Safety First?

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Former (and first) head of the CIA desk in charge of tracking Osama bin Laden (then known as Usama bin Laden), Michael Scheuer, got himself into some hot water by going on Glenn Beck’s teevee show on Fox News and saying another terrorist attack might be the only thing that can save the US from its incompetent leaders.

Spencer Ackerman over at TWI remarked that this seemed an inappropriate thing to say, so Scheuer wrote him to explain.  Among other things, he said:

I am afraid that another, greater-than-9/11 attack will occur — because our leaders see the world that they want to be and not the one on offer — and that only then will Americans starkly see what I believe is unconscionable failure of the federal goverment to put their safety first.

I have two objections.

First, as I’ve pointed out before, another attack will occur, regardless of what our leaders do or do not do.  It is the nature of the world we live in, and inevitable.  There’s no point being afraid of it or being driven by it.  Get on with life.

Richard Clarke was on some show the other night, and he said the smartest thing I’ve heard anybody say about foreign policy in a very long time: Iran is going to do what it does; al Qaeda is going to do what it does; America should do what we do.  That is, we shouldn’t live our lives in reaction to what others are doing.  They do what they do.  Regardless of what it is, let’s not let it change how we lead our lives.  Let’s continue to be self-determined.  (As I’ve said many times in response to that defeatist, Bush era phrase, “9/11 changed everything”: 9/11 changes nothing, it has no agency; only we can change anything, and there’s no reason we should let 9/11 herd us into changing our society.)

Second, I think it’s still the case that most Americans do not want the government to put our safety first.  Putting our safety first means making America a national security state, which is a form of cowardice and surrender.  No, we want our government to put our freedom first.  Safety can come second, if we wish, but not first.  The price is too high.

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One Response to “Safety First?”

  1. jazzbumpa Says:

    Re: last para:
    That’s what you and I want. Americans in general? I’m not so sure.

    Otherwise:
    Jazzzbumpa:economic meltdown :: Scheuer: terrorist attack.

    That is distressing.

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