- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 16, 2001

The world watches and waits

During these next few days and weeks of somber mourning for our dead, it is important that Americans around the country show their courage, their resolution and their patriotism in the face of great human tragedy and suffering.
I call on every citizen in Washington, and citizens everywhere, to raise the U.S. flag. Let it fly proudly over your homes, your streets, your cars and your places of work. Through this simple gesture of solidarity, we will show the people of every nation that America remains the brightest beacon of freedom and opportunity in a sometimes dark and inhuman world.

GREG STEWART
Raleigh, N.C.



What occurred on Tuesday in the United States takes place every day in Israel, albeit on a smaller scale.
Among many Palestinians, there is open jubilation at the carnage in the United States. You are free to draw your own conclusions.

YOAV J. TENEMBAUM
Tel Aviv



I live in New Zealand and awoke Tuesday to hear the terrible news of the devastation in New York City and Washington. I am not alone when I say that the hearts of all New Zealanders go out to America, your families, friends and colleagues. You are so lucky that your country and people are so strong. These incidents will not break you; they will make you even stronger.
Mine along with many thousands of Kiwis are praying for you at this time.

KELLY SCOTT
Stratford, New Zealand



Please allow me to condemn Tuesday's terrorist attack as a crime against humanity and express my regret for this unprecedented terrorism against New York and Washington.
I believe that the U.S. response will be strong and efficient.

ROBERT SKOPEC
Bratislava, Slovakia



This American tragedy could easily have been prevented simply by installing impenetrable steel bulkheads between the cockpits and passenger compartments of commercial airplanes. I have spoken to pilots who tell me there is no reason there must be any kind of communication between the cockpit and the rest of the airplane. What I cannot understand is why, after all of the air hijackings of the past 40 years, planes have not been constructed to completely isolate the cockpits from potential intruders. I also cannot understand why, after this catastrophe, I have not heard one word mentioned about this simple, feasible solution that could definitively prevent similar events in the future.

JAMES N. FORDHAM
Waynesboro, Va.



I hope that we do not make the mistake of focusing exclusively on the specific perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks. The enemy is terrorism in all its forms.
We may be able to clearly identify the dozens or scores of individuals directly responsible along with their leader or leaders. We may be able to pinpoint the nation or nations that collaborated or condoned their acts.
We will fail in our responsibility to ourselves and our posterity, however, if we act only against these parties. Terrorism is like the Hydra of Greek mythology. Each time a head is cut off, two grow back. We must strike at the root causes.
We will never be able to rid the Earth of the myriad ills that feed the anger, jealousy and fear that underlie terrorism. We can, and we must, find a way to root out the "loopholes" that give terrorists refuge.
All terrorists. We owe nothing less than that to our dead.

DAVID A. SMITH
Berwyn Heights



As a veteran of numerous wars, revolutions, civil wars and even terrorist incidents over more than 30 years, I believe that a formal declaration of war against international terrorism and its sponsors by the U.S. Congress is needed. This would provide the nation with the legal and moral authority required to adequately address the situation facing America and the civilized world.
A declaration of war provides focus, direction, purpose and an allocation of resources and methods that a congressional resolution, however heartfelt, will not.
Under a declaration of war, there are numerous options that are open to U.S. military and intelligence services that can affect how we attack — literally and figuratively — organizations, individuals and nation-states that harbor or support terrorists and their activities. It also serves notice that we are serious this time and that our resolve extends to the fullest expression of national purpose our Constitution provides.
As someone who has lost friends and associates in the bombings of U.S. embassies in Beirut and Kenya, the Marine barracks in Lebanon, and the kidnappings of Americans in the 1980s, I know that we have been "at war" with the forces of evil for more than 30 years. With Tuesday's attacks against the United States, the nature of that warfare has shifted to such a significant degree that we must adjust the rules by which we operate.
A formal declaration of war is the best way to do that. While we may not yet have — nor perhaps ever have — a specific nation-state to declare war against, as we did after Pearl Harbor, the shadowy nature of terrorism and the identities of the belligerents need not deter such a declaration. The face of war has changed, and so must we. Some old-fashioned resolve is not out of order.

CHIP BECK
Arlington

The writer is a former CIA special operations officer with counter-terrorism experience.

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We should debate whether anti-missile defensive shields — which are expensive, unproven and geared to a 1950s Cold War attitude — are where we need to focus our minds and resources right now. We have allowed our intelligence services to decline, their morale and manpower to ebb, and their best minds to seek employment elsewhere. We do not need to fear a missile from a so-called rogue state as much as a small band of fanatics armed with knives and box-cutters, who must have left a trail that could have been picked up months ago. Is this not a wake-up call?

DENNIS A. GREENE
Jacksonville, Fla.



The talk about the need to find the culprits for yesterday's attack before we take action against terrorists is misguided. The attack was an act of war, and the United States needs to declare war on all terrorists who attack us and on all countries that harbor such terrorists.
It doesn't matter if the attack occurred yesterday or two years ago. Tuesday's attack was analogous to the attack on Pearl Harbor and should be met with the same resolve, resources and time that were devoted to World War II. The enemy is not faceless; the enemy has many faces, and we know where most of them live and work and what countries support them.
All terrorists against America and their patron countries must be included in our declaration of war. The resolve exists within our citizens, and I hope it will develop within our leaders.

CHRISTOPHER HARDIN
Columbia, Mo.



The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) failed tragically in its mission to ensure safe passage for America's air travelers. The typical government response to the incompetence of these "tombstone agencies" is to increase their budget. Normally, feckless bureaucrats see their empires expanded and their salaries ballooned as they move up the management pyramid. We shouldn't let this happen this time.
Airport security demands the strong hand of a true law-enforcement agency rather than a regulatory bureaucracy such as the FAA. The U.S. Marshals, the FBI, the Customs Department or a similar agency should assume control. Rather than being rewarded for failure, the FAA should be removed from security matters and limited to regulating air traffic and aircraft inspections.

ROBIN LORTER
Shawnee Mission, Kan.

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