Wall Street Journal- U.S. Has Spent $2.8 Trillion on Terrorism Fight, Study Finds
Figure includes spending on wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria.
By Jessica Donati May 16, 2018
WASHINGTON—The U.S. has spent as much as $2.8 trillion on the fight against terrorism since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to a study published Wednesday.
The report from the Washington-based Stimson Center think tank said the figure included spending on the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, in addition to homeland-security efforts and overseas programs. Spending on counterterrorism reached a peak of $260 billion in 2008, accounting for more than a fifth of the government’s discretionary budget.
The report said the U.S. lacked a system for accounting for spending on counterterrorism and that loopholes have increasingly allowed billions to be spent on items that shouldn’t qualify for emergency funding.
“The Stimson study group found a variety of weaknesses in definitions, tracking, and consistencies that limit accuracy and contribute to a lack of transparency regarding the current data,” the report said. “These weaknesses make it difficult to evaluate whether CT spending has been effective.”
The study notes that the White House Office of Management and Budget’s annual homeland-security report, which tracked spending in different areas of government, has been discontinued this year.
“We’re moving in the wrong direction,” said Mike McCord, one of the authors of the Stimson Center report. Mr. McCord previously served as chief financial officer at the Defense Department.
The study, which the center describes as bipartisan, found that counterterrorism spending is more than 10 times higher than before Sept. 11, 2001, with no signs of falling. In 2017, the total expenditure on counterterrorism topped $174 billion, almost 15% of discretionary spending, it found.
The report recommended Congress introduce agency-wide criteria to track counterterrorism spending and approve emergency war funding separately from the rest of the budget.
Write to Jessica Donati at Jessica.Donati@wsj.com
|Members of the New York Police Department's Counterterrorism Bureau monitor security in Times Square ahead of New Year’s celebrations in Manhattan on Dec. 29, 2017.|