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There are two points where I believe Mr. Harben is mistaken in his letter of July 7. First, he offers the lack of a terrorist attack on the U.S. since 9/11 as proof that the president's War on Terror is a success. With almost five years without terror incident, the president's policy has yet to show the same positive security results as the last administration's policy. There were five full years with no terror attacks on U.S. soil from the Olympic bombings of 1996 to the 2001 attacks. So far, we have gone less than five years without an attack. President Bush's approach can only be deemed as effective once we get to Sept. 12, 2006, without further attacks on U.S. soil.
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But this same level of security has come at a far higher price. According to a June 2006 estimate by the Congressional Research Service, $437 billion has been spent on the War on Terror. Additionally, more than 50,000 people, including more than 2,500 US service members have lost their lives since the War on Terror started. Tens of thousands more, including more than 15,000 U.S. soldiers, have been maimed for life. All for a similar time period without attack on U.S. soil as was enjoyed in the late 1990s. I think a reasonable person could conclude the president's policy is not a success.
If you look at terror trends overseas, the president's policies are demonstrably ineffective at reducing terror incidents. According to the Terrorism Knowledge Base online Web site, the number of worldwide terrorism incidents since 2001 have been: 1,733 attacks in 2001, 2,649 attacks in 2002, 1,898 attacks in 2003, 2,646 attacks in 2004 and 4,924 attacks in 2005. 2005's figure of 4,924 is 2.8 times the number of incidents that took place in 2001. It looks like President Bush's War on Terror has been far costlier and deadlier, without providing the same level of security as the prior administration.
Finally, Mr. Harben ridiculed the idea that our Founding Fathers would call America a "democratic experiment," but founding fathers James Madison and Edward Carrington used the term "experiment" to describe the American Republic during the Constitutional Convention of 1787. President and World War II hero George H. W. Bush used that exact phrase to describe America in a Dec. 11, 1992, speech. So clearly patriots and decorated warriors across the ages have considered America to be a democratic experiment.