TITLE:CALM, LEGAL RESPONSE CALLED ANSWER TO TERRORISM (04/02/93)
CALM, LEGAL RESPONSE CALLED ANSWER TO TERRORISM
(Experts discuss new trends at terrorism forum) (640)
By Berta Gomez
USIA Staff Writer
1ashington -- History suggests that terrorism is combated most
effectively when governments remain calm and act within existing legal
frameworks, says former Central Intelligence Agency Director William Colby.
Participating in a National Press Foundation forum on "New Trends in
Terrorism" March 31, Colby added that while the explosion at New York's
World Trade Center and the shooting outside the CIA (Central Intelligence
Agency) headquarters in Virginia are indications the United States might be
facing a new kind of terrorist threat, "It's not terribly different from
problems we've had in the past. A cool hand and a cool head will enable us
to continue to fight this problem."
Anti-terrorism campaigns cited by Colby included the Italian government's
battle against the Red Brigade organization and the U.S. fight against air
piracy. He stressed that both were successful because "they did it through
the law." In contrast, he said, countries that countered violent
insurrections with terror campaigns of their own generally had less success
and struggled to return to normalcy.
Also addressing the forum, Douglas Gow of the Federal Bureau of
Investigation (FBI) pointed out that the overall threat of terrorism has
receded recently, mostly due to interdictions made possible by improved
intelligence and effective law enforcement.
He cited State Department statistics showing that terrorist incidents
worldwide fell from about 800 in 1987 to just over 300 in 1992. Terrorist
attacks in the United States dropped from 51 in 1982 to four in 1992, he
said, citing FBI figures.
Gow stressed that this drop in domestic terrorist attacks occurred during a
period in which Americans were increasingly identified as the favored
target of terrorist groups. So, despite the alarm generated by the World
Trade Center incident, "this is not a time for people to panic, but to have
faith in law enforcement," he contended.
At the same time, Gow and the other panelists agreed that the U.S.
government should strengthen some of the weaker aspects of its
anti-terrorism policy. The area mentioned most often was immigration, and
the need to tighten -- and enforce -- visa restrictions.
Bruce Hoffman of the RAND Corporation noted that the United States receives
about 25 million visitors annually, about 500,000 of whom remain in the
country after their visas have expired. He suggested that the Immigration
and Naturalization Service (INS) be given more money to pay for inspectors,
and to deal more effectively with the "Herculean task" of tracking down
The panel also suggested improved coordination among various U.S. agencies,
and better intelligence-sharing at the international level.
Senator Larry Pressler, who has recommended legislation to promote these
goals, recommended that the United States allow capital punishment for
convicted terrorists who kill Americans.
Hoffman countered that the death penalty "never works" as a deterrent to
violence, and that some terrorists might actually welcome the chance to
become martyrs at the hands of the U.S. government.
All of the panelists agreed that any changes in U.S. laws or policies must
be made carefully. "The problem," said Gow, "is how to balance security
needs against the kind of society we have." Colby and others pointed out
that open societies like the United States will always be somewhat limited
in what they can do to counter terrorists.
Colby also said efforts to foster international cooperation are complicated
by conflicting perceptions and goals -- even among friendly states.
1everal U.S. allies recently voted to extend new IMF (International
Monetary Fund) loans to Iran, even though Washington believes Tehran is
abetting terrorism. "I find that fairly outrageous, and I think our good
allies ought to be told that we think that," Colby said.
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list