Last week, someone claiming to represent Osama bin Laden sent a message to al-Jazeera, the Middle Eastern cable network: If reporters at CNN would send along some questions, he would get the questions to Osama Bin Laden and he would answer them.
This sort of thing is always a tough call for reporters. Should you risk being used, should you give someone like Osama Bin Laden a platform for his propaganda, on the chance that you might be able to gather valuable information?
In this case, CNN did the right thing: Sure, we'll send you some questions, their editors said, and if your answers have news value we'll pass them on.
That's the right thing because the best defense against murderers, despots and crooks is to draw them out of the shadows and into the sun. The best way to destroy their arguments is to make sure everyone knows exactly what their arguments are.
And I don't think we have to worry that giving him television exposure is going to convert very many Americans to his cause. We've already seen his work.
He can talk around the clock but he'll never convince Americans that murdering 6,000 innocent people is justified.
To the contrary, anytime I hear or see him it just reminds me of how proud he was of what was done at the Twin Towers and the Pentagon and it just reinforces my conviction that we must track him down and bring him to justice.
My guess is that he has the same effect on most people. So, I hope he talks a lot in the coming weeks.
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