What Americans need to understand is that security and safety are related but not the same. In my analysis, security is a physical process of systems, programs, and checkpoints. Safety is a true state of being. It's time to separate rhetoric from reality.
Security is simple. To secure your boarders you build fences. To secure your airports you increase the number of agents screening luggage and passengers. For your seaports, you invest in security systems to screen shipping containers. For intelligence, you have used wiretaps that violate an individual's right to privacy and suspend habeas corpus. All of these things and more can be done in the name of security. But, will they make you safe?
Safety requires an honest understanding of the nature of a threat, as well as its root cause(s). Safety requires that the threat be clearly articulated to those potentially threatened. Without the proper understanding of its cause(s) and clear communication of the nature of the threat, all of the security systems and programs in the world won't make you safer. They will only foster a false sense of security.
On September 11, 2006, President Bush addressed the nation stating that we honor those who work to keep our homeland safe and we've given them the tools to do so. "We've tightened security at our airports and seaports and borders, and we've created new programs to monitor enemy bank records and phone calls." He went on, "Today, we are safer, but we are not yet safe." Are we really safer?
On October 8, 2001, Tom Ridge was sworn in as Director, the Office of Homeland Security. At this ceremony President Bush said that the new office is "... just the beginning of what we need to do together to make sure our Nation's Capital is safe and secure..." In February of 2003 Ridge's office set off panic in America with the irresponsible suggestion that Americans secure their homes from biological attack with duct tape and plastic sheeting. Ridge's failure to understand the nature of the threats and take the necessary steps to secure the American people against them, led to total confusion not security.
On May 1, 2003, President Bush landed aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln and announced that major combat operations in Iraq had ended. Behind President Bush was a banner that read "Mission Accomplished." Since that statement was made, 2,053 US soldiers have died. The administration's failure to understand the consequences of their actions and take the necessary steps to secure the nation and our troops against those threats has made us less safe and secure. More US soldiers have died since May 1, 2003 than before.
On January 11, 2005, President Bush nominated Michael Chertoff to replace Tom Ridge as Homeland Security Secretary. Bush said Chertoff has an "unwavering determination to protect the American people." Unfortunately, the administration's response (or lack thereof) to hurricane Katrina demonstrated just the opposite. No one can forget President Bush turning to Michael Brown the former Director of FEMA (Chertoff's Assistant) and speaking those now infamous words, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." This, after the entire nation spent days watching the death and despair that Katrina wrought on the residents of the Gulf Coast. The administration's failure to understand the nature of the threat and heed the warnings from experts resulted in those citizens being less safe. This was "unwavering determination to protect the American people?"
On September 19, 2006, President Bush addressed the United Nations General Assembly and said, "At the start of the 21st century, it is clear that the world is engaged in a great ideological struggle, between extremists who use terror as a weapon to create fear, and moderate people who work for peace." It is important to recognize that extremism and moderation are relative. Is it extreme or moderate to invade a sovereign country posing no imminent threat to your security? Is it extreme or moderate to exaggerate and even lie to your own people about a supposed threat that you don't fully understand? Is it extreme or moderate to send your military forces into harm's way to destroy weapons of mass destruction that don't exist? Is it extreme or moderate to create the Office of Special Plans in the Pentagon with the primary objective of lying and manipulating intelligence to further the agenda of removing Saddam? Have these actions made us more secure?
As a direct result of the "War On Terror," the New York Times states the following "... the Iraq War has invigorated Islamic radicalism and worsened the global terrorist threat...The most recent National Intelligence Estimate, found that rather than stemming the growth of terrorism, the war in Iraq helped fuel its spread across the globe." Is it any wonder why a majority of American's still don't feel safe, five years after 9/11?
According to the Washington Post, Jim, O'Beirne, a Bush administration official used political patronage and loyalty to the Bush administration as criteria for filling critical positions to help rebuild Iraq. "To pass muster with O'Beirne, ... applicants didn't need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction. What seemed most important was loyalty to the Bush administration... Many of those chosen by O'Beirne's office ... lacked vital skills and experience..." Are we to believe that an administration that would endorse such practices in the midst of a major conflict has the security of its citizens as its priority? Maybe just the financial security of its patrons.
Contrary to what the President would have you believe, "they" don't hate us because of our liberty, our freedom, or our democracy. "They" don't hate us because of what we stand for. "They" hate us because of what we do. What we do to them and the incompetent people we send into their countries to do it. It's the policy, stupid! If you do not honestly understand the nature of your threat and will not honestly articulate that understanding to those who will be affected by it, all of the security systems and policies in the world will never make you safe nor secure. It will only foster a false sense of security.
The following is attributed to Benjamine Franklin in 1812, "Those who would give up ESSENTIAL LIBERTY to purchase a little TEMPORARY SAFETY, deserve neither LIBERTY nor SAFETY."