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Americans unconcerned about terrorism.

As the New Year begins, the World is in turmoil. Islamic fundamentalism is exerting pressure in places like South Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and probably soon, in Europe. Yet, it is pretty clear that we, here in America, do not feel threatened by terrorism. Most of us patiently tolerate the extra waiting and surveillance when we travel by air (I hear plenty of murmured complaints). We see the violence throughout the World, but I believe many is us say, “well its over there,” or isn’t it sad what happened to that nice lady in Pakistan.

At Threatswatch, we spend our time writing about World events and trying to offer perspective on how these events affect our lives. Certainly, the analysis provided about terrorism around the globe is informative to anyone who spends the time to read the entries and to follow some of the sourced links. But when I read that people in a recent study (released December 14, 2007) seem to not believe that they are threatened by terrorism, it makes me stop and think.

According to the CNN/Opinion Research Corporation study involving over 1000 respondents, 39 per cent of respondents are very or somewhat worried about themselves or someone in their family becoming a victim of terrorism, down five points since March. Further, 46% believe that neither side is winning the War on Terrorism.

Question: How worried are you that you or someone in your family will become a victim of terrorism: very worried, somewhat worried, not too worried, or not worried at all?

Answer: Very and Somewhat worried declines to 39% in December from 44% in March 2007; Not worried at all, increased to 28% from 23% in March 2007.

Question:Who do you think is currently winning the war on terrorism: the U.S. and its allies, neither side, or the terrorists?

Answer: The U.S. and its allies up to 32% from 28% in January 2007; the terrorists up to 21% from 17% in January 2007; those answering "neither side" declined from 54% in January to 46% in December 2007.

Source: Opinion Research Corporation / CNN
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 1,024 American adults, conducted from Dec. 6 to Dec. 9, 2007. Margin of error is 3 per cent.

I’m not sure whether this is a matter of definition (the same study shows that a majority of Americans oppose the War in Iraq – is there confusion over the mission?) or whether we are simply falling back into a dangerous complacency.

Perhaps it is the focus of the new Democratically led Homeland Security Committee in the House of Representatives. The Committee Chairman, Congressman Bennie Thompson recently has sent a memo to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff. Contained in that memo was a “to-do” list.

CHERTOFF TO-DO LIST

Critical Vacancies at the Department of Homeland Security - Develop a plan for the mass exodus that will occur due to an Administration change.

Containers Security Standards and Procedures (Seals) - Draft the regulations as mandated by the SAFE Port Act of 2006 and mandated again by the 9/11 Bill.

National Response Plan (NRP) - release long overdue NRP while ensuring adequate input from state and local officials.

Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) - Issue the TWIC card as mandated by the SAFE Port Act of 2006.

Explosives Detection at Passenger Screening Checkpoints – Issue the strategic plan that was required by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 and mandated again by the 9/11 Bill.

Complete Critical Border Security Initiatives - Implement US-VISIT biometric air exit by the end of calendar year 2008 and complete Project 28.

What is Project 28? Flanking the Sasabe Port of Entry (POE) on the U.S.–Mexico border in Arizona, Project 28 is the first operational task order awarded to Boeing as part of the SBInet contract it won in September 2006.

The Secure Border Initiative – SBINet - is a program focused on transforming border control through technology and infrastructure

Do we, as a country, fear terrorism? Do we think that it will affect our lives? Or do we now (again) consider terrorism something that occurs somewhere else? I think that along the way we have lost our focus. Horribly, I believe that many people may have actually grown to believe that September 11th was an anomaly, and that it won’t happen again. I know that there are some in my own family who are like that. How soon we forget. How tragic it is that it may take an attack even worse than that of September 11th to make the rest of the country reawaken. I am afraid, I am very afraid that we are in the process of letting our guard down.

Notes

5 Comments

As someone wiser and wittier than myself said: 9/11 was our wake up call, and Americans hit the snooze bar.

Unfortunately this does not surprise me. Republicans in general, and Guiliani in particular, are deluding themselves if they think that they can run on this issue for next November.

Tom, its not surprising at all. But it is clearly a concern for any of us who watch as trends develop.

One thing, however. I don't believe that the "head-in-the-sand" syndrome knows any political boundaries.

Complacency has been in play since just after September 11th. I've seen it, you've seen it, my colleagues here at TW have seen it.

I am not asleep and I am not complacent.

I am, however, resigned to the understanding that our federal government will be as useless the next time as they were the last.

As a result, I am prepared, if or when it reaches me.

Complacency is a "general" issue. And it is evident. As for your characterization of the federal gov't, I suppose that you're entitled to your opinion. I don't share it.