*Taken from Reason. Written by Gene Healy.
In a country starved for good news, we should be celebrating the fact that, after Sept. 11, 2001, we’ve gone 10 years without a major follow-up attack on American soil.
But some folks just refuse to be cheered up. At last week’s GOP debate, Newt Gingrich helpfully reminded everyone that “there are people out there who want to kill us.” Therefore, we need a Department of Homeland Security with the “capacity to respond to massive events that could kill hundreds of thousands of Americans in one morning.”
That’s a tall order for an institution whose core competence seems to be groping preschoolers on security lines.
More to the point, is there any evidence at all that that’s the magnitude of the threat we’re facing?
Last month’s rough weather provoked some debate over whether the government overreacted to Hurricane Irene. But Irene killed more Americans in one weekend than jihadists have managed in a decade. Irene’s death toll stands at 44; Islamic radicals in the U.S.—even counting the Beltway snipers, who looked more like random lunatics than al Qaeda operatives—have killed just over 30 since 9/11.