November 20, 2009

Overblown: How Politicians and the Terrorism Industry Inflate National Security Threats, and Why We Believe Them,
by John Mueller, published in November 2006 by Free Press 
( is selling the book at a substantial discount.)

Explanation by astronomer Alan Harris of the calculation on p. 2 comparing the risks of being killed by an international terrorist with being killed by an asteroid, in pdf.


Presentation as part of a panel at the conference, "Shaping the Obama Administration's Counterterrorism Strategy," Cato Institute, Washington, DC, January 12, 2009 (from C-SPAN)  html

On "Scared Stiff," 20/20 with John Stossel, ABC Television, February 23, 2007 

On Hannity and Colmes, Fox News, February 1, 2007. partial transcript in html  on youtube

Book Forum presentation on Overblown, with comments by Governor James Gilmore, Cato Institute, December 13, 2006 (also telecast on C-SPAN) 
link to audio, video, and podcast

On The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Comedy Central, October 31, 2006. 
Part 1   Part 2

On Fox and Friends, September 12, 2006. video segment with written commentary by News Hounds


Assessing Measures Designed to Protect the Homeland," Policy Studies Journal, forthcoming 2010 prepublication draft in pdf

Atomic Obsession: Nuclear Alarmism from Hiroshima to Al Qaeda
(New York: Oxford University Press, November 2009) more information abou this book

No Nukes: Possibility or Pipe Dream? Abolition? Why?, June 7, 2009 html

How Dangerous Are the Taliban?, April 15, 2009  html

Establishing Principles for Evaluating Measures Designed to Protect the Homeland from Terrorism.  Paper presented at the National Convention of the International Studies Association, New York, NY, February 16, 2009 

Ask This: Will Obama reassess the threat posed by Al Qaeda? Nieman Watchdog, Nieman Foundation for Journalism, Harvard University, February 2, 2009 html

(with Mark G. Stewart) Cost-Benefit Assessment of United States Homeland Security Spending. Research Report No. 273.01.2009, Centre for Infrastructure Performance and Reliability, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia, January 2009  html to pdf

Contributions to a dialogue, Keep Calm and Carry On: How to Talk About Terrorism,, January 2009  html

(with Ian S. Lustick) Israel's Fight-or-Flight Response, National Interest, November/December 2008, pp. 68-73 html

Evaluating the Terrorist Threat. Los Angeles Times Syndicate/Tribune Media, May 19, 2008 
pdf  Published in Spanish as "EE UU exagera la amenaza de Al Qaeda" in El País (Spain), 2 June 2008 html

Terrorphobia: Our False Sense of Insecurity, American Interest, May/June 2008, pp. 6-13   html

(with Mark G. Stewart) Assessing the Costs and Benefits of United States Homeland Security Spending. Research Report, Centre for Infrastructure Performance and Reliability, University of Newcastle, Australia, 2008

(with Mark G. Stewart) A risk and cost-benefit assessment of United States aviation security measures.  Journal of Transportation Security, vol 1, pp. 143-59, 2008  pdf

(with Mark G. Stewart) A Risk and Cost-Benefit Assessment of Australian Aviation Security Measures.  Security Challenges, vol. 4, no. 3 (Spring 2008), pp. 45-61  pdf

Sccurity, Muscularity and Morality: Three Comments on Etzioni. 51 American Behavioral Scientist 1339-50, May 2008

Terror, without terrorists, Ottawa Citizen, April 25, 2008, p. a15  html
also published as:  Terror threat is overblown, Montreal Gazette, April 29, 2008, p. a17  html

The Quixotic Quest for Invulnerability: Assessing the Costs, Benefits, and Probabilities of Homeland Security.  Paper presented at the National Convention of the International Studies Association, San Francisco, California, March 28, 2008 (for revised, updated version, see February 2009 ISA paper above)

Don't want Iran to have bomb? Don't threaten Iran about bomb. Omaha World-Herald, March 8, 2008

The Atomic Terrorist: Assessing the Likelihood. Paper presented at the Program for International Security Policy, University of Chicago, January 15, 2008  

The Terrorism Industry: The Profits of Doom.  In George Kassimeris  (ed.), Playing Politics with Terrorism: A User's Guide (London: Hurst, 2007), pp. 301-320

Fearing fear itself. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (review of William Langewiesche's Atomic Bazaar: The Rise of the Nuclear Poor), November/December 2007, pp. 55-56  

Apocalypse Later. The National Interest, Nov./Dec. 2007, pp. 19-20 (response to letters by Graham Allison, Joseph Cirincione, and William C. Potter)

Radioactive Hype. The National Interest, Sep./Oct. 2007, pp. 59-65  pdf    pdf reformatted for easier reading

Reactions and Overreactions to Terrorism: The Atomic Obsession. Paper presented at the Annual Meetings of the American Political Science Association, Chicago, Illinois, August 31, 2007 

Fear Not: Notes from a naysayer. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, March/April 2007, pp. 30-37 pdf

Reacting to Terrorism: Probabilities, Consequences, and the Persistence of Fear.  Paper presented at the National Convention of the International Studies Association, Chicago, Illinois, February 28, 2007  pdf

What If We Leave? When nightmare scenarios are used to justify endless war, it's time to wake up. American Conservative, February 26, 2007 html

Ask This: Ten questions about Homeland Security, Nieman Watchdog, Nieman Foundation for Journalism, Harvard University, February 16, 2007 html

Ron Netsky (interviewer), Fear Itself. City Newspaper (Rochester, NY), January 24-30, 2007  html

Terror doesn't add up. Guardian (UK) comment is free website, November 20, 2006  html

Susan Adams (interviewer), Outfront Q & A: Protecting Our Golf Courses.  Forbes, November 27, 2006, p. 54  html

Nick Gillespie (interviewer), Residual Warfare: John Mueller on the future of terrorism.  Reason, October 2006, pp. 32-34  html

Terrorism, Overreaction, and Globalization. In Richard N. Rosecrance and Arthur A. Stein (eds.), No More States? Globalization, National Self‑Determination, and Terrorism (Boulder, CO: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006), pp. 47-74

Is There A Still a Terrorist Threat? The Myth of the Omnipresent Enemy. Foreign Affairs, September/October 2006, pp. 2-8, article and roundtable discussion (with James Fallows, Jessica Stern, Fawaz Gerges, and Paul Pillar)
on Foreign Affairs website

Reflections on What, If Anything, 'Are We Safer' Might Mean, September 2006, lead essay and discussion (with Clark Kent Irwin, Veronique de Rugy, and Timothy Naftali) on Cato Unbound website

Terrorism and Bumps in the Night. Paper presented at American Political Science Association meetings, Philadelphia, PA, September 1, 2006

Terrorism and Bumps in the Night. Paper presented at International Studies Association meetings, San Diego, California, March 25, 2006

Six Rather Unusual Propositions about Terrorism.  Terrorism and Political Violence, Autumn 2005  article in pdf   related Powerpoint presentation   The journal also published comments on the article by Richard Betts, Daniel Byman, and Martha Crenshaw.  Response to these comments in pdf

Reactions and Overreactions to Terrorism. Paper presented at the Conflict Studies Conference, "Terrorism in History: The Strategic Impact of Terrorism from Sarajevo 1914 to 9/11," University of New Brunswick, October 14-15, 2005

Transcript from presentation on panel dealing with issues of risk (together with Paul Slovic and Detlof von Winterfeldt), Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Bellingham, Washington, September 28, 2005 pdf (panel begins on page 16 of the document)

Ask This: Why not cool down the terrorism rhetoric a little. Questions the Press Should Ask, Nieman Watchdog, Nieman Foundation for Journalism, Harvard University, September 23, 2005  html

Simplicity and Spook: Terrorism and the Dynamics of Threat Exaggeration.  Paper presented at the National Convention of the International Studies Association, Honolulu, Hawaii, March 2, 2005 (later and longer version of the International Studies Perspectives article below) pdf 

Simplicity and Spook: Terrorism and the Dynamics of Threat Exaggeration. 6 International Studies Perspectives 155-73 (May 2005)  pdf

A False Sense of Insecurity? Regulation, Fall 2004, pp. 42-46 pdf

Blip or Step Function? Paper delivered at the International Studies Association Meetings, Portland, Oregon, February 27, 2003

False Alarms. Washington Post, Sunday, September 29, 2002, B7 

Harbinger or Aberration?  National Interest, Fall 2002, pp. 45-50 


Applebaum, Anne. Finding Things to Fear. Washington Post 24 September 2003

Arkin, William M. Goodbye War on Terrorism, Hello Long War. 26 January 2006  html

----. What the 9/11 Plotter Tells Us. warning 30 March 2006  html

Bell, David A.  Apocalypse no.  Los Angeles Times 28 September 2007

Bennett, James T. Homeland Security Scams. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 2006

Brzezinski, Zbigniew. Terrorized by 'War on Terror' Washington Post 25 March 2007  html   Michael Chertoff's response to this article, "Make No Mistake: This is War," Washington Post 22 April 2007  html

Carle, Glenn R. Overstating Our Fears. Washington Post, 13 July 2008, B7  html

Chapman, Clark R, and Alan W. Harris. A Skeptical Look at September 11th: How We Can Defeat Terrorism by Reacting to It More Rationally. Skeptical Inquirer September/October 2002: 29-34  html

Chapman, Steve. Terrorism crisis has passed.  Chicago Tribune, 12 July 2007  html

----. Terrorists Can't Make the Big 1. Chicago Tribune, 7 February 2008 html

Clark, William R. Bracing for Armageddon?  New York: Oxford University Press, 2008

Congleton, Roger D. Terrorism, Interest-Group Politics, and Public Policy. Independent Review Summer 2002  pdf

de Rugy, Veronique. What Does Homeland Security Spending Buy? Working Paper #107. Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 1 April 2005  pdf

Dreyfus, Robert. There Is No War on Terror. 13 September 2006,  On  html

----.  The Phony War. Rolling Stone,  21 September 2006  html

Dyer, Gwynne. Various columns archived at

Easterbrook, Gregg. Term Limits: The Meaninglessness of "WMD." New Republic 7 October 2002

Ellig, Jerry, Amos Guiora, and Kyle McKenzie. A Framework for Evaluating Counterterrorism Regulations. Mercatus Policy Series, Mercatus Center, George Mason University, September 2006  pdf

Fallows, James. Declaring Victory. Atlantic September 2006  html

----.  Endgaming the Terror War (interviewed by Abagail Cutler)., 8 August 2006  html

----. Credit to the pioneers (updated)., 25 May 2008 html

----. Various postings on

Friedman, Benjamin. Leap Before You Look: The Failure of Homeland Security. Breakthroughs 13(1) Spring 2004  pdf

----.  The Real Cost of Homeland Security.,  9 February 2006  html

----. The Terrible 'Ifs'. Regulation Winter 2008  pdf

---- and Harvey Sapolsky, You Never Know(ism).  Breakthroughs  Spring 2006  pdf

Furedi, Frank. Culture of Fear: Risk-Taking and the Morality of Low Expectations. London: Continuum, 2002

----.  Invitation to Terror: The Expanding Empire of the Unknown. London: Continuum, 2007

Gardner, Daniel. The Science of Fear. New  York: Dutton, 2008

Gerges, Fawaz A. The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005

Glassner, Barry. The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things. New York: Basic Books, 1999

Gorman, Siobhan. Fear Factor. National Journal 10 May 2003

Grigg, William Norman. Terrorism Is a Deadly Nuisance--Not an Existential Threat. John Birch Society website, 13 September 2006  html

Harper, Jim. Terrorism and Terrorism Counter-Strategy: Some Rudimentary, Necessary Thoughts. cato @ liberty 30 January 2008 html

Ignatius, David. The Fading Jihadists. Washington Post  28 February 2008, p. A17  html

Joffe, Josef. Security Uber Alles. American Interest  May/June 2008  html

Johnson, Robert H. Improbable Dangers: U.S. Conceptions of Threat in the Cold War and After. New York: St. Martin's, 1994,  Information about  downloading this book in pdf at no charge

Lake, David A. Rational Extremism: Understanding Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century. Dialog-IO Spring 2002

Lawson, Guy. The Fear Factory. Rolling Stone 7 February 2008 html

Leitenberg, Milton. Assessing the Biological Weapons and Bioterrorism Threat. Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, 2005  pdf

Lustick, Ian S. Trapped in the War on Terror. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006 ( is selling this book at a substantial  discount)   Lustick's blog

Mack, Andrew. Human Security Brief 2007.  Vancouver, BC:  Human Security Report Project, Simon Fraser University, 2008)  pdf

Meselson, Matthew. The Myth of Chemical Superweapons. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists April 1991

Mitchell, Luke. A Run on Terror: The Rising Cost of Fear Itself. Harper's March 2004

Orlet, Christopher. Don't Worry, Be Vigilant. 7 February 2007, On American Spectator online  html

Pein, Corey. Bin Laden's next target? Augusta is spending millions to guard its fire hydrants from terrorists. Whatever it takes to protect our precious bodily fluids. Metro Spirit (Augusta, Georgia)  23-29 May 2007  html

Pfaff, William. A 'long war' designed to perpetuate itself. International Herald-Tribune 10 February 2006 html

Phillips, Zach. Security Theater. Government Executive, 1 August 2007 pdf

Record, Jeffrey. Bounding the Global War on Terrorism Carlisle Barracks, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, December 2003 html

Robinson, Paul. The Good News About Terrorism. Spectator (London), 2 April 2005 html

Richardson, Louise. What Terrorists Want: Understanding the Enemy, Containing the Threat New York: Random House, 2006

Rosen, Jeffrey. The Naked Crowd. New York: Random House, 2004

Ross, Brian. Secret FBI Report Questions Al Qaeda Capabilities: No 'True' Al Qaeda Sleeper Agents Have Been Found in U.S. ABC News 9 March 2005   html

Sageman, Marc. Leaderless Jihad. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007.

Schneier, Bruce. Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World. New York: Copernicus, 2003

----. Portrait of the Modern Terrorist as an Idiot. From Wired News, 14 June 2007 html

----. Various postings on

Seitz, Russell. Weaker Than We Think.
American Conservative 6 December 2004  html 

Siegel, Marc. False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of FearNew York: Wiley, 2005

Shapiro, Jeremy. Managing Homeland Security: Develop a Threat-Based Strategy. Washington, DC: Brookings, 2007. pdf

Simon, Jeffrey D. The Terrorist Trap: America's Experience with Terrorism. 2nd ed. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2001

Sivak, Michael, and Michael J. Flannagan. Consequences for road traffic fatalities of the reduction in flying following September 11, 2001. Transportaion Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, Vol. 7, Issues 4-5, July-September 2004  html

Smith, Patrick. The Airport Security Follies. December 28, 2007 html

Spicuzza, Mary. Weeki Wachee mermaids in terrorists' cross hairs? St. Petersburg Times 22 April 2005 html

Stewart, Mark G. Cost-Effectiveness of Risk Mitigation Strategies for Protection of Buildings against Terrorist Attack. Journal of Performance of Constructed Facilities, forthcoming  pdf

Stossel, John. Terror Porn. 7 March 2007, On  html

Sunstein, Cass R. Terrorism and Probability Neglect. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty 26(2/3) March-May 2003

Tierney, John. Waiting for Al Qaeda. New York Times 9 September 2006, A27

----.  Osama's Spin Lessons. New York Times 12 September 2006, A23

----. Living in Fear and Paying a High Cost in Heart Risk. New York Times, January 15, 2008 html

Wirz, Christoph, and Emmanuel Egger. Use of nuclear and radiological weapons by terrorists? International Review of the Red Cross, September 2005  pdf

Zakaria, Fareed. The Only Thing We Have to Fear...  Newsweek, 2 June 2008  html

----. True or False: We Need a Wartime President.  PostGlobal,, 6 July 2008  html