This leads to still other questions: Why should we believe the current president or any president for that matter? We have been misled before. Remember discussions regarding weapons of mass destruction from former President Bush, Soviet superiority in nuclear weapons across numerous US administrations or that there were Communists under every rock? These were all falsehoods that cost American lives and money.
Why are we back here again and what does it mean for those of us interested in state repression and human rights?Well, fear is big business and it is one that is immensely important for political authorities. But herein lies the biggest weakness in a democratic form of government: the people with the information about what threatens the citizenry and polity are the same people who have a vested interest in providing protection from said threats. This is the essence of the "protection racket" discussed by Charles Tilly and William Stanley. Societies cannot rely upon the agency that has a vested interest with providing protection to generate information on the very threats that prompt/legitimize threat protection.
In a sense, we should "publicize" not privatize threat assessment (in diverse senses of the word). Transparency, reliability and validity require it. Why not have some panel of relevant scholars provide assessments and let these be publicly vetted for reasonableness from another set of scholars? At this point, I am not even suggesting having all this information be released to public. Folks could sign away rights to talk about what they see for a few years but they would provide some check. After 10 years this info is released to the public.
Threat assessment is too important for political democracy for its evaluation and process to be hidden from public view. What criteria are used for good information? How many sources were used? How credible are the witnesses? Are there witnesses? How much error is included within the threat assessment (there is always error)? How "tremendous" is tremendous? - I need some kind of baseline. Is it Grand Canyon tremendous or is it strawberry milkshake after a few years kind of tremendous?
I say this in part because the part about crime and people being threatened by it is just kind of wrong.