So far...

Most Americans have never lived through a time like this. Who of us could have imagined our current state of anxiety and outrage a mere two months ago? Seven weeks after a terrorist attack on the U.S. mainland that killed more than five thousand civilians, the nation is poised between war and a disorienting sense of stasis. For most, life continues much as it was before September 11, at least outwardly. At the same time, National Guardsmen patrol the nation’s airports and U.S. and British aircraft are conducting daily bombing raids against Afghanistan’s Taliban regime and terrorist leader Osama bin Laden’s training bases. As we write, President George W. Bush has alerted the nation to intelligence reports that warn of the heightened possibility of another attack. On television, Osama bin Laden and his associates threaten more murder, urging Muslims to stay out of planes and skyscrapers. Across the country, a species of biological warfare is being conducting through the mail, resulting in one death and widespread fear. Is the anthrax scare merely a copycat crime, or is bioterrorism the next step in some larger coordinated offensive?

There is little sense of where this crisis is likely to go, although there is a growing recognition that the threat will not end soon. Perhaps not since the Cuban missile crisis have Americans been forced to contemplate the unthinkable in such a direct and personal way. It is not...

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