Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Your Tax Dollars at Work

Since 9-11, the U.S. government has poured millions and millions of dollars into research on terrorism and political violence. Most of it has gone to major research universities where major social scientists work. What they have produced so far is either what was already known or trivial. As an example of both, consider the recent report from
START
(National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism). This pathbreaking work reveals “a violent history of fatal attacks against law enforcement officers in the United States by individuals who adhere to far-right ideology.” Far right ideology consists of “principles such as fierce nationalism, anti-globalization, suspicions of centralized Federal authority, support for conspiracy theories, and reverence for individual liberties (including gun ownership ).”
Addendum: Here is the link.

Discussions - 42 Comments

David,
The link to the report does not work.

Also, be sure not to miss this recent scientific, measured, non-partisan official finding from the DHS.

The 'far right ideology' definition includes about 46% of the population.

The Leaders should be mindful that his minions in Congress may be out of job next year. Then what?

Here is the START page. Here is the announcement I found with the first quote with a PDF link to the report lower down the page.

I liked this: Only 12% of the suspects in these attacks were members of formal groups with far-right ideologies. The vast majority—like Poplawski—acted alone. This greatly complicates law-enforcement efforts to anticipate which individuals might pose a threat to police officers.

and MAS1916 has a point, since The vast majority of these suspects are white and male, with almost 70% being 30 years old or younger. Those guys are everywhere.

Sounds like I need to report my platoon to the DHS.

I guess a far-right ideologue is anyone who denies pleasure is the good.

To be somewhat political sciency about this, the labelling of legitimate points of view as extremist, illegitimate, and even worthy of criminal investigation is characteristic of what are called watershed or critical elections. Jefferson destroyed the Federalist Party following the Revolution of 1800 (to give credit where it is due, they self-destructed); the Southern Democracy delegitimized itself in the Great Rebellion; and FDR denounced his Republican opponents as "Tories," in accepting the nomination of his party. Of course he sought to further delegitimize Republicans by implying they were fascist sympathizers (see his 1944 State of the Union Address, better known as his "Second Bill of Rights" speech). The START report is more FDR, a counter-McCarthyism. Reagan's problem was that he had too much admiration for FDR (who, after all, did win WW II).


Obama wants to destroy the Republican Party. Maybe, like the Federalists, they will self-destruct and self-government will require a new vehicle. Maybe, as in Goldwater, the defeat will have its glory and out of its ashes the American fire of liberty can be restored.

Mr. Tucker, I've found your posts to be some of the more thought-provoking at NLT (not that anyone cares what a troll like me thinks!). That said, I'm not quite sure what your point is here. Are you saying that "a violent history of fatal attacks against law enforcement officers in the United States by individuals who adhere to far-right ideology" is well-known, trivial, or both? I suspect your beef with it may be with the fairly loose definition of "right-wing"? If so, I'm in (partial) agreement on that.

That said, I must wonder where the NLT bloggers (and regular commenters - oh, the memories!) have been the last 7+ years. Where has your concern been for overly broad definitions of terrorist threats during that time, particularly when the people targeted were those on the left, and those doing the targeting were the police and the military, not just some professors on a budget? Among the many, many stories that NLT bloggers were conspicuously silent on include:

- DOD/military spying, investigation, and monitoring of non-violent domestic civilian groups involved in anti-war protests:

"Two years ago, the Defense Department directed a little known agency, Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA, to establish and “maintain a domestic law enforcement database that includes information related to potential terrorist threats directed against the Department of Defense.” Then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz also established a new reporting mechanism known as a TALON or Threat and Local Observation Notice report. TALONs now provide “non-validated domestic threat information” from military units throughout the United States that are collected and retained in a CIFA database. The reports include details on potential surveillance of military bases, stolen vehicles, bomb threats and planned anti-war protests. In the program’s first year, the agency received more than 5,000 TALON reports. The database obtained by NBC News is generated by Counterintelligence Field Activity."

- Police spying on and classifying all kinds of liberal groups as "terrorists."

"The Maryland State Police surveillance of advocacy groups was far more extensive than previously acknowledged, with records showing that troopers monitored -- and labeled as terrorists -- activists devoted to such wide-ranging causes as promoting human rights and establishing bike lanes...

Troopers have said they inappropriately labeled 53 individuals as terrorists in their database, information that was shared with federal authorities...

The surveillance ended with no arrests and no evidence of violent sedition."

- The domestic terrorist attack on a church (!) in Knoxville, TN last year, perpetrated by a guy who left behind an unambiguous "manifesto" of sorts (HIGHLY recommended reading, btw) making it clear that he not only meets the criteria spelled out by those START researchers, but that he was also inspired by the likes of O'Reilly, Bernard Goldberg, Hannity, Savage, etc. In addition to clearly stating that his shooting spree was "an act of political protest" he said:

"I hate the damn left-wing liberals. There is a vast left-wing conspiracy in this country & these liberals are working together to attack every decent & honorable institution in the nation, trying to turn this country into a communist state. Shame on them....

"This was a symbolic killing. Who I wanted to kill was every Democrat in the Senate & House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg's book. I'd like to kill everyone in the mainstream media. But I know those people were inaccessible to me. I couldn't get to the generals & high ranking officers of the Marxist movement so I went after the foot soldiers, the chickenshit liberals that vote in these traitorous people. Someone had to get the ball rolling. I volunteered. I hope others do the same. It's the only way we can rid America of this cancerous pestilence...

I thought I'd do something good for this Country Kill Democrats til the cops kill me....Liberals are a pest like termites. Millions of them Each little bite contributes to the downfall of this great nation. The only way we can rid ourselves of this evil is to kill them in the streets. Kill them where they gather. I'd like to encourage other like minded people to do what I've done. If life aint worth living anymore don't just kill yourself. do something for your Country before you go. Go Kill Liberals."

- The fact that Poplawski was apparently a fan of Glenn Beck (Ashbrook Memorial Dinner Speaker, 12/06), and posted one of his angry FoxNews rants to the racist (perhaps Mr. Thomas will object to that description) StormFront website (a video where he discussed the absurd notion of FEMA concentration camps - Hey Hal Holst! - a paranoid delusion that Beck has since wisely backed away from). Clearly, Poplawski - and Adkisson - met the START study criteria for "right-wing" rather neatly, and they obviously posed more danger to the police than some anti-war Quaker group.

A somewhat better document to peruse is the one produced by DHS itself, titled "Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling
Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment."

But the Right's reaction to such reports, while undeniably obnoxious, is also frustrating.

I mean, how much sympathy can the Right realistically expect here? Glenn Greenwald nails it (again) - [the article I linked to really deseves to be read in its entirety, but here are some choice excerpts]:

"Conservatives have responded to this disclosure as though they're on the train to FEMA camps. The Right's leading political philosopher and intellectual historian, Jonah Goldberg, invokes fellow right-wing giant Ronald Reagan and says: "Here we go Again," protesting that "this seems so nakedly ideological." Michelle Malkin, who spent the last eight years cheering on every domestic surveillance and police state program she could find, announces that it's "Confirmed: The Obama DHS hit job on conservatives is real!" Lead-War-on-Terror-cheerleader Glenn Reynolds warns that DHS -- as a result of this report (but not, apparently, anything that happened over the last eight years) -- now considers the Constitution to be a "subversive manifesto." Super Tough Guy Civilization-Warrior Mark Steyn has already concocted an elaborate, detailed martyr fantasy in which his house is surrounded by Obama-dispatched, bomb-wielding federal agents. Malkin's Hot Air stomps its feet about all "the smears listed in the new DHS warning about 'right-wing extremism.'"

It's certainly true that federal police efforts directed at domestic political movements -- even ones with a history of inspiring violence in both the distant and recent past -- require real vigilance and oversight, and it's also true that the DHS description of these groups seems excessively broad with the potential for mischief. But the political faction screeching about the dangers of the DHS is the same one that spent the last eight years vastly expanding the domestic Surveillance State and federal police powers in every area. DHS -- and the still-creepy phrase "homeland security" -- became George Bush's calling card. The Republicans won the 2002 election by demonizing those who opposed its creation. All of the enabling legislation underlying this Surveillance State -- from the Patriot Act to the Military Commissions Act, from the various FISA "reforms" to massive increases in domestic "counter-Terrorism" programs -- are the spawns of the very right-wing movement that today is petrified that this is all being directed at them.

When you cheer on a Surveillance State, you have no grounds to complain when it turns its eyes on you...

...So what's the problem? As the National Review/Bush-following-Right has been telling us for years now, there's nothing to worry about if you've done nothing wrong and have nothing to hide. The first duty of the Government is to protect us all -- keep us safe and warm from all the scary things out there, like a Good Daddy does -- and if they need to trample on some lofty privacy ideals and so-called civil liberties concerns and supposed Constitutional safeguards, well: that's just how it is. It takes a real paranoid hysteric to think that federal government officials have nothing better to do than target domestic political opponents. And besides, what good is the Constitution if we're all dead at the hands of domestic McVeigh-like Terrorists? After all, the Constitution isn't a suicide pact. Remember all of that? I certainly do.

This is all as laughable as it is predictable. Just a couple months out of power and they have suddenly re-discovered their fear of the Federal Government and their belief in the need to limit its powers."

Ken Thomas,

Maybe Obama does want to destroy the Repubican party, but the genuine watershed election winners who preceded him did not go as far as Obama's people in labeling their opponents dangerous threats to the security of the nation. Jefferson favored state prosecution of seditious libels, Lincoln used extraordinary powers to ensure effective conduct of the war and Roosevelt stigmatized his opposition, but isn't this report indicative of something more sinister? Espcially when the distinction between truly dangerous people and people of diferent views is so blurred? And directly linked to Homeland Security concerns?

Craig – my objection to START and things like it is two-fold, as is clear in the post: 1) it is a waste of money. They are learning nothing new; this is predictable. Everything that the government needs to know about terrorism to counter it has been known for a long-time. 2) the definition of extreme right-wing makes no sense; this is predictable too. All of this money and wasted effort occurred under the Bush administration, so the rest of your venting seems beside the point. Individuals posting to NLT did object to the expansion of Federal power under Bush.

I would also like to add (for Richard and Ken) that neither START nor the DHS staffers are Obama people. START is a typical social science project, l;a;unched and funded by the Bush administration The DHS people who produced the report that people are talking about are all probably civil servants hired under the Bush administration.

Richard--agreed, Obama may be much worse than FDR, but we should keep in mind just how bad FDR was! This is the Obama campaign in power, as was FDR's administration an extension of his political warfare.

The entire thing is hilarious. If it is not a sign of horrible regime then I don't know what is, that goes for both false political sides doing this (mabye this should suggest that really is only one party). The government goes balistic because a few guys talk about legitimate concerns and say they are a threat to society while real criminals are evidently way on down the list. I thought the PC police might want to step in here. We can label a rustic guy who believes in owning firearms (legaly) and likes his government small as a danger but we can't a guy a in the inner city with gang colors. Mabye flannel, wranglers and boots will now be listed as gang clothing. What is up with all the pre crime crap anyhow, the myth that big brother is protecting you needs to go, if somone is going to violate you I doubt a cop will srping from the bushes and stop it and does not matter if the guy is a right wing militia man, an illegal alien, a gang banger, or just a random guy. Crime is actualy a type of corporate welfare, drug offenders go to prison for a decade and the prison complex collects federal funding. Yay.

As for Mr. Scanlon, the people being labeled as far right actualy agree with you link

"Individuals posting to NLT did object to the expansion of Federal power under Bush."

If it was more than a very small handful of blog-posts (by the bloggers themselves) I must say I missed that. Yes, a few commenters did offer some protest, but very limited. If the Bush administration was going down a path that was exactly 180-degrees counter to conservative principles, the protests should have been earnest and constant, not like afterthoughts.

Also, seeing that limiting the role of government is supposedly a core principle of conservatives (including the NLT bloggers), I'm left that much more baffled by Bush's warm reception at CPAC in Feb. '08 (where the audience applause was often and enthusiastic and he was sent away with chants of "Four More Years!!"), as well as his very warm reception at an Ashbrook conference just last October.

Most importantly, I read ZERO objections here at NLT to any of the specific incidents I cited, which look to be mirror images to the report you cited (and frankly, worse). Zero. Thus, my "venting" is well-placed.

The definition of "right-wing" IS too vague, for sure. Yet it's also true that Poplawski and Adkisson - guys who actually committed violent crimes (Adkisson's a terrorist act) - easily fit within the right-wing. Does the polite and civilized right (those with solid jobs or...ahem...tenure) take much interest in preventing outbursts from guys like that (again, in Adkisson's case, a domestic terrorist attack), or do they, in many cases, choose to stir them up? Watch a few installments of Glenn Beck's show on Fox News and the answer is plain enough.

Well, I guess I'll have to give the devil's position here...given that I'm a recipient of Federal money on this issue. I think if you'd go beyond this one small (rather descriptive) report you'd see that the money is not being wasted. For instance, my colleagues and I have recently established a link between western media presence and terrorist activity. The long and short of it is that terrorism is a kind of violent theater, and it will happen only where there is an appropriate "stage." How does this help prevent terrorism? Well, it means that you don't have to go beating the bushes to find the terrorists...we know the kind of places/times they like to strike. This ultimately will allow us to target our deterrence. Or...we can simply ignore the whole topic and just react whenever a terrorist chooses to strike...like 9/11. Your choice. Given the myriad ways the Federal Govt. wasted taxpayer funds, I'd say that terrorism research is one of the wiser investments.

One of my grants is in collaboration with the START center at the University of Maryland. Gary LaFree (a criminologist) and co. are fine people, and not particularly ideological or hard-left (they work with me, after all, and I'm certainly not hard-left). So, before we lash out, let's know SOMETHING about the target.

Mr. Scanlon eviscerates the wingnuts once again. His posts are one of the reasons I visit this site. NLT cheerleaders welcomed every Bush expansion, and retroactively claim to have opposed it, and now condemn it as 'evil social science.' Better get busy and scrub your archives - they stand as a mausoleum for an entire era.

Mr. Crenshaw do you have a link for more information on this link between western media presence and terrorism? I would be curious how that (western media) is defined, particularly in light of the ever-expanding access to the Internet. [Do the Taliban and the Christian right both go into full-outrage mode over Eminem and Britney Spears. I've often wondered who will bomb Hollywood first!]

Here's some evidence that the DHS is (still) watching the Left.

Thanks for that link Brutus - interesting, for sure.

(and thanks for the virtual applause, ren)

No, this work hasn't been published...indeed, the work is ongoing, and the only place we've presented it is at the START center (where it was well-received). We measure the Western press by the number of Western press bureaus (e.g., Reuters, AP, CNN) in a nation, in addition to the total number of news stories coming out of a country on a yearly basis. Even after 'controlling' for a large number of important variables (e.g., affluence, education,region), the larger the number of Western press bureaus and the greater the number of news stories, the greater the number of terrorist attacks. Of course, we appropriately lag the predictors in order to establish causal order.

Hopefully the work will be available for circulation in a couple of years...if we get past disciplinary censors (it's not a message that many sociologists want to hear, I'm afraid). The fact that the NSF is about to fund a more rigorous version of this study is a good sign that it will eventually see the light of day.

Mr. Scanlon eviscerates the wingnuts once again. His posts are one of the reasons I visit this site.

His cut-and-paste sklls are quite remarkable, I agree. Not that it takes much to impress little ren.

As for Mr. Scanlon, the people being labeled as far right actualy agree with you

Brutus, you and Alex Jones are about as "far right" as Pol Pot.

Mr Crenshaw -- I think what you offer is good example of wasted money. I would have to look at the whole study to make a judgment but what you say does not inspire ocnfidence. Has there been some place in the world where there was not at some time a western news media presence? Also, are you claiming that the early terrorism of Sendero Luminoso, for example, was reported by the western press and only took place becasue it was reported? Besides, the whole "terrorism is theater" trope is very old.

Let's get real here. After comparing the number of American lives lost to Islamic terrorists to the number of those killed in attacks by right-wing fanatics, how is it possible to claim that the latter is a more serious threat?

Let's get real here. After comparing the number of American lives lost to Islamic terrorists to the number of those killed by falling down steps in their home, how is it possible to claim that the former was ever a serious threat to begin with? My theory is that Bush was traumatized by the repeated videos of the planes crashing into the towers, and he made-over the government, the entire psyche of the country, in the colors and textures of his own nameless panic and fear, which in turn conveniently gave him the mantle of war-president.

Let's get real here. After comparing the number of American lives lost in the attack on Pearl Harbor to the number of those killed by falling down steps in their home, how is it possible to claim that the Japanese were ever a real threat to begin with? My theory is that FDR was traumatized by the repeated photographs of those planes bombing the Pacific Fleet, and he made-over the government, the entire psyche of the country, in the colors and textures of his own nameless panic and fear, which in turn conveniently gave him the mantle of war-president.

Mr. Tucker...do you understand statistical analysis? We are dealing in average tendencies; it is always possible to cite single instances (i.e., terrorist campaigns) that don't follow the profile. As for "the theater of terror," yes, the basic idea has been around for some time...funny that so few leaders (and scholars) have taken it seriously (or done anything to make such theaters less appealing).

Perhaps I'm approaching this from the wrong angle. Can you give me an example of Federally-funded social science that you didn't think was a waste of money? I think you need to realize that such money is used to train budding analysts. Both the CIA and the FBI have recruited students here. The START center itself is funded through the DHS, and there charter goes well beyond scholarship. Perhaps I should ask what you think is the legitimate role of the Federal Govt. in the prevention of violence.

oops, meant to say "their charter"

Mr Crenshaw -- "Theater of terrorism" was taken seriously by people who studied terrorism. Much work was done on the role and use of the media in terrorism. This goes back decades. The difference between scholars and leaders you allude to is not something that START will fix. The existence of START is a manifestation of the problem not a solution. Many places already existed to train analysts before START was set up.

I never claimed to be far right, but some media outlets tried to pin the activities of a the man in pittsburgh to people like alex jones and refered to them as far right nuts. Assuming then, that nuts are far left(anarchists) or far right (militia terrorists). The constant labeling is little more than a soft form of thought control that relays to the public that if you believe too strongly in anything (other than getting into debt and going along with the government) then you are potentially dangerous. Pol Pot was just one in a long line of suspect despots used by the west to serve their ends regardless of the horror they inflicted on their own people. I don't get how a guy like that fits on a right left scale. Is he fascist or communist?

Better listen to Mr. Crenshaw and forfiet those tax dollars to his round table group or else we get a 911 every year. He has no vested intrest in hyping anything to keep the dollars coming in, and we know how important it is to keep the CIA stocked with fresh spooks who can misoverestimate data.

Mr. Tucker...I never claimed that no one trained analysts before the START center, only that Federal money subsidizes more than just scholarship. As for the theater of terrorism, some countries in Europe have taken it seriously (after a long learning curve), but there really isn't that much empirical research linking media to terrorism (Weimann and a few others, but most such studies are quite limited).

And again, I ask you: Give me an instance of Federal cash well-spent on social science. Surely you can think of an example or two.

Mr. Crenshaw – from Brian Jenkins (“terrorists want a lot of people watching, not a lot of people dead”) to today, terrorism as theater, media, etc. has been a constant theme of research and analysis. Not just academics have talked about this. George Shultz has a very good chapter in his memoirs on dealing with a terrorist incident and how the media affected that. Perhaps the work you are doing will dot an “i” or cross a “t.” Perhaps it will even add a sentence. But the important point (and the reason I think START is wasted money) is that what needs to be done to counter terrorism is well-known. The problem is doing it, applying what is known in a particular case (the statistical averages you referred to above don’t help here), given personal prejudices and organizational rigidities. The same is true of insurgency. Everything that we need to know to counter it effectively is in the USG’s overseas development policy, promulgated in 1962, or in the writings of the French military in the 1950s or even in the writings of certain British officers in the 1920s and 1930s, reflecting on their experiences in south Asia. They had very sensible things to say about the effect of the media on their and their opponents’ efforts.

Mr. Tucker, it's logical (given your career) that you would see things from a counterterrorism point of view, but your assessment of the scientific literature on media and clandestine violence is wrong. I've encountered people like you throughout my career - country specialists and historians who spend lots of time decrying quantitative social science, primarly because they lack the competence to understand its usefulness. Now it's true that there is an awful lot of stupid (and/or obvious)quantitative social science, but that's also true of historical case studies and country studies. None of us has a monopoly on truth, and if you think everything that's important to say on the subject has been said back in the 1960s, well...there isn't much I can say to that (except perhaps that, were that true, we should have been able to leave Iraq back in 2004).

One thing I will say: It seems to me that folks on the Right would rather curse the darkness than light a candle. The reason that universities have become so very left-leaning is that the right has put so little energy into producing intellectuals (present company excepted, of course). If social science is a waste of time, then JOIN the enterprise and make it something worthwhile. This knee-jerk sniping at the whole notion of social analysis every time some bad social science makes the news is silly. The best anecdote for bad social science is, of course, good social science.

Once upon a time, another Democrat also decided he was going to destroy the Republican party--Chief Justice Taney. How'd that work out?

It's outrageous that an administration chock full o' security risks decides that veterans are the problem. Racial profiling? Disgusting! Martial profiling? Why, that's just sound science!

Holder's law firm voluntarily represents 18 Gitmo terrorists. He also worked to free Puerto Rican terrorists to help ensure Hillary's election. We have an atty. general who has spent more time and effort freeing terrorists than capturing them. But those veterans who put their lives on the line--they're the problem. Right.

Mr. Tucker says: We know enough and have known enough for a long time to deal effectively with terrorism (and insurgency). The problem is actually doing it. Not once was such a message conveyed to the american people by the Bush administration. Instead, the arguments made (by the neocons) were that this was something wholly new, a 'new' kind of war that required vast new executive powers, surveillance practices, and torture techniques. There are at least some people I know who decry quantitative social science because they prefer torture, and the political power that panic brings.

Mr. Tucker, it was you who began this thread by slandering a group of people and a way of understanding the world that you barely understand. When I question your competence as a judge of quantitative social science, this is not a personal attack...it's a simple assertion of what I suspect. As for the notion that military people have had the "truth" all along, and have simply failed to implement it, I have to laugh at that. Either our leadership and our military cadres are utterly wooden-headed, or this "knowledge" you speak of is so vague or perhaps case-specific that it isn't particularly useful in the real world. Perhaps you could share some of this wisdom with us?

As for the kind of social science I do, let me give you an example of its usefulness. For a very long time, we have thought of sub-state terrorism as a disease of democracy -- mostly democratic systems have experienced such terrorism in the past (and yes, of course, there are important exceptions). The thinking goes that democracy allows the freedom that clandestine groups need to carry out their operations, and concomitantly such polity impedes law enforcement from rooting them out. So the assumption is that some civil liberties must be curtailed in order to fight terrorist activities.

One interesting possibility is that democracies also generally allow press freedom, and so this naturally poses the question: Is there something inherent about democracy that encourages terrorism, or is it simply the fact the democracy allows a free press, which provides the "stage" for terrorism?

How would you disentangle this? Case studies, histories, and limited comparative work simply aren't optimal here -- you need large-scale quantitative analysis. So far, we are finding that the press is far and away more important than democratic polity in explaining terrorism. Why does it matter? Well, should we restrict civil rights, or snoop into financial records, etc...or should we simply force the press to act more responsibly toward terrorist events (as some European nations do).

But of course, I'm sure you'll dismiss this as "dotting the 'i'" or some such. There's a word for such attitudes: hidebound.

Wait a minute. You mean some problems cannot be addressed by a few Ben Franklin quotes? Some concerns cannot be handled by a few judicious quotes from Tocqueville or cherry-picked from philosophers? Some policy issues cannot be covered by flippant phrases like bobo's and getting locke out of his lock-box? And how dare Mr. Crenshaw mention following european practices in response to terrorism! They are surrender monkeys over there, and have never had to face this profound new event, the 'transcendent threat of the 21st century' as McCain called it.

ren, you have no business getting into the middle of a grown-up discussion. Run off somewhere and play with Hal Holst.

Mr. Crenshaw, what would it entail to "force the press to act more responsibly toward terrorist events" and how would "more responsibly" be described?

There are informal agreements between states and media organizations in Western Europe, rules such as 24-hour news black-outs upon request from a government. It's not a perfect system, though (e.g., the BBC's refusal to use the term 'terrorist' simply plays into their hands). What is needed is a set of hard guidelines agreed upon by the media. What kind of guidelines? Simple stuff...no direct contact between the media and terrorists, no "overdose" of coverage that emphasizes blood and gore (i.e., simple reporting vs. wallowing in the event), no issuance of demands or points of view. It could be a longish list, but the point is to find a balance between "right to know" and "the theater of terror."

As I see it, my role is to try to discover how terrorism works...period. The media have routinely denied any central role in terrorism, but is that true? Others have called the media "the oxygen of terrorism." Is that true? We need to make a good-faith effort to find out, and then to act on the knowledge. But Mr. Tucker is correct -- knowing how to do something and doing it are distinct. Nonetheless, evidence (perhaps overwhelming evidence) is generally needed to persuade people to do the right thing.

That said, it's true that social science isn't always right, nor is it always conducted in good faith. We should always question particular studies, particularly those that seem to have a partisan motivation, but dismissing the whole enterprise as inherently useless is neither fair nor accurate.

Mr. Crenshaw - What compels you to resort constantly to personal attacks and silly generalizations, when someone disagrees with you? Is that exemplary social science? You have not addressed the point I made in my original post and continue to make: We know enough and have known enough for a long time to deal effectively with terrorism (and insurgency). The problem is actually doing it. Your argument that if scholars or analysts know something, then politicians and generals won't make mistakes (the US in Iraq in 2004)is nonsensical. Why do you assume that theory and practice flow together smoothly with theory leading?

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