Americans have little to fear (ny times link) -
September 16, 2001 9:22 PM   Subscribe

Americans have little to fear (ny times link) - In an opinion piece by Larry Johnson, a former State Department counterterrorism specialist published July 10th, Americans are bedeviled by fantasies about terrorism. They seem to believe that terrorism is the greatest threat to the United States and that it is becoming more widespread and lethal. They are likely to think that the United States is the most popular target of terrorists. And they almost certainly have the impression that extremist Islamic groups cause most terrorism.

None of these beliefs are based in fact. . . .

posted by revbrian (8 comments total)
"According to the Central Intelligence Agency, deaths from international terrorism fell to 2,527 in the decade of the 1990's, from 4,833 in the 80's."

To 5000+ in the 00's....
posted by EngineBeak at 9:29 PM on September 16, 2001

Americans have little to fear. . . . They are likely to think that the United States is the most popular target of terrorists. None of these beliefs are based in fact. . . .

This expert analysis goes right onto the same list as: "There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home." --Ken Olsen, President, Digital Equipment, 1977
posted by LeLiLo at 9:44 PM on September 16, 2001

this link is broken
posted by Charmian at 9:58 PM on September 16, 2001

To 5000+ in the 00's....

A most unfortunate statistical outlier. We're probably safer right now that we've ever been, with the exception of Americans of Arab descent.
posted by skyline at 10:23 PM on September 16, 2001

Or people whom others mistake for them.
posted by allaboutgeorge at 11:19 PM on September 16, 2001

Sure, it's wrong in hindsight. But, there's no question that the current administration had been stoking fear of terrorist 'rogue nations' to add zeroes to the defense budget. It's still valid to say that it was unreasonable to try to mold North Korea into some kind of serious national security threat. And, the analysis was based on statistics - which doesn't make it correct, but does point how just how unusual this attack was. Not that that needs to be demonstrated right now... I commiserate with the author for having had what I would have considered a correct assessment of the situation proven wrong. Defense analysts didn't predict what happened, the Bush administration couldn't have predicted what happened, I couldn't have predicted what happened, so I think that the proposition that 'fear of terrorism' had been put into use as a new rationale for sending money to fat cat defense contractors stands, despite what happened. Notice that they never took the recommendations to beef up security seriously, preferring solutions that would be less effective, and much more expensive.
posted by touchel at 9:15 AM on September 17, 2001

From the article:

Part of the blame can be assigned to 24-hour broadcast news operations too eager to find a dramatic story line in the events of the day and to pundits who repeat myths while ignoring clear empirical data. Politicians of both parties are also guilty. They warn constituents of dire threats and then appropriate money for redundant military installations and new government investigators and agents.
Interesting. But other than that, it was quite disturbing to read the guy's bureaucratic approach to terrorism. "Overall numbers of deaths are down in the 90s compared to the 80s". Reminds me of another comment that CIA counterterrorist experts stay in Western hotels and never stray too far from the conference circuit.
posted by fellorwaspushed at 10:41 AM on September 17, 2001

I agree with the article whole-heartedly. Statistically speaking, even after the WTO bombing, Americans are pretty safe from loss of life. Just as statistically speaking, it's been safer to take the plane than drive.

I realize that the talking heads & politicians don't want to make light of the loss of life, but I wish they'd start making this point sometime soon.

The only way to fortify ourselves against the terrorists is to realize that the whole point of their attacks is to terrorize us. I look at it this way: Bin Laden was trying to get me, and he missed.
posted by phartizan at 1:32 PM on September 17, 2001

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