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Ben Boychuk

is associate editor of City Journal, where he writes on education and California politics. Previously, he served as managing editor of the Heartland Institute's School Reform News and the Claremont Review of Books. He is also a former editorial writer for Investor's Business Daily and the Press-Enterprise in Riverside, California. Reach him at

Boychuk writes a weekly column for the Sacramento Bee and Scripps-Howard News Service. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the New York PostNational Review Online, the Korea Times and newspapers across the United States.

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ARE WE SAFER TODAY? 

Public relations worries exceed national security


Safer? Well, if you care to peruse the statistics, your odds of being attacked by a terrorist remain roughly 20 million to one. You have a better chance of being struck by lightning, dying in a fire or drowning in a bathtub.

But actuarial tables are of little comfort to the families of the victims of the San Bernardino, Calif., attacks.

Safer? We’ve learned over the past week that the Department of Homeland Security doesn’t look at the social media activity of foreigners applying for visas as a matter of policy. But DHS will routinely examine the Facebook and Twitter activity of American citizens.

Think about that. The gargantuan bureaucracy created to pre-empt terrorist threats against the country deliberately avoids looking at information that foreigners share publicly on their Facebook timelines. Why in the world would they do that?

Mind you, these are the same people who assure us that the Syrian refugees will be thoroughly vetted.

Safer? China and Russia have made Swiss cheese of federal and state government databases. Beijing hackers “compromised” (read: stole) the files of more than 22.1 million current and former federal employees, including people with top-secret security clearances.

Apparently, this had been going on for years before the geniuses at the Office of Personnel Management noticed the breach. You don’t suppose the Chinese only plan to mess with their credit scores, do you?

Safer? President Barack Obama continues to insist that climate change is the prime mover of Islamic jihadism — except he won’t actually say “Islamic jihadism” or any variation on the term.

We are probably about as safe as we ever were in a world full of uncertainty. But it’s tough to feel safe when public relations worries trump national security. — Ben Boychuk is associate editor of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal. Reach him at .