Today has been hell in New York and Washington, but we may have worse hell ahead of us. A lot of innocent people have died and been hurt, and a lot more innocent people in other countries may soon be killed and hurt. It looks like Bush's war has come his way, and he may be very eager to take full advantage of it to break out of the frustrations he has been facing.

Many in the U.S. are enraged enough to want to hurl retaliation thunderbolts at somebody, or anybody. The first foreign targets will undoubtedly be the ones most politically advantageous to the Bush administration not necessarily the ones that will produce the best outcome in the long run.

At home, we can expect mob retaliation against U.S. citizens and residents who look like they might be Arabs. But the main domestic target will be civil liberties. The FBI has clearly screwed up in failing to uncover the preparations for today's attacks; it's response will likely be an all-out sweep against all who are even faintly suspect. That could become a reign of terror in which whatever laws or procedures are needed to move it forward will be rushed into place.

Those of us who do not want to see these hellish consequences had better start moving fast to try to bring some sanity. I'm going to start by letting Bush and my congress people know that I want them to cool it. Now is the time to come to a careful concensus based on a nationwide discussion of how to proceed. An ill-considered, quick response to today's events would be a disaster.

- Howard Falk (Green Party)