Yearning for That Good Ol' 9/11 Feeling

By Jeffrey Goldberg

Conor Friedersdorf takes note of a rather frightening statement by Marc Thiessen, the former Bush Administration official, who seems to think it best that we make our decisions about how to combat terrorism while in panic's grip:

Over at The Corner, Mark Thiessen defends the TSA practice of forcing airline passengers through scanners that are akin to strip searches, or the alternative, an "enhanced pat down" whereby government employees wearing rubber gloves run their hands along the genitals of passengers to ensure they aren't hiding explosives in their underwear.

Here is how the former Bush Administration speechwriter makes his case:

Can any of us imagine the debate we've had in recent weeks unfolding in the days immediately following Sept. 11, 2001? Would any of us have objected to the deployment of millimeter-wave scanners had the technology been available then? The current uproar could happen only in a country that has begun to forget the horror of 9/11.
Isn't that something? In Mr. Thiessen's view, decisions are best made by putting ourselves in the sort of mindset we had just after watching Al Qaeda murder thousands of our fellow citizens, as if only the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack affords the clarity necessary to make smart policy. Should time pass, affording emotional distance that puts the threat of terrorism in perspective, he sees it as a bad thing. And an argument is apparently disqualified if on 09/12/2001 it would've proved unpopular.

The America that Mr. Thiessen yearns for sounds to me like an Osama Bin Laden fantasy: the free residents of the most powerful country on earth everyday reliving a decade old tragedy as if it just happened. Grown men and women daily submitting to bureaucratized humiliation because every time they think to assert their dignity and liberty, they remember Al Qaeda's greatest triumph, and are afraid.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2010/11/yearning-for-that-good-ol-9-11-feeling/67040/