Trials for bin Laden could bring closure, block his...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

November 28, 2001

Trials for bin Laden could bring closure, block his martyrdom

It may be too late to avoid killing Osama bin Laden, but it would be much better if he is captured alive. A lynch-mob approach is dangerous for America.

If bin Laden is killed or is able to commit suicide, he will be elevated to a martyr-saint and be the rallying point for all the world's malcontents. His capture and trial would be much better.

There should be three trials. The first should be a trial by an ulema in Saudi Arabia to determine if he has violated Islamic sharia law and should be declared an infidel. If he is convicted, it would be difficult for anyone to claim that he is defending Islam against a crusading America.

The second trial should be by an international tribunal to determine if he has committed crimes against humanity. If convicted, an appropriate prison sentence would be pronounced.

The third trial would be for three crimes against the United States: the bombing of the Khobar housing complex in Saudi Arabia, the attack on the USS Cole and the attacks on Sept. 11. If convicted, bin Laden would be sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.

These trials might prevent bin Laden from becoming a martyr, punish him for his crimes and bring closure to the survivors of his attacks.

James D. Ziegler

Baltimore

We need military tribunals as a defense against terror

After quoting several liberal organizations opposed to secret tribunals for terrorists, Gail Gibson followed with this paragraph: "General reaction, though, is more muted. Many Americans are reluctant to appear unpatriotic by questioning the government's approach. Others simply are eager to see the United States capture Osama bin Laden or have little experience with the national security issues suddenly at the forefront" ("Secret anti-terror court at issue," Nov. 19).

So, according to Ms. Gibson, Americans are: 1) afraid to voice their opinion; 2) blood-thirsty; or 3) stupid. She forgot a fourth category: Those who support their government in its endeavor to protect their nation and families.

Declared or not, the United States is at war; we need to begin acting like it.

We can sit back and discuss the virtues of a pure, liberal society or defend ourselves against an enemy that has one goal - the elimination of the Western world.

Bill Simon

Baltimore

Treat non-Afghan fighters as prisoners of war

The non-Afghan fighters for the Taliban are members of an international army of terrorists and should not be allowed to escape anywhere. They should be considered prisoners of war and detained until the "war on terrorism" is over.

The Afghan Taliban may or may not be a part of that army. Their fate should be left to the new Afghan government.

Chris Wiechert

Laurel

Dependence on foreign oil funds fanatics who attack us

Thomas L. Friedman cites decreasing oil revenues as one cause of the Islamic world's current problems ("Islam at a crossroads: Past or future?" Opinion Commentary, Nov. 20). That's true, but prices will go back up eventually and repressive governments will once again be able to fund the mullahs as before.

This raises the question of the West's unintended role in funding the fanaticism that had such terrible success Sept. 11.

It's time to recognize that the West's dependence on foreign oil indirectly funds organizations such as al-Qaida.

Gordon C. Crighton

Severna Park

Bus station won't benefit nearby city dwellers

Policies and decisions that favor people other than those who actually live in the city hurt cities. The plan to build a Greyhound bus station behind Penn Station represents one such decision ("Group objects to bus station," Nov. 21).

It may be attractive in concept, but only to those traveling from outside the city to another location outside the city. Who living close to Penn Station will benefit from the ability to transfer from the MARC or Amtrak trains to Greyhound?

Many have presented this ability to transfer between modes of transportation as the trump card in deciding where to locate the bus station, but this ignores what should be the ultimate trump card: the wishes of those whose daily lives are impacted by the safety and vitality of their neighborhood.

Stephen D. Sisson

Baltimore

Protesting funding cuts mars BUILD's contributions

I recently read that the Rev. Douglas I. Miles, now a BUILD leader, is going to harass the mayor over funds for after-school care ("Mayor faces loud criticism," Nov. 13).

The mayor has, for the first time, eliminated politics and adult delinquency from the after-school care programs. Performance on behalf of the children, and not political pull or guerrilla theater, now determines who gets after-school funding.

Mr. Miles and BUILD have a program to help kids. Unfortunately, they have not lived up to the expectations of such programs. Keeping adequate attendance records, for instance, seems beyond their capabilities. As a result they have had their funds cut, as they should.

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