Shortly after Sept. 11, Sen. Charles Schumer declared that the "era of a shrinking federal government is over." This was more nonsense. The government hadn't been shrinking. But for politicians like Schumer, 9/11 was an excuse to take more power. Price was no object.
I can't tell you what Homeland Security does with your money. Much of its spending is secret. Certainly much is wasted. The department made a big fuss over its color-coded airport security system, then scrapped it because it provided "little practical information." The department spent billions on things like special boats to protect a lake in Nebraska, all-terrain vehicles for a small town in Tennessee and 70 security cameras for a remote Alaskan village.
That's what politicians do. Members of Congress say: "You want my vote? You'd better give my district some cash." And when people are scared, they let bureaucrats spend.
This played into Osama bin Laden's hands. In one videotaped message, he talked about "bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy."
The attacks on 9/11 were largely a failure of government. Our so-called "intelligence agencies" knew nothing about the plot. The Immigration and Naturalization Service, charged with keeping track of foreigners who overstay their visas, didn't pay attention to the 19 hijackers. And as Rep. Ron Paul points out, history did not begin on Sept. 11. Part of the failure was America's interventionist foreign policy, which needlessly made enemies.
So government failed on 9/11, and yet the politicians' answer to failure is always the same: Give us more money and power. And we do. When will we learn?