So far, the federal government has spent over $150 BILLION fighting a war against "insurgents" in Iraq. Here at home, the Department of Homeland Security says it would cost $290 MILLION to install terrorist dirty-bomb radiation detectors at U.S. seaports. Problem is, it only takes about 23 hours to spend $290 MILLION on the war in Iraq. Is there something wrong with this picture? If the money being spent to conduct the war in Iraq were instead being used to enhance security here at home, how much safer would we be today?
According to Motherjones.com's editorial Nickel and Diming Homeland Security, you can compare the $150 billion spent so far to wage war in Iraq, to the $27 billion budgeted for the Department of Homeland Security. Unfortunately, most of that $27 billion has gone to fund the day-to-day operations and salaries of agencies like the Custom Service, leaving -- not much -- for making things like planes, trains and seaports safer from terrorist attacks. A fact that has irked all U.S. emergency services providers and more than a few Republican members of Congress.
Making the point that the war in Iraq might, in fact, be counterproductive to the goal of making the United States safe from terrorism, Motherjones offers several comparisons of homeland security needs, President Bush's budget allocations to address them, and how long it takes to spend the same amount of money in Iraq. Here are a few of the most notable:
$3 billion needed to place devices that screen luggage for explosives in all U.S. airports: ($3 billion funds 10 days of Iraq war)
$400 million allocated by Bush budget for explosives-screening machines: ($400 million funds 32 hours of Iraq war)
$290 million needed to place dirty bomb radiation detectors at U.S. seaports: ($290 million funds 23 hours of Iraq war)
$43 million allocated by Bush budget for dirty-bomb detectors: ($43 million funds 3 hours of Iraq war)
$36.8 billion needed to help U.S. firefighters prepare for terrorist attacks: ($36.8 billion funds 122 days of Iraq war)
$500 million allocated by Bush budget for grants to local fire departments: ($500 million funds 40 hours of Iraq war)
Figures in the Motherjones.com editorial Nickel and Diming Homeland Security are taken directly from White House estimates of expenditures for the FY 2005 federal budget.