A few years back, I wrote a book called “Willful Blindness: A Memoir of the Jihad.” It was about being on the “front lines,” so to speak, of the battle against Muslim terrorism. I put “front lines” in quotes because, though the terrorists saw themselves as fighting a doctrinally ordained war of armed combat, we were treating them as mere criminals — such that our idea of a battlefield was the federal courthouse, and our idea of a commander was, well . . . me.
Misapprehending the dimension of the challenge — that it was war, not crime — was only one part of the story. The real willful blindness was government’s failure to examine the nature of the challenge. This, of course, involves the question of why things happen. To duck that question was reckless. A failure to understand the terrorists’ rationale made it impossible to grasp how pervasive the security problem was, how likely it was that additional mass-murder plots were in the offing, what kinds of targets were vulnerable, and what should be done to try to prevent attacks.
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