Linda Chavez, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland, unveiled proposals yesterday for combating terrorism that include more covert actions by the U.S. government and kidnaping terrorists to bring them to trial here.
Chavez, who outlined her proposals during a news conference at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, also released results of a security evaluation at the airport that showed that security needs to be improved to guard against terrorist attacks.
The report on airport security and the six-point program on terrorism were the first in a series of white papers that Chavez intends to release throughout the campaign. Chavez, one of three candidates seeking the Republican nomination in the Sept. 9 primary, said she discovered during her travels around Maryland that terrorism is the dominant topic on voters' minds, particularly after three Annapolis residents died from a bomb explosion aboard a TWA airliner flying over Greece last month.
Dario O. Marquez, a former Secret Service agent and president of a security firm that conducted the airport study for Chavez, said that while security at BWI was comparable to that at most domestic airports, security staff should be increased by about 50 percent, training improved, and overlapping jurisdictions between state police, private security firms and federal authorities eliminated.
Leonard Wood, director of airports for Maryland, disputed the report's findings. "Security measures are adequate, exceed federal standards, and are constantly under review," he said.
In defending her proposal of "capturing terrorists overseas and trying them in the U.S.," Chavez said that the Italian government's failure to extradite terrorists who hijacked the Achille Lauro cruise ship in October and killed an American on board showed that "we cannot rely on the legal processes of other states to protect our citizens as fully as they deserve."
Chavez said the U.S. should withdraw its troops from Western Europe if European allies fail to support American antiterrorist activities. "I expect some uproar from our allies, but it's time we get tough with them," said Chavez. "I believe that the international laws we currently have are inadequate to deal with these extraordinary times."
Other recommendations offered by Chavez included increasing the number of federal sky marshals, imposing an airport security fee, using onboard cameras to relay photos of hijackers to ground terminals and boycotting overseas airports where security continually fails to meet State Department standards. She also said the news media should be asked to limit coverage of terrorists and "apologists for terrorist organizations."