Simons: Security measures necessary to the war on terrorism

What would the majority of Americans prefer: Allow wiretaps, the ability to trace financial transactions, intercept and study incoming and outgoing foreign phone calls, strict enforcement of the Patriot Act and other security measures designed to protect Americans from deadly terrorist actions, or severely weaken our country’s security policies and consequently increase the possibilities of deadly initiatives against U.S. citizens?

If nine or 10 large airliners had been blown out of the air over the Atlantic Ocean, would those opposed to most all of the Bush administration’s actions – actions designed to try to safeguard citizens of this country against terrorism – have said it was unfortunate but this is the price a country and its citizens must pay if we are to preserve the civil liberties guaranteed to those living in the United States?

What is more important to people thinking along these lines: Foiling a plan that could have resulted in the death of 1,500 to 2,000 airline passengers, or prohibiting tight, effective measures to secure the safety of Americans?

Some might say these are not fair questions, that these are not black-and-white situations. They might claim no one would favor allowing conditions that would make it easy to wage war to kill as many Americans as possible. But do such people accept the fact this country is indeed engaged in a true war with individuals intent on destroying the United States?

Unfortunately, in today’s world it is foolish to believe we can live safely in an environment where well-trained security forces are not allowed to monitor the actions of possible terrorists.

As one political observer noted earlier this week, those who are calling for a severe cutback in security measures and who want a pullout in Iraq, the closure of Guantanamo, turning over our nation’s foreign actions to United Nations approval and a belief that peaceful negotiations can be more effective than military actions against nations such as Iraq, Iran, North Korea and Syria are waving Uncle Sam’s white flag of surrender to those fighting the United States.

It is difficult to understand why so many Americans refuse to acknowledge that our country and allies such as England are engaged in a deadly war – not a conventional war such as World War I, World War II or Korea, but a war where it is difficult to identify the enemy and a war where the enemy uses civilians as shields and a war in which killing innocent civilians and instilling fear in the population are primary tactics.

Some in the United States look for any reason to criticize President Bush. There is a hatred for the man and in their opinion he cannot do anything right. He is faulted for the losses sustained by New Orleans in Hurricane Katrina; he is responsible for current oil shortages and high fuel prices; and his actions against Iraq are responsible for terrorist actions.

Perhaps their deep dislike of Bush has colored their thinking to such a degree that those sharing the bitterness and passion against Bush cannot allow themselves to appreciate his view of the degree of danger posed by terrorists.

What will it take for the majority of Americans to accept and understand the seriousness of the situation?

How much more dangerous must it become, how many Americans have to be killed here within the country before the cynics realize and appreciate the danger?

What happens if the White House and congressional leadership should come under the “doves” within the Democratic Party who want to pull out of Iraq as soon as possible and who are willing to trust America’s safety to the whims of U.N. members and to negotiations with our own enemies?

Force is the only thing that terrorists respect!

This is a worldwide war and unfortunately it won’t be over for years and will be won only if the United States and Great Britain remain strong in their resolve to fight terrorism.

Negotiation, appeasement and weakness in dealing with the North Koreans, Syrians and Iranians is not a path toward lasting peace and stability.

This is not to suggest Bush has compiled a superior record and that all his decisions and actions should be accepted without question or disapproval. Hindsight is great and there are numerous actions Bush probably wishes he could change or deter.

However, this country needs a leader who is firm and committed to using force to defeat terrorists, whether abroad or within the United States.

This week’s excellent security work by British officials should be applauded by all Americans and should serve as a model for what is needed in the United States for our officials to use in fighting terrorism.