$75 billion in annual domestic security spending: By the numbers

In the ten years since the 9/11 attacks, the government has shelled out hundreds of billions of dollars — some of it on rather bizarre purchases

The color-coded threat level system instituted in the wake of 9/11: The government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars on Homeland Security since the attacks.
(Image credit: Tom Paiva/moodboard/Corbis)

Nearly 10 years after the 9/11 attacks, state and federal governments continue to spend tens of billions of dollars every year on domestic security, from surveillance cameras to airport screeners to emergency response equipment. Those expenditures have helped states and cities cope with all sorts of disasters, but still, some of the outlays have been rather "dubious," says Kim Murphy in the Los Angeles Times. Here, a brief guide, by the numbers:

$75 billion

Approximate amount federal and state governments spend annually on homeland security

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$636 billion

Total amount, adjusted for inflation, that the U.S. government has spent on homeland security since the Sept. 11 attacks

$16 billion

Amount requested for domestic security in the 2001 budget

$71.6 billion

Amount requested for homeland security in the 2012 budget. Less than $37 billion goes to the Department of Homeland Security. The rest will be divided among the Defense, Health and Human Services, and Justice departments


Amount spent on rescue and communications gear to protect the 1,500 people who live in North Pole, Alaska


Amount of money the federal Department of Homeland Security gave Keith County, Neb., (population 8,370) to purchase "state-of-the-art dive gear" to protect Lake McConaughy and the surrounding area from terrorist attacks


Amount of a Homeland Security grant used to purchase a 9-ton BearCat armored vehicle for Glendale, Calif., a suburb of Los Angeles that's home to DreamWorks Animation and some Disney facilities


Number of BearCats, many purchased with cash from the feds, now in use by police forces across the U.S. "The arrests of methamphetamine dealers and bank robbers these days often look much like a tactical assault on insurgents in Baghdad," writes Murphy.


Amount West Virginia spent on lapel pins for homeland security purposes


Cost of an "anti-terrorism fence" built around a VA hospital near Asheville, N.C.

$1 billion

Cost of attempting to build a 2,000-mile long "virtual" barrier on the U.S. border with Mexico, complete with surveillance cameras and high-tech sensors. The project was to be completed in 2009, but after a number of delays, it was abandoned earlier this year.

Up to 10,000

Number of jobs a $1.5 billion National Security Agency cyber-security center being built in Utah will generate. While many complain that huge sums of Homeland Security money have been squandered, the "spending has also acted as a cash-rich economic stimulus program for many states at a time when other industries are foundering," says Murphy.


Number of Americans who have been killed in incidents of Islamic terrorism outside of war zones since 2001

At least 30

Number of terrorist plots U.S. authorities say they have foiled since Sept. 11, 2001

Sources: Heritage Foundation, LA Times, Salon, Whitehouse.gov

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