Originally posted January 16, 2015.
How did French police and intelligence miss the Charlie Hebdo terrorists? With the massacres in Paris last week, it’s easy to ask why known militants were not under tighter surveillance by French intelligence agencies. In an article that appeared in Time magazine January 14, John Mueller and Mark Stewart give what they assert is a fairly simple, if less satisfying, explanation: “Terrorism’s very high cost combined with its very low probability make stopping terrorists as difficult as finding a needle in a haystack.”
John Mueller, a political scientist at Ohio State University and senior fellow at the Cato Institute, and Mark Stewart, an engineer and risk analyst at the University of Newcastle in Australia, are co-authors of Terror, Security, and Money: Balancing the Risks, Benefits, and Costs of Homeland Security.
Read more here from Messrs. Mueller and Stewart, who point out that the question we should be asking is not, “Are we safer?” Rather, given that perfect safety is impossible, the question should be, “How safe are we?”