Worldwide chances of being killed by international terrorism over a lifetime: Worldwide chances of being killed by international terrorism over a lifetime

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Worldwide chances of being killed by international terrorism over a lifetime:

  • Worldwide chances of being killed by international terrorism over a lifetime:

  • 1 in 80,000

  • Worldwide chances of being killed by a comet or asteroid over a lifetime:

  • 1 in 80,000

  • Chances of an American being killed if there were one 9/11 in the U.S. every three months for the next five years:

  • 2 one hundreds of one percent

Bin Laden goal: overreaction

  • It is easy for us to provoke and bait....All that we have to do is to send two raise a piece of cloth on which is written al Qaeda in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses. Our policy is one of bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. The terrorist attacks cost al Qaeda $500,000 while the attack and its aftermath inflicted a cost of more than $500 billion on the United States.

  • America is full of fear, from its north to its south, from its west to its east. Thank God for that.

The costs of fear

  • Economic

  • Human life

    • Driving after 9/11
    • Waits in airports
    • Health effects, Chernobyl
  • Opportunity costs

    • Katrina
    • Vaccines
    • Crime
  • Wasteful and counterproductive policies

    • Iraq
    • Generating Muslim hostility
    • The quixotic quest for invulnerability


  • Politicians

  • Bureaucracy

  • Media

  • Risk entrepreneurs

--Department of Homeland Security

  • Today's terrorists can strike at any place,

  • at any time,

  • and with virtually any weapon.

--Michael Ignatieff, 2004

  • we can confidently expect that terrorists will attempt to tamper with our election in November

  • a few individuals equipped with lethal technologies threaten the ascendancy of the modern state

  • inexorably, terrorism, like war itself, is moving beyond the conventional to the apocalyptic

New York

  • New York

  • Washington, DC

  • Chicago

  • Los Angeles

  • San Francisco

  • Houston

  • Seattle


  • Philadelphia

  • Boston

  • San Antonio

  • Arlington

  • Sacramento

  • Portland

  • Dallas

  • Milwaukee

  • Pittsburgh

  • Fort Worth

  • Phoenix

  • Anaheim

  • Santa Ana

  • Oakland

  • San Jose

  • Indianapolis

  • Honolulu

  • Atlanta

  • Tampa

  • Long Beach

  • Denver

  • San Diego

John Athanason, Weeki Wachee marketing and promotion manager:

  • “I can’t imagine bin Laden trying to blow up the mermaids.”

  • “But with terrorists, who knows what they’re thinking.”

  • “I don’t want to think like a terrorist, but what if the terrorists try to poison the water at Weeki Wachee Springs?”

  • Police

  • Nuclear

  • Seek to reduce fear

  • Absorb

  • Put risks in context

  • Explore security theater

  • Avoid policy overreaction

  • Reassess the quest for invulnerability

Potential public policy projects

  • Airport security—costs, risk comparisons, costs of waiting

  • Economic impact of terrorism response

  • Is a repeat of 9/11 possible?

  • Health impact of terrorism response—the costs of anxiety

  • Value of security symbols (theater?)—visible, nonvisible

  • Hardening potential targets (M. Stewart)

  • Determining potential targets (malls? bridges?)

  • Costs and value of relocating personnel (Army)

  • Determining acceptable radiation levels for dirty bombs (cleanup costs, property value)

  • Enlisting ordinary people as emergency responders or health workers

  • Risk communication—can accepted fears be reduced? Sunstein, Slovic

  • Cost and other comparisons with anxieties about crime (property values)

  • Costs and value of exit visas

  • International economic effects—immigration, commerce, tourism, travel

  • Value of security cameras, if any

  • Costs of increased border waits

  • Evaluation of the air marshal program

Potential public policy projects

  • How has DHS determined risk?

  • Assessment of DHS expenditures

  • Incentives to increase fears

  • Value and costs of police at subway entrances

  • 9/11’s impact in reducing spending and increasing saving

  • Impact of terrorism on charitable giving

  • Opportunity costs—health service, crime

  • Terrorism and other instances of probability neglect

  • Democracy, security, and the pork barrel

  • Efforts Hollywood and television to exploit fears of terrorism (24, WTC)

  • The media and terrorism

  • Terrorism reporting (compare to crime or health reporting?)

  • The incentives for politicians, bureaucrats to exaggerate the threat

  • The cost and effectiveness of policing efforts

  • The fate of the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation on getting responders to be able to communicate with one another and the communications industry

  • The war in Afghanistan and the war on drugs

  • Fear of terrorism and political outbidding

Potential public policy projects

  • Policing terrorism—costs and effectiveness

  • Insurance opportunities

  • Costs and effectiveness of data mining

  • Comparisons with policing domestic Communism (Stephan and “Communazis”)

  • Potential value of repeated terror warnings on reducing fear (cry wolf)

  • Assessment of official predictions about the imminence of another attack

  • Impact of terrorism warnings on politics, on Bush’s approval ratings

  • Getting computers to work at the FBI and NSA

  • Costs and value of heightened border security

  • Costs and effectiveness of the US-VISIT program

  • Tradeoff between policing terrorism and policing crime

  • Opportunity costs of the war on terrorism (health, Katrina)

  • Security barriers in panic situations

  • Comparing terrorism to other risks (lightning, astroid impact, eating nuts, deer)

  • Reasons for the remarkable absence of terrorism in the US since 9/11

  • Costs and value of requiring passports to go to Canada, Mexico

  • Costs and value of training security guards

Lebanon 1983

  • Lebanon 1983

  • Lockerbie 1988

  • Somalia 1993

  • World Trade Center 1993

  • Oklahoma City 1995

  • Khobar Towers 1996

  • U.S.S. Cole 2000

  • Anthrax 2001

  • Madrid 2004

  • London 2005

The United States is living on borrowed time  and squandering it.

I think, therefore they are, 2003

  • --Robert Mueller February 11, 2003 testimony

I think, therefore they are, 2003

  • --Robert Mueller February 11, 2003 testimony

I think, therefore they are,

  • --Robert Mueller February 16, 2005 testimony

  • --Robert Mueller January 11, 2007 testimony

19 in US before 9/11?

  • 19 in US before 9/11?

  • 9/11 effect, Afghanistan

  • many arrests (overseas)

  • reactions to post-9/11 terrorism

  • al-Qaeda’s vast enemies list

--Ken Macdonald QC, 23 January 2007

9/11: aberration or harbinger?

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