By J.D. Wallace, KOLD News 13 Reporter
From the Gem Show, to the Tucson Rodeo, to Spring Training, Tucson has plenty of attractions for plenty of people. Whether they're listed as potential terror targets is up to the department of homeland security.
"The inspector general completely missed the boat on what this national asset database is all about," said Department of Homeland Security Deputy Press Secretary Jarrod Agen.
An Inspector General report shows the list of possible targets, or assets, submitted from around the country to DHS has doubled from fiscal year 2004 to 2005, from just less than 32,000 to more than 77,000, and it cites "an abundance of unusual, or out of place, assets." Those assets include Amish Country Popcorn near Berne, Indiana, and the Annual Mule Days Celebration in Columbia, Tennessee.
The inspector wrote that these things are "outnumbering the nationally significant assets 3 to 1" and that "their presence complicates efforts to develop a useful, first-generation database."
Agen said that the list is only the beginning when they decide how to protect the country.
"We welcomed voluntary submissions from local entities and private entities, we included all the data available simply as a starting point. The next step is to pull that information that is important to us," Agen said.
Some states now offer far more places to start than others. Indiana now lists 8591 assets, which is up from 322 the year before. Compare that to New York, which listed 5687, up from 1634. Arizona now has 675, up from 597.
But DHS said that the change in numbers is not the reason for a change in funding. It cut Arizona's homeland security grants in half this year.
"To suggest that this database has an impact on grant funding is simply not true," Agen said.
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