Among Tuesday’s “top” news was an upbeat story about U.S. soldiers digging up a cache of “aging” weapons in a remote part of the northern Iraqi desert. Ironically, this “domestic propaganda” buried the news of an ongoing manhunt in the southwestern desert of the United States.
The FBI has put $50,000 on the table for any information leading to the capture of over 500 pounds of military grade explosives, stolen sometime between December 13-18 from an unguarded, government funded “bunker.”
“We don’t have any suspect,” Wayne Dixie of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said on Good Morning America. “We don’t have any leads at this point.
The explosives were stored outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico, at Cherry Engineering, Inc., a government approved site regulated weekly by the ATF. Chris Cherry, owner of the facility, is employed by the government-funded Sandia National Labs, and trains federal agents and police bomb quads in bomb disablement, according to Sandia’s website. He was honored by President Clinton in 1998 for “defusing the Unabomber,” Ted Kaczynski.
There is no reason to believe that this theft poses a threat to New Mexico, according to Governor Bill Richardson. “We think it may be somebody trying to make a profit or somebody that has a mental problem, but we don’t know,” he said.
Officials say that the amount of stolen explosives would be enough to match the bomb that destroyed the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995.
According to KPHO-TV, 350 pounds of ammonium nitrate was stolen from the same facility only two years ago.
In the latest heist, pinned the biggest high-explosives theft in the U.S. in the past decade on Tuesday’s Good Morning America, roughly 170 pounds of the plastic explosive known as “C-4,” about 250 pounds of special, flexible – and virtually undetectable – “sheet explosives,” blasting caps and approximately 2,500 detonators were stolen from a federally certified explosives storage facility Monday night.
How could these warehouses possibly NOT be under 24-hour surveillance, you ask?!?
Tim Manning, director of the New Mexico Office of Homeland Security (via Albuquerque Trib):
“It is concerning to me that the same thing happened twice at the same location…. But it is also important to note that there is not any particular threat associated (with it).”
If this guy is in charge I’d say there DEFINITELY is a threat.
Gov. Bill Richardson promoted Manning in March 2005 from the directorship of New Mexico’s Department of Public Safety Emergency Operations Bureau (state FEMA). Undoubtedly his priorities with DHS were to increase security to meet the Bush administration’s claimed containment of what Gov. Richarson has called a “porous” border. As long as its nobody coming across the border for explosives, then there’s no threat, he might be told — so tunnel-visioned as to not even consider that the Rio Grande is probably the least likely point of entry for a terrorist into the U.S.
New Mexico’s FY05 Homeland Security Grant totaled just over $12,000 according to the Department of Homeland Security. Total grants (including Citizen Corps, and a handful of medical and security related initiatives) brought the total to $18 million — by far the lowest of any border state (and 30% less than Puerto Rico). [comparative state grant info – .xls]. That is to say, between 5 and 10 dollars per capita.
Certainly Tim Manning had a more manageable budget early in his career, as before his very eyes sprouted one Brownie of a resume: leading New Mexico’s post 9/11 and anthrax scare tactics, the state’s search for the remains of Space Shuttle Columbia, and various wildfires etc.
NM’s state FEMA budget is unclear, however, it goes without saying that on a federal level, DHS is proving to not have its priorities straight, if they have any priorities at all. Furthermore, since coming clean on an embellished resume listing him as an Oakland A’s draft pick, Governor Richardson seems to have been in outer space. Literally.
Just last week, Richardson attracted the attention of one Sir Richard Branson with an announcement to begin funding construction of a $225 million spaceport with local, state and federal funding. Govtech.net quotes a statement from Gov. Richardson from last week:
“New Mexico’s Spaceport will be a magnet for space companies to bring their business here, which will send a message far and wide that we embrace entrepreneurs, adventure and innovation.”
Space.com reports that the Virgin Group’s Richard Branson will soon announce plans to launch space flights on Virgin Galactic — from New Mexico — beginning as soon as 2009.
When not dreaming of intergalactica and shrugging off the need to guard various missle silos, not to mention the notoriously weak security at Los Alamos, AP’s Barry Massey brought this news last week:
The New Mexico governor has taken 40 trips on the sleek state-of-the-art chopper since December 2003, when the state bought it for $3.8 million.
But another political sell-out, that Richardson — and he once actually seemed to be a decent Dem. I wish our national guard was around to take care of the home front almost as bad as the soldiers themselves.
I give Richardson a pass, however, as he is but another victim of the Rove Republic — careless to the point of endangering any notion of “homeland security” to fulfill its hollow, destructive and increasingly scandalous legacy.