Rejected! Feds won't take notes of readers


Michael Chertoff's Homeland Security Department rejected thousands of News readers' complaints about funding.

After slashing the city's anti-terrorism funds, Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff now apparently thinks angry letters from New Yorkers are the real safety threat.

When a Daily News reporter attempted to deliver scores of messages protesting the cuts to Chertoff's Washington office, he was promptly turned away.

The letters, faxes and printed e-mails "would put all the employees here, including the secretary, at risk," said a Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman when the delivery was attempted Friday.

She cited the 2001 scare caused by anthrax-laced letters.

Chertoff was not in any immediate danger. He was safe in a Moscow hotel during an official visit.

The dozens of envelopes containing New Yorkers' outrage at losing 40% of their security funds did go through an X-ray machine outside the government complex.

That wasn't enough. They must be scanned and processed in an offsite facility, the reporter was told.

"They have to be mailed," the spokeswoman said flatly. "We cannot accept mail from people we don't know."

Some signatories of the 6,136 messages were not surprised by the rejection.

"They know what they're going to see when they'll read them, if they'll read them," said Charles Barthold of Jackson Heights, Queens.

Thwarted this time, The News is still determined to deliver Chertoff the ire of its readers - one way or another.