Putting accused terrorist Osama bin Laden on trial would be "inflammatory on a world basis" and probably would not help the United States in its war on terrorism, U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said Tuesday.
Rockefeller said there was no value in speculating what should be done with bin Laden, although he was adamant he "should not go through the judicial process."
"I think it would just prolong things," he said of the effect that trying bin Laden could have on the world terrorism community.
Rockefeller said he has seen the videotape bin Laden made just days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Rockefeller declined to comment on the video, but said he believes President George Bush will release portions of the tape in the next few days.
U.S. officials who have seen the tape say it proves bin Laden was behind the attacks, according to an Associated Press report.
Rockefeller also said John Walker, the American accused of being a member of the Taliban, must be "treated in a serious manner."
Walker, 20, of Fairfax, Calif., was found among Taliban fighters held at a fortress in northern Afghanistan after an uprising by the prisoners was put down in late November. U.S. officials have not decided how his case will be handled.
Walker is being held at Camp Rhino. The Marines are feeding and providing security for Walker and treating a gunshot wound he suffered.
"We are not really at a point of doing anything with him, as a country," Rockefeller said.
Rockefeller said Bush's declared war on terrorism will be difficult, but ultimately winnable. He said people across the world fear terrorism but are becoming less passive.
"People are not in any way neutral on terrorism. They are either doing it or against it," he said. "I think America is ready to see this one through to the end."
Staff writer Jim Fisher can be reached at 626-1446 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org