Kooks and Terrorists, a sample chapter from the O'Reilly book, Database Nation: The Death of Privacy in the 21st Century, by Simson Garfinkel, provides a very timely backgrounder about how the face of terrorism has changed over the years.
Here's an excerpt quoting James D. Kallstrom, who was the FBI's chief of engineering in Quantico, Virginia, before he became director of the FBI's New York office, before he left the FBI a year later to take a job as a vice president at a major financial institution:
Kallstrom believes that it's entirely possible that a single terrorist attack will kill more than 10,000 people sometime within the next 30 years. "I am not going to predict it, but I think that it would be naive to say it isn't possible," he says. And if it happens, he says, there will be a tremendous backlash on the part of lawmakers and the public to pass draconian laws and institute a virtual police state to make sure that such an attack never happens again.
"Legislators and lawmakers generally don't react to things without a body count and the prediction of a body count--they don't want to hear about it. They want to see the body count. It is not good enough to feel the door and feel that it is warm; you have to have smoke coming from under the door. . . . As we move to this new millenium, the risk of this mentality is terrible." Instead of waiting for the body count and a resulting Congressional attack on civil liberties, says Kallstrom, the United States needs to start preparing now for the unthinkable.