International legal institutions would likely ratify efforts to arrest and try bin Laden and others, supposing guilt could be shown, including the use of force. Why does the U.S. avoid this recourse? Is it
only a matter of not wishing to legitimate an approach that could be used, as well, against our acts of terrorism, or are other factors at play?
Michael Albert: International legal
institutions would likely ratify efforts to arrest
and try bin Laden and others, supposing guilt
could be shown, including the use of force. Why
does the U.S. avoid this recourse? Is it only a
matter of not wishing to legitimate an approach
that could be used, as well, against our acts of
terrorism, or are other factors at play?
Noam Chomsky: Much of the world has been
asking the US to provide some evidence to link bin
Laden to the crime, and if such evidence could be
provided, it would not be difficult to rally
enormous support for an international effort,
under the rubric of the UN, to apprehend and try
him and his collaborators.
However, that is no simple matter. Even if bin Laden and his network are involved in the crimes of Sept. 11, it may be quite hard to produce credible evidence.
As the CIA surely knows very well, having
nurtured these organizations and monitored them
very closely for 20 years, they are diffuse,
decentralized, non-hierarchic structures, probably
with little communication or direct guidance. And
for all we know, most of the perpetrators may have
killed themselves in their awful missions.
There are further problems in the background. To
quote [Indian writer and activist Arundhati] Roy
again, "The Taliban’s response to US demands
for the extradition of Bin Laden has been
uncharacteristically reasonable: produce the
evidence, then we’ll hand him over. President
Bush’s response is that the demand is
She also adds one of the many reasons why this framework is unacceptable to Washington: "While talks are on for the extradition of CEOs can India put in a side request for the extradition of Warren Anderson of the US? He was the chairman of Union Carbide, responsible for the Bhopal gas leak that killed 16,000 people in 1984. We have collated the necessary evidence. It’s all in the files. Could
we have him, please?"
Such comparisons elicit frenzied tantrums at the extremist fringes of Western opinion, some of them called "the left." But for Westerners who have retained their sanity and moral integrity, and for great numbers among the usual victims, they are quite meaningful. Government leaders presumably
And the single example that Roy mentions is only the beginning, of course, and one of the lesser examples, not only because of the scale of the atrocity, but because it was not explicitly a crime of state.
Suppose Iran were to request the extradition of high officials of the Carter and Reagan administrations, refusing to present the ample evidence of the crimes they were implementing — and it surely exists.
Or suppose Nicaragua were to demand the extradition of the US ambassador to the UN, newly appointed to lead the "war against terror," a man whose record includes his service as "proconsul" (as he was often called) in the virtual fiefdom of Honduras, where he surely was aware of the atrocities of the state
terrorists he was supporting, and was also
overseeing the terrorist war for which the US was
condemned by the World Court and the Security
Council (in a resolution the US vetoed). Or many
Would the US even dream of responding
to such demands presented without evidence, or
even if the ample evidence were presented?
Those doors are better left closed, just as it is
best to maintain the silence on the appointment of
a leading figure in managing the operations
condemned as terrorism by the highest existing
international bodies — to lead a "war on
terrorism." Jonathan Swift would also be
That may be the reason why administration publicity experts preferred the usefully ambiguous term "war" to the more explicit term "crime" — "crime against humanity as Robert Fisk, Mary Robinson, and others have accurately depicted it.
There are established procedures for dealing
with crimes, however horrendous. They require
evidence, and adherence to the principle that
"those who are guilty of these acts" be
held accountable once evidence is produced, but
not others (Pope John Paul II, NYT Sept. 24).
Not, for example, the unknown numbers of miserable
people starving to death in terror at the sealed
borders, though in this case too we are speaking
of crimes against humanity.
[ also see related items:
Author: Noam Chomsky and Michael Albert
News Service: Znet