When you consider the destruction Timothy McVeigh wrought with a truck that didn’t even require a commercial driver’s license to operate, it’s frightening, said Oliver North, to imagine what a terrorist could do with a tractor-trailer. After Sept. 11, all eyes and resources turned toward aviation, the retired Marine lieutenant colonel and counter-terrorism expert noted in his opening address to this year’s Randall Trucking Symposium. But terrorists are flexible and resourceful. “Most likely, the next terrorist event is going to be a people, car or truck bomb in America,” North said.
North endorsed the concept of turning the industry’s 3 million drivers into “America’s Trucking Army” – watching out for suspicious characters and activity on and around America’s highways.
Given the consequences of inaction, North isn’t troubled by the complaint that an anti-terrorism campaign of such magnitude inevitably will mean that drivers and others will report some people based solely on appearance or presumed race or nationality.
“Is it profiling? Yes. Does it hurt somebody’s feelings? Yes. My answer is: Deal with it.”
Although North concedes that terrorists could successfully strike again in the United States, he believes the long-term outlook for American success in the war is good. A big threat to eventual victory, however, is a civic bias against military service, North argued. He urged trucking companies to accommodate employees with reserve duty and to push their local high schools to reverse policies against allowing the armed services to recruit students nearing graduation.
The controversy that has surrounded North since the days of the so-called Iran-Contra Affair often obscures the fact that North has significant experience in counter-terrorism. Assigned to the National Security Council staff in the Reagan administration, North was the U.S. government’s counter-terrorism coordinator from 1983 to 1986. Among other things, he helped plan the U.S. raid on Muhammar Qaddafi’s terrorist bases in Libya.