Thursday, November 15, 2001

SECOND-GUESSING OSAMA: With the prestige and reputation of Mind Over What Matters on the line, I'm predicting that the World's Most Wanted Criminal will shortly turn himself in.

While the media has done its utmost to portray Osama as a desperate and willing martyr, he's clearly demonstrated a desire to survive as long as possible -- if only that his agenda may also survive. And now, misadvised by a frustrated and panic-stricken attorney general, George W. Bush has just handed him the means to ensure exactly that.

While Osama might take some satisfaction in knowing that, in death, his agenda will outlive him, he must be able to control the circumstances, timing and means of his demise if he is to have any hope that his followers will carry on. It must be an inspirational -- some might even say romantic -- death. He must go out in a blaze of glory.

But that scenario is increasingly likely to be denied him. As his empire crumbles -- and with a $5 million bounty on his head -- Osama must be wondering how much longer he can command absolutely loyalty. Surely there must be at least a whiff of dissension in the ranks by now.

What if, taken by surprise, he were to be summarily executed by his own followers, his head presented on a platter by rank-and-file Taliban "moderates," as a "peace offering" to the civilized world? What then would become of his precious, discredited agenda?

If he's cornered and facing imminent capture, will Osama "do the right thing" and put a pistol to his head? Doubt it. Suicide may seem romantic to some depressed, teenage girls, but that's not his target audience.

Now, with George W. Bush's extra-legal court for terrorist-aliens in place, Osama has been handed an alternate scenario -- perhaps even (from his warped perspective) the best possible exit strategy: He can have the most watched trial in the history of the world -- conducted by an indefensible United States Military kangaroo court which may (in the words of an alarmed William Safire!) "conceal evidence by citing national security, make up its own rules, find a defendant guilty even if a third of the officers disagree, and execute the alien with no review by any civilian court."

What better way to pound home the message that the United States embraces corrupt, evil, dangerous values than to allow himself to be executed by order of the USA's brand-new Soviet-style star chamber?

This is going to come back to haunt us. Big time.


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