This Is War - Don't treat it as a law-enforcement problem. : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

This Is War Don't treat it as a law-enforcement problem.

BY SETH LIPSKY Thursday, September 13, 2001 12:01 a.m.

The most important thing President Bush has said so far is that as America goes after the perpetrators of these attacks, it will draw no distinction between those who committed the deeds and those who harbor them. Many of us will see in that remark the hope for a change in American strategy--one that will finally enable America to move away from a law-enforcement approach to terrorism and onto a war footing that will enable us to take this struggle to our enemies. This is not a law enforcement problem but a war. The enemy is not "terrorism," which is but the tactic. This war is being fought against America and the West by Islamic extremists and by the governments that they control or intimidate. By using the law-enforcement agencies and the courts, America has had to focus on the terrorist perpetrators and failed to address the problem of governments.

Thus, the attack on a U.S. airline--Pan American World Airways--precipitated no military action. Rather, there began a long campaign to bring the bombers of Pan Am flight 103 "to justice." At one point, Americans saw the spectacle of the Clinton administration in a U.S. federal court defending Libya against an attempt by families of the victims of the bombing to pierce Libya's sovereign immunity. Eventually a Scottish court, sitting in The Hague, convicted one of two Libyan agents thrown into the dock in the case. Now a Harvard professor, Alan Dershowitz, has joined in preparing his appeal.

Another case is that of the killing of Alisa Flatow, the New Jersey coed who was slain in Israel in an attack funded by the Iranians. In 1996, Congress passed the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. It was designed to strip terrorist regimes of sovereign immunity so that they could be sued by victims of terrorism. Alisa Flatow's family won the first big judgment under the law, an award of some $250 million. When it came time to collect, however, the Clinton administration argued against the Flatow family in court, arguing that the Iranians should be allowed to hang onto their diplomatic properties and frozen assets. The Flatow family is still arguing with the case.

Another example has been the long campaign by the Zionist Organization of America to get the American government to go after Palestinian Arab terrorists who murder Americans. Until the latest attacks, the ZOA estimates that there had been 20 such killing of Americans since the Oslo peace negotiations began. It has long striven to get the State Department to do what it does in the cases of other Americans murdered overseas, which is offer and post rewards for information leading to the capture of the murders. The only instance in which it hasn't taken such steps is in the case of the Palestinian Arab terrorists who have killed Americans. The situation has gotten so bad that the Congress is now considering legislation to empower the Justice Department to deal with these cases.

These kinds of absurdities led some of us to argue against the very concept of a great power--or any power, for that matter--using the courts as a venue for carrying out antiterrorist warfare. It's not that there's no constitutional precedent. Seth Gitell, a former colleague of mine at the Jewish Forward, wrote a piece for The Wall Street Journal about the power the American Founders delegated to Congress to issue letters of marque and reprisal--licenses to private parties to carry out military actions overseas. To put it another way, one could argue that at some theoretical level, there is a framework for putting the burden on private parties.

In practice, though, all forms of litigation and the enforcement of criminal laws have been a recipe for defeat. Not only because they are unwieldy and lead to ridiculous situations but also because they target named individuals. It would be as if America launched the Normandy invasion in an effort to arrest Hitler and Goering. What caught my attention in the president's remarks Tuesday evening was language that suggested he was going to try to avoid falling into this trap. By stating at the outset that he was going to draw no distinction between the perpetrators and those that might be harboring them, he has opened the door to warfare against the nations that tolerate terrorists on their soil.

Here there will be no shortage of targets, from Afghanistan to Iran to Iraq to Syria to the Palestinian Authority. Or even, for that matter, Saudi Arabia, which proved so recalcitrant in cooperating in our investigation of the bombing of an American barracks. There will always be those who will talk of the "root cause" of terrorism, the way an earlier generation of isolationists talked of Versailles and other "root causes" of German anti-Semitism and the rise of Hitler. The important point now is to move away from viewing this as a law-enforcement problem, on which President Bush has made an encouraging start.

Mr. Lipsky is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal. His column appears Wednesdays. Copyright 2001 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Victory Is Possible Dave Franch - Chicago Mr. Platzer, how many Japanese and Germans are attacking the U.S. today? We must take the fight to the enemies of the U.S.

The Rules Still Apply J. Reynolds - Houston While this indeed is war, there still are (at some level) rules. Rather than wreaking wholesale destruction upon an entire city and slaying a lot of innocents, it truly would be preferable to capture just the individuals involved, try them for war crimes, sentence them duly, strap them to gurneys, place the needles and rehabilitate them forthwith.

Kill the Bastards Thornton Sanders - Charlottesville, Va. Again, amen! It's a supreme irony that until the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, is led by Gen. Ariel Sharon, who was apparently the only elected leader of a democratic country in the entire world who understood that fundamentalist Arab dictatorships are at war with the West and with Israel, that these dictatorships are fighting the war using terrorists as their long-range weapon of choice, that when a nation is at war it must kill its enemies in order to win, and that in war there is no substitute for victory.

Now it appears that this reality has finally penetrated the thick skulls of the U.S. Congress, the Bush administration (but not the Clinton administration for eight long years), and the American people. It is high time the U.S. acknowledged that an Islamic jihad has been publicly declared and is being waged against us every day. Our acknowledgment should be in the form of a public declaration of war against those who declared it against us. It's also high time that we quit pussyfooting around in a defensive posture and went on the offense with the objective of killing as many of the terrorist bastards as we can get our hands on. The idea that we should capture terrorists alive so that they can be for referred to the Hague for trials under international criminal law must be something which originated with Alan Dershowitz and his ilk in academia or the geniuses in the United Nations.

The Arab World Will Join the Modern World Ted Johnson - Carrollton, Texas Mr. Lipsky quite rightly points out that the "rule of law" has become the rule of lawyers, an absurd playground for dilettantes who cannot come to grips with the reality that there are people out there who hate us and want to harm us because they need someone to hate. Having lived abroad, I have some personal insight into this phenomenon, but in this country as well I have met people for whom hatred gives meaning to life.

In the case of the Arab world, we are faced with a radical conflict between a tribal, prescientific mentality and a modern, secular, scientific culture. The shah of Iran lost big because he attempted to bring his nation into the 20th century; his opponents and their like-minded revanchists will die before they will change. But in the end the Arab world will join the modern world; we need not delay that outcome by proving ourselves unworthy of their respect.

We Must Win Alice Felt - Walla Walla, Wash. This is worse than war, at least as we've known war in the past. The enemy is not wearing a uniform and is not representing a particular state or country. They can be anywhere at any time. How vast and extensive the terrorists' ties to nations that support them is really unknown. We may have some idea through intelligence, but as pointed out in another editorial on this page, our intelligence capabilities are hampered by rules that keep us from using sources most likely to provide the information we need.

Mr. Rumsfield spoke on Wednesday of the continuing problem of laxity in regards to classified information that has resulted from our sense of security that came with the end of the cold war. We know how China showed interest in our "secrets" during the Clinton administration and how information likely made it's way into their hands.

Our sense of security has been a false one, and such a false sense may have put us in a weakened position. We now must fight this war but, more important, we must be able to win it. Not having a clear idea of just who the enemy is and what their capabilities are, what are the odds of winning, and what are the odds we could loose everything in the process? With all the calls to wage such a war, it seems worthwhile to consider the possible outcome, because the opposite of our winning would be the obvious, it would be losing on a massive scale. That is something that cannot happen.

Just Like the Japanese After Hiroshima Steven Platzer - Chicago I hope that when people like Seth Lipsky call for a sharp move away from the "root causes of terrorism" and toward the launching of a total war against it, they fully realize this will require us to slaughter countless thousands of quite innocent people, people whose children and grandchildren will seek revenge against ours for many years to come.

-- Rich Marsh (, September 14, 2001


Crush Them Let us wage total war on our foes.

BY L. PAUL BREMER III Thursday, September 13, 2001 12:01 a.m.

Sept. 11, 2001, will forever be remembered as the day the terrorist war was brought home to all Americans. It may turn out to have been the bloodiest day in American history. It was certainly the most dramatic. The attacks preview the kind of threat we will face in the 21st century, because terrorism is the essential tactic of asymmetrical warfare. It allows the weak to attack the strong.

Several things are already clear.

First, there was a catastrophic failure of airport security. How could groups of terrorists have been able to get through airport security and manage to take over four planes?

Second, there was a major intelligence failure. This was an elaborate, well-planned and -executed operation involving at least dozens of people. How is it possible that the American intelligence community, which receives billions of taxpayers' dollars each year, could have missed the planning?

What is to be done?

First, all of us must do everything possible to help console the thousands of victims and their families. Our prayers and hearts go out to all of them.

Next, we must take immediate steps to prevent, or pre-empt, future attacks before more Americans are killed. This can only be done if we have credible and timely intelligence about the terrorists' plans. And the only way to get such information is from human sources--spies within terrorist groups willing to tell us of their plans ahead of time. The government must become much more aggressive in the collection of this vital intelligence.

The bipartisan National Commission on Terrorism, which I chaired, reported over a year ago to the president and Congress that CIA agents in the field operate under restrictive rules governing the recruitment of terrorist spies. We recommended that these rules be rescinded. Nothing has happened.

Third, the government must move quickly to identify the group that conducted the attacks. Given the complexity of the operation and its motive to kill thousands of Americans, the list of suspects is short.

Leading the list is Osama bin Laden. He has repeatedly declared war on the U.S. and encouraged Muslims to kill Americans wherever they can find them. Bin Laden does not use the word "war" carelessly, as is clear from his attacks on American forces in Somalia, the bombings of our African embassies and his effort to sink the USS Cole. He is a disgrace to his religion and an affront to the millions of peace- loving Muslims everywhere.

But it cannot yet be excluded that radical Palestinian groups, such as Hezbollah, Hamas or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad were involved, perhaps with the support of a country. And Saddam Hussein, with whom we have waged a desultory war for a decade, certainly has the motive and the pilots.

When the president has evidence that convinces him who the perpetrators were, he must take the war to the enemy. As he stated in his address Tuesday night, we must punish not just the terrorists but any group or state that in any way supported them. Our retribution must move beyond the limp-wristed attacks of the past decade, actions that seemed designed to "signal" our seriousness to the terrorists without inflicting real damage. Naturally, their feebleness demonstrated the opposite. This time the terrorists and their supporters must be crushed.

This will mean war with one or more countries. And it will be a long war, not one of the "Made for TV" variety. As in all wars, there will civilian casualties. We will win some battles and lose some. More Americans will die. In the end America can and will prevail, as we always do.

But even this is not enough. For too long, American policy has contented itself with merely identifying states which support terrorism without their facing any serious consequences. The U.S. must deliver a clear ultimatum to those states: Either you destroy the terrorist operations on your territory or we will. For example, Syria, with which we have regular diplomatic relations, still hosts over a dozen terrorist groups. So does Lebanon. This must stop--or be stopped.

Under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, the U.S. is fully justified in taking the most stringent actions in self-defense. The U.S. should make clear that it welcomes the assistance of any country in our military operations. But we must avoid a mindless search for an international "consensus" for our actions. Today, many nations are expressing support and understanding for America's wounds. Tomorrow, we will know who our true friends are.

Mr. Arafat and his colleagues have much to answer for. Through their controlled media, the Palestinians and even some of our "moderate" Arab friends have spewed out anti-American hatred with impunity for years. They have created an environment that made possible the spectacle of schoolchildren in Gaza cheering the news of the American tragedies. That has to stop if our friends and Mr. Arafat expect a single additional dollar of American aid.

Terrorists are weak and seek to undermine our country through their atrocities. We must be strong, and show the world the magnificent resilience of American society. As before in our history, we can prove that the U.S. can conduct a successful war while preserving our fundamental liberties and way of life.

Mr. Bremer, former chairman of the National Commission on Terrorism, is senior advisor on political and emerging risks for Marsh McLennan Cos. Copyright 2001 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

PLUS READERS COMMENTS FROM THE SAME PAGE Low-Tech Terrorists Are Hard to Stop Frank Holloway - West Bloomfield, Mich. My problem with the concept of waging "total war" on our enemies is not that I disagree with the idea on any moral grounds. Indeed, I agree that this attack was like nothing that has come before, and our response should be the same.

The problem is that I don't know if people have thought out the full consequences of what they're advocating. Let's say, for example, that the most widely discussed scenario proves true: Osama bin Laden planned the attack, and the Taliban, while not involved in the planning, provided him safe harbor. Do we declare war on Afghanistan? What is our goal? To capture bin Laden? Chasing a single man around a hostile country worked so well in Somalia. Or do we invade Afghanistan and topple the Taliban? Perhaps we could get logistical advice from some former Soviet generals.

Mr. Bremer also suggest, echoing many, that, "This time the terrorists and their supporters must be crushed." The fallacy that we have suffered this devastating tragedy because we did not respond sufficiently in the past, or because we had the means but not the will, is a very dangerous one. Look at Israel. They most certainly have the will to eliminate terrorists, and unlike us, they know where most of those terrorists are. Yet they still have not figured out a way to crush them. Terrorism keeps happening because, well, it's very difficult to stop. Tuesday's attack, with its reliance on low-tech items such as plastic knives, razorblades, and planes as guided missiles, only underscores that fact.

So what's the answer? I don't know, and neither do any of the pundits spouting bellicosity all over the airwaves. And what's even scarier is that there may not be an answer. We may take out individual terrorists, but we will likely never "crush" terrorism. We may figure out ways to prevent an attack like this from happening again. But will we figure out how to prevent all the attacks that are not like this?

No One Was Checking for Box Cutters Lawrence Fossi - Houston I keep hearing there was a stunning failure of airport security, but do not understand why this is so. It sounds as if none of the hijackers was carrying any weapon that airport security could reasonably be expected to detect. In effect, they managed to kill 5,000 people armed only with cardboard box cutters.

Dumb reaction: More airport security checks, more delays, more inconvenience for all Americans.

Smart reaction: Target particular people for especially intense security. (Yes, some would call this "racial profiling," politically incorrect, but most certainly necessary.)

A Few Cities I Wouldn't Want to Live In Thornton Sanders - Charlottesville, Va. Just one minor criticism: The message to states which provide safe harbor or support terrorist organizations should not be that "If you do not destroy them, we will." It should be that "If you do not destroy them, we will destroy you and them." It is not improbable that before our war against terrorism is over we will have to wipe Khartoum, Kabul, Teheran, Baghdad, Damascus, or Aden off the face of the earth with nuclear ICBMs to get this point across to the leaders of certain Arab dictatorships in the middle east. That possibility will have to be put into the minds of these dictators before they will take us seriously.

Thugs Can't Be Appeased Ron Lee - Leawood, Kan. The article was well received until the clause "if our friends and Yasser Arafat expect a single additional dollar of American aid." Mr. Bremmer, have you not learned anything from Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler?

Arabist appeasement such as providing Egypt and the Palestinian Authority with American aid, criticizing allies for counter- terrorists defense measures as "excessive" (read: Colin Powell's criticism of Israel), and our defense of a toppling Saudi monarchy which continues to allow the bin Laden family to operate their businesses and funnel their monies to Osama bin Laden while at the same time thwarting our attempts to investigate and take actions against terrorist activities directed to our military personnel (read: bombing of the barracks) are futile. The Hitlers, Mussolinis, Stalins, Arafats, Husseins and bin Ladens cannot be appeased. They only come back with greater demands and more outlandish acts.

It is time for our leaders to stop grandstanding and show backbone. At least Reagan and Thatcher had the guts to move against Qaddafi (while flying around the airspace of the appeasing French). It is time to rescind President's Ford executive order hampering legitimate assassinations in our national interest as well as discrediting Senator Churches committee report which set the stage for John Deutsche's emasculating directives. And lastly, it is time for commentators such as yourself to stop advocating appeasement of Mr. Arafat through financial support.

-- Rich Marsh (, September 14, 2001.

Just the beginning? - by Dr. Thomas Sowell

While the casualties in the terrorist attacks are expected to run into the tens of thousands, in a larger sense the casualties run into the millions because we are all affected now and will be as long as we live. People from all over the country have kept the phone lines jammed with calls to New York and Washington, trying to find out if their family and friends are all right.

People far from the scene are nevertheless connected to it, one way or another. Two of my friends in New York witnessed the toppling of the World Trade Center. One was taking her children to school not too far from the explosion -- indeed, not far enough. When she returned to a street that she had just left, there was a woman who had been struck by flying debris and who was bleeding profusely, right where my friend had been standing just minutes before.

The angry reactions of the public make more sense than some of the words coming out of the government. Secretary of State Colin Powell said that what happened was a "tragedy." No! Bubonic plague was a tragedy but Pearl Harbor was an outrage. Bubonic plague caused more deaths, but it was something that just happened, while the Japanese government deliberately chose to attack Pearl Harbor. Another word out of Washington that strikes a false note is that we want to bring those responsible to "justice."

This is not a law and order issue. This was an act of war. When Pearl Harbor was bombed, nobody talked about bringing the Japanese pilots or even their commanders to justice. We declared war on Japan. It so happened that, a couple of years later, the navy learned that Admiral Yamamoto, who had planned the attack on Pearl Harbor, was in the air on a tour of his bases and they sent up some fighter planes that shot down the plane that was carrying him. But nobody talked about ending the war against Japan, just because the individual responsible for bombing Pearl Harbor had gotten justice.

Make no mistake about it. People around the world are watching to see what the American government does in the wake of this terrorist attack. Not what it says, but what it does. There are nations out there with all sorts of weapons of mass destruction who have held back on using them against us for fear of what the retaliation would be. John F. Kennedy said it best: "We dare not tempt them with weakness."

As a veteran of the Second World War, President Kennedy knew the high price paid in lives for the weakness and waffling of the western democracies in the years leading up to that war. They were attacked by countries that knew that the West had greater military potential, but doubted their will to use it. That is clearly the assumption of terrorist organizations and the countries that grant such organizations shelter and financial support.

No matter what we do now, there will undoubtedly be further acts of terrorism against the United States. Whoever planned this well- coordinated attack has obviously thought things through very thoroughly, so it is unlikely that the prospect of retaliation was left out of his calculations. A strong military response by the American government would then provide the terrorists with an excuse for a "retaliation" of their own, perhaps even more horrific, escalating the conflict and mobilizing the kinds of people in the Middle East who are already dancing in the streets for joy at the sight of the destruction of the World Trade Center.

No doubt any further acts of terror after the administration's response will be blamed on that response, even though such terrorist acts were probably already planned before the administration did anything. But escaping blame is a major preoccupation in Washington, so the response may be inadequate, for fear of being considered excessive by "world opinion." But when members of your family are dying, you don't worry about what the neighbors will say.

It is still early days and the unfortunate words of Secretary of State Powell may yet turn out to be just slips of the tongue. It may also turn out that President Bush will make his own decisions on his own terms, regardless of what anybody else has said. He has rejected the advice of Beltway denizens in the media and politics before and may do it again. He faces a greater challenge than any other president has faced since the Cuban missile crisis. When it is all over, we will know a lot more about what he is made of. And the world will know a lot more about what Americans are made of, for better or worse.

-- Rich Marsh (, September 14, 2001.

War, Not to Court By Charles Krauthammer Wednesday, September 12, 2001; Page A29

This is not crime. This is war. One of the reasons there are terrorists out there capable and audacious enough to carry out the deadliest attack on the United States in its history is that, while they have declared war on us, we have in the past responded (with the exception of a few useless cruise missile attacks on empty tents in the desert) by issuing subpoenas.

Secretary of State Colin Powell's first reaction to the day of infamy was to pledge to "bring those responsible to justice." This is exactly wrong. Franklin Roosevelt did not respond to Pearl Harbor by pledging to bring the commander of Japanese naval aviation to justice. He pledged to bring Japan to its knees.

You bring criminals to justice; you rain destruction on combatants. This is a fundamental distinction that can no longer be avoided. The bombings of Sept. 11, 2001, must mark a turning point. War was long ago declared on us. Until we declare war in return, we will have thousands of more innocent victims.

We no longer have to search for a name for the post-Cold War era. It will henceforth be known as the age of terrorism. Organized terror has shown what it can do: execute the single greatest massacre in American history, shut down the greatest power on the globe and send its leaders into underground shelters. All this, without even resorting to chemical, biological or nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

This is a formidable enemy. To dismiss it as a bunch of cowards perpetrating senseless acts of violence is complacent nonsense. People willing to kill thousands of innocents while they kill themselves are not cowards. They are deadly, vicious warriors and need to be treated as such. Nor are their acts of violence senseless. They have a very specific aim: to avenge alleged historical wrongs and to bring the great American satan to its knees.

Nor is the enemy faceless or mysterious. We do not know for sure who gave the final order but we know what movement it comes from. The enemy has identified itself in public and openly. Our delicate sensibilities have prevented us from pronouncing its name.

Its name is radical Islam. Not Islam as practiced peacefully by millions of the faithful around the world. But a specific fringe political movement, dedicated to imposing its fanatical ideology on its own societies and destroying the society of its enemies, the greatest of which is the United States.

Israel, too, is an affront to radical Islam, and thus of course must be eradicated. But it is the smallest of fish. The heart of the beast -- with its military in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey and the Persian Gulf; with a culture that "corrupts" Islamic youth; with an economy and technology that dominate the world -- is the United States. That is why we were struck so savagely.

How do we know? Who else trains cadres of fanatical suicide murderers who go to their deaths joyfully? And the average terrorist does not coordinate four hijackings within one hour. Nor fly a plane into the tiny silhouette of a single building. For that you need skilled pilots seeking martyrdom. That is not a large pool to draw from.

These are the shock troops of the enemy. And the enemy has many branches. Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Israel, the Osama bin Laden organization headquartered in Afghanistan, and various Arab "liberation fronts" based in Damascus. And then there are the governments: Iran, Iraq, Syria and Libya among them. Which one was responsible? We will find out soon enough.

But when we do, there should be no talk of bringing these people to "swift justice," as Karen Hughes dismayingly promised mid- afternoon yesterday. An open act of war demands a military response, not a judicial one.

Military response against whom? It is absurd to make war on the individuals who send these people. The terrorists cannot exist in a vacuum. They need a territorial base of sovereign protection. For 30 years we have avoided this truth. If bin Laden was behind this, then Afghanistan is our enemy. Any country that harbors and protects him is our enemy. We must carry their war to them.

We should seriously consider a congressional declaration of war. That convention seems quaint, unused since World War II. But there are two virtues to declaring war: It announces our seriousness both to our people and to the enemy, and it gives us certain rights as belligerents (of blockade, for example).

The "long peace" is over. We sought this war no more than we sought war with Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan or Cold War with the Soviet Union. But when war was pressed upon the greatest generation, it rose to the challenge. The question is: Will we?

2001 The Washington Post Company

-- Rich Marsh (, September 14, 2001.

In the immediate aftermath of yesterday's terrorist attacks, there has been much dithering about an appropriate response.

Clearly, if the attacks were sponsored by a national government, we should declare war. And our war objective ought to be to depose the enemy government and install a peaceful and democratic one.

If the attacks were conducted by a sub-national group or individuals, we should still declare war. There is plenty of precedent for this in early 19th century U.S. history. Congress several times authorized military action against what we would now call sub-state actors (such as the Barbary pirates). The Constitution (Article I, Section 8) explicitly authorizes Congress to grant letters of marque and reprisal, as well as the authority to define and punish "offenses against the law of nations" partly to deal with brigands. In this case, the war objective ought to be to destroy the enemy's ability to conduct further attacks.

It does not matter if the attackers are unidentified. It is perfectly permissible (and legal) for Congress to declare war on the perpetrators and have them identified definitively later by the commander in chief.

President Bush should ask for such a declaration of war today. It would legitimize and galvanize the inevitable American reprisal.



-- Rich Marsh (, September 14, 2001.

All these calls for "all out war" seem appropriate on their face, in view of the circumstances. But it must not be forgotten that a major military strike can have unpredictable cascading effects that could easily bring on the unthinkable --- an apocalypic war involving nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction. And such a war would have no winner.

It must be kept in mind that the objective of this war is to preserve civilization, not destroy it. The tactics used must keep this objective in mind, and not run an undue risk of a counterproductive end result.

-- Robert Riggs (, September 14, 2001.

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