– Times of London says bin Laden is in Tora Bora caves: “Defence sources are increasingly sure that bin Laden is in the Tora Bora complex. ‘Weíre now convinced this is where he is and where the 1,000 or so al-Qaeda fighters with him will make their last stand,’ said one.”
– A Times graphic of the Tora Bora complex.
– A Times visit to Tora Bora: “In their ten-year war against the Mujahidin in Afghanistan, the Russians never did strike a serious blow at Tora Bora. The place seemed as enduring as the rock from which it was carved. It is hardly surprising that it should endure as a warrior headquarters.”
– The Telegraph’s Tora Bora tale.
– Just looked to register ToraBora.com. I was three days too late. Could have made a fortune when the movie’s made.
– 13 bin Laden fighters reportedly flown to Wake Island, ready for tribunal.
– Scarey story (or scare story — not sure) from Janes: “Ominous news from Pakistan and Iran indicate that at best a viral pandemic may be brewing among Afghan refugees, at worst that former Soviet biological weapons have possibly made their first appearance. In Pakistan, at least 75 people have been diagnosed … with Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever in the largest outbreak of the disease ever recorded. Eight have already died. All the infected are refugees recently arrived from Afghanistan or people living close to the border.”
– Piece of drek column by Robert Fisk in the Independent: “We are the war criminals now.” He says that the Afghans killing each other is our fault. It would be nice if we were ready with a sane government and an international terrorist babysitting force but we’re not and they’re murdering each other and we can’t stop them. So tough. Our goal is to stop them from killing us. If we can stop them from killing each other, that’s merely a fringe benefit. He says we’ve gone mad. No, we’re trying to stop the madmen. And in the final analysis, it is their country: They either can or cannot be civilized.
– Fisk should at least concede that getting rid of the Taleban is moral progress: Horrors from the BBC.
– The government’s buying enough smallpox vaccine to protect 286 million — all of us … but not until the end of next year. Keep fingers crossed. Inhale now and hold it.
– You don’t hate us, you really don’t hate us: A new Pew survey says the public is thinking a lot higher of the media post 9/11: “Almost two-thirds now say those in the news business stand up for America and help protect democracy, says the poll released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. These are the highest levels on those measures in the center’s 15 years of polling on the news industry. Fewer than half felt that way before the attacks.”
– Our first American battlefield casualty: CIA agent and ex-Marine Michael Spann from Alabama. From his home-state newspaper (before his death was confirmed).
– I was just justly scolded in email: There is no such thing as an ex-Marine. Yes, sir! Semper fi.
– News organizations — BBC, AP, Reuters, Washington Post — pulling out of Afghanistan following death of Swedish cameraman. Can’t blame them. The news is vital but right now it’s not worth more lives.
– God Bless America: Below, I wrote a screed on fundamentalism vs. modernity (read: inflexibility vs. flexibility). Now comes a survey of American religious behavior that finds — to the research firm’s surprise, but not mine — that after 9/11, American are less — less — likely to believe that “there are moral truths that are absolute, meaning that those moral truths or principles do not change according to the circumstances.” That is, Americans recognize the dangers of fundamentalism; Americans are flexible and open and tolerant and civilized. Americans are also, I think, ready to kick bin Laden’s ass and willing to give up a few absolute moral truths along the way… [via Relapsed Catholic]
– The tale of a secular Muslim in England, Sarfraz Manzoor:
“Bruce Springsteen gave me the promise of America. With it came the civil rights movement, the speeches of Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Emmett Till and Public Enemy. I felt that I was on the same side as those who marched in Selma and Montgomery. I found it easier to be a black American by empathy than to be British…. [America] represented a broader sense of identity. To my father, this adoration of Americana was confirmation of his worst fears. The Faustian pact of coming to Britain had played out: the souls of his children had been robbed by the west. Even years later he would express regret he had ever come.”
After 9/11, he returns to his British hometown to meet young Muslim students, who are appalled at his secular life: “Just because I listened to Bruce Springsteen and read Philip Roth and watched Woody Allen did not mean I was ‘denying’ anything,” he tells them. “I just chose to expose myself to a broader set of influences than some of the people I grew up with. I told my class that they couldn’t box people up so neatly. Islam is about tolerance, I added weakly.”
– The Christian Science Monitor says Congress is getting ready to fight Bush about the license he has taken regarding civil rights and war tribunals and such. But the Monitor also starts with the important caveat: “If history is any guide, wartime Congresses are usually irrelevant. They may thunder and roar, but in the end, the president decides the conduct of a war – including curtailing cherished liberties when deemed necessary.”
– An Afghan woman general says education, not burkas, are the real issue for Afghan women.