Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Applying the "Broken Windows" Theory to Terrorists

David Medienkritik writes a moving blog entry quoting the brother of Robert Dean Stethem. Petty Officer Stethem was a fatal victim of the terrorist hijacking of Trans World Airlines Flight 847 on June 14, 1985.

Mr. President,

I would like to provide you with an explanation as to why Muhammed Ali Hammadi's recent release by Germany, and your Administration's lack of any attempt to prevent it, is so upsetting to our family and to Americans everywhere. (...)

You have rightly said, "Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done." You have truly said that "We are in a fight for our principles, and our first responsibility is to live by them." Robert lived by them. Robert also died by them. The motto of the USS SSTETHEM (DDG-63), named in Robert's honor, is "Steadfast and Courageous." I hope that his example, and the example of other heroes like him can inspire you to understand why allowing Germany to release Hammadi was a wrong. Justice was not done, Robert was not honored and Americans are not safer by allowing Hammadi to return to Lebanon and Hezbollah.

You know this, we know this and the American people know this.

The Stethem family

You can read the whole sad, but brave tale from the web site of the Navy Destroyer named in his honor.

In a cruel twist the German government has released the terrorist responsible for killing Robert, one Muhammed Ali Hammadi. I wonder if we should apply the "broken windows" theory to terrorists acts as was done in cleaning up NYC. We could put particular energy into finding and dispatching Hammadi using secret agents as ordinary judicial means seems to have failed at this point. Perhaps, if this policy were pursued without exception, this could serve to provide a deadly effective disincentive to terrorists. I think this policy should be pursued in addition to other approaches (legal, military, etc.) but that in no case should any terrorist ultimately be allowed to be free.


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This is a joke, but I hear stuff like this everyday