Along the Tracks

Thursday, July 14, 2005

From this week's column

Another Bean Days in the kettle … congratulations to the village of Montpelier, the businesses and all the volunteers who kept up the string of successful events.

The Professor is tired of the heat: “It has been noted that even I sweat at times like this – along with a few others.”

The London terrorist attack is reminder: We are at war. Unfortunately, too many on our own side do not wish for us to act like we are at war.

The entire Guantanamo detention center debate is symbolic of the opinion in some circles that this War on Terrorism is not a “real” war. Hopefully, Thursday’s attack cured them of this delusion.If indeed we can set aside the debate over the war’s existence, and focus instead on winning, much of the squeamishness over the nasty business of fighting one’s enemies may subside. Then we can consider some additional steps which might help in the battle.

1. Infiltrate the enemy to destroy him. I speak not of espionage so much as sabotage and assassination. Yes, this is rough stuff, but Thursday has proven once again how necessary it is to disrupt enemy plans. Success at infiltration has been hard to come by - however, I do have an idea.

Instead of trying to get our people inside al-Qaeda and its affiliates or buying off informants already connected to the group, why not send its own tried-and-true members off to do our dirty work? How, you ask? Technology. We tag and collar wild animals with transmitters, then follow them by satellite all over oceans, jungles and tundra. We could do precisely the same with some captured al-Qaeda members. Simply implant a homing device while they are “asleep,” then track their movements. Eventually, they’ll meet up with some of their comrades in murder. Once we have a good fix on their meeting places, we could send in commandos – or just bomb them to bits.

2. Try, convict and execute (where possible) terrorists caught on the battlefield. My biggest problem with Guantanamo and the other detention centers run by the U.S. military is certainly not with prisoner treatment. My objection concerns the lack of any due process.

Don’t get me wrong – I recognize these guys didn’t just wander into a firefight in the Hindu Kush mountains or stop at a bomb shop in Fallujah for an innocent game of cards. They’re murderers or murderers-in-preparation and deserve a murderer’s fate. So let’s give it to them.

The Bush administration, by holding all these dregs of the world for months and years without taking legal action, has invited much of the criticism it is now receiving – even if the comments are over the top. Instead, we should set up the long-promised military tribunals and start trying these guys.

Keeping these scumbags in cold (or tropical, as the case may be) storage only allows the hand-wringing crowd time to plead for their release. Sure, there may be a few who have legitimate intelligence value – hang on to those. Release a few carrying some extra baggage (see point #1). The rest, upon conviction, should be executed.

3. Put fear in the heart of the enemy. We may well be doing some of this, behind the scenes, already. We need to do it more. America, Great Britain and our other allies have superbly trained and capable special forces and intelligence units. These should be applied directly to al-Qaeda cells in Iraq, Afghanistan and perhaps in other places where the terrorists lurk – when necessary, even without the host country’s consent. These should be “killer” units, which identify cells, slip in and kill their members, then slip away. Word would rapidly spread that involvement with al-Qaeda can bring sudden death in the night without the “glory” of “martyrdom operations” – suicide attacks, to you and I. The fear and suspicion inside the terrorist groups would degrade their ability to plan, communicate and conduct attacks – just what we want to happen.

I know, I know – this is all pretty nasty. This is also war. None of these steps comes close to the level of destruction America and her allies were willing to deliver to be victorious in World War II. Civilians would remain out of bounds as targets – although in this war, as in all wars, civilians are killed every day. Yet we would be much more focused on killing those who train to kill us. Breaking up the links which keep the terrorist network together increases our safety and provides the breathing room Muslim nations need to walk the path toward freedom and democracy themselves. And ultimately, it is the Muslim world which must disown violent extremism and march toward a peaceful future.

Backhanded Compliment of the Week: “Well, your tomatoes may have dried up and died, but at least there aren’t any weeds either.”

Regular readers know I have preached against one-party rule in Columbus for years. The scandals we are seeing were, frankly, inevitable as long as the Democrats were incapable of fielding viable statewide and legislative candidates.Unfortunately, the scandals have arrived – and the Democrats still have no vision or agenda for Ohio, other than a collection of special interest giveaways.

Next year’s governor’s race is an opportunity the Dems simply can’t afford to miss.

Male Proverb #197: “The fish start biting shortly after the mosquitoes.”

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