WASHINGTON — Secretary of State George P. Shultz today rejected suggestions that terrorism should be fought by dealing with the political problems behind it.
"These people are beasts, and we need to understand that fact," he said at a State Department seminar for foreign journalists on the subject of international terrorism.
Shultz said it has been suggested that terrorists could be engaged in a justified, sometimes noble task and that if terrorism is to be beaten, the root causes have to be tackled.
"It is a snare and a delusion to fall for this line of reasoning," he said.
He said the hijackers of the cruise liner Achille Lauro had been called freedom fighters by their lawyers at their Italian trial, and he called that "a bunch of baloney."
Shultz said the search for a Middle East peace is a separate issue from terrorism.
"We don't accept (terrorism) as being justified by some so-called cause," he said. "So we seek to put it down."
"We also have to work at the problem of doing everything we can to promote peace in the Middle East. That's a separate issue," he said.
Shultz also warned the journalists that they have a special obligation not to encourage international terrorists "by putting out what they want to have published."
He said that, in general, the media have been doing a good job: "You're too good, in knowing about everything, and that entails special responsibilities on your part not to tell everything about what we're doing to fight terrorism."
He was directly critical of journalists "who get fascinated by terrorists and do all sorts of things to get interviews with them."
That was an apparent reference to NBC's arrangement with AbulAbbas, the accused ringleader of the Achille Lauro operation, who gave an interview to an NBC correspondent on the condition that his whereabouts not be revealed.