Writing in Slate, Jacob Weisberg examines “Five Years Free - Why haven’t we been attacked again?”:
Does President Bush deserve the credit he implicitly claimed in today's speech forwhat hasn't happened? One might argue that our half-decade of immunity from domestic terrorism is the result of circumstances largely beyond his control. Contrary to the alarmism spread in the wake of Sept. 11, al-Qaida did not have thousands of operatives nestled inside the country. We also turn out to have had some unappreciated strengths when it comes to fighting terrorism. The most important—as Daniel Benjamin and Steve Simon argue in The Next Attack—is that America's Muslims are more moderate, prosperous, and assimilated than Europe's and have not been willing to serve as hosts for jihad.I tend to side with George Will that America’s greatest asset against the jihadists is 300 million pairs of eyes looking out for trouble. Before 9/11, an airline passenger watching Richard Reid try to light up his sneakers might have looked on with puzzled detachment. Instead, the would-be terrorist got a punch in the head and a lifetime sentence in a SuperMax prison.
But any honest appraisal has to recognize that President Bush has indeed played a role in keeping the United States free from another attack. To say this is not to say that his policy choices have been wise or that they have truly made America safer over the long term, but simply that our avoidance of domestic terrorism over the past five years is not entirely coincidental.