9/11, the attack that prompted Khan’s remarks, involved two bombs in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. One detonated, injuring 32 people. The second was found across the street from a hotel restaurant that has a glass ceiling a blast would have turned murderous. It was safely removed and dismantled by the NYPD bomb squad, with considerable help from the very funding that the president’s budget seeks to end.
“The federal Homeland Security funds buy us a lot,” Commissioner O’Neill noted in a recent article in the New York Daily News. “The Total Containment Vessel (TCV), the rolling vault that allowed the bomb squad to remove the live Chelsea bomb? Yes, paid for with Homeland Security Grant funding from the Department of Homeland Security. The bomb robot that allowed the NYPD bomb technicians to deal with that device from far away, thus reducing risk to our detectives’ lives? Paid for with DHS grant money. The “bomb suit”—protective gear worn by the bomb tech who had to approach the device? Paid for by DHS money.”
The article continued, “The Vapor Wake Dogs that patrol large events looking for the next pair of “Boston Marathon Bombers” moving through a crowd with explosives in backpacks, the “active shooter” training that hones the tactical skills of thousands of officers who might face a New York version of a Paris attack by machine-gun-wielding terrorists in a crowded concert hall, the network of cameras our department uses to cover critical locations in the Financial District and Midtown, the overtime money for Counterterrorism Officers (CTOs)?… All paid for with DHS grant funding.”
Counterterrorism officers on overtime were prominently on duty at last week’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade, which as always went up Fifth Avenue past Trump Tower, where Donald, Sr.’s family resides and Donald, Jr. works, along with his brother, Eric.
As it has been since the election, the entrance was guarded members of the NYPD from among the counterterrorism cops who are specially armed and trained with the help of those same DHS funds. The cost to the city for protecting the tower is around $100,000 a day, rising to about $300,000 on days when the president is in his residence.
The irony of all this must be clear to O’Neill, but even as he went by Trump Tower he showed only delight in marching with the parade, the spectators along the route this year including his beaming mother.
Near the end of the parade came the FDNY and 343 flags representing the 343 members of the department who were killed on 9/11. The FDNY Emerald Society Pipes and Drum came with them. The band had played more than 400 funeral and memorials after the attack and was giving a spirited version of “Hard Times Come Around No More” as it now went past Trump Tower.
In the aftermath of 9/11, New York had decided that it could not count on the federal government alone to protect it and developed a robust and agile counterterrorism capability.
Even as he promises to make America safe as well as great again, Trump has moved to eviscerate New York’s counterterrorism capability while instituting electronic device restrictions for air passengers flying here from 10 airports in the Middle East and North Africa that a senior law enforcement official terms “absolutely useless” and two tries at a so-far court-stalled travel ban that would do little if anything to protect us — while playing into the hands of extremists who seek to convince moderate Muslims that we are their enemy. The mayor of London happened to denounce the travel ban as “shameful and cruel.”
Back at the time of the Chelsea bombing, Donald Jr. tweeted the question, “If I had a bowl of Skittles and I told you just three would kill you, would you take a handful?” He added, “That’s our Syrian refugee problem.”
Never mind that the accused bomber, Ahmad Khan Rahimi, had come to America not from Syria, but Afghanistan at the age back in 2000, the year before 9/11, at the age of 12.
Now, Donald, Jr. has taken to tweeting contempt for the mayor of London. You have to wonder if Donald, Jr. would be so quick and reckless with his thumbs if Khan were not a Muslim and had not so forthrightly expressed his opinion of the travel ban.
Khan’s actual response to Wednesday’s terror attack was exactly right: “Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism.”
Khan rightly responded to Donald, Jr. by not responding. He told CNN, “I’m not going to respond to a tweet from Donald Trump Jr, I’ve been doing more important things over the past 24 hours.”
Meanwhile, Donald, Jr. continues to live and work and raise his family with constant armed protection even as his father’s budget would strip protections from millions of other New Yorkers.
As Donald, Jr. might tweet, You have to be kidding me.