Boston Marathon bombing investigators search a woman's bag at the scene of the explosions. (REUTERS/Adrees Latif)
The headline in today’s New York Times had to be read twice to make sure that’s what it really said: “Blasts End A Decade of Terrorism on the Wane.”
Yes. On the wane.
You probably didn’t know that over the past ten years there has been very little significant terrorism in the United States. As I've written repeatedly, terrorism today—here at home, not in, say, Iraq—is just a nuisance, nothing more. In 2004, John Kerry, running for president, said that the then-infinite War on Terror would be won when terrorism was reduced to the status of being a deadly nuisance rather an a constant crisis. By 2004, of course, it already was.
The Times, in its lede, says this:
The bombing of the Boston Marathon on Monday was the end of more than a decade in which the United States experienced strikingly few terrorist attacks, in part because of the far more aggressive law enforcement tactics that arose after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
In fact, the Sept. 11 attacks were an anomaly in an overall gradual decline in the number of terrorist attacks since the 1970s, according to the Global Terrorism Database, one of the most authoritative sources of terrorism statistics, which is maintained by a consortium of researchers and based at the University of Maryland.
The worst decade for terrorism in the United States? The 1970s. The horrible bombings in Boston killed more people, three, than any incident of terrorism except 9/11, the 1993 World Trade Center attack, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, and “the poisoning of restaurant salad bars with salmonella bacteria by religious cultists in Oregon in 1984.”
The paper quotes Gary LaFree, the researcher who helps compile the date base, thus:
I think people are actually surprised when they learn that there’s been a steady decline in terrorist attacks in the U.S. since 1970.
And it adds this stunner from LaFree:
He said there were about 40 percent more attacks in the United States in the decade before Sept. 11 than in the decade after.
You can take a look at LaFree’s data base and other research at his website, with the Global Terrorism Database. It’s part of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism. Especially important is the graph that shows incidents of terrorism declining from nearly 500 per year in the early 1970s in the United States, steadily throughout the next four decades, to an all time low in 2011. See below:
Yes, you read that right: an all time low!