Skip to main content

Americans are hysterical. This was evident in the reaction to Chris Hayes' thoughtful question whether we should be calling American service-people "heroes" in knee-jerk fashion. We neither think straight on many issues nor are we prone to thinking slow and relying on what we know.

This hysteria is just now beginning to be questioned. In The Terror Con, Robert Scheer points out that that the official National Security apparat isn't populated with dedicated public servants, those "extraordinary professionals" President Obama demands we praise and admire, but career revolving-door bureaucrats intent on keeping the national security gravy-train running full bore. More to the point is the Council on Foreign Relations article pointing out that the chances of any American dying or being injured from an act of terror on US soil is infinitesimally small.

So let's examine this. As it happens, courtesy of the Global Terrorism Database, we have real data which is easily downloaded from The Guardian (hint: Go to "Spreadsheet View", then click on "File/Download as . . "). The two far-right columns list the numbers of killed and injured, which I summed separately, then added them together. My manipulations of this spreadsheet consisted solely of resizing column widths, filling in the empty cells in these columns with zeros and performing the addition.

So what do we find? Well, in the 41 year period stretching from 1970 to 2011, a grand total of 8,276 Americans were killed AND injured in terror attacks on American soil. While that's tragic, is it really that immediate a threat? Let's compare.

That 8,276 figure of killed and injured over a 41 year period comes in just shy of the 8,593 Americans who were murdered by guns in just 2011 (FBI Statistics of Crime in the US - Expanded Homicide Data Table 8).

That 8,276 figure is way less than the 33,808 Americans who died in auto accidents (xls - Source: census bureau).

Seniors are also at much elevated risk. 20,400 elderly Americans died in just 2009 from falls (Center for Disease Control).

About 2000 - 3000 Seniors are also starving to death in America, and this is nothing short of outrageous.

As I've said many times, we must ask ourselves some questions and be honest about the answers. What is the actual threat? Where should our resources go? Now that we know for certain that the surveillance state exists, should we accept the threat to our civil liberties this represents? Is the $5 trillion we spent on the global war on terror as of 2011 anything but a colossal waste of money? A colossal waste of lives and effort?

Washington passed the Patriot Act in October, 2001. Were we fully rational then?

Are we behaving rationally now, or just conning ourselves?

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, hubcap, kevinpdx, Joieau


    "The cure for bullshit is fieldwork."
    Robert H. Bates, Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, Harvard University.

    by papicek on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 10:42:30 AM PDT

  •  What Does It Cost Per Capita To Protect US (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joieau

    citizens from terrorism, when all total security and military actions are considered?

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 10:52:16 AM PDT

    •  Per Year nt (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joieau

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 10:52:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Good question . . . (0+ / 0-)

      I'll try and dig that up for you.


      "The cure for bullshit is fieldwork."
      Robert H. Bates, Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, Harvard University.

      by papicek on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 11:24:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Assuming . . . (0+ / 0-)

      a rounded-off figure of 300 million Americans, the totals already appropriated and spent (plus the 2012 request) of $1.414.8 trillion (source: CRS RL33110- The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11), that's $4,713 per capita overall - roughly on average, $428.50 for every man, woman and child in the US, per year, whether they're taxpayers or not.

      Or, at least 20% per year of my total federal income tax bill went into paying for the AUMF of 2001, including:

      "DOD, State Department/USAID, and Department of Veterans Administration budget submissions, the cumulative total appropriated from the 9/11 for those war operations, diplomatic operations, and medical care for Iraq and Afghan war veterans"
      That doesn't, of course, take into account CIA, FBI, NSA & other ongoing expenditures the GWOT-black-hole sucks out of the budget.


      "The cure for bullshit is fieldwork."
      Robert H. Bates, Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, Harvard University.

      by papicek on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 11:51:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oops . . . (0+ / 0-)

        make that $1.4148 trillion.


        "The cure for bullshit is fieldwork."
        Robert H. Bates, Eaton Professor of the Science of Government, Harvard University.

        by papicek on Wed Jun 19, 2013 at 12:02:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site