Well, you say po-tay-to, I say po-tah-to.
I wasn't disagreeing with you, just providing real world underpinnings to your argument. The legal components of a "threat" are jeopardy, ability, and means; the sisters of "means, motive, and opportunity," which is what you hear about in court should preemption fail. After 9/11, for example, the public's perception (the "reasonable man test") of "jeopardy, ability, and means" changed. At least it changed for the great, unwashed, clueless. Suddenly, what constituted a threat was refined to a bunch of guys with box cutters. Before that it was ICBM's.
Jeopardy: A situation which arouses fear on the part of the innocent, including verbal threats.
Ability: A demonstrable or historically proven inclination or willingness on the part of the "bad guy" to inflict harm on the innocent.
Means: The tactical and mechanical ability to make good on the threat.
All three must be present for a threat to be credible enough to preempt with lethal force under the terms of my previous post. Given the reasonable man test, the events of 9/11 could and did change the general perception of JAM. For a lot of us, it didn't take 9/11. We already "got it." However, to respond to a threat requires the will to do so and that simply wasn't present in body politic.
Personally, to me, "threat" and "initiating the use of force" are distinct. I think they are legally, too, which is why the law provides for using force in response to a threat. But if you want to say that threatening the use of force is the same as actually using it, that's ok; just don't try it in court. As I said, I wasn't exactly disagreeing with you, I was just offering reinforcements to your argument.