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Diane Rehm Show just ended

You just finished a show on terrorism (WAMU, 10-11am, 10/26/95).  Thank you.

Some of your callers said most of what I would have said and I found that
pleasing, since I wasn't able to call in.

However, there was a theme which kept coming up and which wasn't addressed
specifically.  You might hold it in mind for future shows on terrorism:

	The FBI representative was saying that the goal is to *prevent*
	terrorism, not just to investigate and prosecute crimes after the
	fact.  I heard Director Freeh (on 10/19 on All Things Considered)
	say something similar -- that the FBI's job was to protect the
	people (which can be be translated into "prevent terrorism").

This seems to be a major problem and perhaps the source of the concern
about civil liberties.

Terrorism might be a product of an organized, identified group and
infiltration of that group might enable the FBI to prevent acts of
violence.  Of course, the permission to infiltrate suspicious groups has
been used in the past to justify infiltration of non-violent but unpopular
groups like the Sanctuary Movement.

However, many of our recent terrorist acts appear to be the result of
individual actions -- not those of organized groups.  [Unabomber, OK City,
train derailment] Infiltration is out of the question in such cases.  The
only way to prevent such acts is to put the entire population of the US
under surveillance -- an authentic instance of Big Brother from 1984.

The conclusion to me is that we can not task the FBI with the job of
prevention of terrorism.  I suspect that we must insure that the FBI is
formally and carefully restricted to the job of investigating and
prosecuting crimes once they occur -- allowing the threat of almost certain
prosecution to serve as a prevention -- rather than with the impossible job
of prevention of such crimes.


Meanwhile, there was one question I had that no one answered:

I didn't like history much as a student, but I vaguely remember other
periods of domestic terrorism: bombings in the early 1900s, acts of
violence associated with the labor movement, sabotage during WW-I conducted
by German agents.  There may have been many others.  This seems to be a
feature of life -- nothing recent, nothing special, frightening from its
news coverage but not a serious threat to any one individual (because of
the actual statistics around the threat -- comparing my chance of injury
due to auto accident, plane flight or terrorist act (for example)).  It
would be interesting to know why we had the pause in terrorism during the
Cold War -- or, for that matter, if we actually did.  Could it be that the
apparent return of terrorism is actually a perception rather than a fact --
as a result of shift in focus of the news media?

 - Carl

 |Carl M. Ellison    [email protected]    http://www.clark.net/pub/cme            |
 |PGP: E0414C79B5AF36750217BC1A57386478 & 61E2DE7FCB9D7984E9C8048BA63221A2  |
 |  ``Officer, officer, arrest that man!  He's whistling a dirty song.''    |
 +---------------------------------------------- Jean Ellison (aka Mother) -+