Guest Commentary

Jeremy Neigher

As my fellow seniors and I begin our last year at Colgate, I feel it is important for us to recall how it all began. During our first year, merely weeks into the fall semester, terrorists brutally attacked the United States and changed the course of history. Nearly three years later and with a presidential election months away a very basic question remains – Where is Osama bin Laden?Since the events of September 11, the Bush administration has shifted its war against the al-Qaeda attackers to a war against the “axis of evil” to the War on Terror. As Bush’s war has broadened and become more undeterminable, so has the hunt for America’s most wanted man. You can argue that our invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and the subsequent Patriot Acts have been an adequate response to a new chapter in international affairs. But to what extent has all this been successful? The question remains – Where is the man responsible for the death of over 3,000 innocent lives?The widely accepted truth is that bin Laden has been hiding in the mountainous region on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border for nearly three years. He seems all but forgotten, pushed aside for seemingly more urgent matters of national security. (I will remind you that US troops mobilized for a second war in Iraq and captured Saddam Hussein in a little more than a year).This past weekend, while watching FoxNews, I noticed a piece of “news” on the scrolling text that stated: “US Officials in Pakistan now say resources are in place to hunt Osama bin Laden.” Matters of international intelligence are extremely complicated, beyond the grasp of a college student. I still cannot help but wonder why it took so long for this to happen.That being said, I took it upon myself to do a little research. I wanted to see how many times Bush has publicly mentioned Osama bin Laden. What I found was astonishing. To date, since the beginning of 2003, Bush has only mentioned bin Laden’s name 10 times. Of those 10 times, six were because he was asked a direct question. (So much for a liberal media). To put this in perspective, Bush has managed to say Saddam Hussein’s name a whopping 300 times.The numbers speak for themselves. As the American soldier death toll continues to rise in Iraq (approaching 1,000 dead by Wednesday) and evidence linking Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda remains largely inconclusive, the lack of pursuit and capture of Osama bin Laden seems appalling.While the Democratic and Republican Conventions have come and gone, complete with continuous references to the tragic events of 9/11, the ensuing election will come down to the referendum of George W. Bush’s handling of the post-9/11 world and his direction toward the future. No longer can Bush tout his “compassionate conservative” agenda. Instead, he will be voted on his performance as a self-proclaimed “War President.”I am not a bitter opponent to the President; I do not question his strength or his courage. But as a President opposed to nuance, I question his commitment to capturing the man responsible for 9/11. Why has it been three years and still no capture? Why has he only been mentioned a handful of times? As our commander-in-chief, that is unacceptable.This election is incredibly important. With the exception of the first-year students, the outcome will lead us out of Colgate and into the real world. It might be a distant thought from the cozy confines of Hamilton, New York, but you owe to yourself, and as a part of your civic duty to enter this debate and ask the tough questions. I am not telling you who to vote for, that is your choice. I only urge you to educate yourself before you cast you ballot on November 2. A great place to start might be to ask – Where is Osama bin Laden, the man responsible for 9/11?