It’s easy to vow that you’re going to crush a terrorist group into the ground. It’s much more difficult to explain—in well-reasoned terms that simultaneously give hope to those threatened by terror while not giving ammunition to those who would harm us—how you’re going to make a terror group a footnote of history instead of global player.
Sure, you don’t want to reveal too much to America’s enemies on the campaign trail. When then-San Francisco mayor Dianne Feinstein announced in 1985 that authorities were looking for a certain sneaker worn by “Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez, the serial killer promptly threw his incriminating footwear off the Golden Gate. It’s a pertinent true-crime lesson for those talking terror: You want the public’s assistance in catching the perpetrators, but you don’t want the terrorists to know exactly how you’re going to catch them lest they destroy that critical link. But you can outline the infrastructure improvements needed in the modern war on terror without betraying the specifics of tracking the terrorists.
Voters should be asking what a candidate would be doing to stop terror in six key components: