Terror, Security, and Money: Balancing the Risks, Benefits, and Costs of Homeland Security

By John Mueller; Mark G. Stewart | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5
Protecting the Homeland
Some Parameters

To this point, we have evaluated the overall cost-effectiveness of homeland security expenditures. We now focus somewhat more narrowly on a substantial subset of these outlays: those devoted to making potential targets notably less vulnerable to terrorist attack—to protecting what the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and various presidential and congressional reports and directives in the United States call “critical infrastructure” and “key assets” or “key resources.” Such protection measures cost $34 billion in 2009 and were some 46 percent of the total of all American federal homeland security expenditures.1

As noted in the preface, it is not entirely clear what these terms mean, and “protection” has been applied to many elements that seem to be far from critical or key. Thus the Army has extrapolated grandly from 9/11 to conclude that “it is unsafe to have employees in urban office buildings.” To protect them, it decided to move tens of thousands of people in its more obscure agencies out of the Washington, D.C., area to the distant Fort Belvoir.2 How the “incapacitation” of these people “would have a debilitating effect on security” or on “national economic security” (“critical”) or how they are “essential to the minimal operations of the economy and government” (“key”) is not at all clear.

However that may be, this chapter puts forward a set of general parameters for coming to grips with this homeland security concern in order to provide a framework for analysis. It also addresses some specific issues in the quest to prioritize protection, to imagine what cities and specific targets

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