Dallas Morning News: Tuesday's assault on the United States came in a way that the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency most feared -- the hijacking of commercial airlines.
Retired FBI agent Danny Coulson said both agencies have had training scenarios where hijacked planes were crashed into major buildings. Mr. Coulson, who worked on the Oklahoma City bombing case, said the greatest fear was that the target would be the White House.
The American people must be willing to make the sacrifices necessary to close the door on this option for terrorism, Mr. Coulson said. His suggestions ring true in light of the easy manner that planes were taken and used to destroy the twin towers of the World Trade Center and crash into the Pentagon.
Here are the moves that federal authorities, commercial airlines and passengers should be more than willing to do for the sake of security:
Passenger screening: Use a higher level of security officers to screen passengers and luggage. Currently, the officers working metal detectors and X-ray machines are minimum-wage workers. And so are those loading the planes.
Step up military presence at airports. In the Middle East, military personnel frequently are assigned to flights. That is not necessary right now in the United States, but an armed military presence at airports would send an important message to would-be terrorists.
Require passengers to show up even earlier for scheduled flights. The nation was lulled into a false sense of security, and passengers have become lax about appearing well in advance at airports.
Airport security is only part of the solution, however. Mr. Coulson believes, and we agree, that the intelligence budget for the CIA and FBI should be beefed up significantly. And so should funds for paying off informants.
As long as terrorists believe they can break through airport security and plot outside the eyes and ears of the CIA and FBI, the threat of another strike will remain strong.
TERRORISM MUST NOT UNDERMINE DEMOCRACY
Duluth (Minn.) News-Tribune: No American can hear a siren today without fearing attack. The usual downtown bustle has been replaced by virtually deserted streets. The few people who venture out of homes and workplaces are subdued, shaken to the core by the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
After Tuesday's coordinated, simultaneous sneak attack on sites across the nation, American life never will be the same. This event will indelibly mark this generation of Americans at the dawn of the 21st century as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the bombing of Pearl Harbor affected Americans in the 20th century.
"Remember Pearl Harbor" became the rallying cry of a generation of Americans battling for freedom against tyranny after a Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack killed 2,323 U.S. servicemen and destroyed the U.S. naval fleet.
"Remember 9/11" will be the rallying cry of this generation of Americans standing for freedom against terrorism after an unknown, but horrendous, number of American lives were lost in New York and Washington.
Targets: Make no mistake about it, suicide bombers who hijacked commercial airliners Tuesday and targeted 50,000 Americans in the World Trade Center and 20,000 Americans in the Pentagon, took aim at every man, woman and child in the United States.
Who knows how many other sites would have been hit if all the nation's airports had not been shut down for the first time in American history?
No American is secure from this kind of threat.
Tuesday's atrocity is war-scale in magnitude, involving thousands of civilian casualties. Yet the aim of the terrorists is not conquest of American territory or seizure of American government. It is to inspire fear and panic in Americans, to destroy public confidence in government and to provoke a democratic nation into undemocratic actions that stifle hard-won freedoms.
In that we must not let them succeed.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt's ringing eloquence offered inspiration to Americans after the attack on Pearl Harbor: "No matter how long it may take to overcome this premeditated invasion ... we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again."
But inspiring as his words are, they offer no solution for the situation we face today. It will not do to mobilize the industrial might and productive power of the American nation for all-out war as we did in 1941.
Today the enemy is unknown and has struck not with conventional military power, but with the unseen instruments of terror. In the shock wave after Tuesday's dastardly attack, you hear some angry, frustrated Americans say, "I want some country to be a parking lot tomorrow." But we ought to be clear today, as Roosevelt was 60 years ago, that Americans act not indiscriminately out of vengeance, but to make a world "in which this nation, and what this nation represents, will be safe for our children."
DON'T GIVE IN TO DESPAIR
Orlando Sentinel: Never before has the human toll of terrorism struck so massively close to home, riveting a nation with horrific images of passenger jets used as battering rams to destroy some of the world's most venerable and vulnerable landmarks. Tears flowed. And, as the full magnitude of the attack becomes clear, more tears will be shed.
America, though, must stand strong. The attack brought this nation to a stop. But it should not and will not bring this great nation to its knees.
Grief, anger and a very real sense of helplessness are natural reactions in times of turmoil. But now is the time for communities to find strength from such unspeakable tragedy.
By their very nature, terrorist attacks are unpredictable. And very often, such miscreants will coordinate a second or third strike to drive home their cowardly points. That's why leaders' first response -- to beef up security precautions at potential targets -- was wholly appropriate.
The community can and should respond with patience and empathy as security measures are reviewed and improved at public facilities, especially at airports and at state and federal courthouses.
Tread lightly: At the same time, Americans and their leaders at all level of government must tread lightly, ever mindful of the very principles of freedom that terrorist groups find so threatening. To abridge those freedoms in the name of national security would be to condone the repugnant and oppressive values of the criminals who committed these acts of violence.
America, after all, is a nation of united states, bound by a common belief in democratic ideals. Though the actual terrorist attacks occurred in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, political and emotional rage reverberated throughout the country.
Central Florida hardly was immune. Some of the victims, no doubt, had ties to Central Florida. Even more know of friends, relatives or loved ones whose lives were changed inexorably by Tuesday's tragedy.
If the region's reaction was any indication, the nation is mobilized in its resolve to stare down despair and emerge triumphant. Thousands of local residents, for example, lined up at Central Florida blood banks to help replenish depleted blood supplies. A nation's strength, after all, is measured by the resilience of its people. America may be shaken, but it must steel its resolve to triumph over evil.
WE SHALL NOT SUCCUMB
Detroit Free Press: Unbelievable. How else to describe Tuesday's horrifying madness?
Each new detail, each succeeding image was more unbelievable than the one before. Hijacked jetliners destroying the World Trade Center and breaching the wide walls of the Pentagon. The wreckage of a hijacked jet near Pittsburgh, brought to Earth before it could strike yet another target.
America fell victim Tuesday to a calculated terrorist plot that will likely be the deadliest in the history of the world, coordinated acts of spectacular destruction hitherto envisioned only in novels or movies. The death toll is expected to eclipse the 2,400 killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Then, most victims were military casualties, not civilians who did nothing more than go to work Tuesday or board an aircraft on a sunny morning in late summer.
The slaughter of innocents on such a scale will be felt across the nation, foremost by the families and friends of the victims, but also by everyone who now must think about the unthinkable, who must believe in the unbelievable. It is the random nature of terrorism that makes it so terrifying. That is the intent of the terrorist -- not just to destroy people and symbols, but also to disrupt a way of life, to paralyze a society, to sow fear and suspicion.
When that happens, the terrorist wins.
Difficult as it may be in the face of such staggering tragedy, Americans must not let that happen. Mourn, we shall, but succumb, we shall not.
Confidence: This will require, in the days to come, that President George W. Bush find and project a confidence and command that has been lacking in his young administration. He appropriately made available Tuesday all federal resources, including military, to assist local authorities in recovery work. He should also declare a national day of mourning for the victims and urge appropriate tributes that include lessons on the terrible price that is sometimes paid to live in a free society.
At a less visible level, Bush must determine how the military and intelligence networks of the world's most powerful nation failed to detect such a large-scale plot. Somebody failed somewhere, even if only by failing to heed longstanding warnings about our lack of credible information on Third World terrorists. Next must come response, which should focus first on any nation known to harbor terrorists. There is ample precedent for them to suffer the wrath of American air power unless or until these international outlaws are handed over.