No Funding for Homeland Security

Really interesting article by Robert X. Cringely on the lack of federal funding for security technologies.

After the 9-11 terrorist attacks, the United States threw its considerable fortune into the War on Terror, of which a large component was Homeland Security. We conducted a couple wars abroad, both of which still seem to be going on, and took a vast domestic security bureaucracy and turned it into a different and even more vast domestic security bureaucracy. We could argue all day about whether or not America is more secure as a result of these changes, but we'd all agree that a lot of money has been spent. In fact, from a pragmatic point of view, ALL the money has been spent, and that's the point of this particular column. For a variety of reasons, there is no money left to spend on homeland security ­ none, nada, zilch. We're busted.

I think his assessment is spot on.

Posted on March 21, 2006 at 12:39 PM • 15 Comments

Comments

Tom GrantMarch 21, 2006 1:09 PM

Looks like we need to raise the debt ceiling again!

or...

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!

Ed T.March 21, 2006 1:53 PM

Maybe DHS can auction off some of those drugs that Customs has seized to raise money, or even better yet they can sell ad space on the TSA screener's jackets.

~EdT.

Plead the FifthMarch 21, 2006 3:20 PM

Gee, I wish I had said that. Oh wait, I did. Last week, in a comment to your post about the airport scare at LaGuardia.

Hello, is this mic on?

JDMarch 21, 2006 3:31 PM

Considering how badly most of the spending to date has been wasted, it's about time their budget got cut.

Interesting comment by the author: "...the rest of homeland security is mainly information technology –- tracking bad guys and bad stuff as it enters and leaves the country." Too bad that irresponsible media and politicians have blown any hope of doing that.

Jon A. SolworthMarch 21, 2006 3:33 PM

I think the article is just nonsense. We haven't spent all our money, although we have spent a lot. And we haven't spent wisely. Problems with Iraq, allies, FEMA, nuclear plants---the list goes on an on. We haven't asked enough questions.

The fact of the matter is that it is almost 5 years from 9/11 and there hasn't been another attack. And as Bruce reminds us you can't defend everywhere.

So what should we be doing? We should be thinking and getting ready for the future. Thats basic science research, not crash programs to protect things which can't be protected. And
careful priorities so that we're effective.

There is plenty of money to do the right thing. We've paid an enormous cost--and I'm not talking about money--in doing the wrong things. So its not a budget issue now and never has been.

Jon

AnonymousMarch 21, 2006 4:04 PM

"...almost 5 years from 9/11 and there hasn't been another attack."

At least in USA and maybe nothing would have happened in US had US had spent nothing.

richMarch 21, 2006 4:40 PM

"So what should we be doing? We should be thinking and getting ready for the future. Thats basic science research,..."

I agree. Unfortunately, basic science research is not part of DHS. If I remember correctly, the budget is in the billions, but basic science research is only a few million.

bacMarch 21, 2006 8:11 PM

Since all attacks can not be stopped, why not concentrate a bit on the responders {police, medical, and fire}. Getting people back to a normal daily life should be a goal worth doing.

The government red tape seems to slow things down way too much. Plus insurance companies are slow too.

Peter DowleyMarch 21, 2006 10:45 PM

Many people in the security community may also be interested in Bob Cringely's columns of Jan 19 - Feb 2, 2006 (see http://www.pbs.org/cringely/archive/) which all discussed wiretapping and the tracking of phone call ID details. There was some interesting feedback from readers about attempts to perform traffic analysis on call ID data, and whether this actually provided meaningful results or just noise.

Tobias WeisserthMarch 22, 2006 2:29 AM

I think the situation is rather funny.

There are two kind of people being confronted with this insight.

The first group of people is aware that this whole war on terror thing is nothing more than a clever manoeuvre to shift US tax money into the pockets of specific lobby groups, represented in the White House through people like Bush & Co.

The other group is still obsessed with the rather abstract threat of domestic terrorism and too blind to spot the real deceit. After two terms in office of this government you people must have learned SOMETHING, one thinks...

Bruce SchneierMarch 22, 2006 4:46 AM

"The other group is still obsessed with the rather abstract threat of domestic terrorism and too blind to spot the real deceit. After two terms in office of this government you people must have learned SOMETHING, one thinks..."

There's a test on the material this November. We'll see how much of the country passes.

Ron WilhoiteMarch 22, 2006 7:02 AM

"There's a test on the material this November. We'll see how much of the country passes."

If history is any guide, half of the 'students' won't even show up to take the test.

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