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U.S. Lacks Evidence against Taliban

October 24, 2001

International legal experts say that the Bush administration has yet to present evidence to substantiate its claim that the events of Sept. 11 constituted and act of war rather than a crime against humanity.

"Even if the Bush administration were to publicly provide clear and convincing evidence that Mr. Bin Laden and his organization were somehow behind the terrorist bombing in New York and Washington, the U.S. government would still have no valid justification or excuse for committing acts of war against Afghanistan," says Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois.  International law requires a court hearing to determine the guilt or innocence of an individual accused of terrorist acts, such as Osama Bin Laden, Boyle says.

Boyle criticized Congress for not creating a panel with subpoena powers to fully investigate the Sept. 11 attacks.  "We are not going to get that investigation," he said. "Yet we are waging a war on Afghanistan based on evidence that secretary of State Colin Powell said was not even circumstantial. 

"Even the British government admitted the case against Bin Laden and Al Qaeda would not stand up in court and as a matter of fact it was routinely derided in the British press. There was nothing there," Boyle says. "Now I don't know myself who was behind the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11. And it appears we are never going to find out.  "Why? Because Congress in its wisdom has decided not to empanel a joint committee in Congress with subpoena power giving them access to whatever documents they want throughout any agency of the United states government including FBI, CIA, NSA, DAS. And to put these people under oath and testify as to what happened under penalty of perjury," he says.

Boyle, who helped resolve the dispute between the United States, the UK and Libya over the handling of the Libyan suspects in the Lockerbie bombing case, says that the 1971 Montreal Sabotage Convention is directly relevant in the current crisis. This convention, he says, "provides a comprehensive framework for dealing with the current dispute between Afghanistan and the United States.  The Bush administration decided to ignore the fact that the hijacking of civilian aircraft is dealt with under international treaties that deal with terrorism. "They rejected the entire approach and called it an act of war," Boyle said. "They invoked the rhetoric deliberately of Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941.  There was "a conscious decision to escalate the states," Boyle said. "An act of war has a formal meaning. It means an attack by one state against another state. Which, of course, is what happened on Dec. 7, 1941; but not on Sept. 11, 2001.

The military assault against Afghanistan was not prompted by the terrorist attacks against the United States on Sept. 11 according to Boyle. Muslim and non-Muslim countries around the world are condemning U.S. military actions because they are not justified under international law, Boyle said.

As I reported previously, the major impetus behind the military strikes against Afghanistan is to obtain extended access to oil and natural gas deposits in Central Asia.  "The actions of the United States in Afghanistan constitute armed aggression and are illegal," Boyle said. "Clearly, what is going on in Afghanistan is not self-defense."

Boyle appeared on the Fox News Channel with Bill O'Reilly on Sept. 13 and argued for presentation of evidence, authorization from the Security Council, and adherence to the rule of law. Since the O'Reilly show, Boyle has not been invited to speak on any prime-time news programs.  He said that attacks by the United States against Afghanistan will result in a "human catastrophe" and predicted that tens of thousands of people will die unless American citizens demand that the war end.

Statements by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz discussing the option of "ending states" is a form of genocidal hate-speech, Boyle said.  "I could take that statement of the World Court and file it and prove it as genocidal intent by the United States government," he says. "So the longer we let this go on the more we are going to see our own civil rights and civil liberties taken away from us."

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