From Bill Keller’s recent op-ed:
Tom [Friedman]’s important point was that the gravest threat to our civil liberties is not the N.S.A. but another 9/11-scale catastrophe that could leave a panicky public willing to ratchet up the security state, even beyond the war-on-terror excesses that followed the last big attack.
Let me get this straight. The primary threat is an out-of-control security apparatus that arises from public panic in the face of a spectacular terrorist attack. And the best way to respond to this threat is with… an out-of-control security apparatus that arises from public panic in the face of a spectacular terrorist threat.
Note that I use ‘spectacular’ advisedly: the 9/11 attack, in the grand scheme of things, didn’t kill or harm all that many people (compared, for instance, to domestic gun violence), but it got a lot of attention. The Boston marathon attack was similar.
Of course, I wouldn’t have expected anything better from that paragon of moral and intellectual fatuousness. But Keller is usually a little less stupid than Friedman.