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Terrorism alerts in New York and Washington, and the 9/11 commission’s report, raise serious concerns about homeland security. Some of those concerns have focused on the allocation of existing domestic defense money – should New York and other high-risk cities really get less security aid per capita than, say, Cheyenne, Wyo.? But there’s another question to be asked: are we spending our tax dollars in the best possible way in the war on terrorism?

The mission in Iraq, which the Bush administration undertook in the name of protecting the American people, has cost $144.4 billion, including $25 billion in the administration’s budget request for next year. (And this does not include $60 billion more expected to be requested after November.) Keeping in mind a Pentagon estimate that containing Saddam Hussein would have cost roughly $2.5 billion a year, here’s another way to look at how the $144.4 billion for Iraq could have been spent to safeguard Americans.

Click here for the “Safety Second” PDF

“Safety Second” first appeared in the New York Times on August 8, 2004.

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