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Michigan lawmakers press for answers on security, funds for terror trial

by Candice Miller on July 29, 2010

NATHAN HURST
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Michigan’s 17-member Congressional delegation wants answers from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on whether the federal government will pick up the tab and coordinate with local authorities on security when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab goes to trial.

Abdulmutallab is the Nigerian national who tried, but failed, to detonate an explosive on board Northwest Airlines Flight 253 shortly before it landed in Detroit on Christmas Day.

While his trial is months off, concerns have been raised about whether local and state law enforcement agencies will get stuck with the responsibility — and bill — for securing the Theodore Levin Courthouse in downtown Detroit, where Abdulmutallab’s legal proceedings have taken place thus far.

The letter, signed by Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow and all 15 of Michigan’s House members, came in response to a Detroit News article published earlier this month revealing neither state nor city officials had been asked to coordinate on security measures for the trial, while questions lingered about who would shoulder the costs.

Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, wrote a similar letter to Napolitano in April, but the latest letter called the response from the Department of Homeland Security “insufficient.” The letter also referenced promises from Homeland Security to pay for security for upcoming terrorist trials in New York, and demanded that such assurances be extended to Michigan.

“If the Federal Government pays for security-related matters for the New York trials,” the legislators wrote, “it must be prepared to do the same in Detroit.”

The letter also questions a $200 million request made by Homeland Security officials for the Urban Areas Security Initiative that would be set aside for terrorist trials. That amount, however, wasn’t included in the fiscal year 2011 budget by the Subcommittee on Homeland Security Appropriations, the letter said, bringing into question whether funding would be available for Michigan.

The lawmakers, who sent the letter to Napolitano on Wednesday, want a response by Aug. 28.

nhurst@detnews.com (202) 662-8738

http://www.detnews.com/article/20100729/METRO01/7290470/1361/Mich.-lawmakers-press-for-answers-on-security–funds-for-terror-trial

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