F Logo search & site map      link resources
Features Regulars School News Reviews Calendar Comics


a literary

the next f




saic home



about fnews


Covert Ops

Why the U.S. Doesn't Want to Find Osama bin Laden
(Dead or Alive)

Osama bin Laden is nowhere to be found. While there are widespread rumors that bin Laden never existed in the first place, pundits and generals are openly asking whether he might be hiding in Pakistan, Yemen, or Bremen, Germany. Given the long-standing ties between the bin Laden and Bush families, and Texas oil in general, bin Laden might even be among family friends in Dallas. The U.S. government has spent over $60 billion, killed thousands of civilians for "harboring terrorists," invaded an entire country, and put a $25 million reward on his head, but hasn't apprehended or killed Osama bin Laden. With the largest military and intelligence infrastructure in the world, consisting of everything from exploding cigars to satellites that can pinpoint a dime from outer space, the American military/intelligence apparatus' inability to locate one of the world's most highly recognizable people seem s bizarre. Despite popular assumptions, the fact of the matter is that the U.S. doesn't want to find Osama bin Laden, dead or alive.

If bin Laden were indeed captured alive, the Bush administration would have to decide where to try him, and to what set of laws bin Laden would be held accountable. The U.S. would have three options here: bin Laden could conceivably be tried in a world court, U.S. federal court, or in one of the new U.S. military tribunals. Despite the fact that alleged war criminals from the NATO action in Yugoslavia are being tried in world courts, the possibility of a bin Laden trial in an international court is nil.

The Bush administration knows that if bin Laden were tried in an international court, evidence challenging the legal basis for the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan would surely be presented by the defense. This could potentially undermine the whole trial. Given the U.S.'s consistent refusal to conduct itself in accordance with international law, a world court might raise serious questions about the legality of the U.S. action in Afghanistan.

If bin Laden were tried in a federal court the Bush administration wouldn't come out too far ahead either. A public trial of Osama bin Laden, who is, after all, a charismatic figure, would provide a forum for his version of the relationship between the U.S. and the Middle East. We have to remember that a public trial of bin Laden would garner international media coverage. While the domestic media could easily dismiss anything bin Laden were to present in his defense as "propaganda," it is likely that bin Laden might find a more sympathetic forum in the international media. Furthermore, a federal trial would create mountains of documentation detailing the relationships between Bush and Cheney's friends in the oil industry, Gulf mobsters, dictators and other assorted international terrorists and criminals. CIA relationships to the Taliban and al Qaeda would also be documented. The political mess that a public trial would create for the Bush administration is clearly something that they will avoid at all costs.

The third option for the Bush administration would be to charge bin Laden in a secret military tribunal, probably at the Guantanamo Bay facility in Cuba. This might seem like an elegant solution to the above-mentioned problems, but it provides its own set of complications, mostly stemming from the fact that bin Laden has achieved a level of international celebrity that is largely incompatible with the format of a secret trial. Bin Laden's visibility as an international figure creates a tremendous amount of public interest in his fate. The international and American publics could potentially get a closer look at circumstances under which the secret tribunals operate. The moral integrity of the Bush administration could be undermined among its own population when a captive audience compares the structure of a military court to the structures of civilian courts depicted in popular television shows. With regards to an international audience, the Bush administration would have to ask itself if it could continue to sell itself to the international public as an even-handed arbiter of justice while openly trying foreign nationals in secret kangaroo courts.

The multitude of problems with capturing Osama bin Laden alive might lead us to think that the best solution to the question of bin Laden would be to find the man dead in a cave somewhere. There's no trial, no jury, no evidence and no mess; however, finding bin Laden dead presents its own constellation of problems for the Bush administration. With a dead bin Laden, the U.S. will have to articulate a new "promo-pack" for its war on terrorism. Bush has said over and over that he wants a long war, the purpose of which is undoubtedly to prevent any serious opposition to his next presidential candidacy and to act as both a smokescreen and justification for the passage of highly irresponsible and mean-spirited domestic legislation. Unfortunately, Bush has at the moment only tentative international (read: European) sympathy for his actions in Afghanistan and its war on terrorism. The U.S.'s closest ally, England, has already said that it would oppose any U.S. military action in Iraq. It seems that Bush Sr.'s bad-guy of choice, Saddam Hussein, just isn't cutting it in terms of international complacency with U.S. military actions overseas. An international "hunt" for an infinitely elusive bin Laden is currently the only game in town insofar as it facilitates the current political goals of the Bush administration. And so, the hunt must go on. ...

[email protected]

Return to top

Features      Regulars      School News      Reviews      Calendar      Comics

Current Issue      Archives      Home