...There is a view that states of permanent high alert and tension suit President George W Bush's election hopes.
You do not have to subscribe to that theory to think that the authorities are getting it right.
It may be, rather, that putting security at the top of the agenda legitimises endless intervention in our lives. And because the enemy is unknown, it is impossible to know how much intervention is warranted.
So the police scream around in convoys. People in uniform - railway officials, hotel staff, security guards - seem to think they have a right to know your business.
That is not a conspiracy to keep the people frightened.
Anyway, I am not sure that a state of constant alert does suit President Bush.
A weariness and a wariness of officialdom may be setting in with people who think they have heard that cry of "Wolf!" once too often.
Of course, if there were a serious bomb attack, let us say a week before the election, that would be a different political matter.
Mr Bush might then look like the strong defender, the man whose warnings were prescient.
Terrorists shape our daily lives in tedious ways.
They also shape the election for president of the United States of America.
Saturday, August 07, 2004
Stephen Evans, North America business correspondent for BBC News, asks US security: Protection or intrusion? And this is his answer: