An excellent article from Shikha Dalmia at Reason, via Bruce Schneier, points out that in any realistic sense the threat from Al-Qaeda to the US is all but non-existent.
But this year marks the 10th anniversary of 9-11 and none of the horrible scenarios conjured then have materialized. Islamic terrorists have not flown more planes into buildings. They haven’t detonated “loose nukes” or dirty bombs. They haven’t released nerve gas into subway stations. They haven’t poisoned the water supply. They haven’t even strolled into one of America’s hundreds of malls or farmer’s markets and blown themselves up.
Maybe this is because enhanced post-9/11 security has made America invulnerable. Or maybe the Islamists never posed that big a threat to begin with.
The article quotes Ohio State University political-science professor John Mueller, who observes that even taking 9/11 into account, an average American is more likely to drown in his or her bathtub than to be killed by international terrorism. Unfortunately, all that screaming hysteria about terrorism sells newspapers, justifies increased budgets and new government agencies, and provides a rationale for expanded local and federal police powers.
The true threat to America is not international terrorism. It is Washington DC's reaction to — and eager exploitation of — international terrorism. It is Capitol Hill, not Al-Qaeda, that is destroying America.