The big unsolved problem in the war on terror is what to do about the obvious.

We have six million Arab-American Muslims living in this country — citizens, some visitors.

What are we all supposed to do about the fact that terrorists can hide among them?

Arab-American Muslims are complaining about what they call the heavy-handed tactics of the Justice Department in its searches for terror groups or groups that fund terrorism.

As you probably know, the attorney general has interviewed some 3,000 young Arab men — mostly, but not all visitors — and wants to interview a couple thousand more. He has said that they have been cooperative and willing to help locate would-be terrorists hiding in the United States.

To hear them tell it, it's way different... a persecution campaign aimed at Muslims. One young Arab man from Virginia, who was born and raised here in America, was caught carrying a very terrorist-sounding letter. He's upset for being treated as though he might be a terrorist.

Well... here's a question for the young man, and the Arab-American Muslim community: Iif this is the wrong thing to do, what is the right thing?

Don't say live by the ideals of the Constitution as scrupulously as we ever had, and let the chips fall where they may. We cannot do that. We know terrorists are still among us, and we must find them before they blow up a nuke plant, or set a suitcase nuke off in Times Square.

This is an outreach program. We have to reach out and find out who's who, what they think, and what they believe in. We need to put the evildoers away.

Does anybody believe we should not have had an active program aimed at finding Mohammed Atta? Does anybody believe that if we had used heavy handed measures, but been able to prevent the events of Sept. 11, that the abridgement of Atta's rights would have been a worse thing than terrorists slamming airliners into tall buildings?

I know some people believe that. I just want to hear them say it. I want to hear them make the argument that the right to keep a cop outside while somebody hides something incriminating is more important 3,000 lives.

I know there's some of you out there thinking it... so just say it.

I think America knows rights are important, but so are lives... and somebody has to come up with an answer that works.

That's My Word.

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