Yesterday at work, we had a conversation on the costs of the GWOT. It seems that the US government blew through $8 trillion in the action, by the time costs of veteran's benefits and claims are factored in. All of this could have been done for a fraction of the cost, and it would still have used a constitutional provision that many are not even aware of.
The US Constitution grants Congress the power to issue letters of marque and reprisal. These basically allow the Congress to contract out military actions, to outfit privateers and mercenaries. This would have been a simple feat: Issue bounties on terrorists. Osame bin Laden had a price on his head, but at $75 million, it was far too low to do any good.
Here is my proposal:
A letter of marque could be issued to all individuals, corporations, or foreign countries, that would pay amounts as listed below to any entity or groups that could verify the death or capture and surrender to US authorities of any terrorist on the list. In addition, American Citizens would be permitted to outfit themselves as needed to carry out this assignment without regard to the NFA or export controls. Need an armed Blackhawk? No problem, just pay for it. Need some missiles? Sold. We even have some warships we are willing to part with, say some older OHP class frigates, or even some old jet fighters that we have just lying around.
Then you issue a list of terrorists, and the bounties to be paid, beginning with bin Laden at $50 billion, and going down to the lower terrorists. you make the amounts large enough that it is worth the money for countries and large corporations to go after him. He would not be able to trust anyone.
This would have saved us trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives.