Is the terrorism threat exaggerated?

Posted at 11:30 AM, Sep 11, 2015

Unless we snap out of it soon, the legacy of 9/11 in America will be a chronic, irrational fear of terrorism that will continue to sanction wasteful spending, tragically futile military adventures and growing compromises of our civil liberties and international principles.

Fourteen years after 9/11, America’s terrorism policy resembles a history museum crammed with dusty old assumptions, antiquated objectives, unexamined ledgers all shrouded in a cloak of secrecy and imminent, invisible danger that vanquishes skeptical inquisition.

As taxpayers, we are being scammed. As citizens, our constitutional values are being compromised. As human beings, we are being needlessly frightened.

One might say this shows the terrorists have won. They haven’t. It’s that our common sense has surrendered.

We’re not much bothered, though. We are too paranoid to seriously question the basics of counterterrorism policy. The fundamental assumptions of the War on Terror have gone unexamined for a decade and a half.

The core premise is this: Global terrorism is the most serious, dangerous threat to the United States and its citizens.

It is heresy to challenge that orthodoxy.

But by any objective measure, it isn’t true.

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The DecodeDC podcast and blog are produced in the Scripps News Washington Bureau.