- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 14, 2001

Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Republican, has introduced measures that would allow the Bush administration to hire personnel in the private sector to hunt down and capture Osama bin Laden and other terrorists sought in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks on U.S. soil.
One bill Mr. Paul is sponsoring, the "September 11 Marque and Reprisal Act," would direct Congress to authorize President Bush to specifically target bin Laden and his associates using nongovernment armed forces.
A letter of marque is written authority from a government to a private individual or group to seize the subjects of a foreign state and/or their property as retaliation for injuries they inflicted.
The Marque and Reprisal Act, which Mr. Paul introduced in the House Thursday, would amount to international bounty hunting. But the congressman and his staff eschew that term.
"We think it's on a little higher level than that," Mr. Paul said in a telephone interview yesterday.
Those participating in the search for the terrorists "would be professionals," Jeff Deist, Mr. Paul's spokesman, said Friday.
"Western intelligence in the Middle East is exceedingly limited, so we should avail ourselves of the assistance of those with better information to track, capture or kill bin Laden," said Mr. Paul.
Noting that Congress is giving Mr. Bush up to $40 billion to fight terrorism, the Texas lawmaker says he believes it would be wise to spend some of that money on the "marque and reprisal" approach, which would "create an incentive for people in Afghanistan or elsewhere to turn" over bin Laden and his followers to the United States.
Mr. Paul says the Constitution gives Congress the power to issue "letters of marque and reprisal when a precise declaration of war is impossible due to the vagueness of the enemy."
He said such letters were issued by U.S. presidents in the first half of the 19th century "when they were dealing with acts of piracy" on the high seas.
The second measure Mr. Paul introduced Thursday, the "Air Piracy Reprisal and Capture Act," would make that change in definition.
The Liberty Committee, a research center allied with Mr. Paul, examines the two new bills in a question-and-answer format on its Web site.
One question on the site asks whether it "isn't against customary international law to engage 'privateers' to use armed force on behalf of a nation."
The answer is no, the committee says.
"While it is true that the Declaration of Paris of 1854 abolished privateering, the United States did not subscribe to that declaration," on the grounds that relying solely on large armies and navies for her defense "would threaten her national prosperity and endanger the civil liberties of her people."
Another question asks why nongovernmental persons or entities are needed in the war on terrorism when the United States has such a strong military.
For the response, the Liberty Committee points out that the CIA has had a special Osama bin Laden unit since 1996. Despite repeated efforts targeting him, he remains at large.
"Conventional military power and tactics can't do the job of locating and capturing an enemy that hides among civilian populations, or in temporary and remote locations like the mountains of Afghanistan," the committee says.
Mr. Paul said he discussed his proposal Friday on the Fox News Channel, and it drew a very favorable response from viewers.
"We got a lot of calls from people saying, 'that makes a lot of sense,'" he said.
As for whether the House will back his plan, Mr. Paul said he will be sending out "Dear Colleague" letters about the bills tomorrow. "I think it would be a lot tougher to get this passed if this were an either-or situation" that is, if the bill sought to use private bounty hunters to replace the air strikes and other strategies that are currently being used against Afghanistan.
This would merely give Mr. Bush an additional tool, said Mr. Paul.
He said he already knows he has the support of one influential House member, Rep. Dan Burton, Indiana Republican and chairman of the Government Reform Committee.
"Dan Burton saw me on Fox and he told me later, 'Put me down. That sounds great,'" Mr. Paul said.

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