January 29, 2014


TERROR, SECURITY, AND MONEY:

BALANCING THE RISKS, BENEFITS, AND COSTS OF HOMELAND SECURITY

 

Published by Oxford University Press in 2011

Publisher’s information html

Publisher's flyer and ordering information pdf

Book cover jpg

 

THE AUTHORS
BOOK SUMMARY
TABLE OF CONTENTS
RELATED MATERIALS BY MUELLER AND/OR STEWART
INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS, AND MEDIA COVERAGE


THE AUTHORS

 

John Mueller

Department of Political Science and Mershon Center

Ohio State University

1501 Neil Avenue

Columbus, Ohio 43201‑2602 USA

614‑247‑6007

bbbb@osu.edu

polisci.osu.edu/faculty/jmueller

 

Mark G. Stewart

School of Engineering and

Centre for Infrastructure Performance and Reliability

University of Newcastle

New South Wales, 2308, Australia

+61 2 49216027

mark.stewart@newcastle.edu.au

www.newcastle.edu.au/research-centre/cipar/staff/mark-stewart.html

 

John Mueller is Ralph D. Mershon Senior Research Scientist at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies and Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, and Senior Fellow, Cato Institute, Washington, DC. He is the author of over a dozen books, several of which have won prizes. Among the most recent of these: The Remnants of War (2004), Overblown (2006), Atomic Obsession: Nuclear Alarmism from Hiroshima to Al-Qaeda (2010), and War and Ideas (2011). He has also published numerous articles in scholarly journals and general magazines and newspapers, is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has been a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow.


Mark G. Stewart is Professor of Civil Engineering and Director of the Centre for Infrastructure Performance and Reliability at The University of Newcastle in Australia. He is the author, with R.E. Melchers, of Probabilistic Risk Assessment of Engineering Systems (Chapman & Hall, 1997), as well as more than 300 technical papers and reports. He has more than 25 years of experience in probabilistic risk assessment of infrastructure systems that are subject to man-made and natural hazards. Since 2004, Stewart has received extensive Australian Research Council support to develop probabilistic terrorism risk-modeling techniques for buildings subject to explosive blasts and cost-benefit assessments of counterterrorism protective measures for critical infrastructure.

 

 

BOOK SUMMARY


              In seeking to evaluate the effectiveness of post-9/11 homeland security expenses—which have risen by more than a trillion dollars not including war costs—the common query has been “are we safer?” This, however, is the wrong question. Of course we are “safer”—the posting of a single security guard at one building’s entrance enhances safety, however microscopically. And for a trillion dollars a very large number of security guards can be added to the work force. The correct question is “are any gains in security worth the funds expended?” Or in risk analyst Howard Kunreuther’s rendering of the issue, “How much should we be willing to pay for a small reduction in probabilities that are already extremely low?”
            We seek in this book to provide answers focusing on the cost-effectiveness of the enhanced expenditures on homeland security measures that have taken place since 9/11 and then more specifically on measures designed to protect. We also put forward some comments about evaluating policing and intelligence matters, as well as ones concerning mitigation, resilience, and overreaction. In doing so, we apply standard risk and cost-benefit evaluation techniques that have been accepted and used throughout the world for decades by regulators, academics, businesses, and governments— but, as a recent National Academy of Science study suggests, never capably applied by the people administering homeland security funds.
            Given the quite limited risk terrorism presents, enhanced expenditures designed to lower it for the most part have simply not been worth it. For example, to be considered cost-effective, American homeland security expenditures would have had each year to have saved nearly 11,500 lives or to have foiled, prevented, or protected against up to 1,667 attacks something like the one apparently intended on Times Square in 2010—or more than four per day. More specifically, analyses applying assumptions substantially biased toward the opposite conclusion suggest that the likelihood of a successful terrorist attack on a typical office-type building would have to be a thousand times higher than it is at present for protective security measures to be cost-effective.
           We also suggest that the existence of political and public pressures does not relieve those in charge from being responsible in the way they expend public funds, particularly expenditures concerning public safety. Moreover, the fact that the United Kingdom spends proportionately less than half as much on comparable expenditures suggests that the pressures do not necessary require such high spending levels.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction
Chapter 1: ASSESSING RISK

Chapter 2: TERRORISM AS A HAZARD TO HUMAN LIFE
Chapter 3: THE FULL COSTS OF TERRORISM
Chapter 4: EVALUATING HOMELAND SECURITY SPENDING
Chapter 5: PROTECTING THE HOMELAND: SOME PARAMETERS
Chapter 6: HOMELAND PROTECTION: INFRASTRUCTURE
Chapter 7: PROTECTING THE AIRLINES
Chapter 8: ASSESSING POLICING, MITIGATION, RESILIENCE
Chapter 9: CONCLUSIONS AND POLITICAL REALITIES
Appendix: THE RISK ASSESSMENT PROCESS



RELATED MATERIALS BY MUELLER AND/OR STEWART

 

John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart, “Secret without Reason and Costly without Accomplishment: Questioning the National Security Agency’s Metadata Program,” I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society, forthcoming draft in pdf

 

John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart, “Evaluating Counterterrorism Spending,” Journal of Economic Perspectives, forthcoming

 

John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart, “Terrorism and Counterterrorism in the US: The Question of Responsible Policy-Making,” in “Legal Perspectives on Contingencies and Resilience in an Environment of Constitutionalism,” a special edition of International Journal of Human Rights, Clive Walker, guest editor, forthcoming

 

John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart, “Terrorism, Personal Security, and Responsible Policy Making,” in Patrick J. Carroll, Robert M. Arkin, and Aaron Wichman (eds.), The Handbook of Personal Security, forthcoming

 

John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart, “The Curse of the Black Swan,” Journal of Risk Research, forthcoming

 

Mark G. Stewart and John Mueller, “Cost-benefit analysis of airport security: Are airports too safe?” 35 Journal of Air Transport Management 19-28 (2014) pdf

 

John Mueller, “Targeting needles, or adding more hay? The NSA has institutionalized alarmist thinking and is remarkably resistant to counter-information,” Indian Express, November 13, 2013  pdf

 

Mark Stewart and John Mueller, Cost-Benefit Analysis of Australian Federal Police Counter-Terrorism Operations at Australian Airports, Working Paper, Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security, Australian Research Council, October 2013

 

John Mueller, “Are Terror Warnings Pointless? How overreacting to al-Qaida ‘chatter’ harms America,” slate.com, August 7, 2013 html 

 

Jim Harper, John Mueller, and Mark Stewart, Comments on Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Passenger Screening Using Advanced Imaging Technology, TSA-2013-0004 (RIN 1652-AA67), June 21, 2013 pdf

 

John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart, “3 Questions about NSA Surveillance,” Chronicle of Higher Education, chronicle.com/blogs/conversation, June 13, 2013 html  pdf

 

Mark G. Stewart and John Mueller, “Aviation Security, Risk Assessment, and Risk Aversion for Public Decisionmaking,” 32 Journal of Policy Analysis and Management 615–633, 2013 pdf

 

John Mueller, Mark G. Stewart, and Benjamin H. Friedman, “Finally Talking Terror Sensibly,” nationalinterest.org, May 24, 2013 html  pdf

 

John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart, “Hapless, Disorganized, and Irrational,” slate.com, April 22, 2013   html  pdf

 

Mark G. Stewart and John Mueller, “Terrorism Risks and Cost-Benefit Analysis of Aviation Security,” 33 Risk Analysis 893-908 (2013) pdf

 

Matthew Grant and Mark G. Stewart, “A Systems Model for Probabilistic Risk Assessment of Improvised Explosive Device Attack,” 5 International Journal of Intelligent Defence Support Systems“ 75-93 (2012).

 

John Mueller, “Confusion: What if we can't catch terrorists in America because there aren't any?” foreignpolicy.com, October 8, 2012 html

John Mueller, “Eleven Years After 9/11, Terror Effects Persist,” cato-at-liberty.org, September 10, 2012  html

 

John Mueller and Mark Stewart, “Never have so few been able to frighten so many,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 9, 2012  html

 

Mark Stewart and John Mueller, “Is the war on terror worth the huge cost?” Newcastle Herald, September 7, 2012 html

 

John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart, “Commentary: Putting Al Qaeda in Perspective: The US sheds blood and treasure on a threat no more risky than taking a bath,” globalpost.com, August 4, 2012 html

 

John Mueller, “Threats Everywhere,” review of Kip Hawley and Nathan Means, Permanent Emergency: Inside the TSA and the Fight for the Future of American Security. Regulation, Winter 2012-2013, 48-49 html

 

John Mueller and Mark Stewart, “Serial Innumeracy on Homeland Security,” The Skeptics blog, nationalinterest.org, July 24, 2012 html Also posted at Cato@liberty blog  html

 

John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart, “The Terrorism Delusion: America's Overwrought Response to September 11,” 37 International Security 81-110 (Summer 2012) pdf

 

Mark G. Stewart, Michael Netherton, Yufeng Shi, Matthew Grant, and John Mueller, “Probabilistic Terrorism Risk and Risk Acceptability for Infrastructure Protection,” 13 Australian Journal of Structural Engineering 1-15 (2012)

 

John Mueller, “Why al Qaeda May Never Die,” The Skeptics blog, nationalinterest.org, May 1, 2012 html also at Cato@liberty html

 

Mark G. Stewart, Michael Netherton, Yufeng Shi, Matthew Grant, and John Mueller, “Probabilistic Terrorism Risk and Risk Acceptability for Infrastructure Protection,” 13 Australian Journal of Structural Engineering 1-15 (2012) pdf

 

John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart, “Civil Liberties, Fear, and Terrorism,” Notre Dame Journal of International & Comparative Law, 2012 pdf

 

John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart, “Terrorism and Counterterrorism Since 9/11,” Paper presented at the National Convention of the International Studies Association, San Diego, CA, April 3, 2012 pdf

 

John Mueller, “Terror Tipsters,” The Skeptics blog, nationalinterest.org, January 24, 2012 html Also posted as “A Scary Thought: Do We Really Need ‘If You See Something, Say Something’?” Cato@liberty blog, January 24, 2012 html

 

John Mueller, “New Year Brings Good News on Terrorism: Experts Wrong Again,” The Skeptics blog, nationalinterest.org, January 4, 2012 html

 

Mark G. Stewart and John Mueller, Cost-Benefit Analysis of Aviation Security: Installed Physical Secondary Barriers (IPSB), Federal Air Marshal Service (FAMS), and Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) Program. Research Report No. 281.12.2011, Centre for Infrastructure Performance and Reliability, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia, December 2011  html to pdf


John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart, “Dueling Delusions: Terrorism and Counterterrorism in the United States Since 9/11,” paper delivered at the Program on International Security Policy, University of Chicago, November 15, 2011
pdf

 

Mark G. Stewart and John Mueller, “Assessing the Risks, Costs, and Benefits of Counter-Terrorism Protective Measures for Infrastructure,” CIP Report, Vol. 10, No. 5, November 2011, 3-5, 31 pdf

 

John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart, “The Price is Not Right: The U.S. spends too much money to fight terrorism,” Playboy, October 2011, 149-50 pdf


John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart, three essays in Slate:  “Does the United States Spend Too Much on Homeland Security? The government refuses to subject homeland security to a cost-benefit analysis,” September 7, 2011
html, “Probability Neglect: Why the government massively overestimates the risks of terrorism,” September 8, 2011 html, “1,667 Times Square-Style Attacks Every Year: That's how many terrorism plots we would have to foil to justify our current spending on homeland security,” September 9, 2011 html

 

John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart, “Witches, Communists, and Terrorists: Evaluating the Risks and Tallying the Costs,” ABA Human Rights Magazine, Vol. 38, No. 1, Winter 2011, 18-20 pdf

 

Mark G. Stewart, Bruce R. Ellingwood, and John Mueller, “Homeland Security: A Case Study in Risk Aversion for Public Decision-Making,” International Journal of Risk Assessment and Management, Vol. 15, nos. 5/6, 2011  pdf


John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart, “At Issue: Does Al Qaeda still pose a serious threat to the U.S.? No,” CQ Researcher, September 2, 2011, 723   
pdf

 

Mark Stewart and John Mueller, “Terrorism cash could save lives elsewhere,” Newcastle Herald, August 26, 2011 pdf


John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart, “Balancing the Risks, Costs, and Benefits of Homeland Security,” Homeland Security Affairs, August 2011
html and pdf

 

John Mueller (ed.), Terrorism Since 9/11: The American Cases. Columbus, Ohio: Mershon Center for International Security Studies, Ohio State University, 2011 html to pdf

 

Mark Stewart and John Mueller, “Money Can't Buy Zero Risk,” Australian Financial Review, May 20, 2011, p. 3 pdf  Also published in slightly revised form as “Ten years and $1 trillion later, what has all our security spending achieved?” Nieman Watchdog, Ask This, June 2, 2011 html

 

Mark G. Stewart and John Mueller, “Cost-Benefit Analysis of Advanced Imaging Technology Full Body Scanners for Airline Passenger Security Screening,” Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, 2011, 8(1): Article 30 pdf


Mark G. Stewart, “Life Safety Risks and Optimisation of Protective Measures Against Terrorist Threats to Infrastructure,” Structure and Infrastructure Engineering, 7(6), June 2011, 431-440
pdf

 

John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart, “Terror, Security, and Money: Balancing the Risks, Costs, and Benefits of Homeland Security,” paper presented at the Annual Convention of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, Illinois, April 1, 2011 pdf    Published in slightly revised form in August 2011 in Homeland Security Affairs (see above)

 

John Mueller, “Security at What Price?” (review of David K. Shipler, The Rights of People), Wilson Quarterly, Spring 2011, 97-98 pdf  html


Mark G. Stewart and John Mueller, “Acceptability of Terrorism Risks and Prioritising Protective Measures for Key Infrastructure,” paper presented at the First International Conference of Protective Structures, Manchester, UK, 2010
pdf

 

John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart, “Hardly Existential: Thinking Rationally About Terrorism,” foreignaffairs.com, April 2, 2010 html

 

John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart, “Hardly Existential: Terrorism as a Hazard to Human Life,” paper presented at the National Convention of the International Studies Association, New Orleans, Louisiana, February 18, 2010 pdf


John Mueller, “Assessing Measures Designed to Protect the Homeland,” Policy Studies Journal, February 2010 (also in Benjamin Friedman et al., ed., Terrorizing Ourselves: Why U.S. Counterterrorism Policy Is Failing and How To Fix It, Washington, DC: Cato Institute, 2010, 99-119) 
pdf

 

John Mueller, “Reply to Comments by Warren Eller and Brian Gerber,” Policy Studies Journal, February 2010  pdf

 

Mark G. Stewart, “Acceptable Risk Criteria for Infrastructure Protection, International Journal of Protective Structures, 2010, 1(1):23-39

 

Mark G. Stewart, “Risk-Informed Decision Support for Assessing the Costs and Benefits of Counter-Terrorism Protective Measures for Infrastructure,” International Journal of Critical Infrastructure Protection, 3, 2010, 29-40 pdf

 

Mark G. Stewart and John Mueller, Cost-Benefit Assessment of United States Homeland Security Spending. Research Report No. 273.01.2009, Centre for Infrastructure Performance and Reliability, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia, January 2009  html to pdf

 

Mark G. Stewart, “Cost-Effectiveness of Risk Mitigation Strategies For Protection of Buildings Against Terrorist Attack,” Journal of Performance of Constructed Facilities, ASCE, 22(2), March/April 2008, 115-120 pdf

 

Mark G. Stewart and John Mueller, “A risk and cost-benefit assessment of United States aviation security measures,” 1 Journal of Transportation Security, 2008, 143-59 pdf

Mark G. Stewart and John Mueller, “A Risk and Cost-Benefit Assessment of Australian Aviation Security Measures,” 4 Security Challenges 45-61, Spring 2008
pdf


Mark G. Stewart, Michael D. Netherton, and David V. Rosowsky, “Terrorism Risks and Blast Damage to Built Infrastructure,” Natural Hazards Review, 7(3) August 2006, 114-122
pdf

 

John Mueller, Overblown. New York: Free Press, 2006.  information and website about this book

 

On nuclear terrorism:

 

John Mueller, Atomic Obsession: Nuclear Alarmism from Hiroshima to Al-Qaeda. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010, chs. 12-15. information and website about this book

 

John Mueller, “Calming Our Nuclear Jitters: An exaggerated fear of nuclear weapons has led to many wrongheaded policy decisions. A more sober assessment is needed,” Issues in Science and Technology, Winter 2010, 58‑66 pdf

 

John Mueller, “Nuclear Bunkum: Don't panic: bin Laden's WMD are mythical, too,” American Conservative, January 2010, 20‑21 html

 

John Mueller, “The Atomic Terrorist?” Research Paper for the International Commission on Nuclear Non‑Proliferation and Disarmament, April 30, 2009 pdf

 

 

INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS, AND MEDIA COVERAGE

 

Doyle McManus, “We’re safer than we think,” Los Angeles Times, April 16, 2013 html

 

Charles Kenny, “Airport Security Is Killing Us,” businessweek.com, November 19, 2012 html

 

Mark Vanhoenacker, “Do You Have a Photo ID, Young Man? Does stringent security make the Sept. 11 memorial safer—or a hassle to visit and an infringement on our civil liberties?” slate.com, September 10, 2012 html

 

Dan Froomkin, “Assault Weapons Immune From Post-9/11 Security Crackdown,” huffingtonpost.com, July 24, 2012 html

 

Anna Mulrine, “Homeland Security: Are US flight schools still training terrorists?” Christian Science Monitor, July 24, 2012 html

 

John Mueller, appearance at Cato Capitol Hill Briefing, “Airport Body Scanning: Will TSA Follow the Law?” July 19, 2012

html

 

Susan Stellin, “Bomb Plot Raises Questions About Airport Security,” New York Times, May 14, 2012 html

 

Bernard Keane, “The $28m pantomime of airport body scanners,” crikey.com.au, February 7, 2012 html

 

Lisa Riordan Seville, “How Much Is Security Worth?” The Crime Report, January 23, 2010  html

 

Rob Margetta, “Homeland Security Spending ‘Irresponsible’ Without Analysis, Author Says,” CQ Homeland Security, January 9, 2012 pdf

“Questioning anti-terrorism spending,” Engineers Australia, January 2012  pdf

 

John Mueller interviewed on Butler on Business, WAFS biz 1190, Atlanta, November 21, 2011 MP3 audio file

 

“Why We Should Fear Bathtubs More Than Terrorists,” John Mueller and Mark Stewark interviewed by Nick Gillespie, Reason.TV, November 21, 2011 (7 minutes) html

 

Saul Eslake, “Security a safe market,” Sydney Morning Herald, November 9, 2011 html

 

Bloggingheads: John Mueller interviewed by Eli Lake (Newsweek, The Daily Beast), bloggingheads.tv, September 14, 2011 (42 minutes) html

 

Ross Gittins, “A vast cost in feeling just a little more secure,” The Age, September 14, 2011 html

 

Aaron Lake Smith, “What Constitutes Terrorism?” indyweek.com (North Carolina), September 14, 2011 html

 

Scott Shane, “Al Qaeda’s Outsize Shadow: The brazenness and sheer luck of the 9/11 plot have stood for a decade as an argument that anything is possible,” New York Times, Special Section, The Reckoning: America and the World a Decade After 9/11, September 11, 2011, p. 10 (web: September 8, 2001) html

 

Amanda Cox, “A 9/11 Tally: $3.3 Trillion,” New York Times, Special Section, The Reckoning: America and the World a Decade After 9/11, September 11, 2011, p. 13 (web, with Shan Carter: September 8, 2001) html

 

Art Carden, “Risk and Reason Ten Years after 9/11,” forbes.com, September 9, 2011 html 

 

Eli Lake, “Perpetual Security State: Post-9/11 special powers, budgets, agencies seen needed far into the future,” Washington Times, September 8, 2011 html

 

Adrienne Arsenault, “9/11 and the price of protection,” The National, CBC news television, September 8, 2011 (15 minutes) html

 

John Horgan, “Did the U.S. Overreact to the 9/11 Attacks? Undoubtedly,” scientificamerican.com, September 7, 2011 html

 

Lars From, “Forskere: Milliarder spildt i terrorkamp” and “Stærk tvivl om terrorindsats,” Jyllands Posten (Denmark), September 7, 2011, pp. 1, 4-5 pdf

 

Kim Murphy, “Is Homeland Security spending paying off?” Los Angeles Times, August 28, 2011 html Also published as “9/11 gave rise to new sacred cash cow: Homeland security,” Vancouver Sun, August 27, 2011 html

 

Laura Johnston, “Cuyahoga County agencies have received more than $72 million in homeland security grants since Sept. 11,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 24, 2011 html

 

Bernard Keene, “What has the war on terror cost taxpayers, and did they get value for money?” crikey.com.au, June 16, 2011 html

 

Rob Margetta, “Report: US Needs to Re-Evaluate, Homeland, Counterterroism Spending,” CQ  Homeland Security,  May 23, 2011 pdf

 

Kevin Rafferty, “Bin Laden bled U.S. of a cool trillion,” Japan Times online, May 16, 2011 html


Tobias Kaiser, “Anti-Terror-Kampf kostet USA eine Billion dollar,” Die Welt, May 14, 2011
html

 

Peter Grier, “The bin Laden effect: How the Al Qaeda leader changed America,” Christian Science Monitor, May 7, 2011 html

“The Reckoning: Assessing the economic toll of Osama bin Laden,” Need to Know, PBS, May 6, 2011
html


Stephen Gandel, “How Much has Osama bin Laden Cost the US?” time.com, May 3, 2011
html

Fast Forward with Lisa Murphy, Bloomberg News, May 3, 2011 
html

 

“Deterring terrorism: Is American spending too much on homeland security?” The Economist, Gulliver blog, April 30, 2011 html


Barrie McKenna, “Canada-US security talks open window to some rational thinking,” Globe and Mail (Canada)
html   pdf

 


Related articles


Mark Skousen, “TSA wastes $1.2 billion a year and causes 1,200 unnecessary deaths annually,” humanevents.com, January 24, 2012
html

 

Spencer Ackerman, “How to Beat Terrorism: Refuse to Be Terrorized,” Wired, September 11, 2011 html


Anthony Gregory, “The Priceless Price of the Post-9/11 Decade,” huffingtonpost.com, September 9, 2011
html

 

Doyle McManus, “The high cost of protecting America,” Los Angles Times, September 4, 2011 html


Editorial: “Pricey homeland security,” Los Angeles Times, September 1, 2011
html

 

Dan Froomkin, “Reassessing the Cost of the Post-9/11 era: Post Bin Laden,” huffingtonpost.com, May 11, 2011 html

 

Tim Fernholz and Jim Tankersley, “The Cost of bin Laden: $3 Trillion Over 15 Years,” National Journal, May 5, 2011 html

 

Gideon Rachman, “Declare victory and end the ‘global war on terror,’” Financial Times, May 3, 2011 pdf