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'Fighting Terrorism' words at work.

In cooperation with the National Conference of Editorial Writers, an annual seminar for editorialists is presented in early December by the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. Each year, the topic is different, and this year's focused on "Fighting Terrorism." Included was a trip to the Pentagon to visit the September 11 crash site and a briefing with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

The material was so good that it seemed impossible to convey the valuable information provided by more than a dozen speakers in a single article. So The Masthead invited participants to send in editorials and columns to demonstrate how they used the knowledge they gained. Excerpts follow.

BILL McKENZIE

Associate editor and columnist, The Dallas Morning News

McKenzie used what he learned at the seminar to enrich his writing on topics he would have been editorializing about anyway. Contact him at wmckenzie@dallasnews.com

Keep it prudent: Washington must not forget budget discipline

Editorial, December 12

Americans should not consider the Senate unpatriotic for beating back an attempt last week by Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd to add $15 billion to a $20 billion homeland spending bill. To the contrary The Senate showed courage in saying "no" to the extra funds.

Legislators must remain vigilant over the next several months, too. As Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas, told this editorial page last week, "We are in the mind-set of the sky's the limit."

After September 11, legitimate reasons have arisen to increase spending in areas that make our land more secure. But the temptation to cram in unnecessary projects in the name of national security will increase.

Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley put a fine point on this problem last week during a Knight Center conference with editorial writers at the University of Maryland. The Democrat noted that Maryland did not need the $10 million Sen. Byrd proposed to create a health information network across the state. He said that Baltimore, Maryland's largest city, already has a network to monitor trends that alert officials to biological threats.

One reason Congress must guard against such excesses is that the budget surplus projected for the next decade has vanished. Deficit spending has returned.

The fact that the Bush administration will have to ask Congress to raise the debt ceiling next year poignantly drives home this reality. Instead of retiring debt, as was envisioned earlier this year, we now must make room for more of it.

One way Congress could keep spending prudent is to put honest, firm caps on "discretionary spending" next year. Earlier this year. lawmakers attempted to revive spending limits on domestic and defense programs. But legislators blew past them in responding to September 11. Democratic Rep. Charles Stenholm of Abilene correctly suggests Congress should consider new caps for the 2003 budget.

The nation needs programs that will head it in the right direction. But we also need a new dose of fiscal prudence.

Legislators must remember that point over the next several months. The terrorism threat is real. So too are the perils of adding needlessly to the rising deficit.

DAVID KLEMENT

Editorial page editor, The Bradenton Herald

In his introduction to a series of editorials, Klement summarizes the breadth and depth offered to the seminar participants. He also wrote columns, one of which is excerpted below. Contact him at dklement@bradentonherald.com

Fighting terrorism - realities of the new war: Worst still ahead

December 27

We haven't seen anything yet. The potential for far worse tragedy than September 11 is very real, and the task ahead of the United States is more daunting than any of us imagine.

That is the sobering message from a terrorism short course attended by the Herald, and it is one we will attempt to share with readers in depth over the next eight days. The course, held December 5-7 at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism, left us more fearful than ever for the future in the terrorism war -- but with new appreciation for the work that is under way on many fronts to win it.

Here is the schedule for the terrorism reports:

* The nuclear threat. From "dirty bombs" of radioactive wastes detonated by conventional explosives, to "suitcase bombs" smuggled into the country by ship, to the hijacking and firing of a Russian missile by terrorists, to the hacking into America's nuclear launch system, nuclear terrorism is a "fairly alarming" threat.

* The bioterrorism threat. As worrisome as the nuclear threat is, bioterrorism -- the spread of deadly diseases such as anthrax, smallpox, pneumonic plague, and Ebola -- has even greater potential because of its relative ease of manufacture and transport, difficulty to detect, and ability to inflict pandemic casualties and mass panic. The United States is grossly unprepared to deal with the "profound danger" of this terrorism mode.

* Homeland security: dealing with terrorism on the local front. Baltimore, a city at the apex of the September 11 "terrorism triangle" between Washington and New York, realizes it can't walt for the federal government to come to its rescue on security matters. From setting up its own intelligence unit to creating a citywide vulnerability assessment plan, Baltimore offers insights into the kind of proactive stance local government should be taking in the war on terrorism. Can't happen in the "heartland"? So we thought before Okiahoma City.

* Remodeling the military. The buzzword in the Pentagon is "transformation" -- the ongoing effort to turn our 20th-century military machine, one that even a two-centuries-dead general like Napoleon Bonaparte would recognize if he were to come back to the front, into a 21st-century fighting force more suitable for the Buck Rogers era.

* History's lessons. Insights from the author of "the book' that everyone from President Bush on down is reading to see what, if anything, Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War can teach us about the war on terrorism. (The author and book: Jay Winik, April 1865: The Month That Saved America)

Pentagon wounds healing quickly -- except in the mind

Column, December 19

It is business as usual at the Pentagon these days. That's It since war is the usual business of this unique office complex, and people here are just too busy to let a terrorist attack shut them down. Making war against terrorism, of course.

At least that is my impression after a tour of the Pentagon "Ground Zero." No doubt there are deep psychic scars in the minds of many Pentagon workers from the September 11 terrorist attack, visible ....

As for the physical evidence on the building's exterior, well, if you had been on Mars for the last three months and saw the west side of the Pentagon today you would think only that it is being remodeled. Essentially, it is a construction project. Any evidence of sheared-off walls and charred, collapsed roofs has been gone since November 19. What one sees (December 6) is a plywood- and scaffold-enclosed U-shape cut into 300 feet of the 900-foot-wide western facade of the Pentagon, three of its five rings deep. Some 700 construction workers clamber through the building site in a 24-7 operation, repairing damaged offices in the 1.2 million square feet of the building that suffered damage and preparing the site for the 400,000 square feet that must be rebuilt.

Already concrete has been poured for some of the footers, and soon new walls of Indiana limestone will start to rise. The goal of holding the rededication ceremony in just nine months seems entirely realistic, given the building's symbolism and the determination one senses throughout the vast complex. Of course, there's deep symbolism in the scheduled date for the rededication: September 11, 2002. Exactly 12 months from hell on earth to complete restoration. Take that, Osama bin Laden.

LARRY CORNIES

Editor, the London Free Press, Canada

Cornies used material from the seminar to write an essay for the paper's Viewpoint section. He shared points from sessions made by defense scholar Bruce Blair and Yonah Alexander, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, medical anthropologist Monica Schoch-Spana, and others as a buildup to his recommendations for how Canada should respond to the war on terrorism. Contact Cornies at lcornies@lfpress.com

War on Terror

Column, December 15

If the experts are right, Canada's contribution to the war on terrorism can and should take many forms. But a proper response requires a clearer definition of objectives at many levels, from the federal government to local municipalities.

Planning that response must account for the fact the fight will be a lengthy, sustained one. Here are some starting points.

* Canada's military strength must be renewed to the point it possesses the personnel and equipment for swift and effective search-and-rescue operations, as well as the light armour required for humanitarian assistance, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding assignments abroad. Canadians are still viewed in the global community as highly skilled mediators and power brokers who see solutions and paths to peace where others cannot.

A buildup of our conventional fire power in the context of NATO and the campaign by the U.S. to extend itself to hyperpower status, as evidenced, however, makes little sense.

* Intelligence-gathering, aided by investments in our country's burgeoning high-tech sector, is likely Canada's best contribution to the security of North America -- and for that matter, NATO -- in light of emerging terrorist threats. Finance Minister Martin did well in devoting new resources to intelligence and policing in this week's budget, but probably overspent on and overemphasized airline security Canada is every bit as vulnerable, experts say, at its ports, docks, canals, lakes, and seaways. It's crucial, they say, that constant surveillance be on the lookout for "hot" containers that may arrive at our shores via ships and other means of transport. Can anyone really estimate the effect of the detonation of a radiological weapon hidden in a ship's container in, say, the Detroit River or any other crucial link in the Great Lakes system?

* Diplomacy and mediation have long been a Canadian forte. As the nation situated directly between the U.S. and Russia, Canada should be at the forefront of international efforts to assist the old Soviet states in containing their nuclear materials. Military brass in both countries will instinctively distrust each other, as well as political leaders whose aim it is to transform military structures to meet new threats. There is likely a role for Canada in catalyzing the transformation process, directing the defences of the U.S., Russia, and other western nations at new threats in the post-Cold War world.

* Regarding missile defence, Canada should use whatever influence it has in trying to steer the U.S. Bush administration away from heavy investment in national missile defence system. The Bush administration's scuttling of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty could provoke a new arms race with China. At a time when asymmetrical forms of terrorism are emerging as our greatest threats, the extension of American dominance in the world on the missile front drains precious resources from more pressing domestic and multilateral challenges.

* Security of the U.S.-Canada border, as well as its easy transit, is crucial for both countries. While in Washington concern is focused on its porousness, which allows potential terrorists easy access to American soil, Canada must make the point it's a two-way street. We're not pleased at the prospect of certain terrorist or criminal elements, already resident in the U.S., passing easily into Canada, along with handguns and weaponry. Again, this week saw some progress on this front, with a new agreement on objectives....

* Parliament must remain vigilant on the issue of abuses of power by government in the name of fighting terrorism. The recently passed Bill C-36 granted government sweeping powers of arrest, detention, and seizure, though it has sunset clause. Bill C-42, newly introduced, would greatly enhance the powers of individual ministers and require little reporting to Parliament. While civil liberties, as we've known them, must be encroached somewhat in the war on error, our MPs must stay attuned to the potential for abuse -- and the need to amend existing law.

* Canada's health-care system is even more poorly equipped to deal with bioterror than America's. As the fight goes on between Ottawa and the provinces as to who s paying or not paying their fair share of a system that is falling into disrepair, Canada is being left more and more vulnerable to biological terrorism. It is prudent for both governments to address this issue -- and there's never been a better time to reinvest in the system, not only because Canadians have always taken pride in it, but also because the country's hospitals, medical researchers, doctors, and nurses could one day find themselves on the front lines of a dreadful war.

* Finally, provincial and municipal governments and their health agencies need to sharpen their awareness of possible terrorist threats and rework emergency response plans to deal with new possibilities. No Canadian city is even contemplating what some American cities, such as Baltimore, now consider prudent planning and prevention. Regardless of how quickly the U.S. meets its objectives in Afghanistan, the war on terror will be long and will emerge on a variety of fronts. Only by careful consideration of its options, consultation with its allies, and preparation of its people can Canada hope to provide an effective -- and essentially Canadian -- response.

MINDY CAMERON

Freelance columnist, Sandpoint, Idaho

Cameron, who recently retired as editorial page editor of the Seattle Times, used material for her new column. Contact her at mindycameron@ earthlink.net

What about peace?

December 16

Yonah Alexander fumbled with his notes, randomly pulling out pictures and outlines to project onto the large screen. Despite the appearance of a bumbling professor with too much to say and too little time to say it, by the end of the hour his message was clear:

Terrorism will be with us for a long time; the only antidote is "education, education, education."

Yonah Alexander knows what he is talking about. For decades he has been interviewing terrorists around the world. His resume is a long list of academic and think tank positions and numerous publications.

Currently he is a senior fellow at the Potomac Institute and director of its International Center for Terrorism Studies.

"There is no end to the imagination of a terrorist," he said, predicting the next wave of terrorism would be cyberterror.

"we're not ready," Alexander said. "We should not be surprised [by acts of terrorists],but we are.

As Alexander shuffled his papers earlier this month in a conference room near Washington D.C., eight years of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians were rapidly unraveling. Escalating violence in the Mideast punctuated his bleak view of diplomatic efforts when dealing with terrorists.

Diplomacy needs a partner; it is based on compromise. Terrorists are extremists and extremists don't compromise.

"The only way to deal with terrorists is to take the war to them." he said.

Recent exchanges with peace activists and others committed to the ethic of nonviolence were much on my mind as I attended a conference on terrorism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism.

Several times I asked speakers what advice they had for Americans with deep roots in the peace movement.

"This is not their time," responded Jay Winik, author of April 1865: The Month that Saved America. "They will have another time in history when they will play an important role," he said. "We will need their voice."...

Alexander's response to my question:

Focus on the long-term goal: "Education, education, education." Use diplomacy to achieve new education goals in parts of the world where much of what now passes for schooling is a lesson in hatred....

In the wake of September 11, it is blatant self-interest for the developed world, led by the United States, to promote -- and help finance -- basic education in countries where it is lacking. It is at least as important to our national defense as building more B-2 bombers.
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Publication:The Masthead
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Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2002
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