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Monday, June 20, 2005

Porfolio of Fear

If you want to know the cost of the constant worry over terrorists coming to a neighborhood near you and all the adminstration's fearmongering then read
Anti-Terror Absurdity in America: Hemorrhaging Money for Homeland Security
The business of fear in the United States of America has been booming ever since September 11, 2001 and the price tag for the protective cordon of high-tech gadgetry intended to keep the US safe from more terrorist attacks is enormous. Devices designed to detect nuclear material in shipping containers will cost the US government $300 million. The budget for the American Shield Initiative, a plan that calls for monitoring the country's borders with sensors or drones, comes at the hefty price of $2.5 billion. A further $10 billion is budgeted for a new computer system designed to monitor visitors, while outfitting all 6,800 aircraft in US commercial aviation with anti-missile systems will cost about the same amount. The total 2005 Homeland Security budget weighs in at a whopping $50 billion -- roughly equivalent to the gross national product of New Zealand.

'The market is growing at an incredible rate,' gushes the Security Industry Association at its 'networking lunch' with members of Congress and administration officials. Throughout the country, conventions are being held where products like mobile emergency command centers and Blackberrys that provide direct access to FBI computers are on offer. Another popular item is 'Fido,' a cell phone-sized device used to detect explosive material. Demand is high, especially now that the going rate for a decent bomb-sniffing dog in the United States has skyrocketed to $10,000.

"We'll call these the good old days in ten years," says an enthusiastic Ray Oleson, whose information technology company posted a fifty percent jump in sales in the first quarter of this year. The American newsmagazine US News & World Report calls the booming business "Washington's version of a Turkish bazaar."(emphasis added)

The tragedy is that many of these programs are not designed to make us safer but enrich the business community. Without oversight there is room for large profits and shady deals. Hopefully, some day there will be an accounting for these profiteers and all of this war's profiteers. As George Washington said in 1778, “There is such a thirst for gain [among military suppliers]…that it is enough to make one curse their own Species, for possessing so little virtue and patriotism.”