Air supremacy established, US forces prepared to launch riskier helicopter and ground-based operations in Afghanistan amid new calls by Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders urging Muslims worldwide to fight a holy war against the US. President Bush, meanwhile, unveiled a terrorist "most wanted" list and narrowed Congressional access to classified briefings.
Emboldened by what defense officials say is an 85 percent success rate and virtually no opposition, US fighter jets struck additional targets in Afghanistan. Flying missions in daylight, the planes have secured air supremacy over Afghan skies, US officials say, though the Taliban claim otherwise. US strikes, which The Washington Post reports are spurring refugee movement toward Pakistan, have also aided Northern Alliance efforts to push their rebel forces south, The Christian Science Monitor reports. Though US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has been wary of using US troops to support a political faction, Afghan rebels are counting on US air cover to step up their attacks on Taliban strongholds in southern Afghanistan.
Though he hasn't offered any specifics, President George W. Bush notified Congress Tuesday of his decision to deploy grounds troops for combat. Part of the ground effort encouraging Taliban defections is already being conducted by CIA intelligence agents, The Washington Post reports.
Before ground combat begins, US forces will likely rely on risky helicopter missions [link requires registration] to search and destroy forces allied with Osama bin Laden, The New York Times reports. The Times also explores military action the US might take in other countries [link requires registration] such as Indonesia, the Phillipines, and Malaysia to rout terrorists around the globe. In fact, US ambassador to the United Nations John D. Negroponte told Iraqi envoy Mohammed Douri "you will be defeated" if Iraq assists anti-American forces.
The threat of intensified action, however, has done little to sap the spirits of Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Taliban's reclusive leader profiled in Wednesday's Monitor. Nor has it quelled the ambitions of bin Laden and his Al Qaeda spokesman, who pledged further hijackings of US commercial planes and urged Muslims worldwide to launch a "jihad," or holy war, against the US. But the Al Qaeda call to arms, coupled with the Taliban's announcement it was giving free rein to bin Laden to coordinate a holy war, met with little initial Muslim support around the globe. The Palestinian Information Center reports on the challenges the Palestinian community is facing as it confronts calls to attack America. Palestinian police killed six anti-American protesters, The Jerusalem Post reports, and Pakistani police killed three and injured nine protesters, according to the Dawn newspaper.
US leaders will gain a better sense of Muslim support for their military plans after an emergency conference of Muslim leaders concludes in Qatar. Tony Blair met with Oman leader Sultan Qaboos in a new drive for Arab support, even as British officials investigated death threats against the British prime minister.
In a symbolic announcement designed to reiterate the US case that the fight against terrorism extends beyond bin Laden, President Bush released a terrorism "most wanted" list at FBI headquarters today, CNN.com reports. The White House is also reportedly seeking to air the list on the television program "America's Most Wanted." Among the nearly twenty names are bin Laden and his top associates wanted in connection with the US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.
Wary over the prospect that leaked classified information could endanger troops, President Bush said only eight leaders of Congress would receive classified intelligence briefings. Members of both parties immediately objected to the restriction, saying it limited their oversight role. According to the Washington Post, the action reflects a tighter-lipped Beltway, which mirrors the larger trend the Monitor explores about the American struggle to draw a fine line between precaution and panic.
FBI agents continue to investigate reports of anthrax exposure in Florida, but no terrorist connections have been established. And though experts say a widespread anthrax attack is unlikely, The Washington Times reports on new calls to urge public vaccinations against anthrax, and the Associated Press reports that $5 billion is being sought to upgrade the nation's water supply.
President Bush, apparently, does not like being compared to Neville Chamberlain. The former British Minister notoriously predicted "peace in our time" after appeasing Nazi demands for territory in 1938. Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon incensed Bush last week by saying the US should not "appease the Arabs" as the Nazis once were. Now, The Boston Globe reports, the White House is preparing to publicly increase pressure on Mr. Sharon to both accept a Palestinian state and a viable Palestinian homeland that includes a shared Jerusalem. The Jerusalem Post editorial page, asserts that the field of public opinion must not be abandoned, "lest the Taliban and bin Laden seize upon it to their advantage." A Los Angles Times opinion piece, however, argues that Israel's not the issue.
Time for an American empire? In a Weekly Standard cover piece, Max Boot says the Sept. 11 attack was a result of insufficient American involvement and ambition. His solution? The US should be more expansive in its goals and more assertive in their implementation. He joins Natan Sharanksy [link requires registration] in making the case for an assertive American presence to wipe out terrorists and provide for American security. "The democratic world must export freedom throughout the Middle East," Mr. Sharanksy writes. "The consequences of merely eradicating an enemy rather than building a friend were made crystal clear in the decades following World War II."
The push for a more-aggressive America isn't shared by liberal commentators such as Robert D. Kaplan, who says the US shouldn't impose its values on the Middle East, and Noam Chomsky, who's been debating Christopher Hitchens over the causes of the terrorist attacks in The Nation. The roots of anti-American sentiment were explored in the Monitor's piece, 'Why do they hate us?', which prompted Yale professor Catherine Labio to respond with a Monitor opinion piece Americans, don't blame yourselves for Sept. 11. Did Americans deserve to be attacked? The Monitor's lead editorial poses an answer to that question.