He's only been the Department of Homeland Security Secretary for a couple months, but Michael Chertoff is a real dumbass. Chertoff, you're not going to win any fans by saying, "The truth of the matter is, a fully loaded airplane with jet fuel, a commercial airliner, has the capacity to kill 3,000 people. A bomb in a subway car may kill 30 people. When you start to think about your priorities, you're going to think about making sure you don't have a catastrophic thing first," no matter how true it may be. Because when there are millions of people who use mass transit on a daily basis just to get from here to there. Commuters in the area are angry, as well as quick to conjure up worst case scenarios. One man tells Newsday, "To me, Penn Station -- it's just a matter of time. I think more than 30 people would die from a bomb." And the Straphangers' Gene Russianoff says, "He obviously doesn't ride the train. It's staggering what damage an explosion might do at Grand Central or Penn Station... the real risks are in transit. It just couldn't be clearer than day." The American Public Transportation Association also condemned Chertoff's remarks, stating, "'To say that a terrorist attack on a subway is less important than an attack using a commercial airline is another example of how the federal government treats the millions of public transportation riders as second-class citizens when it comes to security."
Chertoff's remarks come as the Senate is figuring out how much funding security should get and where it'll go. He tried to backpedal by saying that there's already infrastructure at the local level to deal with mass transit terror situations, whereas there no support for aviation. At any rate, Gothamist invites Secretary Chertoff to ride the subways for one week during rush hour - we'll pay for your weekly Metrocard - and rethink his statement.