To solve this problem, we have to make a choice. We have to treat terrorists as either Border-less Nation-States, or as Common Criminals.
If we treat them as Border-less Nation-States, then we can make war on them by conventional means. Of course it may not be very effective, but we can do it. Of course then, we should also make war on their allies. So if we make war on Bin Laden, then it’s war on the Taliban, then on Afghanistan, then on to Pakistan and eventually China. At least we’ll have India on our side. :-/
That’s not such a good situation. And, if we treat them as such, we also give them credibility as sovereigns, which seems unwise.
The better choice is probably to treat them as Common Criminals.
We have the best criminal justice system in the world. We are doing a great job of prosecuting criminals, and a great job of protecting citizens from abuses. We can always get better, but by it’s nature, it’s never perfect.
So if we are going to treat them as criminals, we should use the best system in the world for that, which is our own!
However painful to the soul it may be, we must accept that part of our system means affording them some fair legal justice. It may not need to be exactly our own civil rights. But probably it should be some modicum of what we do, governed by some national or global civilian body.
The other big part is law enforcement. We know how to do that already! We have our state, local and federal bodies, and they are doing a great job. When they don’t do such a good job, it’s usually because we haven’t given them enough tools. I don’t mean legal tools, like waiving Miranda rights. I mean real tools, like guns, training, electronics, coordination efforts, vehicles, better wages, better medical insurance, or just plain more manpower or a pat on the back.
We need to extend and expand our law enforcement capacity at home, and appropriately overseas. Doing that ought to be something everyone Left, Right and Center can get behind, since it takes the best of everyone’s agenda. We’re spending money to create jobs for American workers and to protect ourselves from real threats to our national security, and we’re doing it in a way that is both active and rational at the same time.
If a Hippie tells you we don’t need more law enforcement, give them a hug and gently remind them that they are, after all, Hippies.
If a Corporatist tells you we don’t need more law enforcement, tell him you’re not giving him a tax cut so he can fund his own Private Army of Brown Shirts.