bin Laden

No Negotiation



A courageous act is taking a stand based on a strongly held principle against difficult odds and a willingness to bear the cost. A senseless act involves standing against overwhelming odds destined to bring failure and defeat with no discernible benefit. Certainly it would not be difficult to equate senselessness with the Taliban, the religious faction that controls the government of Afghanistan and 90 percent of the territory. Any government that beats its citizens for listening to popular music and shells Buddhist statues into oblivion cannot rightly be considered wise or reasonable in the first place. Their intransigence towards the civilized world since Sept. 11 crosses the line of senselessness into a form of self-immolation.

Yesterday, the Taliban confirmed that, "Osama bin Laden is in Afghanistan in an unknown place for his safety and security" and he is under their control. Taliban officials want to negotiate with the United States regarding his release and demand to see proof of his involvement in the plot to attack the United States that left in excess of 6,000 dead in New York, Washington and southern Pennsylvania. Both President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have pointed fingers squarely at bin Laden based on the evidence presented to them thus far. The United States government has rejected any suggestions of negotiation and has stated its intention to treat nations providing shelter to wanted terrorists as harshly as the terrorists themselves.

Assuming for the moment the Taliban are reasonable, their logic is dubious and ignorant of the workings of any legal system - not surprising, since Afghanistan has no official legal system. When charges are filed against a person, the accused is brought into court. The prosecution presents the evidence for the jury and the defendant's lawyers can refute the evidence - which they have access to - in order to defend their client's innocence. Prosecutors must use the evidence to convince a judge of a suspect's involvement to obtain a conviction. Authorities do not negotiate with the accused or their protectors, but only with other members of the legal system.

Attempting to apply conventional legal procedures to such an unprecedented situation is difficult, but the leaders of Afghanistan should be convinced by more concrete arguments. According to the Oct. 1 issue of Time magazine, the composition of Afghan forces is: 45,000 soldiers, 10 bombers, five fighter jets, 10 transport helicopters and 40 cargo planes. The American military has 1.4 million active duty personnel with another 1.7 million in reserve and thousands of aircraft. The available pool of military-service aged males in Afghanistan is six million; in the United States, it is 70 million. The United States has the active support of all Western countries, and numerous Arab and Muslim nations as well. Two of the three countries that officially recognized the Taliban government recently broke off contact with them and the remaining nation, Pakistan, is siding with the United States.

There will be no negotiation. The United States government wants Osama bin Laden and his associates. They should be turned over to the United States and tried in a court of law as war criminals. They should be given the finest legal representation in the nation to ensure a fair trial and their just punishment. Afghanistan should not stand in the way of justice. Protecting a suspected criminal only renders the nation accessories in the crime that was Sept. 11.