Government Wastes Billions of Taxpayer Dollars in the Post-9/11 Security Feeding Frenzy

This is a disgrace. But hey, so long as the word “security” can be applied, who cares about billions of dollars going down the drain with nothing to show for it? That has NOTHING to do with so-called “out of control government spending.” No, the real problem is poor people who milk the system with unemployment benefits, Medicare and Social Security. And a federal health insurance plan is too expensive and anyway, it’s socialism.

Where’s the fiscal hawks’ outrage over this?

In July, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security quietly scuttled a multi-billion dollar program to install high-tech radiation detectors at the nation’s ports. A top priority of the Bush administration, the advanced spectroscopic portal (ASP) devices that the Raytheon Company was being paid to build weren’t just way behind schedule and enormously over budget — they didn’t actually appear to work. The failed project cost taxpayers well over $230 million.

DHS had already pulled the plug on its SBInet program — an effort to build a “virtual fence” of sensors, cameras and radar along the nation’s border — in January, after paying more than $1.1 billion. The Government Accountability Office, among others, had concluded that poor management and an over-reliance on the prime contractor, Boeing, had caused staggering delays and cost overruns while producing inadequate results.

And earlier in July, DHS had scrapped its unfinished and dysfunctional Risk Assessment Management Program, a computer application intended to help officials distribute their small army of private security guards between federal buildings, based on the chances of those buildings becoming terror targets. DHS had already shelled out $35 million over three years for a project that contractor Booz Allen had promised to complete in one year for $21 million. With the program axed, some eight years after DHS was founded, the department still isn’t able to do something as basic as assess which federal buildings are more vulnerable to attack than others.

These are just a few of the most recent — and in these cases, now staunched — examples of how DHS has hemorrhaged money since its creation in 2003.

According to an estimate by Ohio State University political scientist John Mueller and Australian engineer Mark Stewart, the cumulative increase in U.S. domestic homeland security spending since the 9/11 terror attacks totals about $580 billion.


When it was formed, DHS absorbed 22 disparate agencies, cramming them into a single, 230,000-person mega-bureaucracy. Without a clear overall strategy, the grant money DHS was responsible for allocating went out to states regardless of their needs. Huge defense contractors took advantage of the easy funding to pitch untested products.

“It opened a floodgate of money for private industry to sell scanners and other devices,” said Charles Perrow, a Yale sociology professor who has called the creation of DHS “The Disaster After 9/11.”

“A lot of money was kind of thrown at the problem,” said John Gannon…

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About Stacy

Attorney, Publisher, Foreign Policy wonk

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2 Comments on “Government Wastes Billions of Taxpayer Dollars in the Post-9/11 Security Feeding Frenzy”

  1. Carolyn-Rodham Says:

    Another fine mess we’ve gotten ourselves into.

    Is there ANY good news on the foreign policy front?


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