There is little doubt that the events of September 11th, 2001 were shocking and tragic. They shocked the world, and rightly so. America has never experienced an attack on its own territory that even came close to that one event, and it is perfectly understandable that the nation reacted viscerally.
The people of London, Coventry, Dresden and all over Europe have a history of attacks, indeed total war in the streets that, in better times, they play with their kids and go to the store. In America this had never happened. (Pearl Harbor is the exception, but it is 2000 miles from the US mainland).
It is unfortunate that, to add insult to grievous injury, the country was led by a handful of men and women whose nuanced response was to start a war. They started a war against an unrelated country, resulting in more American deaths than even the horror of 9/11.
As well as starting a war, those men also created the Department of Homeland Security. This monolithic and wholly new government department was met with the full approval of those who appear now to want nothing more than to make government small enough to drown in a bathtub.
To this department, and the State Department, have been given limitless funds to keep us safe from terrorism, which is a good thing, right?
Now they are demanding, this time under the leadership of a Democratic President, that we hand over our 1st and 4th Amendment rights in the enduring campaign to keep us safe. There are those who feel it is justified; that any measure, however intrusive, should be permissible if it keeps Americans safe.
It's an interesting argument but I have a question for you:
How many freedoms would you sacrifice to make your television safe?
I ask because before I agree to surrender that which the Founders chose to grant, it is not unreasonable that the danger be quantified. Is it? How much bang am I getting for my buck? What are the comparables? Is it necessary?
I have yet to hear the government actually spell this out .... If we spend $10 Billion this year, how many lives will that save? Roughly? Give it your best shot Mr President ... a ballpark figure or even a best guess. I promise, I will not hold you to it. All I am asking is that if sacrifice be demanded, then an accounting will be forthcoming.
If I went to my employer and suggested he spend $100 000 on a new widget because ... benefits, would he not first politely inquire as to what benefits? "Keeping us safe" is undoubtedly a defined benefit, my question is "safe from what"?
Let us briefly look at a few causes of death in the United States:
Road Deaths (2011, a low year) ... 32 467
Lung Cancer Deaths (2012 ... 160 000
Weather Related Deaths (2012) ... 464
Infant Mortality (approx. most years) ... 25 000
Gunshot Deaths (approx) ... 34 000
Suicides ( many contained in gunshot deaths) ... 38 364 (2010)
Terrorism Deaths of US citizens worldwide (2012) ... 17 (none in the US)
"Yes, but you are being disingenuous, because no one is trying to kill us in those other categories" ...
It's a valid point. If we know that people are trying to deliberately kill us, then we should probably try to stop them. However, even in the terrorist hotspots, the figures are surprisingly small considering the amount of resources devoted to their defeat.
The Global Terrorism Index reports:
LONDON, 4 December 2012 – The number of terrorist incidents has increased virtually every year since 9/11 according to the Global Terrorism Index (GTI), which launches today. However, terrorism fatalities have fallen by 25% since 2007, which coincides with the wind down of the Iraq war. Despite this Iraq was still the country most likely to suffer from terrorism in 2011. During the last decade, the Middle East and North Africa region has seen the highest number of fatalities due to terrorism, closely followed by Asia Pacific.It appears that the winding down of a war started under false pretenses, by the United States, caused much of the global terrorism, and now that war is ended, the numbers have fallen dramatically.
It would be reasonable to remind me that 9/11 happened before the Iraq War, not as a result of it. This is correct of course. However, it did not happen before the start of the Afghanistan War. A war in which Osama Bin Laden was on the "other side". In the previous conflict in that country, he was our friend, as the enemy of our enemy. All I can say is "Oh what tangled webs we weave ..."
The common theme here is that the interference in the internal affairs of other countries rarely ends well, and America has been interfering all over the world, for decades. Maybe the way to stop folk wanting to attack us, would be to spend some of that money finding ways to refrain from pinning a target on ourselves. It's just a thought.
"The numbers are falling because of The War On Terror"
Ah yes, the old post hoc, ergo propter hoc argument. In English, the suggestion of a causal link between the War on Terror and the reduction of deaths by terrorist attack. Well it seems that if you are going to make such claims, then you surely have the evidence, hard evidence that is verifiable, to back them up. For my part, I will point to the ending of an unnecessary war as being at least equally relevant.
So when there is another downturn in the numbers as the Afghanistan War ends, I feel confident that we will see the rolling back of the Department of Homeland Security, and the activities of the NSA, because it does appear that ending wars is a primary driver of the reduction in terror. No, I thought not.
I am not suggesting that the security services should not use intelligence led policing. What I am questioning is the apparent wholesale abandonment of the rights of Americans to be secure in their persons and possessions, and the right to speak freely. There have been no more than a few vague suggestions that any of this activity has thwarted the plans of the terrorists. It's not unreasonable to suppose that were there any real plots, plots that were credible by people who had the capacity to implement their plans, then surely we would have been told.
In an age driven by opinion and public outcry, the one sure way to silence opposition would be to wheel out a few terrorists and display them, complete with their advanced plans and the road to their capture. It simply beggars belief that the government is either unable or unwilling to do this, were such evidence available to them.
It seems that every time we start a war, we end up losing something valuable. The War on Drugs is costing us a whole generation of young people, most of them black or brown. The War on Terror, Afghanistan War, Iraq War ... you get the drift. Maybe we would be better if we quit starting wars.
As for the televisions ...
Between 2000 and 2010 a total of 176 Americans were killed when their television fell on them, more if you include the furniture it was on (293).
Maybe we need a multi-billion dollar War on Ikea