Taliban denies access to Shelter Now workers
Atif Ali Khan, the young Pakistani lawyer representing the eight foreign aid workers being held prisoner in Kabul, tried last weekend to send a colleague to see how the prisoners were doing. The colleague was told the prisoners were safe, but he could not see them, U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said yesterday. "The Consul General and Mr. Ali Khan are working together with the International Red Cross to send another care package and letters to the detainees by the end of the week," Boucher said. "We have no information yet on how they can do that. And we don't have any new information at this point on the status of the trial." When asked by a reporter if the U.S. Embassy has a plan for what to do about the hostages if the Northern Alliance captures Kabul, Boucher responded, "I don't do 'what happens if' questions. There are too many of those in the world for me to spend my days answering them. Sorry."

Boucher and the reporters also had a discussion about what to call the hostages:

Question: On the detainees? If we're not allowed to see them anymore, and there's no trial going on, why are they just detainees, and why don't we use another word that — like "hostages" or even "human shields," that have been used to describe people who are held against their will, and we don't know where they are, we can't talk to them?Boucher: Detainees is a word that describes people being held against their will, and that's what they are. That's —Question: But what is the difference between a "detainee" and a "hostage"?Boucher: Look it up. I'm sorry, I'm not going to try to do those from here.Question: I think the President has used the word "hostage" already. Why haven't we? Boucher: ...
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