RAMADI, Iraq -- In the months after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, President George W. Bush warned that the war on terror would be a long, multifaceted fight against a jihadist terrorist enemy. The commander in chief proceeded to dispatch the nation's military to Afghanistan and, later, to Iraq. But the war on terror requires engagement on numerous fronts, including homeland security, international diplomacy, legal and financial.
Progress is being made, though not fast enough for the carping critics who will use any excuse to attack the president's efforts. Earlier this week, Bush addressed employees at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where components of Libya's nuclear weapons program are now stored. Strong diplomatic efforts have made it possible for Libya to begin dismantling its weapons of mass destruction.
Attorney General John Ashcroft just issued a report on the much-maligned Patriot Act, showing that the legislation has helped to track down 310 suspected terrorists, 179 of whom have already been convicted.
And, of course, on June 28, sovereignty was transferred to the Iraqis. While the American press corps and the liberal establishment began complaining when violence did not cease overnight, coalition forces are making real progress on the ground.
The Marines of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines tell me that the Iraqis are beginning to get a better handle on the security situation in Iraq and are doing more for themselves. I had the chance to witness a bit of the new Iraqi justice system shortly after setting foot on the ground for this, my fourth trip to Iraq.
An Iraqi male suspected of hijacking vehicles to be used for car bombings was hauled into police headquarters in the al Anbar Province this week. We were granted unprecedented access to watch and listen while the chief of police -- a man who is well respected here in Ramadi, in part because he himself spent 18 months in jail under Saddam Hussein -- interrogated the suspect, who confessed to hijacking two cars and four trucks. Without coercion or humiliation, he also confessed to being "a soldier of god" and killing a police officer.
When he was caught by the military and turned over to the police, there were no signs he had been subjected to mistreatment or abuse, as would have been the case under Saddam. The good news for this man is that the interim Iraqi government is exercising their sovereignty in a responsible manner and he is going to go before a court and be tried instead being tortured, killed and thrown in a ditch.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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