Daily Mail (UK): From airport pat-downs to deadly attacks in Iraq, the $3trillion cost of keeping Americans safe since 9/11

Daily Mail —  by Mike O'Brien

Ten years after the September 11 attacks of 2001, America has changed the balance between freedom and security, turning a casual society into an ever-vigilant one.

Tourists flocking to Times Square for the lights and the shows, for example, are met with helmeted police with machine guns patrolling the subway station.

The results are undeniable. The country has not suffered another attack, but the cost of the war on terror is said to be more than $3trillion.

Even then there have been close calls like last year's failed Times Square bombing, when the makeshift explosives packed into a Pakistani-American's truck failed to detonate.

But keeping Americans safe since the World Trade Centre attacks has come at a heavy price.

The U.S. has spent an extra $400billion on security since 9/11.

According to the Costs of War research project by Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies, the U.S. also spent $1.3trillion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan before counting interest on the war debt and health care for veterans.

Analysts are putting the total price of the wars abroad at closer to $2.6trillion.

Using sources from the Government Accountability Office, the TSA, Terror, Security and Money by John Meuller and Mark Stewart, it is estimated that Federal Homeland Security spending since 9/11 has hit $360billion.

Up to $110billion has been on intelligence and $100billion in passneger dealys caused by airport screening.

Federal emergency funds authorised in the last ten years has reached $40billion.

According to the TSA, the 'September 11 Security Fee' collected from airline passengers since 2002 brought in $15billion.

The cost of body scanners, and the staffing needed, has been $3billion so far.

Soon after 9/11, the U.S. government resorted to two controversial practices in response to threats from abroad, Reuters reports.

They are extraordinary rendition, the illegal transfer of foreign suspects captured abroad to a third country for detention and interrogation and, secondly, the imprisonment of suspected militants captured abroad at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Susan Herman, president of the American Civil Liberties Union, said: 'Ten years later, if we are still in this emergency mindset, then this is now who we are. This is the new normal.

'At some point if you don't reverse that process you really have moved yourself into an Orwellian state.'

Congressman Peter King, a New York Republican who is chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security, said: 'To me there's no doubt it's been worth it.

'Actions like the Patriot Act, inspections at the airports, port security – all of that is certainly better than people being burned to death or having to throw themselves out of 106-story buildings,' he said.

Responding to criticism of overly harsh security checks at U.S. airports, Mr King said: 'If I have the choice between taking off my shoes and having the risk of the plane blowing up, I'd rather take off my shoes.'