Thursday, September 13, 2001

America Attacked

Bush and Co. rally
as crisis continues

The issue: The Bush administration
confronted Day Two of the crisis
caused by the terrorist attacks on
New York and Washington, D.C.

After a faltering start, President Bush and the senior officials of his administration pulled themselves together yesterday and sought to take charge of a still bewildered and increasingly angry nation.

The president emerged from a National Security Council meeting to tell the American people that the attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. were acts of war. "The American people need to know," he said, "we're facing a different enemy than we have ever faced." The president promised: "The United States of America will use all our resources to conquer this enemy."

The president was echoed as cabinet officers emerged to fan out over Washington, D.C. Secretary of State Colin Powell said: "We will find out who is responsible for this and they will pay for it." Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld asserted: "We are, in a sense, seeing the definition of a new battlefield." Attorney General John Ashcroft reported several confirmed facts, saying that the White House had been a target, and adding: "The Department of Justice has undertaken perhaps the most massive and intensive investigation ever conducted in America." The director of the FBI, Robert Mueller, reported that 4,000 special agents, 3,000 support people, and 400 laboratory specialists had been assigned to the investigation. The director of central intelligence, George Tenet, told CIA officers their job was "to run to ground a vicious foe."

In defining the Tuesday attacks as "acts of war," President Bush shifted ground from Tuesday night when he called them "acts of terrorism." The distinction is more than political rhetoric. Responding to an act of war means the nation can bring to bear all of its political, economic and military power and need only to identify the enemy and his allies to act.

In contrast, terrorism is a criminal offense requiring the capture of the alleged perpetrator, possibly extraditing him and his accomplices from a foreign country, gathering evidence that will stand up in court, and taking the accused to trial, a process that, even if successful, would require years and would probably do little to deter future acts of terrorism.

If the president is to persuade the nation, our adversaries, and the world that the United States is indeed resolved to remove this terrorist scourge, his next step should be an address to Congress with a request for a powerful resolution or a declaration of war.

Hawaii, federal rules
for air security differ

The issue: The federal Department
of Transportation announced new
airport security rules that are
less strict than Hawaii's.

NO state exceeds Hawaii's dependence on Americans traveling for vacation. Anything that affects those plans is felt, so changes in airport security must achieve a fragile balance. Security measures should reassure travelers that they will be safe but not be so onerous and time-consuming that they discourage people from undergoing airport procedures -- and from vacationing in Hawaii.

New FAA rules imposed in response to Tuesday's terrorism disallow check-ins at curbside or at hotels, ban all knives and other cutting instruments and require hand-held metal detector checks of passengers. Sky marshals will be aboard flights. In retrospect, the routine questioning of passengers by airline employees about whether they packed their own bags seems silly.

Identical security policies should be imposed at airports across the nation for reasons that go beyond the sensibility for consistency in national air transportation. The attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. turned American airports into the front line of a war against terrorists. Thus a seamless security system should exist throughout the country, with no weak links or unnecessarily strong ones. The best way to achieve a system operated with efficiency may be to put the federal government in charge.

Initial statements by state and federal officials raise questions about the consistency of the new airport rules. For example, state Department of Transportation spokeswoman Marilyn Kali told reporters that only ticketed passengers would be allowed inside Honolulu International Airport and that cars entering airport parking areas will be searched.

However, Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta announced that boarding areas alone would be reserved for passengers only. The federal rules allow nonpassengers to enter airport terminals, but they may not pass through screeners leading to boarding gates. He said FAA rules call for "closely monitoring vehicles near airport terminals." Those rules are far less severe than those described by Kali for Honolulu Airport.

Legally, Hawaii may adopt stricter standards than those required by the FAA. Indeed, minimum federal rules could result in a hodge-podg of security measures adopted by state and local airport authorities, all abiding by the rules in differing degrees.

Published by Oahu Publications Inc., a subsidiary of Black Press.

Don Kendall, President

John Flanagan, publisher and editor in chief 529-4748;
Frank Bridgewater, managing editor 529-4791;
Michael Rovner,
assistant managing editor 529-4768;
Lucy Young-Oda, assistant managing editor 529-4762;

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