A Low, Dishonest Era

POLITICS & POLICY

In 2006, I was interviewing Michael Chertoff, who was then the secretary of homeland security. I’m pretty sure we were talking about Richard Reid, the “shoe bomber.” In 2001, he tried to detonate a shoe bomb on a flight from Paris to Miami. The bomb did not go off. People considered Reid a pathetic, almost goofy figure. They laughed at him.

But only because the bomb didn’t go off. If it had, he would have been remembered in history as a monster. A spectacular mass-murderer.

Chertoff told me that he had worked as a U.S. attorney in New Jersey. He had dealt …

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