September 11th and the National Debt

by Kevin Ryan     source: 9/11 Blogger    Nov 5, 2010
For the victim’s families, the costs of the September 11th attacks were incomprehensibly high. There were many other costs apart from precious human lives, however, and people often forget just how much we are all paying on an ongoing basis due to the attacks which originated the “Global War on Terror.” 
An organization linked to former CIA director James Woolsey estimated that the damages associated with the attacks were on the order of $2 trillion. Those costs included losses in property damage, lost production of goods and services, and losses on Wall Street. [1] Others have estimated the damages to be much lower, [2] and some have reported that the stock market was largely unaffected by the attacks. [3] The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation was given an amount closer to the lower estimates in order to help rebuild the immediate area.[4]
The current US military costs resulting from the wars that were started in response to the September 11th attacks are over $1 trillion.[5] Of course, other countries have also incurred significant costs to support the US led wars. A few years ago, mainstream media sources were estimating that the Iraq War alone would cost the US more than $3 trillion.[6] If the same logic is applied to the Afghanistan war, using the same rate, that war will cost the US at least $1 trillion. Of course, there is no end in sight for US military operations in either of these occupied countries, so these figures should be seen as minimum estimates. Additionally, these war cost estimates are called incremental costs, meaning that they are above “military salaries, training and support activities, and weapons procurement” as well as military construction.[7]
These direct damages and military response outlays do not reflect many other costs that arose from September 11th, including those related to the countless actions taken around the world to protect us from terrorism. Examples include the extra layers of security at ports and borders, higher transportation costs, higher insurance costs, new budgets for “homeland security” and other related agencies, and the costs of inefficiencies arising from the permanent change to a terrorism-first policy mindset in our local, state and federal governments.  
An important fact to remember about all these trillions of dollars is that we never had any of that money to spend. We have borrowed all the money we have used to conduct the War on Terror, and the interest on those loans is not discussed. This runaway spending spree was an additional driving factor behind the economic meltdown of 2008, and the nearly $2 trillion dollars in bailouts that followed.
As a result of the crimes of September 11th, we also failed to investigate the enormous losses reported just the day before. On September 10th, 2001, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld disclosed that – “”According to some estimates we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions.”[8] Instead of investigating these enormous losses, retrieving the monies lost and taking corrective action, no action was taken at all. To the contrary, we pumped trillions more into a new, runaway terrorism industrial complex.
If we were to make a reasonable estimate of what US citizens have committed to paying as a result of the crimes of September 11th and the War on Terror, that estimate would be on the order of the entire national debt that existed prior to September 11, 2001.  The national debt in September 2000 was $ 5.7 trillion and, corrected for inflation, had begun dropping for the first time since 1980.[9] The US national debt is now approaching $14 trillion, two and one third times as large as it was before 9/11.
It seems that there is no undoing the harm that the exorbitant expenditures from the War on Terror have caused to the United States. The terrorism industrial complex will need to be funded into the indefinite future, and there is no one who has a plan to even begin paying off the debts we have incurred to date.  In effect, we have sold our country and our children’s futures to foreign interests in an attempt to save ourselves from terrorism since September 11th.

That should be enough reason for any true American to call for a new investigation into the events of 9/11.

[1] Institute for the Analysis of Global Security, How much did the September 11 terrorist attack cost America?,
[2] Amy Zalman, Economic Impact of Terrorism and the September 11 Attacks,,
[3] Olivia A. Jackson, The Impact of the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks on the US Economy, The Journal of 9/11 Studies, March 2008,
[4] Josh Rogers, Whitehead says Liberty Bonds won’t be wasted Downtown, Downtown Express, Volume 16, Issue 20, October 14 – 20, 2003,
[5] National Priorities Project, Total Cost of Wars Since 2001,
[6] Linda J. Bilmes and Joseph E. Stiglitz, The Iraq War Will Cost Us $3 Trillion, and Much More, The Washington Post, March 9, 2008,
[7] Amy Belasco, The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11, Congressional Research Service, September 2, 2010,
[8] CBS Evening News, The War On Waste: Defense Department Cannot Account For 25% Of Funds — $2.3 Trillion, January 22, 2002,
[9] Ed Hall, U.S. National Debt Clock FAQ, 6 February 2008,

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