Source: TOI on line
One of the consequences of 9/11 was that national security became big business. Just how much has this protective cover cost the American taxpayer? Figuring that out is not easy given the fog that surrounds US defense expenditure. But a citizens’ group called National Priorities Project has sifted through various US government records and come up with jaw-dropping numbers.
Since 2000, the base budget of the US department of defense totals up to a staggering $5.2 trillion, according to the NPP. From $303 billion in 2000, it rose to $545 billion in 2011. That’s an 80% jump. Even allowing for inflation, it is still a 44% increase.
The two wars are going to cost the US $1.36 trillion by September 30, according to NPP’s estimation. This includes $869 billion for Iraq and $488 billion for Afghanistan. Included in these estimates are interest payments, obligations to veterans, healthcare and pensions etc, which are binding and hence part of the real cost.
But it is the enormous spending on homeland security that is the least known. It is estimated to touch $636 billion this year, starting 2001. Before 9/11, there was no separate department looking after homeland security. In 2001, only $16 billion was spent on it. In 2012, it will cost an estimated $71.6 billion, according to the Project. Spending on homeland security is the most difficult to track as all of it is not routed through the department of homeland security (DHS). A notable portion goes through Pentagon and even the justice department.