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Should The Taliban See The Evidence?

Should The Taliban See The Evidence?The Taliban has demanded evidence that links Osama bin Laden to the attacks, but the U.S. has refused. So who is right? NPR asked a Tufts expert for the answer.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [10.05.01] In the weeks since the Sept 11, attacks, U.S. and international intelligence agencies have been amassing information linking Osama bin Laden with the terrorist's plot. Britain's Tony Blair has seen it. Pakistan's top leaders have seen it. Some evidence has even been published on the Internet. But the U.S. still refuses to show anything to the Taliban. Should they? NPR asked Tufts' Hurst Hammun for the answer.

"Certainly, I think that it's appropriate to show them some kind of evidence," Hammun told National Public Radio's All Things Considered. "The U.S. has not been known always for telling the truth in the world, and I think that to demand that a country give someone up, we should be willing to put at least some cards on the table."

But the expert on international law from Tufts' Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy said the U.S can be very selective about what it shows the Taliban.

"Certainly, I would not go so far as to compromise any security," Hammun told NPR. "The burden that we need to meet is not one of showing beyond a reasonable doubt that bin Laden committed these acts, but I do think there's a burden to show that he's responsible for some things."

To some degree, it's an issue of fairness.

"The American public has been promised that we, too, will be shown evidence linking bin Laden to the bombings," he said. "I would think at the very least that the Taliban would receive that kind of information."

And showing some evidence could help avoid a military strike.

"It's certainly no guarantee that [the Taliban] will get what they want, nor do I think we should give in to any of their demands or requests," the Tufts expert told National Public Radio. "But refusing to talk to them, frankly, seems to me to be simply leaving aside one potential resolution that would be in our favor without any great purpose."

Some experts argue that a military strike should not be delayed with these types of negotiations.

But Hammun told NPR that there is still some time for talks: "I simply can't imagine that a few days or a few weeks or simply talking to a government we despise -- we talk with many other governments we despise -- is a bad thing."

It may even help the U.S. in the long term.

"Obviously, one doesn't want to drag negotiations out in a way that will compromise our legitimate security interests," he said. "But delay, as opposed to acting precipitously, may in fact build the coalition that we're attempting to build around the world right now even more strongly than we could have done."

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