Terrorist Threat Levels

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The gist of retired Air Force Col. Randall Larsen's view of our homeland security is that we should not be scared of regular terrorist attacks that may kill a few thousand people against the background of more than 800,000 who've died of natural causes like car accidents, food poisoning, and medical mistakes since 9/11 ["Getting Real About Threats," September 3].

What we should beware of is a possibility of a biological or a nuclear attack. Although a director of the Institute for Homeland Security, Larsen probably does not understand that the main consequence of a terrorist attack is to create havoc disrupting the normal functioning of our society: our transport, economy, and communication system. Blowing up a bridge, a tunnel, or even a single subway station will not result in many deaths, but the devastating effect of such an act on the stability of our society is difficult to overestimate. After 9/11, it took almost five years for our airline transportation system to recover. If we disregard terrorist attacks, then they will escalate, as does criminal activity when law enforcement is dormant. I am not sure that disseminating such a philosophy brings any good to understanding the extremely complex situation we live in.

Genrich L. Krasko

Peabody, Mass.  

Larsen has offered the sanest, most rational understanding of the threats of terrorism that I have come across. Now, if only our politicians and security agencies in Washington, D.C., would take his advice seriously and place the threats in appropriate context.

C. Conrad Cherry

Carmel, Ind.