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

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

CHAPTER 6
Homeland Protection
Infrastructure

Following the discussion of general parameters concerning protection as set out in chapter 5, we begin in this chapter an effort to generate some specific policy recommendations about situations and conditions under which it may be sensible—that is, cost-effective—to seek to protect potential terrorist targets, as well as ones under which it may not be. The following chapter focuses on the special and important issue of protecting commercial passenger airliners.

As suggested in chapter 5, protection is a questionable use of resources for many potential terrorist targets and unlikely to be cost-effective. For a few, however, protection may make sense, particularly when protection is feasible for an entire class of potential targets and the destruction of something in that target set would have quite large physical, economic, psychological, and/or political consequences.

Protection of a potential terrorist target may also become advisable if the target is vulnerable as well to higher probability hazards, such as lightning, storms, earthquakes, and perhaps sabotage, and if the combined probability, with terrorism added, now becomes high enough to justify the costs of protection. In general, of course, quite apart from terrorism concerns, there would be value in any effort that, seeking to discover terrorism vulnerabilities, happens instead to uncover a significant and previously unrecognized vulnerability to higher probability hazards.

An interesting and important difference here is with protection against crime. Although many efforts designed to protect people from crime may

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