Alexander's Column

No negotiations

Mark Alexander · Oct. 19, 2001

President George Bush summarily rejected an overture from Jihadistan’s Taliban faction to turn Osama bin Laden over to a “neutral country,” saying: “When I said ‘no negotiations,’ I meant ‘no negotiations.’ There is no negotiation. Period. Turn him over. Turn his cohorts over. Turn any hostage they hold over. I told [the Taliban] exactly what they need to do. … If they want us to stop our military operations, they just got to meet my conditions.”

And there are clear signs that the war against terror will be prosecuted fully. President Bush noted, “[Terrorists] have struck us. They’ve tested our mettle and tested our character. This nation understands we’ve reached a pivotal moment in history, where we will plant our flag on the ground – a flag that stands for freedom – and say to anybody who wants to harm us or our friends or allies, ‘You will pay a serious price.’ They are learning that anyone who strikes America will hear from our military, and they’re not going to like what they hear.”

Indeed, the Commander-in-Chief’s conduct of Operation Enduring Freedom has been exemplary in the multiple elements of diplomacy and warfare – and his conduct of office has been a major factor in our domestic stability through a very distressing period of our history. How fortunate we are that our nation is no longer in the hands of the administration that is largely responsible for exposing our nation to this terror.

On the overseas warfront, the U.S. and our anti-terror allies are making headway. Saying this conflict is the most important since World War II, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Richard Myers, noted, “There is no option but success.” By Tuesday, after 10 days of airstrikes on selected targets in Afghanistan, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, the Pentagon’s director of operations, announced, “The combat power of the Taliban has been eviscerated.”

Taliban and terrorist air defenses have been degraded to the extent that low and slow AC-130 gunships could be deployed to deliver some airmail terror into the ranks of evil. “There is a psychological effect in all that we’re trying to do,” Gen. Newbold remarked. The “psychological effect” of AC-130s is impressive, but American Special Forces units, the best in the world, are quietly slipping into the dreams of Taliban and Al Qaeda brass and turning them into hellish nightmares. No adversary sleeps when these guys are in the neighborhood!

And Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged that we were sending messages of a different sort, via radio broadcasts, into Afghanistan: “We’re working to make clear to the Afghan people that we support them, and we want to help free their nation from the grip of the Taliban and their foreign terrorist allies.” And several anti-terror coalition allies, including Britain, France, Russia, Germany, Japan and Pakistan, have begun augmenting their own broadcasting in Afghan languages into the region, to bring independent news and information to the Afghan population.

Both National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld this week also taped interviews for broadcast on Al Jazeera, the Qatar-based Arab news network bin Laden and his Al Qaeda lieutenants have employed to disseminate their expressions of anti-American hatred and calls to jihad.

(A footnote: Tuesday, George Bush attempted to retake his title for “Best Line of Operation Enduring Freedom,” which he lost to Don Rumsfeld last week, saying the Taliban must “destroy all the terrorist camps,” and then noting, “Actually, we’re doing a pretty good job of that right now.” But Secretary Rumsfeld retained the title after his remark Wednesday concerning a bunker buster that ignited a fire lasting nearly four hours in one of Al-Qaeda’s rat holes: “They were not baking cookies inside those tunnels.”)

As the extermination of terrorist elements in Afghanistan continued, Jihadistan’s frontal assault on the U.S. also advanced, with the additional mail distribution of small quantities of anthrax spores – and a lot of help from media talkingheads. The targets of the anthrax mailings were, predictably, high profile media and political personalities, ensuring that every media outlet would give this assault tactic their full attention. (Seems you really haven’t arrived at the pinnacle of celebrity unless your assistant has opened a letter laced with anthrax.)

Some of the toxin strain in question was most likely supplied to supporters of the Al Qaeda faction of Jihadistan by Iraq, and mailed by resident Islamic extremists who are indirectly, as adherents of the call for jihad, under the control of Osama bin Laden. We note, however, that it is likely that some of the mailings are coming from Leftist “animal rights” groups or some other Green Gorons. Perhaps the perpetrator fancies himself the “Unaplaguer.”

For the record, last Friday we noted your chances of exposure to the bacterium bacillus anthracis increased from 1 in 280 million to 1 in 95 million. As of today, based on the number of confirmed exposures, your chances have increased to 1 in 2 million. This is interesting anecdotally, in terms of evaluating the effectiveness of using the mail as a method of anthrax exposure, but our readers should be asking, rationally, “So what?”

Despite the fact that pulmonary anthrax can be very deadly – and under the right conditions thousands of people could be infected – few of the exposure cases thus far have involved inhalation, and all but one of the exposures (which was misdiagnosed) are being successfully treated with antibiotics.

Anthrax is, of course, toxic, but not contagious. This notwithstanding, the 24 hour news media apparently have contracted a chronic case of spore-phobia and have spread the “epidemic” into every home – via cable networks. (Who knew there were so many media “experts” on bio-terrorism, and where is media-buster John Stossell when you really need him?)

How could the talkingheads resist Sen. Tom Daschle’s declaration that the anthrax mailed to his office was a “particularly virulent strain”? (It wasn’t.) And there was Hillary Clinton proclaiming it was “weapon grade anthrax.” (It wasn’t.) Within hours, the House and Senate leadership agreed to order their halls evacuated – just as our President was asking America to keep working and playing. Then, Mr. Daschle changed his mind, making Denny Hastert and Dick Gephardt look a bit like Chicken Littles. (Should any of us be surprised that our national legislature could botch things so badly?)

Of course, the biggest hypocrites of the week were all the media mouthpieces accusing Capitol Hill of “overreacting” in segments broadcast over 24 hour graphic footers warning “Anthrax Alert.” (For more on bin Laden’s unwitting media accomplices, and a more reasoned threat analysis you won’t hear from any of them, see today’s Second Opinion, “The Media Organ Grinder.”)

In related news, four Al Qaeda terrorists, convicted in May for their involvement in the conspiracy to bomb two U.S. Embassies in East Africa in 1998, were handed life sentences by the Southern District Court of New York yesterday. Osama bin Laden demanded publicly last June that one of the convicts, Mohamed Rashed Daoud Al-Owhali, be released.

Elsewhere stateside, the hunt to smoke other Al Qaeda evildoers out of their holes continues, although at times at cross-purposes. The FBI has investigated a Denver trucking school where up to 35 Arab students paid cash for their lessons and did not seek job placement assistance afterward. The FBI is also searching anew for a Saudi pilot they first inquired about more than two weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks, and who purchased two small planes and left Tennessee shortly before the suicide hijackings, officials said. And earlier this week, 14 Syrian men entered the U.S. through Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on student visas to attend flight schools at Fort Worth Meacham International Airport. (What ever happened to clerking at convenience stores…?)