Monday, December 1, 2008

Faux Fear

Listening to NPR news this morning (Wednesday before Thanksgivig Day holiday) they reported a story by a law enforcement agency on a possible attack on the New York City subway system, stating, "The FBI said they have unsupported reports stating that, "In September Al Qaeda may have discussed an attack on the subway system during the Thanksgiving Day holiday."

Well, nothing happened. And now what? Perhaps Christmas or New Year's eve holiday attack?

All they had was an idea that some group "may have" talked about planning an attack. LIke you don't think out loud with friends or writers think of outragious horror, terror or crimnal ideas for books? But these guys are terrorists, and you expect them to talk about something else? Like what?

Ok, I know the threats are real, but I for one am getting very tired of the chicken little pronouncements based on the mere idea of proof which is hedged with so many "may have" or "may be" to be useless to the everyday person. You may as well say, someone may hit you with a car, rob or kill you at gun point, or whatever else may happen during your day.

And yes, it's real, as we've seen with the Mumbai terrorists attacks on innocent people. But when do we stop living with the "terrorists may strike" mentality and get on with our lives? I'm more worried about everyday criminals, bad drivers, and stupid people doing dumb things than I am about some terrorist group planning something, let alone actually doing anything.

The reality is that on average there is at least one terrorist attack per day every year somewhere in the world, not inlcuding those in Iraq and Afghanistan where there are at least one every day there. And in the US there have been only three in the last twenty-plus years with a few more against American facilities around the world.

We have escaped attacks, not because we're more secure, but because it simply takes more planning and preparation, but even then attacks still happen, eg. the rocket into the Green Zone last week. We're not the sole target of terrorists, but one of many. Terrorism and terrorists are as old as modern man, so making a mountain out of an imaginary mole hill doesn't make sense.

And today I read a panel concluded there will be an atack using biochemical weapons within the next five years. Maybe, and only because all the stuff is there, materials, government insecurity, money, reasons, etc. Ok, but why the fear mongering? To sell us more tax money for homeland security, which according to the GAO hasn't made us safer and squandered billions for nothing or corporate profit?

It's logical that terrorists will eventually get and use biochemical weapons, and more than likely somewhere in the world. But America and Americans aren't the sole interest of terrorists, just in a few places in the world. And it's logical that even more eventually a terrorists will use a nuclear device of some fashion. There simply are too many unsecured material and weapons and too many experts who can build them.

But all that said, what we need is common sense for us common people, not faux fear and fear mongering. And we want realistic answers, not hype and maybe's. Otherwise, the announcements are just that, and lost in the noise of the everyday. And until we get real answers, and not some "It's secret we can't tell you..." answers, we won't see the need to write checks for it, which in short is a way of saying, "Do your job with the money you have, just like the rest of live our lives."

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