Bruce Schneier says he's tired of headlines like one that says a new autopilot will prevent any more 9/11s, and says:
Why are people so narrowly focused? The goal isn't to protect against another 9/11. The goal is to protect against another horrific terrorist incident.
— Making Another 9/11 Impossible, Bruce Schneier, Schneier on Security, March 15, 2007
Why? Because 66-74% of the U.S. population have detail-oriented personalities, good at seeing details, not good at seeing the big picture. Other populations probably aren't much different.
Add to that newspapers, governments, and related industry preying on people's recognition of known fears to sell fishwraps, elections, and expensive detail solutions, and there you have it.
This is why people like Bruce Schneier are so valuable. He tirelessly (OK, with occasional exasperation) keeps spelling out the big picture:
None of the airplane security measures implemented because of 9/11 -- no-fly lists, secondary screening, prohibitions against pocket knives and corkscrews -- had anything to do with last week's arrests. And they wouldn't have prevented the planned attacks, had the terrorists not been arrested. A national ID card wouldn't have made a difference, either.
Instead, the arrests are a victory for old-fashioned intelligence and investigation. Details are still secret, but police in at least two countries were watching the terrorists for a long time. They followed leads, figured out who was talking to whom, and slowly pieced together both the network and the plot.
— Last Week's Terrorism Arrests, Bruce Schneier, Schneier on Security, August 13, 2006
What seems obvious to Bruce just isn't obvious at all to about two out of three of people, and most of the other third is too busy thinking about other things to work it out.
Let's not forget the bigger picture:
And if you want to know what you can do to help? Don't be terrorized. They terrorize more of us if they kill some of us, but the dead are beside the point. If we give in to fear, the terrorists achieve their goal even if they were arrested. If we refuse to be terrorized, then they lose -- even if their attacks succeed.
The purpose of terrorism is to produce terror in order to get people and especially governments to overreact. If we let ourselves be terrorized, we lost civil liberties, international reputation, and the terrorists gain recruits and allies. If we refuse to be terrorised, we win and the terrorists lose.
There is an even bigger picture. If we actually stand for and act for something better than what the terrorists claim to represent, we're much less susceptible, because the terrorists will be seen for the cynical killers they are. This used to be the case. Look at the worldwide outpouring of sympathy for the U.S. just after 9/11. Reputation matters for countries, just as much as for companies.