National Journal’s Hotline has dutifully reprinted House Majority Leader John Boehner’s open letter of encouragement to fellow Republicans as they go into the summer recess. In it, Boehner cites Americans’ ongoing anxiety about a number of issues.
“International threats are also contributing to the anxiety American families feel,” he writes. He continues:
[Terrorists are] bent on destablizing democracies throughout the world. And they are more determined than ever to penetrate our leaking borders and carry out their murderous ambitions against innocent citizens on American soil.
Naturally, Boehner derides Democrats for failing to do security like Republicans do security.
Last year, for example, 152 Democrats voted against the REAL ID Act, which implemented needed driver’s license reforms, making it more difficult for potential terrorists to obtain driver’s licenses or state ID cards, and ensuring that states improve their data security.
Nevermind that false ID was not part of the modus operandi of the 9/11 terrorists. Identification requirements are not very good for tracking or controlling criminals and essentially worthless for stopping suicidal terrorists, but they are very good for tracking and controlling law-abiding citizens.
In Blind Spot: The Secret History of American Counterterrorism, Timothy Naftali frames this kind of letter:
The politics of fear have … prevented a serious national conversation about the true dimensions of the threat. The public has no idea of the tradeoffs between security and freedom. Their elected representatives speak of doing everything necessary to protect them, while each political party argues that it is more likely than the opposition to keep the nation secure.
This perspective turns the Boehner letter into a caricature. Naftali adds, “The American public should be informed that the terrorists cannot win any war against the United States … .”