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After Boston Is It Time To Give Up Freedom For Security?

The smoke had yet to clear from the terrorist attack in Boston when some politicians were calling for more money to be spent on domestic surveillance and anti-terrorism programs.

Boston Marathon ExplosionsThe United States spent well over $1 trillion on “homeland security” in the decade after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC.

We have passed, and renewed, the so-called Patriot Act, revised our laws regarding electronic surveillance, created the TSA (and an alphabet soup of other federal agencies) and are now prepared to fill our own skies with armed drones -- all in the name of keeping our country “safe.”

But as the attack on the Boston Marathon demonstrated, all of this may prove to be of little avail in an open and pluralistic society being attacked in what amounts to a religious war.

In a 2011 article, The Economist highlighted a study by John Mueller of Ohio State University and Mark Stewart of the University of Newcastle in Australia that attempted to determine whether the return on investment justified the vast expenditure on homeland security. They also asked whether policymakers ever considered anything remotely resembling a cost-benefit analysis before they spent all that money.

The answer in both cases, it seems, is no:

“[T]o be deemed cost-effective, [the increased expenditures] would have to deter, prevent, foil, or protect against 1,667 otherwise successful Times-Square type attacks per year, or more than four per day. Although there are emotional and political pressures on the terrorism issue, this does not relieve politicians and bureaucrats of the fundamental responsibility of informing the public of the limited risk that terrorism presents and of seeking to expend funds wisely. Moreover, political concerns may be over-wrought: restrained reaction has often proved to be entirely acceptable politically.”

Politicians justify this vast expenditure of taxpayers' money with such platitudes as “law enforcement has to be right 100% of the time, terrorists only have to be lucky once.” However, as The Economist noted, “the findings in this paper are truly remarkable. By 2008, according to the authors, America's spending on counterterrorism outpaced all anti-crime spending by some $15 billion. Messrs Mueller and Stewart do not even include things like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (which they call "certainly terrorism-determined) in their trillion-plus tally.”

You can read their study online here.

Commentators on the left and right have argued that much of the Homeland Security spending has been at best misdirected and is often simply wasted in politically-motivated spending. It is hard to disagree with that conclusion when one looks at the facts.

In 2012, conservative budget hawk Senator Tom Coburn released a report titled “Safety at Any Price: Assessing the Impact of Homeland Security Spending in U.S. Cities,” documenting the waste in federal homeland security spending.

Examples in Coburn's report abound, but paying for first responders to attend a HALO Counterterrorism Summit at a California island spa resort featuring a simulated zombie apocalypse strikes us as unlikely to discourage potential terrorists.

Likewise, the purchase by the small town of Keane, NH (population 23,000) of a Bearcat armored vehicle with a homeland security grant did not seem driven by any serious threat assessment -- the grant application cited protecting the town’s annual pumpkin festival as justification for why the armored vehicle was needed.

The list in Coburn’s report goes on and on.

Undoubtedly, those affected by the Boston Marathon bombings will ask how it could happen and, much like the families in Newton, Connecticut, they will look for some positive effort to get behind to give their personal tragedies meaning – and their entreaties will be hard for politicians to resist.

But resist them they must. Trading freedom for safety has never worked, and putting both in the hands of politicians has proven to be an extremely expensive proposition.

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Pressure cookers

Can't you just hear it. Bloomberg & Cuomo. We need to ban presure cookers. You don't need a pressure cooker to cook a deer

Give Up Our Freedom? HELL NO

This TERRORIST ATTACK is a direct result of obama NOT SECURING OUR BORDERS and LETTING TERRORIST OUT OF PRISONS because he is trying to make HIS point on the sequester that HE signed into law. IMPEACH HIM NOW, enough Americans have DIED because of him!

“They that can give up

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Ben Franklin   'Nuf said!

No, but it would help ...

If we stop having our heads in the sand and start talking about the real threats we are facing.

This administration refuses to properly identify these threats, while falsely claiming that Al Qaeda has been smashed.

This administration refuses to use phrases like "radical Islamists," or "terror attacks by radical Islamists."

At the same time, we watch as the administration siddles up to and supports the Muslim Brotherhood in the Middle East, an anti-Western, antisemitic organization that declared holy war or jihad against the United States in October, 2010.

The terror attack that took place in Boston has all the hall marks of an operation organized or inspired by Al Qaeda, with the use of bombs packed with ball bearings, etc. being a signature of these sorts of terror attacks to inflict maximum pain and suffering.

We need to have an honest conversation about the threats we are facing, including homegrown violent jihad, and take the necessary steps to address these threats, including horror of horrors, using profiling as appropriate.

As a Homeland Security Team

As a Homeland Security Team was there, within a hundred yards of the finish line I believe, far more needs to be spoken on just what their work flow was. While it goes without saying, H.S. can CYA by decrying 'National Interest', I have grave reservations concerning both street level expertise and the level above.Just how close to the action does H.S. need to be to be effective? Standing next to a perpatrator at the instance of action?Like stated in the article about protecting a holiday pumkin show, it would seem the seriousness displayed was about the same... in results.Frankly, like 'other wars on....', the pooch got screwed here.

Give up what?!

No, hell no!

Give up more freedom???

Only the uninformed would fall for the notion of having more freedom and liberty taken away in order to be more secure. Anyone looking at the track record of DHS will see nothing has improved to make us more safe. We are still reactionary.  What has been achieved is more of our wages have been confiscated to provide jobs and trips to exotic places.


If we want to be safe we need to look and see why we are being attacked and no one wants to speak about the possible root causes. Instead what we are going to see is an increase in the DHS budget and an increase in the size of the police state. All equaling to more invasion of privacy and taking away what little freedoms we have. Will anything happen to those who were supposed to be watching those cameras?



Somewhat obvious that since

Somewhat obvious that since H.S. was already on the scene, the problem was not money as being, I believe, 100 yards away from the first explosion in their post. The difficulty for H.S., in this case, was their procedures.It would seem, like the dispatching to a pumpkin holiday event, H.S. did not do their job. Was it based on dollars? Do we need H.S. officers lined up. arm in arm, two rows facing away from the other line?Frankly, I'm disappointed in what we got for our money as is and rather than allowing H.S. to hide behind 'National Security', they need to have some serious light put on them about their procedures and work-flows.

Giving up freedom was a

Giving up freedom was a mistake under 43 and would be a mistake now.  I hope we can avoid attacking the wrong country again in response and wasting $1.5T on another Iraq.

Security- ya right

Now is the time to give up our current represenatives, senators and president. We need folks that support their oath, know what this country is truely about, and will protect it while in office. We also need to do away with homeland security before it turns ugle on us.

Our president does not want to omit ---  that this was done by the people he has been arming and sending our money to.

Remember Benghazi where our troops were left to die. 

after boston am i willing to surrender some of my personal freed

no - i refuse to let some ------ with a bomb/gun restrict where i go or what i do.

Time for profiling!

It is NOT time now, or EVER, to give up liberty for some psuedo-safety.  What it IS time for is to throw off the PC blindness to profiling and start taking a long hard look at Middle-eastern and Muslim men between 10 and 40.  IDIOTS!

After Boston Is It Time To Give Up Freedom For Security?

No. Trading freedom for safety or ANYTHING has never worked and never will. Amen.