Not since 2001 have Americans entered the holiday season with more trepidation, more nervousness, thanks to the Friday the 13th attacks on Paris.
Thanksgiving weekend sends millions of Americans onto roads, into airports and train stations and shopping malls, soft targets for terrorists intent on wreaking havoc.
On Monday, the U.S. State Department issued a worldwide travel alert, urging Americans to be vigilant in public places and on public transportation, especially during the holiday season. Wednesday, President Obama came to cameras, flanked by his homeland security team, to reassure the public that law enforcement and intelligence services will be on the job through the holiday to secure the country. He said there is currently no specific or credible intelligence of a terrorist plot. Is there a threat? Yes.
What’s the likelihood of a terrorist attack in the U.S.? According to the experts, extremely low.
The Threat is Already Here
Rosa Brooks – Foreign Policy
Occasional terrorist attacks in the West are virtually inevitable, and odds are, we’ll see more attacks in the coming decades, not fewer. If we want to reduce the long-term risk of terrorism — and reduce its ability to twist Western societies into unrecognizable caricatures of themselves — we need to stop viewing terrorism as shocking and aberrational, and instead recognize it as an ongoing problem to be managed, rather than “defeated.”
According to the 2015 Global Terrorism Index, between 2000 and 2014, only 2.6 percent of victims of terrorism lived in Western countries. Stay away from active war zones, and the average American is far more likely to be struck by lightning than killed by a terrorist. And gun violence in the United States? I won’t even go there.
I can’t believe it’s still necessary to repeat this, but … no, Fox News, we can’t “win” a “war” against terrorism or terror or terrorists any more than we can “win” a war on crime or drugs or poverty. But though we can’t eliminate all risk of terrorism, we can adopt sensible policies to reduce the risk and damage caused by terrorist attacks.
President Obama delivers a security message ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, November 25, 2015
In Fight With ISIS, Home Front Remains Vulnerable
Peter Dombrowski – The Conversation
It is magical thinking to assume that Western states can continue to wage war against the Islamic State (ISIS) without incurring casualties at home. Like France, the United States faces the possibility that the ISIS will attack an American city sooner or later.
Despite the intense criticism leveled at President Obama these past few days, his strong defense of a more hands-off approach is both compelling and less likely to embroil American troops in costly and ineffective tit-for-tat military escalation.
Defeating ISIS on the battlefield to prevent attacks in Rome or New York may be futile. No matter how much military force France, the United States, Russia or some yet-to-be-formed coalition apply, it will be incredibly difficult to protect citizens from terror, the ultimate weapon of the weak.
5 Ways Air Security is Better
Editorial Board – USA Today
Despite the holes, airports and airlines today are not the same soft, flabby targets they were in 2001. Say what you will about the Transportation Security Administration — and many say it’s little more than just-for-show “security theater” — it is miles ahead of what passed for screening before that Sept. 11, when private companies hired minimum-wage workers and gave them scant training.
Amazingly, some lawmakers want to go back to the bad old days of private contractors trying to maximize profits. Why take that risk? Fourteen years after 9/11, terrorists continue to target jetliners and there have been a few close calls, but the nation’s air travel system has not been victimized by another attack.
How to Keep U.S. Safe from ISIS Recruits
Sen. Dan Coats (R-Indiana) – CNN
FBI Director James Comey recently told Congress that approximately 250 Americans have traveled or attempted to travel to Syria, and that ISIS is communicating with potential American recruits through social media.
Given these realities, it is clear we must be more aggressive in taking action to screen all those who enter the United States, as well as take stronger actions against American citizens who join terrorist organizations.
This effort must include a fresh look at the Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens from 38 participating countries to travel to the United States without first obtaining a visa.