What to do about terrorism post-Brussels
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In the wake of the recent terrorist attacks in Belgium, the presidential candidates have not hesitated to offer their views on how to eliminate terrorist attacks. To become better informed on the candidates' stances, recently I read an article in The New York Times; listened to retired Air Force Gen. Hayden, the former director of both the CIA and National Security Agency, on NPR (I know some readers have now already disqualified me as a liberal); and read a Karl Rove piece in The Wall Street Journal. Talk about fair and balanced.


Of the presidential candidates, Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzO'Rourke faces pressure from left on 'Medicare for all' O'Rourke not planning, but not ruling out big fundraisers O'Rourke: Being a white male not a disadvantage in 2020 Dem field MORE (R-Texas) proposes a police, if not military, presence in Muslim neighborhoods — although what constitutes a Muslim neighborhood was a little harder for him to define. Republican front-runner Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpJoint Chiefs chairman denies report that US is planning to keep 1K troops in Syria Kansas Department of Transportation calls Trump 'delusional communist' on Twitter Trump has privately voiced skepticism about driverless cars: report MORE would close the borders and continue his approach of excluding refugees and Muslims. Former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP lawmaker defends Chelsea Clinton after confrontation over New Zealand attacks Klobuchar: Race, gender should not be litmus tests for 2020 Dem nominee Kirsten Gillibrand officially announces White House run MORE (D) proposes increasing cyber intelligence gathering. Not much has been reported from Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersO'Rourke faces pressure from left on 'Medicare for all' O'Rourke says he won't use 'f-word' on campaign trail O'Rourke not planning, but not ruling out big fundraisers MORE (Vt.) on this issue.

It is certainly understandable that people running for president want to reach out to their bases, and may in truth have a visceral instinct to take certain actions. Clearly, all of us would like to be able to eradicate the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as a movement. What we have to recognize is that there have been a series of terrorist groups like this that have evolved in the Middle East, as seen in the 9/11 attacks with al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, and now ISIS. Terrorism is not new; just ask the Israelis.

It is instructive to probe the various candidates' proposals. Trump simply provides a bellicose, simplistic response. Cruz offers a more thoughtful response, but it flies in the face of his other precepts that include a smaller government and less government spending. You can't deploy more police without spending additional dollars. Clinton looks to focus on intelligence-gathering through all sources available, and Hayden clearly supports her approach. The chief of police in New York City indicated this week that calls for actions like those proposed by Trump and Cruz do not aid the police in their intelligence-gathering and deterrent activities; rather, they close off communities and generally create an atmosphere of distrust.

There is no doubt that we need to do a better job of vetting those emigrating from countries and regions that have strong terrorist histories. We should also focus on enhancing our abilities from an intelligence-gathering perspective, including sharing information about terror suspects' movements and emerging plots with all appropriate levels of law enforcement throughout the world. Obviously, particular attention needs to be paid to the United States and Europe, as they appear to be among the repeat targets, and Europe suffers from the inability to share information about suspected terrorists. Canada has also experienced terrorism attacks; however, the Canadian and U.S. governments operate at a high level of cooperation that needs very little more than tweaking on both sides.

It is extremely important that we engage cultural experts who can offer a greater understanding of how new terrorist groups arise and their backgrounds, and what tools we should be investigating in order to best stifle and defeat these groups. A multifaceted approach seems only logical, and given our capacity in the technology arena, we need to move forward purposefully and quickly to navigate this very tricky space.

The idea that bombastic pronouncements will do anything other than raise the blood pressure of Americans is disheartening and frightening. Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan says Trump will win reelection because of 'record of accomplishment' Pence loses House office space Dem budget chair: Trump 2020 proposal 'cruel-hearted' MORE (R-Wis.) called for greater civility last week, which is an important step. However, he needs to guide his caucus toward factual analysis of the circumstances as we proceed with investigations, committee hearings and ultimately legislation. Should we revisit the Patriot Act? What other tools may assist law enforcement? The encryption debate becomes more complex with each terrorist event.

I opposed the renewal of the Patriot Act, but as I call for the need to step out of our intellectual and emotional silos develop new modes of operation and controls over them, I recognize that I, too, need to be willing to adjust my analyses and conclusions.

Owens is a former member of Congress representing New York's 21st Congressional District and is a partner in the firm of Stafford, Owens, Piller, Murnane, Kelleher & Trombley, PLLC in Plattsburgh, N.Y.