Paul Greenberg

As for Ingrid Betancourt, in her first statements she thanked God and the Colombian soldiers who had pulled off the rescue. How appropriate, for God and the soldier are the first called upon in times of danger, the first forgotten when all seems safe and secure.

The soldiers, trained and prepared for their mission, had come disguised as fellow revolutionaries decked out in Che Guevarra T-shirts. (At last, a constructive use for that oh-so-fashionable image!) American intelligence had been working with the Colombians for years to lay the groundwork for this moment, playing games with the kidnappers' communications, winning their trust by posing as suppliers who could meet their requests for everything from weapons to cosmetics. Until the time came to convince them that other comrades were coming to take charge of the hostages.

The captives, their hands and feet bound, were taken aboard the unmarked helicopters as if they were being transferred to another guerrilla base. Only after they were airborne were they told the good news: "We're the national army. You're free."

Jubilation erupted. The captives were liberated, their chief captor now captive. He was at their feet - bound, naked, blindfolded and en route to justice.

Ingrid Betancourt's dream, which had turned into a nightmare, was over. She had emerged into the light, to be reunited with family, friends, both of her countries, and the free of the world. Awake again, what compelling sentences, spilling over from her terrible dream, will she now have to share with those of us who still sleep, believing that we and ours will always be safe and secure?

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.