Why Osama bin Laden Isn't in Custody
by Vince Page
Two years have now passed since the 9/11 attacks and Osama bin Laden is still not in custody. This is an Arab who stands over six feet tall, requires monthly hospital visits for kidney and liver problems, and has very distinct facial features. So why isn't Osama bin Laden in custody? It can be attributed to an intentional abrogation of duty by the Bush administration.
After September 11th, 2001 the world was behind America 100% in its effort to bring those responsible to justice. We had been attacked, devastatingly so, and Osama bin Laden had announced that the attacks would continue. To do nothing would have resulted in a greater evil than taking up arms and hunting down the perpetrators. But after rearranging the soil in Afghanistan and scattering bin Laden's top management to the four winds, the real difficulties set in. Now it was feared that bin Laden was on the Pakistani side of the border, and reliable reports had him making trips back and forth between Pakistan and Iran. The terrorist training activities once conducted in Afghanistan were now moved to Syria, and the terrorists who remained in Afghanistan were intent upon using guerrilla attacks to pick off adversaries in the valleys from their mountain hideouts.
At this point, a determined American effort would have moved additional troops into Pakistan to set up face recognition technology at all border crossings and to methodically comb and secure the country in a shock and awe campaign designed to find Osama bin Laden. This would have involved permanent military guards at all hospitals equipped to provide the medical treatment bin Laden requires, and significant intelligence resources to monitor and follow any supplies bin Laden could use to treat his condition. These efforts would have been required not only in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but throughout the region, since it is known that bin Laden previously sought and received medical treatment in Dubai. At this juncture, the world was with us and we could have done it. Instead, the Bush administration took stock of the enormity of the situation and punted. It wasn't because they were lazy or scared. There were far more pragmatic reasons for the decision not to pursue Osama bin Laden.
First and foremost the administration feared an end to the perceived mandate to root out evildoers the world over, and the mandate (perceived, at least) to protect Americans at the expense of their freedoms. The Bush administration understood well that the capture of Osama bin Laden could bring "closure" for many to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and could therefore call into question the president's military theory of preemption as well as Attorney General John Ashcroft's zero sum theory of freedom and security.
A second and closely related reason was that the retention of these mandates would allow the president to go back on a campaign promise without
paying a severe political penalty. This was the promise not to engage in "nation building" as had his predecessor 
. It now appears as though the president has a global Marshall Plan in mind which will turn Americans into the world's venture capitalists. There are more than a few flaws in this philosophy. For one, Muslims really hate it when outsiders try to modernize a Muslim country. Just ask the Russians. Moreover, we have no business meddling in the domestic affairs of other nations. And most importantly, the "capital" which the administration wishes to expend is not only our money, but our blood. Nevertheless, the simplistic philosophy of the Bush administration seems to be that if we build "good" nations, they won't do "bad" things. Unfortunately, you have to go all the way back to the Marshall Plan itself to find an instance where this is actually the case.
The first, second, third, fourth and fifth priorities of the Bush administration after 9/11 should have been to bring Osama bin Laden to justice. The extent to which this goal has faded into obscurity is in evidence whenever anyone from this administration or the Grand Old Party is asked "what's next?". The answers are Liberia, North Korea, Syria, Iran, and absolutely anything and everything except Osama bin Laden. This administration has gone war happy with their theory of preemption, and the only thing they don't want to do is find Osama bin Laden. They might have to pick up all their war toys and come home.
As a matter of policy, America is now pulling out of Afghanistan and the surrounding area. The Bush administration has turned over control of Afghanistan to NATO in large part, and long ago pulled significant intelligence resources out of Pakistan for duty in Iraq. This is the first time in its 54-year history that NATO has operated outside Europe. Clearly, the Bush administration has no intention of increasing force levels in the Afghan-Pakistani region, but Beltway insiders all believe that we will have at least 100,000 troops in Iraq for the next 12 months. Currently, more than a quarter of the Army's deployable strength is committed to stabilizing Iraq, and this at a time when there are only 9,000 U.S. combat forces in Afghanistan. This is nothing short of an abrogation of the administration's duty to find Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.
Instead, the Bush administration intends to placate us with the capture of a bin Laden underling from time to time while keeping us embroiled in insignificant war after insignificant war, all to prolong the amount of time this administration may operate under a seeming state of emergency. In so doing, the proposition that we must give up our freedoms to ensure our security can be furthered in an incremental fashion until we look around one day and realize that our every move is monitored, scrutinized and either approved or if we aren't so lucky disapproved with prejudice. Americans are fed up with this, as is evidenced by the creation of a new organization for military families in August 2003 called "Bring Them Home Now" 
. Noted historian Charles Beard has referred to this situation as "perpetual war for perpetual peace". Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has called such conflicts, "Wars of choice, not of necessity" and the parallels to George Orwell's book 1984
Recently, the Office of Naval Research placed a $4 million order with Science and Technology International
in Honolulu for blimps fitted with spy cameras which are to be flown above our major metropolitan areas so the government can really
see what everyone is up to 
. How about taking those blimps over to Pakistan so we can find Osama bin Laden? Why is it that we are using more sophisticated techniques to keep track of Americans than we are to keep track of bin Laden? That goes double for the face recognition technology that should be in place on the Afghan-Pakistani border. Instead of using it on Americans attending the Super Bowl, we should be using it to find bin-Laden.
And what's with this USA Patriot Act that John Ashcroft keeps pushing as the best thing since sliced bread? Before 9/11 this act went by a different name and its provisions violated so many Constitutional rights that it could only be used on the spies of a foreign government 
. Now, Ashcroft wants to use it to take away the freedom of U.S. citizens so he can personally guarantee their safety. But "those who would give up freedom for security deserve neither." Ben Franklin said that, and he's still right today. He's right because there is no way John Ashcroft can personally guarantee our safety, but he certainly can talk us into giving up our freedoms. Once lost, they will not be returned without a fight. Trust me on this one.
The Bush administration is getting very scary with their intent to lead us into perpetual preemptive war. John Ashcroft is even scarier with his intent to strip us of our freedoms. Many had high hopes for this president, this administration and this Attorney General when they came into office. The promise of no nation building was a key selling point in their 2000 presidential campaign. And now the promises have turned to mush, replaced by the ambitions of men and the attraction of power.
Meanwhile, Osama bin Laden walks the earth a free man, all but forgotten by those who swore to bring him to justice. And the hell of it is, that's exactly the way the Bush administration wants it. This only heartens bin Laden followers, who continue to do his bidding throughout the world, thoroughly convinced that their leader is untouchable. After all, it has been two whole years since the attacks of 9/11.
 See http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A6853-2003Feb26
 See http://www.bringthemhomenow.org/
 See http://www.newsday.com/news/politics/wire/sns-ap-terrorism-blimps,0,4893885.story
 See http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/doj/fisa/
Vince Page is the Communications Director for the Texas State Constitution Party and is a District Deputy for the Texas State Knights of Columbus. He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org
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