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No. The investigation of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack is still in full swing, and the details revealed have been scanty. Thus some with good faith might have genuine concerns whether the U.S. has been too hasty in assigning blame. These concerns are misplaced. Let us recall what was already known about bin Laden BEFORE September 11, 2001:

(1) He was indicted in the bombing of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Thus prosecutors believed they had the evidence needed to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable in open court, if given a chance.

(2) Only three governments in the world recognize the Taliban. This is because of the Taliban's refusal to turn over bin Laden after previous terrorist attacks. In other words, virtually the whole world has been convinced of bin Laden's guilt before September 11, and believed the evidence against him strong enough that sheltering the indicted terrorist was unconscionable. How many chances should the Taliban get, each at the expense of American lives? I believe they have been already given at least two chances too many.

(3) In the World Trade Center bombing (the 1993 attack) trials recently held in New York, a former close associate of bin Laden (who fled Afghanistan after having been discovered embezzling slightly over $100,000 for bin Laden's Al Qaeda organization) testified as to bin Laden's knowledge in, and participation in, several major terrorist attacks. Thus testimony from a former close bin Laden associate has been given in open court as to his terrorist involvement. (Yes, of course not about September 11).

(4) bin Laden has openly issued a fatwa, a declaration that all Muslims are duty bound to kill any American male or any ally of America anywhere in the world. This 1998 version supersedes his earlier fatwa declaring all U.S. military targets subject to attack. The 1998 version specifically REQUIRES the murder of ALL American males (President Bush slightly exaggerated last night when he mentioned bin Laden made no distinction between men and women. bin Laden does make that distinction in theory, although obviously he is not too worried in practice, as the attacks make clear). Given bin Laden's millions, his fame, his strong influence, and the fact that many past associates have been caught in acts of terror, the United States was perfectly justified based on the 1998 fatwa alone in taking military action against bin Laden. I am not a lawyer, but if a person makes credible death threats against you, and quite openly insists to fervent followers that it is their duty to kill you, self-defense applies. I would support whatever the U.S. chooses to do to bin Laden. This was true BEFORE September 11, 2001.

(5) Algerian terrorists who had received training in bin Laden's camps hijacked a jet in France around 1996 (the year may not be right). The plane was sitting on the runway being re-fueled at the hijackers insistence when the French police overheard the hijackers speak of their plan to crash the plane, once fully fueled, into the Eiffel Tower. The police stormed the plane at once, even though some passengers died in the shoot out. Again, it does not matter whether it can be proven that bin Laden had specific knowledge of the specific plans of these hijackers. They had trained at his camps, and they were acting in accordance with the principles bin Laden has openly espoused. Again, given his open proclamations against the U.S. and all allies, and his training camps, fame and money, how many attacks will be endure? It does not matter (to me) whether he hatches out the details of each plan with his terrorist camp alumni. (Though the U.S. government believes it WAS bin Laden's idea to crash jets into national landmarks).

(6) Before the Cole attack, and also before the embassy bombings, bin Laden openly boasted to a number of Arab journalists that something big was coming. Afterward he congratulated the criminals, many of whom he had known personally. He wrote a poem in praise of the Cole attack which he read on video tape. The tape was widely distributed by his own organization. He pretty much wants the Arab world to know he is responsible, indeed he does not even seek plausible deniability. Implausible denials are enough. The pattern holds for the September 11 attack. He told a Palestinian journalist about two weeks before the attack that a huge event was coming. Afterwards he congratulated the criminals, but denied personal involvement. The U.S. goverment would have to be run by children to be thus dissuaded.

(7) The Taliban leader is married to the daughter of bin Laden's favorite wife (he has four I believe). bin Laden has funded the Taliban extensively, and his Al Qaeda has done some of the fighting that allowed the Taliban to gain control of most of Afghanistan. (The recent assassination of the Northern Alliance resistance leader was believed to be at bin Laden's urging). It is absurd to think the United States should try to "convince" the Taliban. (It is not even entirely clear whether the Taliban does not take orders from bin Laden). The United States rightly regards the Taliban and Al Qaeda together as terrorist organizations at war with America.

Whatever the final results of the September 11 attack prove, bin Laden is complicit in multiple mass murders of American citizens. He openly demands many more such murders, and runs training camps on how to accomplish such acts. In going after bin Laden the United States need not worry whether they are going after an enemy with American blood on his hands.

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