Civil Liberties

Truth or Gaffe? Biden Admits U.S. Faces No Existential Threat From Terrorism



From declaring Ebola the "largest epidemic in history" to promoting "shared interest and shared ideals," Vice President Joe Biden was his old platitudinous, gaffing self at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government yesterday. But he did—correctly—contradict his boss, arguing that America faces "no existential threat" from violent extremism.

The Hill reports:

Imploring students to keep the threat posed by violent extremists "in perspective," Biden said that although the country must remain vigilant, terrorists did not fundamentally challenge "our way of life or our security."

"Let me say it again: We face no existential threat—none—to our way of life or our ultimate security," Biden said. "You are twice as likely to be struck by lightning as you around to be affected by a terrorist event in the United States."

And, incidentally, nine times more likely to be killed by police than by terrorists.

But Biden's wellspring of perspicacity quickly ran dry, making no mention that the greatest threats to the American way of life can be found right here at home.  The Transportation Security Administration routinely and pointlessly violates basic tenets of human decency. The National Security Administration nonchalantly tramples on the privacy rights of everyone—including those of its loudest supporters. Even attending an NFL game these days is an exercise in intrusive security theater. All in the name of protecting us from admittedly unlikely threats. 

Biden also cited responses to past terrorist attacks as a testimony to American perserverance: 

We didn't crumble after 9/11. We didn't falter after the Boston Marathon. But we're America. Americans will never, ever stand down. We endure. We overcome. We own the finish line. 

Biden may not have crumbled or faltered, but civil liberties certainly did. While many people were busy cheerleading the militarized show of force in Watertown, Massachusetts, after the Boston Marathon bombing, others were appalled at the wholesale abrogation of constitutionally-protected rights at the hands of armored cops astride armored vehicles. It took a Ferguson for people to start questioning if we really need a chicken in every pot and an MRAP in every garage.

While ISIS itself might not be an "imminent threat to every interest we have," the threat of ISIS and other chimerical terrorist groups is. Perhaps Biden will evolve on that issue also. I'm not holding my breath.