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Terrorism Trials

December 22, 1985

So the United States is considering an indictment of Yasser Arafat for terrorism. (Editorial pages, Dec. 15). Have we forgotten that the United States is on trial for terrorism at the World Court in The Hague? And that the case was so clear cut--CIA mines in Nicaraguan harbors--that the United States had no defense to offer?

I guess that's the idea: If Washington keeps barking about other world leaders being terrorists, then attention will be diverted from the U.S.--from CIA comic books encouraging sabotage, the manual on assassination as a persuasive technique, the systematic execution of pro-Sandinista village leaders and other civilians in northern Nicaragua.

And if Arafat is indicted, will we also indict Menachem Begin for the 1948 massacre of the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin or for blowing up the King David Hotel? As Begin has shown, yesterday's terrorist can be tomorrow's prime minister. Begin's defense is no different than Arafat's: that terror was necessary in the struggle to win statehood for a homeless, oppressed people that the world was ignoring.

But what is our excuse as a superpower engaged in terror against a sovereign, struggling, poverty-stricken country like Nicaragua? Let's quit committing terrorism before we point fingers at (or indict) others.

JEFF COHEN

Venice

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