Reassessing The Cost Of The Post-9/11 Era, Post Bin Laden

Dan Froomkin – froomkin@huffingtonpost.com Become a fan of this reporter

WASHINGTON — Osama bin Laden’s death doesn’t end the post-9/11 era, but it does provide an occasion to look back at everything that’s happened since the attacks nearly 10 years ago and reassess the costs.

It’s been a long, grueling and enormously expensive time for this country, a time of endless war and massive fortification, of borrowed money and of missed opportunities.

There’s the human toll. More than twice as many Americans — over 6,000 — have now died in the two wars that followed 9/11 than did in the original attacks, along with more than 100,000 Iraqis and Afghans. Over three million Iraqis and 400,000 Afghans remain displaced. Several hundred thousand U.S. soldiers suffer from long-term war-related injuries and health problems, with more than 200,000 diagnosed with traumatic brain injury alone.

And there’s the extraordinary financial toll. Indeed, even as Washington officials panic about the growing deficit, much of the problem can be traced back to 9/11 — not to the attack itself, but to the response, and particularly to the decision to go to war in Iraq.

The actual 9/11 attacks produced insured losses of about $40 billion and delivered a temporary blow to the economy. But that was just the very beginning of the financial hemorrhage.