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GannettUSA Today

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The fear factor

Nobody in the nation and most of the world wants to see another 9/11. There are terrorists out there who would like to disrupt, if not destroy, our way of life ... the cherished freedoms of our democracy. Our government should do all it can within legal means to keep our people safe. But that does not mean that the "fear factor'' should be invoked by public or private officials to the detriment of those freedoms.

The latest example came Tuesday from the Chemistry Council of New Jersey in response to an environmental group's report identifying plants in the state that handle hazardous materials, complete with their addresses and the chemicals involved. To the chemical industry, the report gives a road map to terrorists and puts people at risk. C'mon. The information is available from the chemical companies. So it's undoubtedly no secret to terrorists.

An informed public is essential to democracy. The people should be told how they are at risk and what steps the chemical industry is taking to minimize those risks. There's no reason to hide behind fear.

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