Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Anti-Terror Funds Earning Interest

Over drinks, I like to enrage my computer security colleagues by suggesting that we’re spending too much on computer security. My evidence for this is that, despite all the attacks and break-ins and worms and what-have-you, no one’s going out of business.

But the news in Saturday’s Washington Post, “Most Area Terrorism Funding Not Spent,” is more worrisome. (Use Bugmenot for a login.)

The area, which has a spending rate of 17 percent, ranks last compared with the 50 states, according to data released to Congress and obtained by The Washington Post and CBS’s “60 Minutes,” which is scheduled to air a report tonight on waste in homeland security grants. The national spending average is 44 percent.

Local authorities said the ranking is misleading because it does not reflect that they have committed 80 percent of their funds, or $115 million… [Measuring] obligated funds, they said, is a fairer measure than counting dollars spent only after the work is completed.

Still, Washington will miss a June 30 deadline for spending $46 million that has been available for two years, the D.C. government said.

Now it might be that there’s just nothing useful to spend the money on. Preventing terrorist attacks is much more intelligence work than it is local police searching bags. That’s a last line of defense, which is generally ineffective against truck bombs.

Its also possible that a lack of openness and insight into what government agencies are doing has stymied creative thinking. That ‘terror-preparedness fatigue’ has set in; the sense of urgency has been lost, and good plans are languishing in bureaucratic in-fighting. That would be a disgusting failure of leadership.

One comment on "Anti-Terror Funds Earning Interest"

  • Cypherpunk says:

    I’ve read a lot of articles about how this terrorist funding money pool is actually a gigantic slush fund. Politicians made sure that every state got money whether it needed it or not. We’ve seen absurd stories about tiny hamlets buying expensive SWAT vehicles or biological decontamination equipment just because the money was there. Frankly I think that Washington state deserves credit for not spending money if they didn’t have a need for it.

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