Response from the basin
Occasional voices of restraint were interspersed with angry demands for retribution Wednesday as the impact of the terrorist attacks sank in and the body count rose.
“Where are the F-16s? Why aren’t they getting these guys?” said Jeff White, a resident of Orange County, Calif., who was taking a vacation with his family in Lake Tahoe when the bombings took place.
His mother, Beth Haynes, of upstate New York, cried and watched television all day. Though she and her husband knew no one killed or injured in the Tuesday’s attacks, she said she felt someone close had died.
In a series of coordinated attacks Tuesday, terrorists crashed two airlines into the World Trade Center in New York, and a third plane slammed into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. A fourth one crashed in Pennsylvania.
No official death toll has been announced but several thousand people are feared dead. People watching grim images of rescue workers sifting through the rubble of the collapsed World Trade Center bristled with anger and called for U.S. military action.
“They should use the most surgical means available to them,” said Philip Fenske, an acupuncturist based in South Lake Tahoe. “They should use their best guided missiles and target governments, and not make it just a retaliatory bloodbath.”
Osama bin Laden, the government’s prime suspect in the attacks, further fueled public anger by reportedly praising the perpetrators of the violence from his hideout in Afghanistan.
U.S. President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell called Tuesday’s strikes “an act of war,” promising Americans that those responsible for the violence would pay.
“It’s appropriate to call it an act of war,” said Byron Gehring of Incline Village. “It should be taken in the biblical sense: an eye for an eye.”
While it was important to find the guilty and punish them swiftly, Gehring said, the target should not be limited to just the perpetrators of Tuesday’s attacks but should be extended to include all terrorist organizations worldwide.
Even those who called for restraint on America’s part said the principal challenge before the country was to organize a worldwide campaign against terrorism.
“No country should have to suffer this tragedy. But if you bomb (in retaliation) innocent people will get killed,” said Fred Haynes of upstate New York.
However, he said, “The world has to get together to get rid of terrorism.”
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