Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Homeland Insecurity

I have always suspected that the reaction to terrorist attack in this country has been exaggerated. People keep asking the Department of Homeland Security, "Are we safer now than we were in 9/11?" Guess what? We weren't in grave danger in September 2001 to begin with! So the answer is, "Sure, maybe. We're not any worse off. Why do you ask?" But no one ever gives that answer simply because they are convinced that we are constantly under attack.

And technically that is true although statistically, it's ridiculous. The Grand Canyon is constantly under attack by the weather elements and erosion. The only terrorist attacks that have occurred in this country, if you exclude disgruntled Americans and countries we were at war with at the time, were on only two occasions: The unsuccessful bombing of the World Trade Towers in 1993 and the successful destruction of the World Trade Towers, a damaged Pentagon building and a downed passenger plane in 2001. Not only is that a small number of events in this country's 230 year history, but two of the attacks were at the same location, at the same address! The occupants that were at 1 World Trade Plaza have the right to say "We're under attack." It's silly for 300 million people living on a land mass of 3,717,800 square miles to stake that claim.

So the response to terrorist attacks, to me, has always been ridiculous. It is too easy to cultivate fear in people. Presidents have been doing it for years to justify war.

Anyway, Wired had an opinion piece written by the CTO of Counterpane Internet Security, Bruce Schneier who is also an author, titled America's Flimsy Fortress. He wrote the piece along the lines of what I just talked about and each of his points I agree with. It's good to know that I'm not the only one who thinks this way.

Some key points from the Wired article:

* 2,978 people were killed by terrorist attack in 2001
* 157,400 Americans died of lung cancer
* 42,116 in road accidents
* 3,454 from malnutrition
* Billions of dollars are spent by the Department of Homeland Security to make our country "safer" from terrorist attack.
* "As a society we can have as much protection as we want, as long as we're willing to sacrifice the money, time, convenience and liberties to get it."

I inadvertantly chose to talk about this topic on the one year anniversary of the creation of the Department of Homeland Security - funny.


DJI 10611, NASDAQ 2047, SP51151
#1 Movie at the box office: The Passion of the Christ (I smell sequel!)
Last movie I saw at the theater: The Last Samauri
Last movie I saw not at the theater: Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd
Books I'm currently reading:
End of Eternity by Issac Asimov
Clear Your Clutter by Karen Kingston
Secret Lives of the U.S. Presidents by Cormac O'Brien