30 July 2005

Crime and Terrorism

From time to time we hear criticism of the "crime-fighting" approach to counter-terrorism: the line is that the terrorists aren't restrained by law, and we cannot afford to disadvantage ourselves against them.

As I mentioned previously, the flaw is that I as a civilian am at least as concerned not to be wrongly convicted of terrorism as of crime - removing the protection of the law for any action removes my certainty of not being punished without a chance to defend myself in court.

In any case, criminals aren't restrained by law either, so what's the difference?

Well, terrorism is a much bigger problem than crime, isn't it? Um, isn't it?

No, it isn't. Check this out:

Violent death rate in Baghdad, from March 2003 to March 2005, from Iraq Body Count: 20.1 per 10,000 population. That's 100 per 100,000 per year, and it includes the invasion itself. I can't get accurate figures for the period after the invasion, but from the feel of the report, I would knock about a third off for "peacetime" Baghdad: say 70 per 100,000 per year

Murder rate in Washington, D.C. 69.3 per 100,000 per year.

That's it - the capital of Iraq, the epicentre of world terrorist activity, has, as close as I can measure it, the same violent death rate as the capital of the USA with no terrorists.

OK, admittedly, Washington D.C has by far the worst murder rate of any "peaceful" city in the entire world, but compare any other city in the world to Baghdad, and terrorism is negligible.

Maybe, since car drivers kill more people than terrorists, we should suspend basic freedoms for drivers, as well.

Oh yeah, we did that.

Update: Apparently Scrivener discovered this back in January

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