Do you ever fear for your life when you board a plane? Ten or fifteen years ago most people would most likely say no. Today however, people have been changing their minds about terrorists. The bombings of Pam Am flight 103 and more recently the Oklahoma City Federal Building have put a new fear into the hearts of Americans. Terrorism is on the rise and our government needs to begin to crack down on it.
First, a review of some of the atrocities that have been experienced by Americans over the last few years:
* April, 1983: The U.
S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, was bombed, leaving 16
dead and more than 100 injured.
* October, 1983: The U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut was bombed, resulting in
* June 9, 1985: TWA Flight 847 was hijacked.
U.S. Navy diver Robert
Stethem, who was on board, was brutally murdered, his body dumped on the
* February, 1988: Marine Lt. Col. William Higgins-part of the United Nations
peacekeeping force in Lebanon-was kidnapped and later murdered.
* December, 1988: Pan Am Flight 103 was blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland,
with 270 killed.
* February, 1993: New York City’s World Trade Center was bombed by Islamic
extremists, leaving six dead and hundreds injured.
* March, 1995: American diplomatic personnel were murdered in a hail of
machine gun fire on the streets of Karachi, Pakistan.
(USA Today, Jan. 1996. Louis J.
Theses are only acts that were committed by groups outside the states. The death toll for incidents committed by people within our own borders is much higher. These are the reasons that America needs to start getting tough on terrorists and their acts of insanity.
Americans have historically enjoyed more freedoms than the citizens of most any other country in the world. We have the freedoms of speech, religion, press, etc. We also have the freedom to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
What if these freedoms somehow came into conflict? Terrorism is one of those issues that brings about such an argument. Do Americans want to prevent such horrible acts as the Oklahoma city bombing? I would say that most Americans would agree that yes, we need to prevent events like that from occurring again. The question is: How much freedom will you give up to have a right to life? This very inquiry is presenting quite a stir in congress.
For us to be safe, the government realizes that we, as the American public, must give up some of our privacy and freedom. We also need to empower the FBI, CIA and other government agencies with the tools they require to stop these threats on the American way of life. Ronald Reagan, in 1982, first designated the FBI as our lead agency in counter-terrorism.
The FBI was further giver power, though congressional bills in 1984 and 1986, to be able to pursue terrorists overseas. This was a good initial effort, but in todays growing technological age, the FBI needs to have more tools for going after these rebels. For instance, there is the subject of court-approved wire tapping. In todays world it is not hard to come across encryption devices that make wire tapping obsolete. The government agencies in charge of tapping lines need the most sophisticated equipment to make wire tapping of any use. Another problem that the government is encountering is tracking suspected terrorists.
The government has a hard time attaining phone records, credit card receipts, and so on. These things arent absolutely necessary to catch terrorists, but they making the tracking of certain groups and leaders much easier. Basically, it is a zero-sum game. If you give up so much freedom, then the government has that much easier a time zeroing in on potential threats to the American people. Also, as a result of the recent bombings, President Clinton has assigned hundreds of new agents in the FBI to take care of this increasing threat.
The FBI, to be really effective in stopping terrorism, must also have connections to its overseas counterparts.
There are currently 23 FBI attaches in other countries that have also found the threat of terrorism both growing and frightening, that is agents that work closely with the governments of other countries. These agents are actually .