This summer, I talked to security experts on both sides of the political spectrum, and had several conversations with Chertoff, in an effort to answer the following question: Is DHS achieving its mission of making us safer? My reluctant conclusion is that, although Chertoff has performed impressively in an impossible job, the department is hard to justify with any rational analysis of costs and benefits. On the contrary, it’s arguably one of the most expensive marketing ventures in political history–an enterprise that seeks to make us feel safer instead of actually making us safer. The best argument for DHS is that the illusion of safety may itself provide tangible psychological and economic benefits: If people feel less afraid, they may be more likely to fly on planes. But even if conceived on these terms–as a more-than-$40-billion-dollar-a-year pacifier–the department is hard to defend, since there’s no good evidence that it has, in fact, calmed Americans down rather than making us more nervous.
December 24, 2008
Man-Made Disaster—Six years on, the Department of Homeland Security is still a catastrophe.
[$40 Billion a year pacifer? Yup. That sounds about right for government work.
H/T to Bruce Schneier.–Joe]