Here are the key quotes:
Terrorism, said Powell, is not a mortal threat to America.
"What is the greatest threat facing us now?" Powell asked. "People will say it's terrorism. But are there any terrorists in the world who can change the American way of life or our political system? No. Can they knock down a building? Yes. Can they kill somebody? Yes. But can they change us? No. Only we can change ourselves. So what is the great threat we are facing?"
History and common sense teach that Powell speaks truth.
Since 9-11, 100,000 Americans have been murdered -- as many as we lost in Vietnam, Korea and Iraq combined. Yet, not one of these murders was the work of an Islamic terrorist, and all of them, terrible as they are, did not imperil the survival of our republic.
Terrorists can blow up our buildings, assassinate our leaders, and bomb our malls and stadiums. They cannot destroy us. Assume the worst. Terrorists smuggle an atom bomb into New York harbor or into Washington, D.C., and detonate it.
Horrible and horrifying as that would be -- perhaps 100,000 dead and wounded -- it would not mean the end of the United States. It would more likely mean the end of Iran, or whatever nation at which the United States chose to direct its rage and retribution.
Powell's point is not that terrorism is not a threat. It is that the terror threat must be seen in perspective, that we ought not frighten ourselves to death with our own propaganda, that we cannot allow fear of terror to monopolize our every waking hour or cause us to give up our freedom.
Powell and Buchanan are spot on correct. We must not allow the war mongers and fear peddlers in the Bush administration and the press (yes, you, William Kristol) to generate an atmosphere of terror so that they can, one by one, take away our freedoms in the name of keeping us safe.
I'll take freedom over safety any day.