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 --- description: More effective ways to kill = terrorists are stupid, or killing not most important thing to them ... One of the least commonly noted pieces of evidence for the theory that [Terrorism is not about Terror](Terrorism is not about Terror#the-problem) is how unterrifying most terrorism is, and how attacks usually have such low death tolls. No terrorist group has achieved a kill rate anywhere near a conventional military; and are vastly less than those death tolls for guerrilla organizations or dictators. Stalin or Mao could, in a bad day, exceed the deaths caused by all international terrorism over the last 2 centuries[^mao]. [9/11](!Wikipedia "September 11 attacks"), the crowning incident of terrorism in those centuries, was equaled by just 29 days^[] of car accidents in the USA[^state] - and 9/11 was only *accidentally* that successful![^bojinka] Remarkably, it seems that it is *unusual* for terrorist attacks to so much as injure a single person; one database puts the number of such attacks at only 35% of all attacks.[^mipt] And statistically, it seems that for established terrorist groups, assassinating their leader does them a *favor* - they survive longer, presumably because they had ossified.[^ossify] Stories about terrorist incompetence are legion[^incompetence] and the topic is now played for laughs (eg. the 2010 movie _[Four Lions](!Wikipedia)_), prompting columnists [to tell us](http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703880304575237262781409430.html?mod=wsj_india_main) to ignore all the incompetence and continue to be afraid. [^incompetence]: Consider how [Timothy McVeigh](!Wikipedia) was arrested for driving without license plates or the [DC snipers](!Wikipedia "Beltway sniper attacks") for sleeping in their car, or a Muslim Russian who [blew herself up](http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/8284279/Black-Widow-attempted-New-Year-Moscow-attack-but-blew-herself-up-by-mistake.html) when an unexpected text message was sent by her carrier, or the [British Muslim](http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/22/ba_jihadist_trial_sentencing/) who eschewed [AES](!Wikipedia "Advanced Encryption Standard") in favor of a [Caesar cipher](!Wikipedia) "because 'kaffirs', or non-believers, [know about it](!Wikipedia "Kerckhoffs's Principle") so it must be [less secure](!Wikipedia "Security through obscurity")". [Mohammed Taheri-Azar](!Wikipedia) ran over 9 people - killing none - and turned himself in peaceably; [reportedly](http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/08/15/why_is_it_so_hard_to_find_a_suicide_bomber_these_days?page=full), he managed to choose a narrow area where he couldn't accelerate, was too lazy to get a gun permit so he could buy a gun, decided not to enlist in the US military because he had bad eyesight, and in general was feckless, prompting the reporter to write: > "Taheri-Azar's incompetence as a terrorist is bewildering. Surely someone who was willing to kill and die for his cause, spending months contemplating an attack, could have found a more effective way to kill people. Why wasn't he able to obtain a firearm or improvise an explosive device or try any of the hundreds of murderous schemes that we all know from movies, television shows, and the Internet, not to mention the news? And once Taheri-Azar decided to run people over with a car, why did he pick a site with so little room to accelerate?" [^bojinka]: From the [translation](http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Dec2001/d20011213ubl.pdf) of a 2001 recording of Bin Laden released by the Pentagon: > "...we calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy, who would be killed based on the position of the tower. We calculated that the floors that would be hit would be three or four floors. I was the most optimistic of them all..." Notice that Bin Laden clearly does not expect any towers to collapse, much less 2 or 3, and that only the people on a few floors would be killed; contrast this to the reliable & easily calculated figures of >4000 casualties if Al Qaeda had instead carried out the [Bojinka plot](!Wikipedia) (which successfully tested a bomb on board an international airliner). While the results of 9/11 were ultimately more impressive, this was unforeseeable by AQ; it was the wrong choice to make if they cared about results. (Playing the lottery is a bad decision, even if you happen to win one time.) [^mipt]: ["Global terrorism follows a power law"](http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/21465), _Physics World_, discussing te [ArXiv](!Wikipedia) paper ["Title: Scale Invariance in Global Terrorism"](http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0502014): > "Clauset and Young analysed a database that contains details of more than 19,900 terrorist events that occurred in 187 countries between 1968 and 2004. According to the database, which is maintained by the National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism (MIPT), at least one person was killed or injured in some 7,088 of these events." [^ossify]: Of course, terrorism is not about terror, so it's not a surprise that actually accomplishing terrorist groups could experience 'mission drift' or ['lost purposes'](http://lesswrong.com/lw/le/lost_purposes/) where members prefer the status quo and inactivity and pursuing more congenial goals that [*used* to be correlated](http://lesswrong.com/lw/1ws/the_importance_of_goodharts_law/) with the organization accomplishing its goal (much like [Max Planck's](http://lesswrong.com/lw/qi/faster_than_science/) quote that science advances [death by death](!Wikipedia "Paradigm shift")). ["Academics Debate Whether Osama bin Laden's Death Will Have Imapct on al-Qaeda Leaders"](http://www.miller-mccune.com/culture-society/academics-doubt-impact-of-bin-laden-death-30791/): > "...Fifty-three percent of the terrorist organizations that suffered such a violent leadership loss fell apart - which sounds impressive until you discover that 70 percent of groups who did not deal with an assassination no longer exist. > > Further crunching of the numbers revealed that leadership decapitation becomes more counterproductive the older the group is. The difference in collapse rates (between groups that did and did not have a leader assassinated) is fairly small among organizations less than 20 years old but quite large for those more than 20 years in age, and even larger for those that have been around more than 30 years. > > Assassination of a leader does seem to negatively impact smaller terrorist groups: The data shows organizations with fewer than 500 members are more likely to collapse if they suffer such a leadership loss. But organizations with more than 500 members are actually more likely to survive after an assassination, making this strategy "highly counterproductive for larger groups," Jordan writes." The mystery is that this doesn't have to be the case. Mass murder is quite feasible without the techniques terrorists resort to. We don't even have to resort to speculation to improve on the contemporary terrorist state-of-the-art[^bruce]; history teaches us quite enough. Cases like the [2008 Mumbai attacks](!Wikipedia) (10 attackers killed >173, wounded >308) may not suffice to prove the point that 'grand spectacle' terrorism is inefficient in killing, since the Pakistani support undermines the fact of their low-tech simple approach. But we can point to others: 1. The [Chicago Tylenol murders](!Wikipedia) (7 deaths, national panic, culprit unknown) seem to have involved nothing more complicated than some shoplifting, dumping in some cyanide, and putting the bottles back on the shelves. 2. Some pesticide in the wrong place can cost a nation $150 million^[Ireland's estimated loss in dollars from the [Irish pork crisis of 2008](!Wikipedia).], 3. a company >$250 million[^feed], 4. or a continent $1.5 billion.[^fat] 5. And an [*anonymous* phone call](!Wikipedia "1989 Chilean grape scare")^[Wikipedia fails to mention that the 2 infamous grapes were probably [not even poisoned](http://web.archive.org/web/20100308175001/http://volokh.com/sasha/grapes.html).] cost the Chilean economy$300 million.^[["Poisoned Grapes, Mad Cow, and Protectionism"](http://www.nber.org/papers/w6959), Engel 1999.] [^feed]: ["An unaddressed issue of agricultural terrorism: A case study on feed security"](http://iis-db.stanford.edu/pubs/20763/Kosal_2004.pdf), Kosal & Anderson 2004: > "Fifteen years later, also in rural Wisconsin, chlordane, an organochlorine pesticide, was intentionally added to rendering plant material that was then distributed to major animal feed producers (Neher, 1999; Schuldt, 1999). Tainted feed was identified as having been distributed to over 4,000 farms, principally dairies, and led to recalls in four Midwestern states of products including cheese, butter, and ice cream that were suspected of contamination. The action level for chlordane is parts per billion. The charged suspect [caught through letters] was a competitor of the targeted facility. The cost to the feed producer alone was estimated at over $250 million." [^fat]: Kosal & Anderson 2004, describing the [Dioxin Affair](!Wikipedia): > "In late winter 1999, poultry farmers in Belgium began reporting sharp decreases in egg production, chicks exhibiting abnormal developmental behavior, and instances of unexpected death, predominantly due to eggs failing to hatch (Bernard et al., 1999; Crawford, 1999; Lok and Powell, 2000). [Dioxin](!Wikipedia)-contaminated feed originating from a single producer of fat for animal feed was found to be the cause. Apparently, one single storage tank had been contaminated. The incident prompted a U.S. ban on all chicken and pork from the European Union; trade suspensions and warnings with respect to other European foodstuffs were issued by over 30 governments around the world. The estimated financial impact exceeded$1.5 billion (Reuters, 1999; Lok and Powell, 2000). Three cabinet-level ministers from Holland and Belgium resigned, and the Belgium Premier lost his June 1999 reelection bid. The official source of the dioxin has not been conclusively determined." # Competent murders The natural comparison, of course, is to private citizens without government backing who set out to kill a lot of people. Or as we call them where I come from, 'mass murderers'; but let's narrow things down: how many people can you kill in a short period of time? Let us consult Wikipedia which -- ever helpful -- has even compiled a sorted list for us: "[List of mass murderers and spree killers by number of victims](!Wikipedia)". As of 2010, the all-time record was held by one [Woo Bum-kon](!Wikipedia), who killed 56-62^[You would think that by this point we would know exactly how many!] people in 1982, with an honorable mention to [William Unek](!Wikipedia) (57 confirmed kills as of 1957). The US record goes to [Seung-Hui Cho](!Wikipedia) with 32 kills in 2007. Bum-kon lost the record in 2011 to the Norwegian [Anders Behring Breivik](!Wikipedia) who killed 7 with a bomb and then killed 69 campers with firearms[^firearms], totaling 77 kills. [^firearms]: Bruce Schneier [remarks](https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2011/08/terrorism_in_th.html), of a [survey/book](http://polisci.osu.edu/faculty/jmueller/since.html) of known American terrorist incidents which found that most involved law enforcement and its informers, that none successfully employed a bomb: > "Note that everyone who died was shot with a gun. No Islamic extremist has been able to successfully detonate a bomb in the U.S. in the past ten years, not even a Molotov cocktail. (In the U.K. there has only been one successful terrorist bombing in the last ten years; the 2005 London Underground attacks.) And almost all of the 33 incidents (34 if you add LAX) have been lone actors, with no ties to al Qaeda." The most striking thing one notices in the entries is how these atrocities rarely involve extremely elaborate preparations, and how minimal the equipment was: - Bum-kon's Uiryeong massacre was literally on the spur of the moment, when he got drunk after an argument with his girlfriend; somewhat unusually, he had access to grenades via the police, but the grenades arguably did not contribute to the death toll[^bum]. - William Unek killed his first 21 people with just an axe. - In the [Akihabara massacre](!Wikipedia), Katō had nothing but a rented truck and a knife, nor any known martial arts training or especial fitness--and yet, in a large crowd with multiple police already at the scene, he *still* managed to kill 7 people and wound 10. - Cho had two pistols, bought a few weeks before the Virginia Tech massacre. Seung-Hui made the most elaborate preparations (videos & letters, multiple gun store trips), but one still has the impression that he could've finished all his preparations in just a few hours. - The one that did, Anders Breivik, is almost the exception that proves the rule - he had bought fertilizer in May 2011, months before the attack, but that bomb was almost a non-event: he killed *an order of magnitude more* in the second attack with his firearms. (He apparently worked on his 1500-page manifesto for [2 years](http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/norway/8658269/Norway-shooting-Anders-Behring-Breivik-plagiarised-Unabomber.html), though he didn't kill anyone by dropping it on them.) The speed with which these mass murders were prepared and carried out are quite shocking when we compare them to the multiple years and intricate multinational terrorist network it took to bring 9/11 to fruition. I am not the only one to notice this, nor is Schneier[^bruceeasy]; the terrorists themselves know it, according to [STRATFOR](http://barrington-il.patch.com/blog_posts/why-al-qaeda-is-unlikely-to-execute-another-911-2): > "It must be remembered that simple terrorist attacks are relatively easy to conduct, especially if the assailant is not concerned about escaping after the attack. As jihadist groups such as [AQAP](!Wikipedia "Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula") have noted in their online propaganda, a determined person can conduct attacks using a variety of simple weapons, from a pickup truck to a knife, axe or gun. Jihadist ideologues have repeatedly praised [Nidal Hassan](!Wikipedia) and have pointed out that jihadists operating with modest expectations and acting within the scope of their training and capability can do far more damage than operatives who try to conduct big, ambitious attacks that they lack the basic skills to complete." [^bruceeasy]: ["Where Are All The Terrorist Attacks?"](https://www.schneier.com/essay-314.html), 4 May 2010: > "As the details of the Times Square car bomb attempt emerge in the wake of Faisal Shahzad's arrest Monday night, one thing has already been made clear: Terrorism is fairly easy. All you need is a gun or a bomb, and a crowded target. Guns are easy to buy. Bombs are easy to make. Crowded targets -- not only in New York, but all over the country -- are easy to come by. If you're willing to die in the aftermath of your attack, you could launch a pretty effective terrorist attack with a few days of planning, maybe less." OK. So this alone suggests that perhaps terrorists are, to put it mildly, adopting suboptimal techniques for killing people. But wait! These are impressive body counts, but maybe terrorists are hoping to win the lottery and achieve a 9/11 attack (even though for every 9/11, there are dozens & hundreds of attacks which kill 10 or 20 people, or even only the terrorist) . After all, the 19 terrorists averaged 157 kills just in that one attack. That's nearly 3 times Bum-kon's lifetime total. # Competent soldiers Now we should shift comparisons. Civilians--with minimal preparation, with no training, with nothing special whatsoever about them--can kill up to 60 people. What could someone with years of preparation and hundreds of thousands of dollars available^[According to the _[9/11 Commission Report](!Wikipedia)_, the resources actually expended by al-Qaeda on 9/11 were roughly >$500,000 and 5 years.] do? Well, I can't answer that. But I can point to an interesting example. [Simo Häyhä](!Wikipedia) was a Finnish [sniper](!Wikipedia) in the [Winter War](!Wikipedia), when the Soviet Union invaded Finland. He ultimately killed over 542^[This is just his confirmed kill count.] Russians -- and survived the war. Now, Simo was a rare marksman; this is true. But consider the handicaps he labored under: - he is fighting in Finland in the depths of an unusually harsh winter; - he is subject to military discipline/constraints; - he is in the middle of a full-scale conventional war, where life is cheap and death could come at any moment if he is on the wrong side of the shifting boundaries; - he is using a relatively old and ordinary bolt-action rifle with iron sights; - he is being specifically targeted by the Russians (who are not military incompetents, even after Stalin's purges), who are dispatching their own snipers and artillery squadrons for the sole purpose of killing him; etc. Simo was working in challenging conditions, let us say. But a modern sniper can buy the finest rifles on the market, and can confine his activities to temperate areas where he does not need to freeze his tookis while waiting for a shot. He is opposed only by police and paramilitary organizations with little training or even familiarity with counter-sniper weapons and tactics. (It is not as if they have ever had to!) He can travel anywhere within the country and wait indefinitely for his next attack. The many historical examples of serial killers teach us this lesson: if he is controlled and patient, a man can kill indefinitely even while making close personal contact with the victim and killing in inefficient ways. How much more so could a sniper picking random targets! It is not unreasonable to think that a terrorist-sniper could kill indefinitely, at a high tempo. If he shot one person a month, he will exceed Bum-kon in just 5 years. If the 20 9/11 hijackers had instead become snipers, they would at that slow rate match Simo in 2 years or so, and 9/11 in ~12 years. And they could keep on killing. It's not like they have to retire after a decade or two. # Why not? ## Propaganda, not deaths So if all these other methods are easier, or more effective, then why do terrorists like hijackings and bombings? Stupidity or fanaticism might explain why one group would sabotage itself, but it can't explain all groups for centuries. One possible explanation is given by [Philip Bobbitt](!Wikipedia)'s _Terror and Consent_ -- the [propaganda of the deed](!Wikipedia) is more effective when the killings are spectacular (even if inefficient). The dead bodies aren't really the goal. But is this really plausible? Try to consider the terrorist-sniper plan I suggest above. Imagine that 20 unknown & anonymous people are, every month, killing one person in a tri-state area[^madbomber]. There's no reason, there's no rationale. The killings happen like clockwork once a month. The government is powerless to do anything about it, but their national & local responses are tremendously expensive (as they are hiring security forces and buying equipment like mad). The killings can happen anywhere at any time; last month's was at a Wal-mart in the neighboring town. The month before that, a kid coming out of the library. You haven't even worked up the courage to read about the other 19 slayings last month by this group, and you know that as the month is ending next week another 20 are due. And you also know that this will go on indefinitely, and may even get worse - who's to say this group isn't recruiting and sending more snipers into the country? [^madbomber]: Impossible, you say, that they could remain at liberty for so long? Then consider the example of [George Metesky](!Wikipedia) the "Mad Bomber", who placed 47 bombs in New York City over 20 years, injuring 15 people. He was only apprehended when his letters to the newspapers began including such [highly specific](!Wikipedia "George Metesky#Journal-American letters") details as working for Con Edison & then developing pneumonia & tuberculosis. Consider the [2001 anthrax attacks](!Wikipedia) after 9/11. In my memory, the sheer terror and reflexive jingoism that gripped the country after 9/11 was at least doubled during them. The anthrax attacks killed very few people & a tiny percentage of 9/11 (0.002%^[$\frac{5}{2974} \times 100$]). But their randomness and duration through time made them deeply & irrationally frightening. Just 5 people died of anthrax over the 3 weeks of the anthrax attacks; and people were panicked. How much more devastating would it have been if it had been 20 people who had died? Or if the mailings had continued month after month? I think that it would have been much more effective, and that this supports the value of my sniper plot[^dc]. ## Social factors If I may, the social explanation (see my "[Terrorism is not about Terror]()") explains much about terrorism, and in particular it explains this oddity. Have you never discussed flipping out or going postal or carrying out a terrorist attack with your friends? Have you noticed that always it is the elaborate and fun-to-discuss attacks you discuss?[^sageman] (Have you noticed how interesting a topic the question "how many people could someone easily kill?" is, and how many subject areas it draws upon?) [^sageman]: Mueller & Stewart 2011: > "Beyond the tiny band that constitutes al-Qaeda central, there are, continues Sageman, thousands of sympathizers and would-be jihadists spread around the globe who mainly connect in Internet chat rooms, engage in radicalizing conversations, and variously dare each other to actually do something. [Hoffman, Bruce. 2006. _Inside Terrorism_. Revised and expanded. New York: Columbia University Press.] All of these rather hapless-perhaps even pathetic-people should of course be considered to be potentially dangerous. From time to time they may be able to coalesce enough to carry out acts of terrorist violence, and policing efforts to stop them before they can do so are certainly justified. But the notion that they present an existential threat to just about anybody seems at least as fanciful as some of their schemes. > > By 2005, after years of well-funded sleuthing, the FBI and other investigative agencies noted in a report that they had been unable to uncover a single true al-Qaeda sleeper cell...It follows that any terrorism problem in the United States and the West principally derives from rather small numbers of homegrown people, often isolated from each other, who fantasize about performing dire deeds and sometimes receive a bit of training and inspiration overseas." No terrorist says to himself, "I'm going to follow a boring but effective strategy: I'll enlist, get sniper training, and kill a couple hundred civilians" - even though it worked so well for Simo against much more challenging targets. This kind of strategy would accomplish much more than a regular suicide bombing, but they never do it or any halfway effective strategy. (I refer again to "Why Terrorism doesn't work"; if many terrorists failed to adopt effective strategies, that'd be one thing - but just about all of them? That's a systemic failure which requires a systemic explanation.) They don't want to adopt military discipline, train in sniper tactics and marksmanship for years, and separate permanently. It'd spoil the fun. [^bruce]: Although such speculation can be *very* fun and quite educational. I refer the interested reader to the thousands of plots suggested in [Bruce Schneier](!Wikipedia)'s [first](http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/06/movieplot_threa_1.html), [second](http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2007/06/second_movieplo.html), [third](http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2008/05/third_annual_mo_1.html), and [fourth](http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2009/04/fourth_annual_m.html) "Movie-Plot Threat Contests" [^bum]: Inasmuch as Bum-kon could've killed his victims as effectively with his firearms. His attacks were unopposed by the police and were stopped by his suicide, so Bum-kon could have just shot the <10 people killed by grenades; Wikipedia describes his leisurely massacre: > "Initially, he killed three operators at the local telephone exchange to prevent others calling from emergency services. He then walked from house to house and used his position as a police officer to make people feel safe and gain entry into their homes. He shot most of his victims, but in one case he killed an entire family with a grenade. He continued this pattern for a full eight hours. > > After Woo had shot a number of people in one village, he would resume the spree killing in a nearby village. In the early hours of April 27, after rampaging through five villages in Uiryeong county, Woo took his final two grenades and strapped them to his body. He then held three people captive and then set the grenades' fuses, killing both himself and his final victims." [^dc]: One possible objection to my sniper plot is that by selecting Simo Häyhä as my exemplar, and suggesting that an indefinite kill-rate of 1 person per month, I am cherry-picking my data; most terrorist-snipers, the suggestion goes, would be more akin to the [Beltway sniper attacks](!Wikipedia) by John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo: resulting in few deaths (11) and relatively quick apprehension (3 weeks). The DC sniper attacks, however, were not conducted at sniper ranges, were multiple killings by the same person in the same time and location, and were conducted poorly--the two were arrested and discovered because they were sleeping in their car. [^state]: And let's not even talk about the usual death toll: > "Deaths of Americans due to terrorist activities, according to the US State Department, have averaged less than 15 per year since 2002. And all of those occurred abroad. The majority were in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. (Civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan were not counted due to the fact those occurred in war zones.)" --["The Most Dangerous Person in the World?"](http://www.counterpunch.org/goekler03242009.html), _[CounterPunch](!Wikipedia)_ > "However, as can be seen in the figure, the number of people worldwide who die as a result of international terrorism by this definition is generally a few hundred a year. In fact, until 2001 far fewer Americans were killed in any grouping of years by all forms of international terrorism than were killed by lightning. Moreover, except for 2001, virtually none of these terrorist deaths occurred within the United States itself. Indeed, outside of 2001, fewer people have died in America from international terrorism than have drowned in toilets. Even with the September 11 attacks included in the count, however, the number of Americans killed by international terrorism over the period is not a great deal more than the number killed by lightning--or by accident-causing deer or by severe allergic reactions to peanuts over the same period. In almost all years the total number of people worldwide who die at the hands of international terrorists is not much more than the number who drown in bathtubs in the United States--some 300-400. > > Another assessment comes from astronomer Alan Harris. Using State Department figures, he assumes a worldwide death rate from international terrorism of 1000 per year--that is, he assumes in his estimate that there would be another 9/11 somewhere in the world every several years. Over an 80 year period under those conditions some 80,000 deaths would occur which would mean that the lifetime probability that a resident of the globe will die at the hands of international terrorists is about one in 75,000 (6 billion divided by 80,000). This, he points out, is about the same likelihood that one would die over the same interval from the impact on the earth of an especially ill-directed asteroid or comet. If there are no repeats of 9/11, the lifetime probability of being killed by an international terrorist becomes about one in 120,000." --John Mueller, ["Reacting to Terrorism: Probabilities, Consequences, and the Persistence of Fear"](http://polisci.osu.edu/faculty/jmueller/ISA2007T.PDF); Ohio State University, February 6, 2007 Never are [opportunity costs](!Wikipedia) more relevant than in security. From Mueller & Stewart 2011: > "Although these tallies make for grim reading, the total number of people killed in the years after 9/11 by Muslim extremists outside of war zones comes to some 200 to 300 per year. That, of course, is 200 to 300 too many, but it hardly suggests that the destructive capacities of the terrorists are monumental. For comparison, during the same period more people-320 per year-drowned in bathtubs in the United States alone. Or there is another, rather unpleasant comparison. Increased delays and added costs at U.S. airports due to new security procedures provide incentive for many short-haul passengers to drive to their destination rather than flying, and, since driving is far riskier than air travel, the extra automobile traffic generated has been estimated to result in 500 or more extra road fatalities per year." Given the rarity and low costs of attacks, it's *very* hard to justify expensive security measures like [full body scanner](!Wikipedia)s; a [conservative analysis](http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2011/01/cost-benefit_an.html) nevertheless writes in its abstract: > "The cost of this technology will reach$1.2 billion per year by 2014. The paper develops a cost-benefit analysis of AITs for passenger screening at U.S. airports. The analysis considered threat probability, risk reduction, losses, and costs of security measures in the estimation of costs and benefits. Since there is uncertainty and variability of these parameters, three alternate probability (uncertainty) models were used to characterise risk reduction and losses. Economic losses were assumed to vary from $2-50 billion, and risk reduction from 5-10%. Monte-Carlo simulation methods were used to propagate these uncertainties in the calculation of benefits, and the minimum attack probability necessary for AITs to be cost-effective was calculated. It was found that, based on mean results, more than one attack every two years would need to originate from U.S. airports for AITs to pass a cost-benefit analysis. In other words, to be cost-effective, AITs every two years would have to disrupt more than one attack effort with body-borne explosives that otherwise would have been successful despite other security measures, terrorist incompetence and amateurishness, and the technical difficulties in setting off a bomb sufficiently destructive to down an airliner. The attack probability needs to exceed 160-330% per year to be 90% certain that AITs are cost-effective." Or consider the broader picture; ["Terror, Security, and Money: Balancing the Risks, Benefits, and Costs of Homeland Security"](http://polisci.osu.edu/faculty/jmueller/MID11TSM.PDF) (2011), by John Mueller and Mark Stewart: > "The cumulative increase in expenditures on US domestic homeland security over the decade since 9/11 exceeds one trillion dollars...Thus far, officials do not seem to have done so and have engaged in various forms of probability neglect by focusing on worst case scenarios; adding, rather than multiplying, the probabilities; assessing relative, rather than absolute, risk; and inflating terrorist capacities and the importance of potential terrorist targets. We find that enhanced expenditures have been excessive: to be deemed cost-effective in analyses that substantially bias the consideration toward the opposite conclusion, they would have to deter, prevent, foil, or protect against 1,667 otherwise successful Times-Square type attacks per year, or more than four per day. > > ...As we approach the tenth anniversary of 9/11, federal expenditures on domestic homeland security have increased by some$360 billion over those in place in 2001. Moreover, federal national intelligence expenditures aimed at defeating terrorists at home and abroad have gone up by $110 billion, while state, local, and private sector expenditures have increased by a hundred billion more. And the vast majority of this increase, of course, has been driven by much heightened fears of terrorism, not by growing concerns about other hazards-as Veronique de Rugy has noted, by 2008 federal spending on counterterrorism had increased enormously while protection for such comparable risks as fraud and violent crime had not, to the point where homeland security expenditures had outpaced spending on all crime by$15 billion.[3] Tallying all these expenditures and adding in opportunity costs-but leaving out the costs of the terrorism-related (or terrorism-determined) wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and quite a few other items that might be included-the increase in expenditures on domestic homeland security over the decade exceeds one trillion dollars." There are a number of estimates of how much [Iraq has cost](!Wikipedia "Financial cost of the Iraq War"): 1. The Bush administration estimated Iraq at $50-60 billion. 2. [Joseph Stiglitz](!Wikipedia) in 2005 [estimated](http://works.bepress.com/joseph_stiglitz/10/) a total cost of >$2 trillion. 3. In 2008 Stiglitz upped it to >$3 trillion (see _The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict_). 4. In 2011, President Obama publicly estimated the cost of Afghanistan & Iraq at >$1 trillion. 5. Also in 2011, the [CRS](!Wikipedia "Congressional Research Service") estimated Pentagon expenditures at [>$1.3 trillion](http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL33110.pdf) from 2001 to 2011. 6. The [Watson Institute for International Studies](!Wikipedia)'s 2011 report ["The Costs of War"](http://costsofwar.org/sites/default/files/Costs%20of%20War%20Executive%20Summary%206%2029%202011.pdf) puts it at >$3.2 trillion (omitting interest, non-federal medical & social service expenses, aid to Iraq or Afghanistan or Pakistan, or damage done to non-American interests). [^mao]: Mao's death toll has been estimated to be anywhere from 10 million to 80 million, or 120,000-960,000 deaths per year ($\frac{10000000}{1976 - 1893}$ - $\frac{80000000}{1976 - 1893}$). If we use the per-year death rate from Alan Harris of 1000, and apply it to the 20th century (a generous application), then the last century's terrorism death toll was still significantly smaller than a single year of Mao. One review of US military [psyops](!Wikipedia) programs speaks for itself (["Military Social Influence in the Global Information Environment: A Civilian Primer"](http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1530-2415.2010.01214.x/full), King 2010): > "Beyond this, U.S. military perception management specialists are convinced that modern *enemy* information campaigns have been so successful that they have tipped the balance in recent conflict, successfully frustrating U.S. and allied forces (Collings & Rohozinski, 2008; Murphy, 2010; Seib, 2008). For instance, it has been argued that optimal management of satellite television, Internet-based media, and journalist access to information thwarted Israeli Defense Force (IDF) activity in Lebanon in 2006 (Caldwell et al., 2009). And Al Qaeda, many believe, continues to be a formidable foe, not because of military resources, but as a result of their highly coordinated global media campaign (Kilcullen, in Packer, 2006; Seib, 2008)."