@ Tangerine Blue,
"Perhaps that depends on how one measures loss."
As I said I did not want to be cold or clinical, but somebody has to make a choice in a world of finite resources.
It's one of the reasons I'm glad it's not me.
However that being said the law views a human life in terms of lost "potential" productivity/earnings when assesing monies to be paid to families etc.
They apear to base their figures on historical data with a fudge factor for inflation/interest etc when making a lump sum payment.
If you look at the amounts paid out by transportation organisations (air / sea / rail / road) where "lives in their care" have been lost the sums are not large.
So from a pragmatic point "infrastructure / productivity costs" are probably more important to the National Security than "people costs".
However emotionaly we usually feel considerably less for others we do not know who die in accidents than we do when the deaths are caused by deliberate acts of negligence or malice.
The news organisations are aware ot this, thus usually an attack by terrorists gets considerably more column inches than just about any other news worthy story about untimley deaths.
And thankfully the views of the public (supposadly) expressed via those column inches do under some circumstances actually impinge on our political "leaders".
However it can be a double edged sword, as we have seen politicians can do little or nothing to stop terrorist attacks in anything like a cost effective manner.
Defence is almost always sunk costs with no measurable return (except when it fails) which is why "effective" offense is usually considered to be more effective.
However from the terrorists point of view selecting a target is a bit like "sliding down a slippery pole" in that they drop down till they reach a point at which they can gain sufficient traction to effect a result. Like the news organisations terrorists are usually quite aware of which targets will be considered more or less news worthy, and will take it into account.
As most home owners are aware targets are expensive to defend even minimaly, and at some point it is not cost effective to do so irrespective of how you measure the cost.
However all viable terroist targest targets will fall above that point, which gives rise to the notion of "if only we'd spent more".
From this it can be seen that with a defense only stratagie, the terrorists are always going to have targets to select from, usually with a high social cost.
Which is possibly why Bruce and others think that the large resources currently being made available could be better spent on offensive activities.
The problem of course is offensive activities usually are intelegance led. For a considerable period of time the US has built up electronic intel against "previous enamies" and has not put a foot on the ground. This lack of spending in Humint has cost the US and other Western Nations in terms of civilian casualties.
But again the resources for offense are limited and you have to weigh the costs up.
Sometimes it is actuall better to do nothing as the cost to society as a whole is less, however due to emotional issues etc politicians cannot aford to publicaly "ignore Attacks on the Nation".
Therefor the politicos have to "be seen to act" and usually they are impotent to do anything in the short term (and have little interest in the long term) except spend tax money.
The question is on what do they spend it to get the best visable short term gain?
Not how to spend it long term and in what ratio to the percived problems.
Few people if any have a clue as to where best spend the money either short or long term. And those that do will probably be the first to admit that each and every spend just moves the targets around for the terrorists.
Unfortunatly each and every time a Nations political leader anounces that there is money on the table there will always be hands ready to grab for it to protect their "home interest"...
Aside from short term "pork", the real solutions are without a doubt both longterm and political in nature as nations have to accept that what they do effects every other nation to a lesser or greater extent.
Sometimes these choices are for better sometimes for the worse, but choices have to be made. In the short term world of politics it is actually amazing that we actually get things right occasionaly...