Shadow Government

Shadow Government

Hang them first

by John A. Jackson

And try them later.

A month ago, would you have killed someone on George W. Bush's unsupported word?

No, I wouldn't have either.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair says he has seen evidence of Osama bin Laden's involvement in the September 11 atrocities. That puts Blair one ahead of the American public.

We have heard plenty of demonizing. Of evidence, we have seen so little that a phone call Bin Laden purportedly made blowing off his mother was cited on Tuesday as the major or the only link. ("Mom, I can't make it to dinner Tuesday; I've got cities to destroy"?)

This lack of proof is beginning to worry me.

If I recall correctly, George Orwell, one of the last century's great men, advised an occasional dip into Trotskyist news analysis. Trotskyists tend to be bright people, Orwell argued. Even better, they are not in power anywhere and not likely to become so; their commentary lacks any possibility of self-interest. They do not tell official lies.

In that spirit, let me commend to you Kate Randall's article, "White House reneges on proof of Bin Laden's guilt," published Saturday on the World Socialist Web Site (

Randall notes that Secretary of State Colin Powell promised a week ago Sunday that the administration would soon put out a white paper "that will describe the evidence that we have linking" Bin Laden to the attacks on the U.S.

The next day, however, Ari Fleischer, President Bush's press secretary, said there are no plans to release such a report. Powell, Fleischer said, was misunderstood; the evidence is confidential and cannot be disclosed."

Commentator Randall asks: "Can anyone seriously believe that if the administration had evidence directly tying Bin Laden and his organization to the September 11 attacks, it would not rush to make it public?"

Randall suspects that the administration is stirring up hatred against bin Laden and his protectors, the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, as a way to advance some other, hidden agenda.

Frankly, I don't want to believe that. Too much is at stake.

But I remember how we Americans were lied into Vietnam. I remember how the Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega turned from ally and CIA/DEA agent into monster drug trafficker. I remember a thousand lies about El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala....

I remember how Saddam Hussein was demonized -- defeated in war -- and then left in power to destroy the very people in Iraq that the United States had raised against him. I remember how an aspirin plant was obliterated in Sudan and the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.

The world, especially the Islamic world, is not convinced of Bin Laden's guilt. Conspiracy theories are rife, and range from the unlikely to the preposterous. Israel did not hijack those airliners. The United States did not fly empty airliners by remote control into empty buildings. God did not lift his veil of protection over this country so Murder could sneak in.

But such ideas are being reported-and believed.

Truth is the only antidote to the poisoning of our intellectual and political life.

As a start, the government could explain why it is holding 350 persons without charges as suspects in a conspiracy that almost certainly did not number a tenth as many member.

Then we could have some precise talk about who are the President's terrorists of "global reach" and which nation or nations the United States numbers among their protectors.

The murderers of September 11 must be punished. But I want to know who they were before we start killing.

John A. Jackson may be reached at ER