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What U.S. newspapers are saying

  |   Oct. 1, 2001 at 10:42 AM
New York Times

An avalanche of donations has descended upon New York City since Sept. 11, creating a cash mountain that now exceeds $600 million. Experts say that never has so much charitable money been raised so quickly. The sources ranged from children's lemonade stands to corporate giants like General Electric, whose $10 million donation jump-started Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's Twin Towers Fund. And the fundraisers are still going on.

It would not be easy to spend this money effectively in the best of circumstances. The nature of the World Trade Center disaster makes the task even harder. The casualties were heavy, and with victims ranging from millionaires to maintenance workers, the needs of their dependents are unusually diverse.

The situation is further complicated by two factors. One is the sheer number of charities involved -- 140 by last count, many of them old-line agencies like the Red Cross but some invented spontaneously after the attack. Without careful coordination, there is a real danger of waste and duplication of effort. The other is the need to mesh private donations with an array of federal programs, including an open-ended victims' compensation fund established as part of the airline bailout legislation. That fund, which could run into billions of dollars, would help families of those who died in the terror attacks but would do nothing for those who lost their jobs and businesses. ...

Nobody is suggesting that these courageous men and women should get less than their due. But the funds that are not yet spoken for will be needed by families at the other end of the scale. Kitchen workers at Windows on the World, for example, have only $15,000 life insurance policies. There is also the looming but largely unexplored matter of the thousands of low- and moderate-income people whose jobs and small businesses were destroyed.

Finally, there is a question of timing. Charities are always under pressure to show quick results. Obviously, the first priority is to meet immediate needs. But experience suggests that relief should be paced over what may be years of need. Taking a measured approach would also help guard against duplication. For instance, at least nine universities, several nonprofits and Gov. George Pataki have offered to provide college scholarships to the victims' children. Mr. Pataki may wish to hold onto this generous idea until he sees how much the private sector can do.

No one wants to see this extraordinary and inspirational outpouring of aid tarnished by accusations of waste or unfairness. The charities involved have a profound obligation to channel the people's money wisely, and to protect the memory of this great moment of American generosity.


Boston Globe

President Bush seemed to brush off worries about lax Canadian rules on immigration last week, but it remains a concern in U.S.-Canadian relations. As the United States looks to improve its screening of travelers from foreign countries, the Canadian government needs to examine its own laws and practices to make sure the North American continent is better protected against terrorism.

The alternative is the long delays that are occurring routinely along the U.S.-Canadian border as U.S. authorities seek to prevent a reoccurrence of the Sept. 11 attacks. This all may be an overreaction (despite early reports, none of the hijackers is known to have entered the United States from Canada), but it is inevitable given the nature of the threat and the magnitude of the human losses.

Ambassador Paul Cellucci, the former Massachusetts governor, stirred up a controversy in Canada by suggesting the two governments seek to harmonize their immigration policies. ''The laws of Canada will be passed by the parliament of Canada,'' replied Prime Minister Jean Chretien last week. After a meeting at the White House Monday, Chretien said Bush agreed with him. ''There should be no doubt in anybody's mind about how honored we are to have the support of Canadians,'' Bush said publicly.

Sovereignty is a sensitive subject for Canadians, who fear encroachment by the more powerful United States. Particularly rankling was the jibe by Texas Representative Lamar Smith last year that Canada was the ''Club Med for international terrorists,'' although he was repeating a remark by a Montreal police officer.

It is unquestionably true, however, that Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian, lived five years in Montreal as a political refugee even though a judge ordered his deportation because he had a false passport. Ressam tried to slip across the border late in 1999 to launch a millennium bombing plot and was only stopped because of the alertness of a U.S. immigration officer. And Canada, unlike the United States and Britain, has refused to outlaw Tamil and Kurdish groups associated with terrorism. Canadian specialists on law enforcement complain that, despite its open-door policies, Canada underfunds the security services.

The 19 men responsible for the hijack-bombings had no trouble getting directly into the United States from Europe. The United States needs to reassess all its own border screening processes.

The Chretien government is working on a package of laws to tighten security. After the crisis surrounding the terrorist attacks fades, Canada ought to maintain its vigilance and make sure that its law-enforcement agencies are adequately funded so that the 4,000-mile common border, beneficial to citizens of both countries, does not become known as a sieve for terror.


Washington Post

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi humiliated his nation last week with his deeply dangerous rantings about Islam. "We must be aware of the superiority of our civilization, a system that has guaranteed well-being, respect for human rights and -- in contrast with Islamic countries -- respect for religious and political rights, a system that has as its values understandings of diversity and tolerance," he told a press conference. The West, he added, "will continue to conquer peoples, like it conquered Communism," even if that means confronting "another civilization, the Islamic one, stuck where it was 1,400 years ago."

Particularly in a climate in which reprisal attacks against Arabs and Muslims -- and people taken for Arabs and Muslims -- are disgustingly common, such remarks are simply unacceptable. All the more so from a head of government of a major American ally. Western leaders have, since the Sept. 11 attacks, bent over backward to distinguish the struggle against terrorism from a fight against Muslims or Islam more generally. This distinction, for which Mr. Berlusconi apparently has no patience, is critical -- and not just because any anti-terror coalition needs the cooperation of many Islamic countries to succeed. The notion that Islam sanctions mass murder is a slander, one that transforms a battle between humanity and terror into an existential confrontation that nobody can afford or should desire. The growing global alliance has no quarrel with Islam. It has a fight only with those, of whatever religious persuasion, who take up arms against civilians. To lose sight of that distinction is to accept Osama bin Laden's invitation to jihad.

Days later, Mr. Berlusconi apologized -- sort of -- saying he was sorry if his comments had hurt Arabs or Muslims. His words, he said, had been "taken out of context." On that point, at least, he's right. They are from a different century.


Washington Times

The nightmarish terrorist attack of Sept. 11 succeeded in part because it was simply unimaginable.

That assault has made other horrifying attacks by nuclear, chemical or biological weapons all too imaginable. Just last week, Bill Gertz of The Washington Times revealed that Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda has attempted to acquire such weapons from organized crime groups in Russia.

Other organized groups in Russia have certainly had access to biological weapons. Over two years ago, Ken Alibek, a former leader of the Soviet biological weapons program, testified to Congress that many members of his program had moved to rogue states, such as North Korea and Iran. Mr. Alibek also noted that Moscow State University had provided training in germ warfare techniques to numerous scientists from such states, and he pointed out that thanks to Russia's new openness, "The billions of dollars that the Soviet Union and Russia put into biotechnology research are available to anyone for the cost of a translator."

Currently, the United States seems ill-equipped to handle the attack that might be perpetrated by such expertise. During a germ-warfare exercise titled Dark Winter, which ran this past June, a dozen experts and political leaders were unable to control a simulated attack of the smallpox virus on America.

One of the most glaring problems that Dark Winter pointed to was the failure of state and federal offices to coordinate their actions during such an attack. President Bush has seemingly reduced that difficulty by appointing Gov. Tom Ridge to direct the new Office of Homeland Security. However, Mr. Ridge will need to be empowered with all necessary authority to ensure that in case of such an attack, the decision making process is coherent, and that state and federal agencies act as directed.

Mr. Ridge should also direct a buildup of vaccines and antibiotics for likely biological weapons, both of which the United States is currently critically short of. Dark Winter demonstrated that during a biological attack, such stocks are used up at astonishing rates. Additional training of public health officers into spotting such an attack, and systemic ways to handle it is also necessary. ...

National security also dictates that the United States not sign international biological weapons treaties. While the United States may wish to reveal some of its findings from such research to known and trusted allies, there is no reason to give potential adversaries the access currently mandated by such protocols.

Ultimately, it may not be possible to prevent such a nightmarish attack, if for no other reason than even imaginations can fail. However, by taking a few needed preparatory steps, the administration will help millions of Americans sleep a bit easier.


Chicago Tribune

Jordan is nestled into a dangerous part of the world filled with violence, poverty, repression, hatred and holy war. Its immediate neighbors are Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt, and the pressure from some Jordanians to side with the forces of terror is great. Yet, the path its young King Abdullah II has chosen for his country is one that includes expanded trade with the United States.

That's a courageous act, one it wasn't clear the United States was going to appreciate. The Senate -- finally -- just last week approved a bilateral trade pact with Jordan that had languished for months because Republicans objected to labor and environmental standards attached to it. President Bush signed the agreement Friday, just before a White House meeting with the king.

There are many ways the United States and its allies will fight terrorists. Make no mistake, one of the battlegrounds will be commerce.

The GOP concerns were well grounded. Forcing other countries to abide by U.S.-designed labor and environmental standards as a condition for free trade amounts to unintended protectionism. Rather than allow poor states to prosper by their competitive advantages, it tends to restrain commerce. In this case, it was necessary to concede the point and approve the pact. It is vital to send a signal to the world, particularly to moderate Arab states, that engagement with the West can benefit them and their citizens.

Through the bonds of trade, the United States can encourage impoverished nations at a crossroads between past and future to integrate with the world rather than turn from it.

By betting on trade, Jordan is embracing the prospect of future prosperity for its five million citizens. This first bilateral trade pact between the United States and an Arab nation all but eliminates tariffs and other barriers. Although the amount of trade between the two countries is tiny and its impact on the U.S. economy minuscule, this deal speaks volumes about U.S. intentions. ...

Osama bin Laden and his terror network hoped to shock the United States into retreating from a region they desire to keep sealed off from the world. They want to lessen Western -- particularly U.S. -- influence.

The United States will not retreat. It will increase trade with Jordan and Jordanians will reap the benefits. Ultimately, that offers riches with which the terrorists cannot compete.

That is why King Abdullah has cast his nation's lot with the United States, the West--and the future. He understands that the Muslim world must prosper in this world or be consigned forever to a violent backwater.

The terrorists don't speak for Muslims, King Abdullah emphasized Friday. Jordan will stand with the majority of Arabs and Muslims -- and America -- in what the king called this "fight against evil." That's a trading partner the United States must treasure.


Christian Science Monitor

Concerns in the United States about "porous" borders have long been directed southward. They've now shifted north. The U.S.-Canada line is drawing close scrutiny as a transit route for terrorists.

The concerns are well justified. Canada's open immigration policies and relatively lax policing of recent arrivals could make it a logical entry point for those seeking more than a new life in the United States.

That possibility took on actuality in late 1999, when an Algerian who had been residing in Canada was caught at the Washington State border, trying to enter the United States with explosives in his trunk. More recently, a man with a history of immigration violations in Canada was detained by the FBI in Chicago, and is being held on suspicion of having connections to the Sept. 11 suicide hijackers.

That's the only, still speculative, link between the attacks on New York and the Pentagon and the Canadian border. But calls for tightened vigilance are mounting, and common sense demands they be heeded.

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft has pointed out that while 9,000 Border Patrol agents work the Mexican border, only 500 are stationed on the Canada line. The latter force will undoubtedly be beefed up. Inspections of vehicles and luggage will intensify. And the ability of border police to quickly access law-enforcement data banks to check out travelers must be enhanced.

Most important, Canadian and U.S. cooperation in investigating suspected terrorists and terrorist cells must become closer.

At the same time, things need to be kept in perspective.

Canadians have understandably bridled at talk of virtually merging the two countries' justice systems and creating a security "perimeter" around them that would de-emphasize the border. And more-zealous border enforcement has to be weighed against the fact that Canada sends 85 percent of its exports to the United States.

Such considerations are important. But most important, at this juncture, is increased joint attention to the threat of terrorism, which will protect both countries.


Dallas Morning News

The world community is hard at work -- increasing and sharing intelligence on potential terrorist attacks, providing for better civil alerts and defense, identifying and moving to prosecute terrorists and seize their organizations' funds. In short, foiling terrorists -- and potentially striking back at states that harbor them. All that is necessary, but it's certainly not sufficient. Stopping the plans of radical Islamic terrorists in the short term won't stop their terrorism in the long term as their schools, their culture and their global perceptions breed terrorist attempts.

To win the war on terrorism, a major battle must be won -- call it a battle for the minds.

America and the international community must address the motives and goals of these terrorists in order to contain terrorism. This will be difficult because these terrorists don't want simple things like self-rule or minority rights. They believe in the inherent evil of Western civilization and want the American presence in Muslim states eliminated, and they want Western society -- typified by America and deemed licentious -- destroyed.

An effective anti-terrorism effort must address these perceptions and the conditions that lead to them. It's not just perceived evil American hegemony that's at issue -- it is regional poverty and disorder.

In Afghanistan, chaos and want and a dire lack of alternatives caused the real-life version of Lord of the Flies to develop there, with the Taliban perversion of Islam flourishing and terrorist training camps like Osama bin Laden's being embraced.

Improving underlying conditions in an area, reconstructing a society, reduces the attractiveness of fanatical groups and their nefarious ways. This is as true in Afghanistan and Pakistan as it is in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Today, however, America must worry about the evil deeds of these terrorists because Americans are their primary targets.

Americans will continue to be targeted. And no matter how strong this nation makes itself, some weakness no doubt will exist. To win the war against Muslim terrorism, radicals' capability to exploit those weaknesses cannot just be mitigated. America also must work to defuse the conditions and perceptions that serve to motivate the attacks. Although Americans, so blustering and insensitive at times, may not be able to win the hearts of foreign citizens and budding terrorists, America and the West must attempt to sway some minds. It's the only hope for achieving long-term peace.


Des Moines Register

If the world is to be secure against terrorism, it must be aware of the risks of attacks like we have just experienced as well as potential risks that we haven't begun to fully appreciate. That must include bio-terrorism.

Stepped-up security measures may protect against those who carry bombs or hijack airplanes, but how do we guard against one who would quietly slip toxic substances into water or food supplies? This will be among the subjects discussed in a symposium on world food security in Des Moines on Oct. 18-20. It comes in conjunction with the awarding of the 2001 World Food Prize, and the subject could not be more timely.

The thought of terrorists using food or water as a weapon is cause for concern, yet there remains the ever-present challenge of feeding the world. Thus, while taking up the topic of bio-terrorism, this year's symposium will also deal with the topic of potential pandemics, such as hoof-and-mouth disease, that are spread not by terrorists but by ordinary movement of people and products around the globe. Other seminar topics will cover farming marginal land, the impact of climate change on fresh water supplies and the impact of AIDS on food production.

On Thursday, Oct. 18, the World Food Prize will be awarded to Dr. Per Pinstrup-Andersen of Denmark, the director-general of the International Food Policy Research Institute. This year's ceremony will include a tribute to 1970 Nobel Prize laureate Norman Borlaug, a native of rural Cresco, whose work helped spawn the "Green Revolution." Borlaug is credited with initiating the idea of a World Food Prize, which has since been underwritten by Iowa business leader John Ruan.

It has been difficult these days to think about any issue that could be more significant than the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. The reality is that other problems continue to plague the world. Feeding the growing global population is one such problem, and the World Food Prize is an increasingly important forum for that discussion.

Norman Borlaug, the Iowa-born plant scientist who pioneered the Green Revolution, has been credited with saving more lives than any other person who has ever lived.


Detroit Free Press

After years of turning the United Nations into a credit collector chasing a bad debt, the United States finally realized that membership has its responsibilities.

It shouldn't take an act of terrorism to get Congress to chip away at the embarrassing $1 billion in back dues owed to the international body. Yet throughout the summer, lawmakers threatened to withhold some of the $582-million payment for perceived indignities and a sense that isolationism was OK. Now that the United States needs the world to help it fight terrorism, the House finally anted up.

Congress' quick action last week is a measure of how much the world has changed since Sept. 11. People satisfied to wall themselves off from the rest of the world realize that the United States is not an island. Using the United Nations as a political punching bag is self-defeating when there is such a tremendous need for an international body that can be a force for good. Finally, U.S. political leaders seem to realize that the United Nations is a crucial ally.

Osama bin Laden's minions didn't aim their evil only at the United States, but also at democracy and the free world. Terrorism has international targets and must be dealt with by an international coalition. Such a structure already exists at the United Nations, significantly located just blocks from the devastation in New York City.

The payment is only a partial settlement of the disgraceful U.S. debt. But the new U.S. spirit of cooperation should serve the United Nations and the rest of the world well.


Honolulu Star-Bulletin

Middle Eastern ties of the 19 hijackers of the planes used in the Sept. 11 attack on America have triggered a wide range of abusive behavior against Arabs and Muslims, ranging from racial hate crimes to what appears to be ethnic profiling by law-enforcement agencies. A terrorist network linked to Osama bin Laden is suspected of launching the attack, but the backlash against Arab Americans and Middle Easterners visiting the United States is not justified.

A long tradition of assimilation in America has been replaced in recent years by the celebration of diversity. In little more than two weeks, though, diversity too often has been rejected in favor of an ugly version of xenophobia. Numerous incidents of harassment and violence against people of Arab descent have been reported. Included in the jingoistic attacks was the murder of an Arizona gas station operator who was a Sikh, a religion that fuses Hinduism and Islam, is practiced mainly by Indians and whose adherents wear turbans and beards.

In Minneapolis, three Middle Eastern-looking men were denied permission to board a Northwest Airlines flight after several passengers complained. The trio later was allowed to take a Delta flight. In San Antonio, a native of Pakistan was ordered off a Delta plane. Many Americans who have regarded racial profiling as abhorrent admit that they now become nervous about sharing airplane flights with Arab-looking men.

While unfortunate, those feelings are understandable, but that does not excuse the government's broad roundup of Middle Eastern men. More than 480 people, mostly Arabs or Arab Americans, have been detained in the investigation, mostly on suspicion of immigration violations or minor traffic offenses. Authorities are looking for hundreds more. Not a single one has been charged with a crime related to the terrorist attack.

Opponents of profiling say it strips people of equal protection and the right to be free of unreasonable searches and arrests. However, profiling is a legitimate method of identifying suspects in a criminal investigation. That includes such things as a person's past record, finances, observable behavior and, yes, physical appearance. That obviously should include race, if relevant.

"Investigating means following hunches," says Charles Fried, a Harvard law professor who was solicitor general in the Reagan administration. "The notion of having rules about that is truly insane."

Putting too much emphasis on a person's race is also unwise. That seems to have occurred in the wide net cast by the FBI and other law-enforcement agencies investigating terrorism.


Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

For years, the kings of oil-rich Saudi Arabia tried to sit on a fence. One foot was planted in the arid sand of conservative Islamic orthodoxy, the other in the modern world of oil money and economic development. The terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 sent a shock wave around the world, knocking the Saudis off their precarious perch. Keeping them on the right side of the fence will be an important, difficult and continuing obligation of U.S. diplomacy.

Last Tuesday, after days of U.S. prodding, the Saudis severed diplomatic relations with the Taliban, Osama bin Laden's protectors in Afghanistan. A few days later, they agreed to permit Saudi-based U.S. troops and planes to participate in military action against bin Laden and the Taliban. This decision probably was made after a struggle within the House of Saud, since only a few days earlier, the government said it would not allow its bases to be so used.

Saudi Arabia is an important partner in what the White House is now calling "Operation Enduring Freedom" -- and not only because of its location and its military bases. Bin Laden comes from a wealthy Saudi business family, and he began his anti-Western campaign with an effort to expel the United States from Saudi Arabia on the ground that it was an alien, corrupting influence. Several of those who hijacked U.S. planes on Sept. 11 were Saudis.

Saudi Arabia also wields great influence in the entire Muslim world because it is the custodian of two of Islam's holiest sites, Mecca and Medina. It also produces more oil than anyone and has the largest oil reserves of any country on Earth -- roughly a quarter of the world's proven reserves.

At least one expert, Graham Fuller of the RAND Corp., argues that the United States won over the Saudis partly because it cooled some of the angry rhetoric that came in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

Because Saudi Arabia is so important, the U.S. has an interest in trying to make it a permanent partner in the war on terrorism. The 1996 explosion that killed 19 U.S. servicemen in Saudi Arabia showed that fence-sitting doesn't work. U.S. diplomats also should stress that the huge Saudi economic investment in U.S. and other Western financial markets is vulnerable to the economic disruptions that terrorism causes.

There is some evidence that the attacks on the United States have forced the Russians, the Pakistanis and others to rethink some of their basic beliefs about political alignments. If Secretary of State Colin Powell and other U.S. officials can persuade Saudi Arabia to do the same, an important victory in the war on terrorism will be achieved.


Minneapolis Star-Tribune

While coalitions form to collaborate on military actions, intelligence sharing and financial investigations in the nascent campaign against terrorism, an existing coalition needs quick, massive support. Last week, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees issued an urgent call for $268 million in new aid to help refugees in and around Afghanistan. Several governments, including the United States, have responded. Given several recent developments, however, donations must be vastly increased.

Some families in Afghanistan's largest cities began to leave for the countryside or the borders immediately after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. But as the United States began moving military equipment and personnel toward the region, the numbers increased dramatically; tens of thousands of Afghans have fled the cities of Kabul, Herat, Jalalabad and Kandahar in fear of air strikes. Some are reportedly fleeing because of stepped-up Taliban recruiting efforts as well.

The result: Up to 15,000 Afghans have entered Pakistan since Sept. 11, according to the U.N. refugee agency, while about 20,000 have congregated on the Afghan side of the now-closed Pakistan border. Still others have found their way through unmanned border crossings and are receiving help in Pakistan and elsewhere.

The crisis has become all the more difficult to address because relief agencies' international staff have been pulled from Afghanistan. Even worse, the Taliban last week issued an edict banning nearly all communication between people in Afghanistan and organizations outside the country. That is making relief efforts within the country next to impossible; local staff risk death by hanging if they are caught communicating with their international counterparts.

'This has the potential to be the worst refugee crisis the world has seen since Rwanda in 1994," said UNHCR spokesman Rupert Colville in Pakistan -- and today's displacement only adds to an already desperate humanitarian crisis. Before the terrorist attacks, Pakistan was sheltering about 2 million Afghan refugees, and Iran had an estimated 1.5 million. Ever since its war with the Soviets in the 1980s, Afghanistan has suffered poverty and displacement from the combined effects of civil strife, severe drought, repressive Taliban rule and an essentially collapsed government that can't provide even minimal health, education or social services. Now, among other dynamics, men are being conscripted and women are not allowed to take jobs -- leaving many families without income.

The United States has contributed more than $183 million in aid to Afghanistan so far this year, but it must compound by tenfold or more the extra $4 million it gave the UNHCR last week. Individuals and businesses, too, can donate money, goods or services to the U.N. agency, whose Web site is http://www.unhcr.ch.

America rightly claims the moral high ground both in its campaign to pursue terrorists and its ongoing humanitarian aid to Afghans. By planning its military strategy carefully and helping refugees who share nothing more than geography with Osama bin Laden, Congress and the Bush administration can ensure that it maintains that ground.


Portland Oregonian

W hen Jean Chretien visited President Bush to reinforce a united front against terrorism, the Canadian prime minister promised, "When you need us, we will be there."

Canada, we need you now.

Take action against the terrorists who are roaming your country while plotting to attack ours.

Strengthen your lax immigration laws, among the weakest in the world. Join us in creating a security perimeter around North America, with consistent visa, immigration and refugee laws.

As two of the globe's freest countries, the United States and Canada share the difficulty of balancing liberty and openness with internal security. We also share the world's longest undefended border -- more than 4,000 miles from Maine to Blaine, the crossing point into Washington state and the Pacific Northwest. The U.S.-Canada border is a mutually beneficial swinging door used by 545,000 people and more than a billion dollars in trade goods every day.

Terrorists easily and often get lost in this crowd. The FBI believes at least two of the Sept. 11 attackers crossed from Canada into the United States. In 1999, an alert U.S. border agent caught Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian with links to Osama bin Laden, with the makings of a powerful bomb he intended to detonate at Los Angeles International Airport during the millennium celebration.

We can't close, or even adequately defend, our shared border. America will never be secure unless Canada joins us in this fight against global terrorism.

Canadians were embarrassed and angry when President Bush failed to mention their country during his recent national address, when he thanked Great Britain, France, Australia, even Iran and El Salvador, for their support. Maybe it was a simple omission, as Bush later claimed.

The hard truth is, Canada deserves little thanks for its record on terrorism. More than 50 terrorist groups, including some of the world's most violent, are known to operate there. Canada is soft on international terrorism because until now it saw no reason not to be -- its government, its citizens, have seldom been targets.

So Canada allows fundraising by known terrorist fronts, and even grants charitable deductions for donations to them. Its immigration documents and passports are easily counterfeited. Its deportation process is cumbersome and ineffective.

In practice, anybody who shows up on Canadian soil and calls himself a refugee is entitled to remain -- and even receive welfare benefits. Ressam, the bomber captured on his way to LAX, was given $500 and welfare benefits after he was caught entering Montreal with a fraudulent French passport. Six years later, he came to the U.S. with his trunkload of explosives.

Of course, the United States has its own internal security issues, including an overwhelmed immigration system and weak U.S.-Canada border controls. Until Sept. 11, the U.S. Border Patrol didn't even man the midnight-to-8 a.m. shift along the Washington border with Canada. Anyone could simply walk in.

The Border Patrol has only about 300 agents to guard the thousands of miles of mountains and forests along the Canadian border -- one agent for every 12.8 miles. On the Mexico-U.S. border, there's an agent for every 1,300 feet.

We must strengthen our border security, yet both the United States and Canada derive huge benefits from an open border, with essentially unfettered traffic of people and commercial traffic.

A better solution is for Canada and the United States to work together to create uniformly strong immigration laws to protect both nations. But many Canadians resist even the suggestion of harmonizing visa, immigration and refugee requirements, calling such proposals a threat to Canadian sovereignty.

"I don't think Canadians are prepared to say that Washington can dictate our policies for who comes into Canada," Canadian Foreign Minister John Manley said a few days after the attack.

Maybe that's good politics in Canada.

But it's a thoughtless response to a close neighbor and friend that just lost more than 6,500 of its citizens.


Compiled by United Press International

© 2001 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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