This didn`t seem too important to many
October 7, 2001 10:16 AM   Subscribe

This didn`t seem too important to many but the last pieces of evidence associating Bin Laden and company to the WTC attacks was released, and is detailed by the Sunday Times. It`s surprising that many people were ready to go to war without this info...
posted by holycola (19 comments total)
Thanks for that link holycola. While the article is light on facts at least now I have an inkling what the evidence might be. That is at better than what I knew when I woke up this morning. A little bit of information can give our current actions some justification; but I find it upsetting that this thread is getting no attention. Had everybody else simply excepted our course of action in absence of any information?
But now that I've completed my spell check I've had time to view the statement from Bin Laden in which he takes things a step further and declares war on the United States. So that definitely settles the question of whether we are truly going after the right target. Still, the question remains; had everybody else simply excepted our course of action in absence of any information?
posted by genapathy at 11:43 AM on October 7, 2001

the world leaders were informed of the evidence beforehand - shouldn't it be enough to trust them?
posted by mis at 11:49 AM on October 7, 2001

What I wonder is why so many people accept the idea of taking out the Taliban now, but needed 6 thousand Americans to die before we suddenly realize that they're oppressive, etc.
And why are we so eager to reinstate the N. Alliance? Weren't they pretty bad too?
posted by phoenix enflamed at 11:55 AM on October 7, 2001

Actually, I've been trying to find information about the Northern Alliance - what they're about, what kind of people make up the army, what their ideologies are, etc... it's one thing that I haven't seen much about on the news. Can anyone direct me / us to info online on the history and the background behind them?
posted by theNonsuch at 12:03 PM on October 7, 2001

World leaders. Hrmmm. I don't always trust them further than I could throw 'em. I take your point that world leaders were most likely informed about all evidence trails before they were made public. And for various security reasons, I'm OK with that.

I'm not OK with attitudes like this from Ari Fleischer: "Asked why the U.S. government did not directly make the case
against bin Laden to its own citizens, Fleischer suggested reporters were the only ones interested. 'I'm not sure that there's a clamor from the American people,' he said." (

Seems to me that too many citizens are waiting to be spoon fed information from the television and radio (and internet) without pressing their questions and concerns on the people elected to represent them. On the other hand, I'm surprised--and heartened--that as much discussion/debate/dissent has churned up in this country as it has.
posted by Kato at 12:04 PM on October 7, 2001

Americans aren't as stupid as we like to think we are.
posted by darukaru at 12:11 PM on October 7, 2001

Interview on with the courageous, amazing members of RAWA. (I'd post the link but I think it's moved to their Premium Subscription plateau.) Here's some info/opinion on the Northern Alliance:

* *
Do you support the Northern Alliance?

We condemn the cooperation of the United States with the Northern Alliance. This is another nightmare for our people -- the Northern Alliance are the second Taliban.

The Northern Alliance are hypocrites: They say they are for democracy and human rights, but we can't forget the black experience we had with them. Seventy-year-old grandmothers were raped during their rule, thousands of girls were raped, thousands were killed and tortured. They are the first government that started this tragedy in Afghanistan.

What government do you support, then?

We are ready to support the former king. It doesn't mean that the king is a very ideal person for us. But in comparison to the fundamentalist parties, we prefer him. The only condition we have for the king is that he must not cooperate with the Northern Alliance.
* *
posted by Kato at 12:12 PM on October 7, 2001

As far as us needing to actually see/hear the evidence beforehand I'd have to say that I've been interested in the evidence, but I've been accepting of statements that they 'have evidence' with the assumption that if the evidence was released further intelligence would be comprimised.

One must also keep in mind that Bin Laden has been responsible for prior terror attacks, so it's not as though the government is coming out of left field and targeting the Dali Lama in these attacks.

I think it might be easy for people who aren't actually in New York City, seven miles from ground zero to lose sight of what exactly happened (I'm sure in part because of the lack of belivability of it all). Must of the military action we have been accustomed to has been 'at a distance' to the American people, and while the current strikes have taken place have been far away, the inital attack has been 1) closer than ever and 2) worse than ever. I also see this as a large part of why I'd think we might be able to win. In Vietnam the threat to America was distance. In the gulf war it was perhaps a tad closer, but mostly economic (oil). I think it's clear in this war that we're past the 'is America threatened' line of questioning.
posted by QrysDonnell at 12:20 PM on October 7, 2001

Still, the question remains; had everybody else simply excepted our course of action in absence of any information?

Do you mean the heads of nations? Or the general population?

I believe that the government should be held accountable to the people and share information, but in a situation like this--or any war situation--I really do defer decisions to the "powers that be".

Leaking the information to the general public prior to the counter-attacks only gives the enemy our hand, and then does nothing but inform the population without any real means to act on the information.

There's a difference between sharing information, and blabbing. And while I laugh at the old World War II posters that professed "Loose lips sink ship..." I genuinely believe that a secrecy is a necessary evil at times of war. That's a BIG part of the reason war does stink.
posted by RoyalJack at 12:26 PM on October 7, 2001

It`s surprising that many people were ready to go to war without this info...

Actually, we all had the incriminating info for the last three weeks. A few of you were just unwilling to personally accept it.

While the article is light on facts at least now I have an inkling what the evidence might be.

Osama just admitted his total guilt on that tape they just released. There is nothing left to "prove."
posted by aaron at 12:48 PM on October 7, 2001

this is an illegal 'war'.
all the evidence linking osama bin laden in the article linked is at best circumstantial.
the snow is coming soon in afganistan.
usr/bin/laden may not be in afganistan.
america needs to have done something by thanksgiving, for some reason.
america wants to make afganistan a place where usr/bin/laden is not welcome.
america put the taliban where they are today.
they wish to do the same with the northern league.
the northern league are 'a second taliban'.
humanitarian aid, of which there is a limited supply, may be depleted helping the afgani refugees to the extent that other humanitarian disasters could be exascerbated.
it is possible that the taliban would have been forced to declare the wherabouts of bin laden within days, at the international muslim parliament meeting scheduled for tuesday (sorry, no link).
the taliban are still offering to bring bin laden to a court in afganistan to be tried on any extant evidence.

in the eyes of the world the taliban (for whom i would usually have no time) come out looking better than the us, given these considerations. especially in the 'muslim world'.
it helps to promote the west vs. islam war that is supposed to be the desired outcome of the attacks.
posted by asok at 12:56 PM on October 7, 2001

Do you mean the heads of nations? Or the general population?

I was speaking of the general population, it seems like so many simply want retaliation. I want justice and am ready to display patients to get it. I agree with RoyalJack that in times like these it is not always prudent to share all the information; but I also believe that we should keep asking those questions to our government. I want to know as as much as possible as soon as possible. I was beginning to wonder what kind of an operation we were entering when I found this discussion and got to some real facts.

From what I read in the linked evidence it sounds like only a few people wound up spilling beans and I doubt that those details were news to those involved. Most of the evidence seems to be provided in the form of phone and financial records.

Releasing these details seem safe and prudent to me.
posted by genapathy at 1:31 PM on October 7, 2001

asok, then the rest of the world just has to suck eggs.

We got people killed. We're going to get the people who did it. Anybody who gets in our way can go to hell.
posted by dhartung at 1:32 PM on October 7, 2001

The price on his head in the FBI wanted poster is also imposing: $5m (£3.36m) is the bounty offered for Muhammad Atef.

Aren't FBI rewards too chickenshit for words? Considering the lives at stake, shouldn't the rewards for Bin Laden and his allies actually tempt the fanatics to betray their idols?

Also, dhartung: you are absolutely right. It is that simple. But no one wants to think the Americans are stupid. Only their enemies; because they truly are stupid in the full sense of the word; tragically so.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:56 PM on October 7, 2001

dhartung: you are too full of the milk of human kindness
posted by asok at 2:07 PM on October 7, 2001

Oh, bullshit, aaron. We've had nothing but assertions from oh-so-so-trustworthy government sources that there is evidence to link bin Laden and his group to the attacks. Assertions, hints of connections, and no actual facts. Forgive me, please, for demanding a case that rests on something more substantial than Mr. Bush's say-so before I will support something so outrageous as an actual war. This is not play.

I haven't seen "that tape they just released", and your reference to it is the first I've heard of it. Perhaps things have changed. But we certainly haven't had anything like proof of involvement for three weeks, as you claim.

posted by Mars Saxman at 2:36 PM on October 7, 2001

to those who are demanding more 'proof" - what more do you want? An outright confession? Not going to happen. You're also not going to hear any intercepted conversations by terrorists actors specifically stating "we're going to hit the World Trade Center on Sept 11th." They're not that stupid. bin Laden hasn't hesistated to encourage his followers to "do the right thing and kill an American." the guy is a terrorist, and we have pledged to go after terrorists. Even if he wasn't responsible for Sept 11th (and i doubt that's the case), he still has to be taken care of *because he is a terrorist*.

We don't need outright confessions in domestic homicide trails - only evidence "beyond a reasonable doubt," which we appear to have. I don't know why we would want or need more stringent conditions in this case.

The right to question government leaders is one of the great things about this country, but it's disgusting to see that some people just assume that these leaders have nefarious motives and *want* to go to war, or take any military action at all. "those hawkish politicians just want war and aren't interested in the truth" - what a load of crap. even the most cynical should admit that it isn't likely that such a large number of world leaders would agree that the case against bin Laden was sufficient if it were not. many of them are alienating significant portions of their civilian populations by doing so (i.e., Saudi, Pakistan, Eqypt) and it would be in their personal self-interest to state that the evidence isn't good enough. unless you really buy into some global conspiracy theory, the notion that this is all just an elaborate plot to "create a villan" is absurd.
posted by lizs at 3:07 PM on October 7, 2001

In response to Asok's original comment: The taliban has offered to put him on trial before an Islamic Court, which, given the Afghani clergy's stated positions concerning the U.S. (they call us the "Great Satan"), would almost certainly find him innocent. That offer is little more than a means to buy time.

Most of the rest of your "points" seem redundant. Of course we want to make Afghanistan a place where terrorists are not welcome; that is now stated U.S. policy for any country. Also, I don't understand how this war is illegal. Congress approved it whatever action is necessary, after all. What do you want the U.S. to do to "legalize" it?
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 5:22 PM on October 7, 2001

YAN, I think asok is speaking in terms of international law; I get the impression he isn't American. But I suspect by his standards that there would be no US action considered "legal". He lumps it in with the Laos action (in another thread), which was illegal by US law and act of Congress, so clearly he is using fishy ad hoc definitions of legality.

I understand where the cautious voices are coming from, I really do. But I believe the time for caution ended on September 11. The evidence here is not evidence such as used in criminal trials. This is more like the probable cause for an arrest warrant. We were demanding for over three weeks that Afghanistan comply with international law and turn over bin Laden, but in point of fact this demand was not based on the 9/11 attacks. It was based on the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267, passed nearly two years ago, which demanded that the Taliban hand over bin Laden, stop harboring terrorist organizations, or face sanctions. The UN resolution, in turn, was based on the 1998 indictment of Osama bin Laden in a US Federal Court for his role in the bombings that same year of US embassies in Africa. By this chain of justifications the Taliban had every responsibility to accede to the will of the international community and hand him over to US justice, well before September 11. They haven't had a mere 26 days to comply; they've had, literally, years. Asok's suggestion that we should have waited for some meeting is disingenuous to the extreme. They have done nothing but stall and lie; why would we believe their promises now?

As for unleashing the dogs of war, the fact is that years of sanctions, diplomatic pressure, and international isolation and condemnation have had no effect on the Taliban. The reason is simple: their country is so bedraggled and bombed out that there is no economic activity there which we can influence from the outside, no middle class to put pressure on the government to enforce stability, no international friendships whose breaking will disrupt trade, nothing. We have, essentially, no leverage with the Taliban. They know it, which is why they have not complied. It was clear from the outset that should they fail to cooperate with the international community as a responsible government that they are harboring a terrorist and his terrorist organization and since that cannot be allowed to continue any longer, after the grievous loss of life last month, the Taliban must be removed -- by force if necessary.

We really don't have much in the way of good options here. We've already been trying everything that we have in the diplomatic pressure toolkit. If we were not to invade Afghanistan ourselves, we would clearly do everything we could to cut off the Taliban and arm the Northern Alliance, as the only other alternative, but this would doom the country to an arguably worse alternative: months, if not years, of territory swaps as the Taliban were fought back from 90% of the countryside. Frankly, a fast, effective US strike is more compassionate for the plight of the Afghan people, who were already the victims of 10 years of proxy war and another 12 of an ignored war of attrition. Bringing that to an end quickly is just and moral, particularly given that it was our war in the first place. Quite apart from that, there is the self-interest that we can no longer wait to deal with Osama, because his aims in his Islamist war can no longer be borne by civilized society. If they will do 9/11, they will literally stop at nothing: not blowing dams, not bioterrorism, not nuclear weapons. We can't sit on the Taliban's doorstep while he calmly plans his next morning television extravaganza, not anymore.

It's like having a crack house down the block. Don't wait until you can patiently convict every last dealer and customer; bulldoze the damned place and make the neighborhood safe again. The crack dealer (Osama) may not like it. Hell, the landlord (Taliban) may not like it. But if they can't police their tenants they have no right to inflict such injury on the law-abiding citizens next door.
posted by dhartung at 2:16 AM on October 8, 2001

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