Death of bin Laden: Visible vs. Invisible in U.S. National Security

After digesting the news that Osama bin Laden had been killed by a U.S. Navy Seals team, my first thought was about how his death, and the manner in which it happened, highlights the tension between the visible and the invisible in terms of terrorism and counterterrorism. Terrorism must be tactically invisible in order to effectively plan and carry out attacks, but it depends on the high visibility of those attacks for any strategic impact. In almost a perfect inversion, counterterrorism employs highly visible tactical measures — the kind of “security theater” best-illustrated at airports — to reassure the public, […]

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