Sunday, June 02, 2013

Another Perspective on Terrorism

Schneier, whose credentials in security are damn near impeccable:

Terrorism causes fear, and we overreact to that fear. Our brains aren't very good at probability and risk analysis. We tend to exaggerate spectacular, strange and rare events, and downplay ordinary, familiar and common ones. We think rare risks are more common than they are, and we fear them more than probability indicates we should.

[From another post, same blog:  James Carafano of the conservative Heritage Foundation noted in a radio interview that "the odds of you being killed by a terrorist are less than you being hit by a meteorite." Carafano’s odds may be a bit off, but his basic point isn’t. At present rates, an American’s chance of being killed by a terrorist is about one in 3.5 million per year­ -- compared, for example, to a yearly chance of dying in an automobile crash of one in 8,200.]

Our leaders are just as prone to this overreaction as we are. But aside from basic psychology, there are other reasons that it's smart politics to exaggerate terrorist threats, and security threats in general.

...A politician wants to be seen as taking charge, demanding answers, fixing things. It just doesn't look as good to sit back and claim that there's nothing to do. The logic is along the lines of: "Something must be done. This is something. Therefore, we must do it." 

The third is that the "fear preacher" wins, regardless of the outcome....

There is another reason, which is the most chilling one--it's the one that GWB used to vastly increase the Surveillance State which B Hussein Obama loves:

...Once a security system is in place, it can be very hard to dislodge it. Imagine a politician who objects to some aspect of airport security: the liquid ban, the shoe removal, something. If he pushes to relax security, he gets the blame if something bad happens as a result. No one wants to roll back a police power and have the lack of that power cause a well-publicized death, even if it's a one-in-a-billion fluke. [It's all "for the chilluns" and YOU are 'the chilluns.']

We're seeing this force at work in the bloated terrorist no-fly and watch lists; agents have lots of incentive to put someone on the list, but absolutely no incentive to take anyone off. We're also seeing this in the Transportation Security Administration's attempt to reverse the ban on small blades on airplanes. Twice it tried to make the change, and twice fearful politicians prevented it from going through with it. 

Lots of unneeded and ineffective security measures are perpetrated by a government bureaucracy that is primarily concerned about the security of its members' careers.

...and most of them can be directed against ordinary citizens.  Today it's the Conservatives.



Jim said...

What is this? Sanity Sunday? :-)

Anonymous said...

Gee Jim, when you knock Barack's dick out of your mouth for more than three seconds, things do make sense.

Anonymous said...

Lithium works, Anony 11:37 p.m.