Plan is considered for conditional extradition of bin Laden, a man Bush wants 'dead or alive'
Tuesday, September 18th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld raised doubts Tuesday about whether the surrender of Osama bin Laden, prime suspect in the attacks that slaughtered thousands of Americans, would be enough to avert a U.S.-led military campaign against terrorism.
``Clearly you begin on a journey with one step, and he would be one step,'' Rumsfeld said. But he added, ``If bin Laden were not there the organization would continue doing what it's been doing. So clearly the problem is much bigger than bin Laden.''
With President Bush plotting a military response against ``those barbaric people'' who attacked the United States a week ago, Taliban leaders in Afghanistan were reported Tuesday to be considering a proposal from Pakistan for the extradition of bin Laden to a third country _ under certain conditions.
A Pakistani government source said the conditions, including international recognition of the Taliban government, were discussed in a meeting with Taliban leaders Monday but no agreement was reached and the Pakistani delegation was returning home later Tuesday. The official did not detail what other conditions were discussed.
Asked on CBS' ``The Early Show'' whether the surrendering of bin Laden would be enough to avert a conflict, Rumsfeld said the problem is bigger than one man. ``Bin Laden is one person who is unambiguously a terrorist,'' he said. ``The al-Qaida network is a broad, multiheaded organization.''
Before the Pakistani official spoke, Taliban rulers were admonishing their countrymen in Afghanistan to prepare for a holy war against the United States. Bush was preparing America for conflict.
``This will be a different type of war ... a different type of enemy than we're used to,'' Bush said Monday as the nation simultaneously grieved for the victims of last week's attacks and groped toward a more normal workaday routine.
Administration officials gave no sign a military response was imminent, although Bush resorted to frontier-style language when he said he wanted bin Laden ``dead or alive.''
The Taliban call to arms came as a grand Islamic council in Afghanistan prepared to take up a demand from neighboring Pakistan to turn over bin Laden or face attack by the United States. U.S. officials have held out little hope the Taliban would eject bin Laden.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, in answer to a reporter's question Monday, said a quarter-century-old executive order barring assassinations ``does not limit America's ability to act in its self-defense.'' He added, ``I'm not going to define all the steps that may or may not be taken.''
Action on the economic front may come sooner and follow close on an unexpected half-point cut in interest rates Monday by the Federal Reserve, plus a 684-point loss by the Dow Jones stock average and tens of thousands of layoffs in the battered airlines industry.
``The airlines are facing difficulties,'' White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said after the president met with advisers to discuss the plight of the industry. Congressional officials said bailout legislation was likely, up to $5 billion in direct assistance and government loan guarantees for several times that amount.
Beyond that, senior congressional officials were awaiting word from the White House on what, if any, type of economic stimulus should be considered. In a gesture of political unity unthinkable a week ago, Republican and Democratic tax-writers said they would meet in private later in the week to discuss the possibility of a bipartisan bill.
A senior White House official said Bush was days away from deciding whether to support a stimulus package.
In all, officials said the death toll likely would top 5,000 from the Sept. 11 attacks that left New York City's World Trade Center twin towers in ruins and crumpled a portion of the Pentagon.
``I've been told by experts that people survive for longer periods than the six days that have gone by since the attack,'' New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said. ``The simple reality is that we're not going to be able to recover significant numbers of people, but we will continue to try.''
Away from the scenes of destruction, the stock market opened for the first time since the attacks and the major league baseball pennant races _ and Barry Bonds' pursuit of the single-season home run record _ resumed.
The pews of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York were crowded at a Mass celebrated for the uniformed victims of last week's attacks. And first lady Laura Bush joined mourners at a memorial service near Shanksville, Pa., where a plane seized by hijackers crashed.
In all, hijackers seized four jetliners, heavy with fuel. Two were flown into the towers of the World Trade Center, which then collapsed. Another scored a direct hit on the Pentagon.
Attorney General John Ashcroft said the Justice Department soon would ask Congress for legislation to strengthen its hand against terrorists, including abolishing the statute of limitation for crimes of terrorism.
Bush devoted a portion of his day Monday to visiting a mosque, where he said Muslims and Arab-Americans should be treated with respect. ``Islam is peace,'' he said. ``These terrorists don't represent peace, they represent evil and war.''
Earlier, the president said the war on terrorism could be a protracted one and include American casualties. ``We will win the war and there will be costs'' he said in a midday visit to the Pentagon, where military planners were readying call-up orders for 35,000 reservists.
He said they would provide military police, engineers for projects, intelligence-gathering and service as chaplains in the struggle to come