There are some widely held misperceptions about terrorism that are really irking me.

Here is another one. “Security Theater” is a term frequently used by computer security expert Bruce Schneier to denigrate security procedures that he believes are ineffective, uneconomical, something done just for show. And yet, theater is not all bad. In warfare, deceit of one’s enemy is a crucial tactic. Is it not possible that the more theatrical aspects of security are in place partly to draw attention away from others? There may well be some advantage to maintaining some covert programs that focus on the harder problems, which may arouse more controversy if attention was drawn to them. Let the pacifists vent against airport shampoo searches – better than having them snoop around effective programs!

There is no shortage of people, especially leftists unhappy with anti-terror security measures, to claim that every time new restrictions are applied to parts of our populations, “the terrorists win”, or we are doing “what the terrorists want”. This is bullshit on two separate grounds.

First, these commentators presume to speak on behalf of terrorists. Not being one myself, I would take the terrorists’ own published works as most authoritative about their demands, and secondarily those of intelligence types who actively “play” war- and mind-games against them. Sorry Bruce, but you don’t qualify as the latter, and I sure hope you’re not one of the former.

Second, what terrorists actually say they want tend to be rather grander than merely inducing fear. Some want to smite Israel and/or jews. Some want to spread an islamic caliphate across the globe. Some want local political revolution. Spreading fear and discomfort is at best a means to the end. Obviously, if they considered themselves to “win” whenever they spread a sense of terror, they would have quit some time ago, fait accompli. Making western citizens wait longer in line at an airport security checkpoint may make them giggle, but they won’t say “job well done”, pack up their AK-47s and bomber hotties, and go home. Heck, those same changing security checkpoints might just make them refocus their future tactics elsewhere.