Thune: New war will insure freedom

Thune: New war will insure freedom Vermillion High School student Maya Ristic interviews Congressman John Thune (R-SD) after Thune spoke for over an hour to a student assembly in the VHS gymnasium Monday. by David Lias Vermillion High School students in the middle of celebrating homecoming week paused Monday to hear some rather sobering news.

There is a good chance that the U.S. will take military action, Rep. John Thune (R-SD) told a student assembly, in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the East Coast.

"We need to insure that when other people commit atrocious acts like this, that they are dealt with in an appropriate way to insure that the people in this country have an opportunity to live freely and safely," Thune said.

Such action is needed, he told students, for American society to function normally.

"People should not have to worry about some terrorists blowing up their car or blowing up their school or blowing up their home," Thune said.

He freely admitted that there is no clear cut plan developed yet on exactly how to respond to the terrorist attacks.

"I want you guys to know there are lots of questions about what we should do next," Thune said. "We don't know exactly how long it is going to take, but I can tell you one thing � there is resolve in this country and I think around the entire world to make sure there is justice and that these people are dealt with in an appropriate way."

He told students that he believes an invasion of Afghanistan hasn't been ruled out by the U.S. military.

"I think in order to really get at that terrorist network, we're going to probably have to, at some point, commit to some sort of ground forces, some special forces, because these are people who live in caves in the mountains," Thune said. "These are people who are very well entrenched, they are very smart, they are very disciplined and they are very tough."

If it is determined that the most effective way to root out the terrorist network is by launching a ground campaign, Thune said the use of the military's special forces will likely be the nation's best alternative.

The U.S. military response, he added, will be unique.

"The thing about terrorist groups are they aren't like an established military," Thune said. "We don't have the option of attacking a military installation as a way of taking care of this. These people are very well entrenched, they are people who have enormous resolve, and they strongly believe in their cause."

In addition, Thune said, the network suspected of the World Trade Center attack is wealthy, and also receives support from terrorist nations.

Thune said it is likely that the U.S. military will remain in Sudan.

"Sudan is another country that has been guilty in the past of harboring other terrorist groups, so my guess is that we probably will have some military presence in that region as long as we feel there is a threat to any of our people serving there," he said.

Thune also indicated that the best offense against terrorism is a better defense.

"We haven't been doing a good enough job of gathering intelligence on some of these terrorists groups. I do believe that where there is a will, there is a way," he said. "We have received cooperation out of countries who in the past have not been particularly friendly, like Pakistan and Russia, because they are just as concerned about these terrorist groups."

These nations are willing to help the United States by sharing their intelligence with us, he said.

"If we can continue working with some of those other countries and get our intelligence community working together, we will be able to pinpoint the locations of the terrorists," Thune said.

Saudi exile Osama bin Laden, suspected of masterminding the Sept. 11 attack, has in the past expressed his disdain for the United States.

"He doesn't differentiate between people who serve in the military and those who are civilians ? he believes that they all have to be eliminated," Thune said. "He's made that very clear. He justifies their actions by calling them holy wars predicated on religious motives."

The Congressman said he can't accept such bizarre reasoning.

"Anybody who has any reverence for our creator or anybody who is sincere about his faith accepts as a basic premise respect for human life," Thune said. "That's why I find it so difficult for them to any way justify what they do based upon some religious precept. I think they simply hold a deep-seated hostility toward the United States."

Thune was asked whether taking military action against terrorists who deeply hate the U.S. may put the country at greater risk of more attacks.

"There are people who believe that we are the great Satan of the west," he said, "and they are going to do everything and anything to make sure that the United States is eliminated as a major economic and military force in the world.

"I think in the short term, if we take military action we may see other terrorist-types of incidents," he added. "But if we are serious about eradicating terrorism, and getting this whole network, and if we go after it with all the force and power and with the alliance of countries around the world that are working with us, I we can reach these guys, and I think we can take care of the problem."

Taking care of the problem likely will take some time, Thune added.

"They have a real advantage," he said. "They understand us. They know our strengths. They know our weaknesses, and we know nothing about them, other than what our intelligence tells us, and that's not a lot."

Thune added that he suspects America's new war will be fought with conventional weapons.

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