The terror threat is greatly exaggerated. After all, the type of counter-terror experts who frequently appear on the mainstream news are motivated to hype the terror threat, because it drums up business for them.
The same is true for government employees. As former FBI assistant director Thomas Fuentes put it last week:
If you’re submitting budget proposals for a law enforcement agency, for an intelligence agency, you’re not going to submit the proposal that “We won the war on terror and everything’s great,” cuz the first thing that’s gonna happen is your budget’s gonna be cut in half.
You know, it’s my opposite of Jesse Jackson’s “Keep Hope Alive”—it’s “Keep Fear Alive.” Keep it alive.
Fearmongering also serves political goals. For example, FBI agents and CIA intelligence officials, a top constitutional and military law expert, Time magazine, the Washington Post and others have all said that U.S. government officials “were trying to create an atmosphere of fear in which the American people would give them more power”. Indeed, the former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge admitted that he was pressured to raise terror alerts to help Bush win reelection. Former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski – also a top foreign policy advisor to President Obama – told the Senate that the war on terror is a “a mythical historical narrative”.
Indeed, the government justifies its geopolitical goals – including seizing more power at home, and overthrowing oil-rich countries – by hyping the terror menace. So the government wants you to be scared out of your pants by the risk of terrorism. No wonder national security employees see a terrorist under every bush.
But terrorism has actually dramatically declined in the United States. Daniel Benjamin – the Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the United States Department of State from 2009 to 2012 – noted last month (at 10:22):
The total number of deaths from terrorism in recent years has been extremely small in the West. And the threat itself has been considerably reduced. Given all the headlines people don’t have that perception; but if you look at the statistics that is the case.
Indeed, the Washington Post noted in 2013 that the number of terror attacks in the U.S. has plummeted since the 1970s:
Indeed, you’re now much more likely to be killed by brain-eating parasites, texting while driving, toddlers, lightning, falling out of bed, alcoholism, food poisoning, a financial crash, obesity, medical errors or “autoerotic asphyxiation” than by terrorists.
Obviously, a huge number of innocent Americans – 3,000 – were killed on 9/11 … a single terror attack.
However, 9/11 – like the Boston Bombing (and the Paris terror attack) – happened because mass surveillance replaced traditional anti-terror measures. Similarly, Cheney and company were criminally negligent.
And the “War on Terror” has been counter-productive, and only increased the terrorism problem.
If we had stuck with tried-and-true anti-terror techniques, high-fatality events like 9/11 would never have happened.