Robert H. Giles had an excellent op-ed piece in yesterday’s NY Times entitled “Why Are We Hiding bin Laden?” Lately, bin Laden’s statements have intimated that he was responsible for the 9/11 attacks, and he has said outright that the civilians in the World Trade Center were legitimate and legal targets. bin Laden has also cynically been trying to glom onto every Muslim grievance against the West in service to his cause in an attempt to capture public opinion. Americans can see right through that stuff — our politicians use such tactics every day. The column also confirms that we are already doing what I’ve said we should be doing all along, putting Arabic-speaking Americans on Al Jazeera to articulate our point of view:
Al Jazeera is the primary international news organization providing serious coverage from inside Afghanistan. In an act worthy of the best traditions of American journalism, Al Jazeera invited a response to Mr. bin Laden from an American official, Christopher Ross, a former ambassador to Syria and Algeria.
He spoke for 15 minutes in fluent Arabic, criticizing Mr. bin Laden and denying his accusations. Thus, the people of the Arab world received a more complete picture of the charge and the response than did almost anyone in our country, the citadel of a free press and free speech.