They now say "Anyone who is responsible for this act, Osama or not, we will not side with him." and that if Washington provides reasonable proof, then Osama can be tried in a third country.
What is the U.S. response? Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that providing proof could be a problem because of the need to protect intelligence sources. "To the extent you compromise a source or a method of gathering information, you have damaged yourself."
In other words, the U.S. government doesn't want to provide the kind of proof to the Afghanistan government that they would have to provide in a court of law in similar situations, such as in the previous bombing of the world trade center... or that they would have to provide to any foreign power anywhere in order to secure extradition of a criminal. They would rather just have the whole world take their word on faith that Osama Bin Laden, the Taleban, Saddam Hussein, or any other potential target they may want to select is in some way responsible for the attack... or for terrorism in general, really.
This leads me to wonder whether the president's goal is to bring Osama Bin Laden to justice or not. What better way to avoid having to go to trial than to shoot first and ask questions later?
Perhaps Dubya doesn't even really intend to get Osama anytime soon, prefering instead to have a longer, more drawn out conflict. Think about it. George Bush Sr. was the commander-in-chief during the Gulf War. He had huge presidential approval ratings at one point, but over time people forgot about Desert Storm. He stopped being a war hero and became a one term loser instead.
No. My guess is this... Dubya will try to drag out this conflict somehow, making Billions for his friends involved in oil and in arms manufacturing. Ideas like paying down the debt or not dipping into the Social Security trust fund will give way to increased military spending in this "time of need". Increased government spending will artificially buoy the economy, a-la-Reagan, and Osama Bin Laden won't be killed / sentenced to death for several, several years... long enough to guarantee Dubya a boost in the next election.
Of course, all this sounds very cynical, but politics is a very deliberate, cynical practice. Read Machiavelli and tell me that it isn't, or try to convince me that Bush is somehow more "real" than other politicians. Bullshit. The key to being a politician isn't to be real... it's to appear to be real.
For instance, why is it that when Bush went to visit the World Trade Center, there was a team of cameramen and photographers stationed there ahead of time, despite the fact that the rest of the media had been evacuated blocks away? How come Dubya had an obviously prepared speech? And knowing that he had a speech prepared, how come there wasn't a microphone set up for him to use, and he used a bullhorn instead? How come even though he did use a bullhorn, footage of Dubya using a bullhorn was put on mike anyway for the advantage of TV? Easy... it was an intentional act all about appearance and perception.
Keep in mind that Dubya had previously danced around the country for over a day, trying to give the appearance that somehow Air Force One, a souped-up 747 with special defenses, was a target and could be knocked out of the sky in the middle of a complete grounding of all flights without the help of ground control to guide terrorists to the target. Um... yeah.
So, yes. I am cynical. I believe this president has no real skill, intellect, or talent worth mentioning other than the ability to appear to be a populist. Somewhere during his boozed up college days, or maybe somewhere on the backroads of Texas, he found out how to appear to be "one of the boys" and learned how to lie while keeping a straight face. Such skills come in handy when you're an alcoholic and/or a coke addict, I guess...
Frankly, I don't know why Americans like the Bushes. They represent everything about America that people should hate... The string pullers. The old boy network. Favors for favors. The arrogance and abuse of old money. They are the living representation of arrogant, champagne swilling country club types who couldn't give a damn about us... who live on estates on private roads... who complain bitterly about the nouveau riche and anyone else who have actually worked to make their money. There's nothing that the Bush family would rather do than screw over the poor, the middle class, and the nouveau riche, giving the money and power back to the aristocracy. They're doing a pretty good job of it, too... All I can really hope is that Dubya will be too thickheaded to really pay attention to the lessons of his father's administration and will join him, ignominiously, in first term failure.