Test Case for Clinton

NEWS organizations often go slightly tongue-tied when they have to talk about their own affairs. We don't intend to do so in commenting about the seizure of Monitor correspondent David Rohde in Bosnian Serb territory. What we have to say may be summed up in three paragraphs:

1. David Rohde is a courageous and skilled reporter who was doing his job as the eyes and ears for readers. He had earlier done valiant detective work in searching out evidence of mass killing of captured Muslim men in Serb-held territory. Only relentless exposure of war crimes will help to deter such crimes in future.

2. UN and US officials and Rohde's fellow correspondents in the war area have been quick to help locate him and press captors for his release. We thank them for him and his family.

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3. US mediator Richard Holbrooke and Secretary of State Warren Christopher reportedly brought up the Rohde case to Serb representatives at the peace talks in Ohio. We trust they will continue to press for immediate release. The Clinton administration is right in saying that no individual case should get in the way of the peace bargaining. David Rohde would agree. But this matter gives the administration a realistic opportunity to demonstrate to a skeptical Congress and American public how it would vigorously come to the aid of any US soldier detained on future peacekeeping duty in Bosnia.

Monitor correspondents have been wrongly detained before in various areas of the world. In one notable case during the Vietnam War, Elizabeth Pond was held by guerrillas for six weeks. Through their own inner resources and the far more-than-routine help of others, they have come through those experiences strengthened, not cowed.

The White House can show it would vigorously aid any US soldier detained in Bosnia.

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