As we feel uncomfortable with the intrusiveness of the government's counterterrorism methods we might want to think about the fact that there hasn't been a major terror attack on US soil since 9/11.

The past few days, a terror attack carried out by a faction allied with all Qaeda has killed about 60 people and injured 150 or so in an attack on a shopping mall in Kenya. It appears some of the terrorists are Americans, probably from the midwest, who traveled all the way to Africa to carry out an attack rather than on some target like The Mall of America, the largest shopping mall in the US.

Why? Perhaps they were worried that they would be detected and their plot thwarted.

At any rate, the US is replete with soft targets. A soft target is one which has little security, and, from the terrorists' point of view, limited security possibilities. 

As a security expert said on TV today, a shopping mall is almost impossible to make secure. Not only are the shopping area entrances almost impossible to secure, the stores tend to have shipping and receiving entrances. If even one is unlocked, dozens of terrorists could get in.

The same is true for most of the buildings we might use on a daily basis. You can put a metal detector at the front door, but terrorists could just shoot their way past it. 

Think about how many miles of train tracks there are, most of them almost entirely unsecured. The explosives someone could buy to remove a tree stump would easily derail a train. Or take buses. A suitcase with a bomb in it could kill dozens.

City water is another soft target that could kill hundreds or even thousands. 

If the government's antiterrorism efforts aren't thwarting plots or preventing them from being conceived in the first place, how else do you account for the absence of terror attacks on these soft targets?

Tags: soft, targets, terrorism

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As we feel uncomfortable with the intrusiveness of the government's counterterrorism methods we might want to think about the fact that there hasn't been a major terror attack on US soil since 9/11.

Credit the illegal suspension of the Fourth Amendment with the prevention of a major terror attack on US soil? Why can't a legal counter-terrorism program operating with warrants and proper judicial and legislative oversight accomplish the same result?

Government officials running the secret spying programs tell us illegal spying keeps us safe. These are the same government officials who engaged damage control procedures in the wake of Edward Snowden and who in pre-Snowden days lied to cover up what they were doing.

The NSA claim: our wiretapping has helped stop 50 terrorist plots including 10 on US soil since 911. Before you buy that one, look at the FBI record of what "terrorist plots" have been foiled since 9/11. The typical would-be terrorist was delusional, urged on by undercover agents or paid informants and unlikely to have gotten anywhere if left alone.

But no. The truthful government officials at the NSA would never overstate their successes, abuse the power of their office, or secretly misuse intelligence they gathered illegally. Or would they?

Why [did Americans attack a mall in Africa and not a mall in the US]? Perhaps they were worried that they would be detected and their plot thwarted.

I don't know if that is truth or speculation. Either way if the story takes hold I have no doubt a few strange bedfellows in the Obama administration and on the right wing will find it useful for defending the burgeoning surveillance state.

Fox "News" Crackpot:  Sure our Fourth Amendment rights are fucked, but nobody fucks with our Second Amendment rights. Be grateful a massive government agency monitors your every keystroke and syllable! That's the reason why Americans went to a Kenyan mall for mass murder, rather than stay on American soil and go to a US Navy Yard or a public school. They knew they'd be foiled!

Priceless.

You dismiss the importance of maintaining secrecy to making antiterrorism efforts effective. The need to maintain secrecy explains a lot. Could it be that warrants and judicial oversight would have meant tossing secrecy out the window? 

The key to keeping a secret for long is to limit how many people know.

As for the recent Navy Yard attack (which appears not to have been terrorism), I find it strange that guns were not allowed in a military facility and so it wasn't until armed police arrived on the scene that the shooter was stopped. We don't even trust our Navy men and women with arms?

It makes no sense to me either.  Some military are trusted with nuclear warheads FFS.  But they can't be trusted with a personally owned handgun?  Even in their housing?

The no guns on a military base thing has been a policy since at least Bush I (a lot of "righties" are trying to blame it on Clinton, but he only gets blame (along with everyone else since whoever started it) for perpetuating the policy.

You dismiss the importance of maintaining secrecy to making antiterrorism efforts effective.

I emphasized the importance of the Fourth Amendment. I didn't dismiss the importance of secrecy. 

But since you brought it up, you suggested American terrorists avoided US malls for fear of the newly publicized NSA dragnet. That is, if they didn't know about the program, they have attacked in the US. If this is true then didn't the end of the secrecy make anti-terrorism more effective?

The need to maintain secrecy explains a lot. Could it be that warrants and judicial oversight would have meant tossing secrecy out the window?

It's the Fourth Amendment. Who dares to claim the power to toss the Constitution out the window? The President? Congress? They have no power not derived from the Constitution. Not for secrecy or any other reason. They're supposed to defend our rights, not strip them away when they think we're not looking.

The key to keeping a secret for long is to limit how many people know.

The secret is out. Over 4 million Americans-- one in every 75-- have "top secret" security clearance. That's the drawback of building a massive surveillance state (a drawback for which I am very grateful).

As for the recent Navy Yard attack (which appears not to have been terrorism),

It's a matter of definitions and political expediency that people are gunned down or blown up in bunches on American soil, and the act is called terrorism or a mass shooting incident or something else. For instance, the NSA dragnet didn't catch the Boston Marathon Bombers, but you're still saying there hasn't been a terrorist attack on American soil since 911. So I guess that wasn't terrorism either.

For added perspective, consider how mass homicide shooters sometimes have homicide-themed Facebook pages. How many of them get flagged in the multi-billion-dollar "keep us safe" NSA dragnet that we traded the Fourth Amendment for? None or I'd think the NSA would be selling it to defend the program.

Fox "News" Crackpot:  Sure our Fourth Amendment rights are fucked, but nobody fucks with our Second Amendment rights. Be grateful a massive government agency monitors your every keystroke and syllable! That's the reason why Americans went to a Kenyan mall for mass murder, rather than stay on American soil and go to a US Navy Yard or a public school. They knew they'd be foiled!

To be sure Fox News and its audience has a high percentage of people in it who are just as appalled by the surveillance state; they've been griping about the huge numbers of public surveillance cameras in the UK too. I suppose a "crackpot" might not care but not all fox news people are crackpots, leastwise not of this variety.

Both sides do (and should) worry about what this power will be like in the hands of the other side.

To be sure Fox News and its audience has a high percentage of people in it who are just as appalled by the surveillance state;

The Fox "News" crackpots loved Bush's surveillance state. Obama appals them, not the surveillance state. 

I suppose a "crackpot" might not care but not all fox news people are crackpots, leastwise not of this variety.

Fox "News" is conservative political infotainment masquerading as television journalism. Tell me Fox is a legitimate source of information and analysis. I'll tell you Burger King is a legitimate source of health food.

Imagine the reaction from the Burger Fox people if Edward Snowden had 2,000 top secret documents proving the Clinton and Bush administrations had spent billions on a secret intelligence program to monitor every gun owner in the US. They'd howl it without end, day and night like a pack of rabid wolves: the Second Amendment is under attack!!!

But no. it's just secret program to monitor every computer, Internet, and phone user in the US and overseas. It's only the Fourth Amendment under attack. Whatever. We'll be right back after this commercial break.

Both sides do (and should) worry about what this power will be like in the hands of the other side.

We already know what it's like. It's here right now, logging our every post and phone call. I don't find the approval numbers (past or present) encouraging in either party. This is what I meant in my earlier post about strange bedfellows.

Well in all honesty there where not many major terrorist attacks on US soil before 9/11 either. Most major terrorist attacks have always been more prevalent in other countries than within the US.

If the government's antiterrorism efforts aren't thwarting plots or preventing them from being conceived in the first place, how else do you account for the absence of terror attacks on these soft targets?

What was the rate of major terrorist attacks on US soil prior to the WTC attacks? The September 11th attacks seem like an exceptional case. There have been incidents since such as the Fort Hood shootings and the Boston Marathon Bombing, but these are more on par with the more notable incidents preceding 9/11.

Also @Rocky John

I'm not sure you guys are making any sort of major rebuttal here. There weren't any attempted mass murder terror attacks back in the 1800's either. I suppose that bolsters your argument, too. 

Rebuttal? Let's not get silly here. I am suggesting you haven't supported your argument.

I declare a tie.

It appears some of the terrorists are Americans, probably from the midwest, who traveled all the way to Africa to carry out an attack rather than on some target like The Mall of America, the largest shopping mall in the USWhy? Perhaps they were worried that they would be detected and their plot thwarted.

They more than likely had connections with al-shabaab in Kenya, making it easier to operate there. 

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