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Respect for Rule of Law Means Fighting for It Dear Editor: The contrast between the editorial (” Targeted Assassinations“) and the commentary by James Hirschhorn (” Not a Defendant But an Enemy“) on facing pages of the Dec. 2 issue is fascinating [170 N.J.L.J. 754, 755]. The editorial suggests that we would be demeaning the “beacon of human rights” if we target terrorists for assassination – such as firing a missile in Yemen to kill an aide of Osama Bin Laden – rather than trying to “capture and try terrorists.” On the other hand, the commentary notes that the United States was attacked by “a declared but concealed enemy” and that Congress and the President have declared the United States “at war with Al Qaeda.” Under those circumstances, the government has authorized “retaliation and self-defense” in an effort “to destroy or neutralize a hostile organization,” including targeted killing. I understand, as suggested by the editorial, that “a free society should respect the human rights” of terrorists and that “pinpoint targeting” of individuals for assassination is not “acceptable behavior” except as a “last resort.” Nonetheless, we have reached the stage of last resort. Our country has been attacked. Three thousand innocent people have been killed, leaving 10,000 children without a parent. Our freedom has been restricted and our safety challenged. Our government warns that it may not be able to protect us from future attacks. We live in fear. Perhaps my view of the world has been affected by my personal experience. I was in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, at 9:15 A.M. I was in the basement on the last train to enter the Port Authority terminal. I sat for 10 minutes trapped in a car with locked doors – a few minutes earlier and I would have been standing in the lobby of the north tower when it burst into flames. Instead, I stood on Church Street (10 blocks away from the World Trade Center) and watched the south tower fall to the ground. The editorial suggests that the United States should serve as a shining example of respect “for the rule of law.” I agree. We should start by demonstrating our willingness to fight for that rule – and for the freedom and security that it brings. President Bush is right. We must treat the terrorists as “international killers.” We must defend ourselves by taking “the battle to them.” We must be patient and steadfast and “hunt them down.” We should “capture and try” them if we can. If we can’t, we have the right to target them for assassination. If we don’t act now, they will kill us first. I don’t know if I’ll survive another attack � and I don’t want them to have a second chance. Gerald H. Baker Hoboken

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