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SLUG: 6-12476 Wednesday's Editorials











INTRO: Various security issues are among the day's most popular topics in U-S newspaper editorials. Should airline pilots be allowed to carry guns is one issue -- and general security is another, including border issues and preparations for potential bio-terrorism attacks. Editorials also comment on U-S alliances and the president's call for a cut-off of funds to the Osama bin Laden organization. And, there is comment about the possibility of improved relations between Israel and the Palestinians as a result of the attacks.

Now, with a closer look is ___________ and today's U-S Editorial Digest.

TEXT: The federal government is considering a request by the largest airline pilots union to allow commercial aircraft pilots to carry guns abroad the plane as a last defense against hijacking. It is a popular topic, as in the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram, which agrees -- as long as they are well trained.

VOICE: Allowing pilots who are properly trained and certified to have access to weapons would enhance passenger safety. ... If pilots who wish to carry firearms are willing to subject themselves to the same training and be certified in the same way as (sky) marshals, as well as meet periodic continuing training ... to maintain their certification, they should be allowed to do so.

TEXT: But, the Detroit (Michigan) Free Press is not entirely sure it is a good idea.

VOICE: ...There are legitimate questions about stray gunfire injuring passengers or guns falling into the wrong hands. And what if the pilot or marshal is particularly edgy one day, or reacts badly to a situation that looks like terrorism or a passenger who looks like a terrorist? ... But in these unstable times, aviation regulators will have to weigh seriously the pros and cons of armed pilots...

TEXT: In New Hampshire, the Manchester Union Leader sums up this way: "Maybe armed pilots won't be a panacea to terror in the skies... But tell us how a gun on one of the three airplanes-turned-bombs would have hurt... In Georgia, however, the Atlanta Constitution says:

VOICE: Giving guns to airline pilots ...was an idea too ludicrous and dangerous to be considered a few weeks ago. It still is. ... Taking absolute measures to keep terrorists off the airplane a much better plan.

TEXT: Several newspapers, including the Boston Globe and New York Times, are worried about a potential bio-terrorist attack. Says the Times:

VOICE: The suicidal zealotry of the men who flew airliners into buildings, their willingness to prepare for years, their desire for mass casualties, and their deep-seated hatred of Americans leave little doubt that they would escalate to even more dreadful weapons if they could.

That said, it is important to be realistic about the threat ... Despite loose talk ... the historical record suggests that it is nowhere near ... easy to (select and grow) a potent biological agent ... and (find) an efficient means of spreading (it) around...

TEXT: The Palm Beach (Florida) Post is concerned about making the nation's borders more secure:

VOICE: At least 16 of the 19 hijackers responsible for the ...attacks received formal invitations from the United States government to come here. They weren't stowaways... or illegal aliens. ... They entered the U-S on temporary visas ...then lost themselves in the population...

TEXT: The Fresno (California) Bee adds that after foreign students come here on a visa "there is little to no monitoring of whether (they) actually enroll at the school listed on their visa application."

In North Carolina, the Fayetteville Observer is shocked that officials at the Charlotte airport, the state's largest, are already considering ways to reduce strict security. Now that only ticketed passengers are allowed to gates, adjoining airport businesses are losing thousands of dollars.

In Florida, the Palm Beach Post also urges the White House to give the newly appointed Homeland Security czar, Tom Ridge, the real power to make a difference in security among various federal agencies.

Several newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, are pleased Saudi Arabia has broken ties with the Taleban of Afghanistan. But the Kansas City (Missouri) Star, reminding of U-S troop sacrifices during the Gulf War, wants them to do even more.

VOICE: ...Saudi Arabia should allow American planes to use Saudi air bases to strike against suspected terrorists in the region. ...(Cutting) diplomatic relations ... was a helpful step, but more should be expected of the Saudis.

TEXT: The Boston Globe says that past U-S policy towards Afghanistan is partially responsible for the current situation.

VOICE: Sadly, both the Taleban and (Osama) bin Laden's terrorist network, al-Qaida, owe their ... power in Afghanistan to feckless American past policies. The foreign Islamicist fighters ... imported into Afghanistan to battle Soviet infidels in the '80s were the pride of the Central Intelligence Agency. ... The C-I-A handlers of this... "Islamic legion" were unconcerned with their political projects... In C-I-A jargon, the calamities that ensured were... "blowback" the boomerang effect of...unfortunate ...unintended consequences.

TEXT: Both the New York Times is worried about the thousands of newly orphaned or half-orphaned children. The Chicago Tribune says much the same thing:

VOICE: Coping with the death of a parent is a mighty task for any child. But in the fledgling world view of many of these kids, their parents didn't really die, at least not in the normal sense. They vanished. ... To a child's imagination that is a powerful word, laced with connotations of abandonment and survival... in the coming months and years, the children of September eleventh will need special handling, and all the generosity the rest of us can muster.

/// OPT ///

TEXT: The Voice of America has become involved in a controversy in its attempt to cover the situation. When the State Department moved to prevent the broadcast of an interview with Taleban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, V-O-A journalists objected. Describing the interview, which was subsequently broadcast, as a "worldwide scoop," the Washington Post says:

VOICE: ... The episode revealed an impulse to squelch facts that is never far beneath the surface in time of war (and) ... is hardly less noxious when it retreats promptly under challenge.

/// END OPT ///

TEXT: The Sun in Baltimore, Maryland, comments on the tenuous ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians..

VOICE: It can be the beginning for a firmer truce and interim coexistence. That must precede confronting the remaining substantive issues in future negotiations for a permanent peace.

TEXT: The Washington Post comments:

VOICE: Mr. Arafat may understand that he cannot afford to be on the wrong side of an American war, as he was during the Gulf Crisis.

TEXT: On that note, we conclude this sampling of editorial comment in Wednesday's U-S newspapers.


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