Securing the Homeland: Building A Framework for Evaluating Counterterrorism Regulations

Sep 08, 2006


Jerry Ellig
Senior Research Fellow
Mercatus Center

Amos Guiora
Professor of Law and Director of the Institute for Global Security
Case Western Reserve University 

Click Here to view the powerpoint presentation.

Kyle McKenzie
Research Fellow
Mercatus Center 

Five years since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Americans are still on edge about the threat that became so clear that day. Whether it's the UK-based group plotting to blow up US-bound airplanes, the attacks in London and Madrid, the shoe-bomber Richard Reid, the Lackawanna Group, or the Canadian terror ring, we are constantly being reminded that this very serious danger to our homeland has not gone away.

Given that protecting citizens' lives and property is a core function of government, it should be no surprise that the U.S. government has significantly increased security measures since 9/11. Since airlines, utilities, and other critical infrastructure and assets in the United States are privately owned, it should be no surprise that a significant number of these initiatives involve regulation of private activity.

An almost infinite number of possible actions might serve to mitigate the risk of terrorist attacks. However, with limited public and private resources, we must find a way to prioritize possible actions.  Setting priorities for regulation requires an understanding of the benefits, tradeoffs, and outcomes associated with different measures to mitigate terrorist risks.

To explore this important issue, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University will host a seminar to discuss a framework for analyzing homeland security regulations. The discussion will be led by Mercatus Scholars Jerry Ellig and Kyle McKenzie, as well as Case Western Professor of Law Amos Guiora.

The speakers will incorporate fundamental economic principles to address the following questions:

  • What specific outcomes are homeland security regulations supposed to accomplish?
  • How can the federal government better assess the likely consequences and cost-effectiveness of these regulations?
  • What economic principles can help policymakers to determine the core federal, state and private roles?
  • What lessons can be learned from other nations that have had to deal with terrorism on a regular basis?

Course participants will gain a solid framework for better analyzing these important regulatory questions and a greater ability to evaluate security policy options that cross their desks.