Law Review: Bringing terrorists to justice easier said than done |

Law Review: Bringing terrorists to justice easier said than done

The terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. continue to dominate our American psyche. It’s like a bad dream. Our daily personal trials have become trivial, yet life goes on.

President Bush gave the speech of his life. But how do we bring justice to the terrorists and the countries that support them? Cutting terrorists off from their international bank accounts works, but that’s just a start.

I realize I should “stick with my day job,” but it seems to me that we must fight this battle on three fronts.

We must protect our country at home with a heightened awareness of the power and ruthless tactics of terrorists. Our lives have changed. We must find a balance between the personal freedoms we enjoy and the need to protect ourselves from icy-hearted killers – who murder in the name of religion. They are the worst kind.

Second, we must do whatever it takes to kill or capture those responsible for these terrorist attacks and punish the governments or countries that clearly support them. We must treat terrorists as the international criminals they are. Our stern warnings following the American Embassy bombing and U.S.S. Cole attack are no deterrence.

As everyone knows, bringing terrorists to justice is easier said than done. Osama bin Laden is pining for us to start a war against Islamic countries, justifying and rallying his “holy war.”

America has the resolution and will do the job, but we must build a coalition of support against terrorism.

The third area of consideration, of which I have seen very little written, is to determine the cause of the hatred of the U.S. and the West. We should not negotiate with terrorists or try and understand their fanatical beliefs, but America is not liked by millions of people around the world, and that’s a problem. We cannot fight half the world.

I read one column entitled “They Hate Us for Our Freedom.” It is not that simple. The U.S. has a heavy hand in international policy. We’ve historically supported the right-wing dictators in many Latin America, South American, Eastern European and African countries. We propped up the Shah of Iran who was abusive to his own countrymen, now we’re ready to support the leader of Pakistan for use of Pakistan airfields, which will assure his demise, and another generation of Pakistani’s hating Americans.

The CIA supported Osama bin Laden, helping defeat the Soviets. Ronald Reagan called his troops “freedom fighters.” The Soviets learned, the hard way, the power of freedom fighters who believe their poverty and atrocities will be rewarded in paradise.

I realize the risk in offering an opinion on U.S. foreign policy, but taking out the terrorists will not alone bring peace to our country and the world (although it is a good start). Our new enemy is a many-headed serpent.

We face one of the most complicated military questions in history.

It is important for all of us to understand and discuss what has happened to our country, and to reevaluate our role in the world.

Landing on Utah Beach seemed so much easier.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter/Simon, with offices in Truckee and Reno. He may be reached at or at the firm’s Web site

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