Strike Force Behind The Book: strikeforce.mp3
Writers Roundtable Interview With Dale Brown
Dale Brown Interview With: Peter Anthony Holder
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are first-class... far too good to be missed.'
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‘Dale Brown is the best military adventure writer in the country’

Prepare For The Pursuit
By Dale Brown
18 September 2001

All terrorists need to be hunted down and punished for doing horrible crimes against innocent persons, and it's about time the U.S., especially the military, dedicates itself to that. Why is it time? Because terrorism is getting dirtier and uglier, and it calls for a powerful response and national resolve.

Notice there was relatively very little nationwide outcry after the USS Cole was bombed, or even after Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia was bombed. Why? Because those were military targets. They were horrible crimes, yes, but horrible things happen to the military, especially deployed overseas. Even with the slaughter in Mogadishu, Somalia, where 18 peacekeepers were killed and dragged through the streets, there was no massive retaliation--we withdrew from Somalia instead. Even after the Beirut, Lebanon barracks bombing, where hundreds of Marines were killed, we didn't declare war on Lebanon or Hizb'allah. We got out of Lebanon and never returned.

[IMAGE] I would go so far as to say that if the terrorists only bombed the Pentagon, there wouldn't be the outcry you hear now. The Pentagon is a military target. Muslim radicals can claim it was retaliation for the U.S. bombing Iraq, Bosnia, invading Kosovo, helping Australia deport Indonesians, not helping the Chechens fight the Russians, lots of stuff. Americans understand vendetta, tit-for-tat, retaliation.

But the World Trade Center was different. They attacked a totally civilian target. They also wanted maximum casualties. There is only one response to that kind of attack: relentless pursuit and severe punishment. It would be the same as if the U.S. attacked Mecca or Medina, centers of the Islamic faith. It stops being a military conflict and becomes personal.

As far as I know, the attack on NYC and DC was not a response to any particular U.S. action. It wasn't "you hit me, I hit you." They struck for no apparent reason except to create terror. That means whoever did this is nothing more than a homicidal maniac. They kill for no reason except to create terror. There's no reason behind it. These kinds of persons can only be stopped by hunting them down and killing them like rabid wild animals before they kill again.

Yes, we run the risk of escalating the violence--but the level of violence is pretty high right now. It has escalated to the point where the only way to win is to be as aggressive, merciless, and relentless as the enemy is homicidal. We have to fight, because otherwise the terror campaign succeeds.

The way Bush wants to go about fighting this war is a good approach. It will be hard to find one man in a country like Afghanistan--so punish Afghanistan itself for harboring him. Bomb Afghanistan's military forces and Taliban headquarters. They may not give up bin Laden, but they won't be able to support his terrorist training organization either--and maybe the people of Afghanistan who oppose the Taliban will overthrow the junta and turn bin Laden over to us. The Taliban wasn't elected to office in Afghanistan--they overthrew the monarchy, like a military coup run by religious zealots.

If bin Laden runs to Iran or Pakistan or Iraq or Yemen or even Saudi Arabia, we do the same to them--bomb their military targets and government centers and punish the government for supporting him. And then after we get rid of bin Laden, we go after the next terrorist. The war against terrorism will last a long time--we won't be having parades for the soldiers who fight in this one.

You're right about changing the way we think at home. Flying will never be the same. I went flying today, and the skies were almost empty. The FAA only allows planes on an instrument flight plan to fly. Diane is basically grounded indefinitely (she can legally fly only in uncontrolled airspace, which there is not much of any more). I can fly because I'm instrument rated and the plane is instrument capable, but many other rules have been changed to make sure that no unidentified aircraft come near any medium or large airports. I haven't flown any airliners since the bombing, but some of my friends have: they couldn't park in the parking garage, they couldn't take any edged items in carry-on luggage, they waited in line for 2 hours to check in, and then their flight was canceled anyway. Eventually they will start hand-searching all luggage.

Federal air marshals on airliners are only the beginning: I expect to see National Guard troops stationed at airports doing searches of cars and individuals, surface-to-air missile sites set up at large airports, and tighter security anywhere where there are large numbers of persons: shopping malls, stadiums, arenas, etc. I predict they will come up with a federal ID card that you'll have to show before you can board a plane. Eventually they will develop a fingerprint ID or retina scan ID system, so anywhere you go in public you'll have to identify yourself before you can enter. They already have a scanner that takes your picture, electronically measures your facial features, and identifies you: soon that will commonplace in almost every public building. Anyone whom the computer doesn't identify will be treated as a terrorist until you can prove who you are.

But I don't want to give up any civil rights to protect myself from the threat of terrorists. Identifying myself before I board a plane or go into a public building is not an invasion of privacy to me, and federal air marshals on planes or even military troops on the street are OK with me. But I don't want the government listening in on my phone conversations, hacking into my computer, take away my right to own and carry a gun, searching me without probable cause, take away my right to speak or write whatever I want, or preventing me from traveling, even if they say it's all to help find the terrorists. Like Ben Franklin once said, paraphrasing, "Anyone who sacrifices freedom for security gets neither."

The only way to make our homes safe from criminals and terrorists is to insist on our rights and insist on the government doing its job. According to the Constitution, the government exists to defend its citizens, to make laws to protect its citizens, and to enforce those laws. We have certain rights that we enjoy because we're Americans--no one can take those rights away. All I want is for the government to do its job without infringing on my rights. As long as the government holds up its end of the bargain, I'll follow the laws it establishes.

I can't tell Hunter he'll be safe forever. All I can do is be there when he has questions or when he feels nervous or afraid; educate him the best I can, and try to teach him right from wrong. If he wants to know what happened in NYC, I tell him--bad guys blew up some buildings and killed a lot of people, and the police are out looking for the bad guys. Wednesday night after the bombings, after I'm sure he saw those planes hit those buildings on TV a dozen times, he had trouble sleeping--I felt bad after that. I explained to him that bad guys crashed a plane into a building, but the police are out to make sure no more bad guys do that again. Then I turn on Rug Rats or Clifford The Big Red Dog. He's too young to be watching too much violence on TV, but he does understand good guys, bad guys, police officers, and crashes. He might even understand a little about what death is (The Matrix and Gladiator are two of his favorite movies). I sometimes don't give him credit for how smart he is, which is probably why I'm surprised so often at the stuff he comes up with almost every day.

The WTC bombing was definitely a shrill wake-up call for America. I may not like it when the alarm goes off in the morning, but I don't hide under the covers and hope it stops ringing--I shut it off and get out of bed. It would be nice for Hunter to watch Mary Poppins all the time, but I want him to understand that there are bad guys out there and he can't be afraid of them. I want to make sure that he knows that evil is real, but good guys and heroes are real too.

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