Fear factor

From the International Herald Tribune:

PARIS Foreign ministers of the Group of Eight leading industrial nations met in Paris on Monday to affirm that terrorism remains a “pervasive and global threat.” Just three days earlier, the State Department had announced that terrorism is at its lowest level in 33 years.

One wonders if anything would have changed had that news reached the G-8 foreign ministers. The war against terrorism, like the war against Iraq, functions in all but total indifference to facts.

An unnamed “senior Bush administration official” told the press last weekend that he would be amazed if weapons-grade plutonium or uranium were found in Iraq. It was also unlikely, he said, that biological or chemical weapons material would be found. He said that the United States never expected to find such a smoking gun.

What was the Iraq war all about then? The official said that what Washington really wanted was to seize the thousand nuclear scientists in Iraq who might in the future have developed nuclear weapons for Saddam Hussein. He described them as “nuclear mujahidin.”

The preventive war, according to this redefinition, was not directed against an actual problem, but one that might have appeared in the future.

— snip —

Now, in an official report few will read, or are expected to read, their government admits that terrorism is at its lowest level in three decades, and that the actual risk it poses is statistically negligible. At the same time, the same government tells them they must live in fear of “appalling crimes” and mass destruction. Where is this leading Americans?