Long Beach race listed as possible terror target

The federal Homeland Security Department's list of 73 Los Angeles County sites that will get specialized terrorism protection left local officials puzzled Thursday because it includes some low-priority targets and leaves off such high-profile potential targets as universities and hospitals. A copy of the list of sites that will receive part of $12.9 million in extra security funding for the state was obtained by the Los Angeles Daily News (a sister paper of the Press-Telegram) and reviewed by several officials.

Stadiums, arenas and other entertainment venues made the list, but one official questioned why it also included the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Also, according to the list, the Fallbrook and Valencia malls qualified but not the Beverly Center.

"There is no rhyme or reason to homeland security funding, nor homeland security awareness in Los Angeles," said Councilman Jack Weiss, a former federal prosecutor deeply involved in security issues.

"Why should the Glendale Galleria qualify for something that the Beverly Center didn't qualify for? It just looks so scattershot, it's hard to believe there are federal standards."

The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, for example, have received more than $27 million in security grants from the Transportation Security Administration since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

And Los Angeles International Airport has received more than $256 million to reimburse costs of installing permanent explosives-detection systems integrated with baggage conveyor systems.

Still, local officials and terrorism experts questioned the rationale behind the compilation. "It certainly wasn't put together with California in mind," said Ed Broomfield, homeland security grants program manager for the Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management.

"I wouldn't say that any of them are not targets, but are they the most important targets? Quite a few of them are not," he said. "Just scrolling down the list, it looks like they only hit about 50 percent of them right on."

Broomfield said he believes shopping malls and amusement parks could be potential targets, but he also questioned placing the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on the same list as Universal Studios, which police say they once found in an al-Qaida videotape.

"That could be a target, but it's certainly not a top target," Broomfield said of the Grand Prix. "Also, the Valencia Town Center is not really high up there on the target list." Long Beach Press Telegram

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