How do we punishthose terrorists?

Published 7:48 am Wednesday, March 26, 2003

By Staff
In the olden days when some fugitive was captured and officers needed to gain information, the physical torture method apparently proved to be quite adequate. Give a prisoner a few slaps and he gladly talks except for the dirty dozen. But officers had many ways to handle the situation. Sometimes the methods used appeared to be rather brutal, but dealing with rough criminals of itself is mean business.
Today the international code forbids the use of physical tactics in the effort to gain useful information. But there are ways which seem almost physical but which are considered legal under international law.
Already several terrorists have been captured, and at least two of them seem to rank high on the top echelon list. If we look at one prisoner named Khalid Sheik Mohammed, said to be third in line under bin Laden's setup, then what should the United States do with him? He is being charged with masterminding the Sept. 11 attack on the Twin Towers and on the Pentagon.
It will be so very easy to say that America should give him a fair trial and then execute him. We suspect that one day he will be executed. But trying him now and executing him in short order poses some problems that require deep thought. We read that today in Baghdad there are more than 100 American families living there. How about the safety of those families? Carrying out such punishment is not in the best interests of America. We might wonder what 100 families are doing in Iraq's Baghdad, but we might guess that the family heads have something to do with oil.
There are far more Muslims and Arabs in the USA than there are Americans in all of Iraq. Now that the bombing has begun, homes where Americans live will make just as potent targets as will homes of Iraqis.
Surely, this is a difficult problem and it is one without any surefire answer. But it just appears to us that the better part of wisdom dictates that we wait until war's end before engaging in the punishment of the guilty ones.
Before America goes too far in the discussion regarding punishment, it must be noted that Saddam Hussein vehemently denies that he is having any dealings with terrorists. He makes that claim with President Bush disputing what he says. We do not want to see a lot of killings under any circumstances. When the front line shooting ceases and we begin to talk about peace, then that will be the proper time to take captured terrorists to trial and proper punishment.
In today's affairs, there are far more tough questions than there are good answers. We as Americans talk of justice, but in reality we do not always use what constitutes that justice. We seriously doubt that there is any possible way to find justice for what has happened to date. But America will try.