War on Terror

Was Osama bin Laden Killed Because He Posed a Threat or Because He Had It Coming?

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No Easy Day, the new book about the May 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, contradicts the official account of his death in ways that highlight the Obama administration's ambiguous approach to terrorists, who are either criminals, enemies, or both, depending on circumstances and political convenience. The book's pseudonymous author, Mark Owen—a Navy SEAL whom military officials have identified as Matt Bissonnette, 36, of Wrangell, Alaska—reports that Bin Laden was shot in the head as he peeked out of his bedroom doorway at the SEAL team ascending the stairs to the top floor of his house in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The New York Times, which obtained a copy of the book yesterday, describes what Bissonnette says happened next:

[Bissonnette] said he was directly behind the "point man," or lead commando, as the SEALs followed Bin Laden into the room, where they found him on the floor at the foot of his bed with "blood and brains spilled out of the side of his skull," and two women wailing over his body, which was "still twitching and convulsing."

The author said he and another member then trained their weapons on Bin Laden's chest and fired several rounds, until he was motionless. The SEALs later found two unloaded weapons—an AK-47 rifle and a Makarov pistol—near the bedroom door.

In the administration's version of events, the lead commando's shot in the stairwell missed, and the SEALs confronted Bin Laden in the bedroom, killing him with one shot to the chest and another above the left eye.

The new book's account, if true, raises the question of whether Bin Laden posed a clear threat in his death throes.

Military officials have said that the SEALs made split-second decisions, fearing that Bin Laden, though unarmed, could have exploded a suicide vest or other booby trap. Critics, however, say that while the military has described the raid as a "kill or capture" mission, there was virtually no chance the SEALS would bring Bin Laden back alive.

As I pointed out after the raid, these details matter under the laws of war, which the Obama administration says apply to members and supporters of Al Qaeda, because soldiers are not supposed to shoot an enemy combatant who is trying to surrender or kill him after he has been captured (or, per Bissonnette's account, incapacitated). Shooting him is justified only if he poses a threat to his captors. At the same time, since President Obama (like his predecessor) views the whole world as the battlefield in the war on terrorism, he could have avoided such questions (while raising others about collateral damage) simply by dropping a bomb on Bin Laden's house. That is the sort of solution Obama has favored for other people identified as terrorists (including U.S. citizens), on the theory that they represent an imminent threat to American lives and that capturing them is impractical.

Yet the administration's rhetoric suggests Bin Laden was killed not because it was the only way to eliminate the threat he posed (whether to the SEALs or to Americans generally) but because he had it coming. National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor refers to the raid as "the night that justice was brought to Osama bin Laden," which suggests a summary execution rather than an act of self-defense. When it comes to suspected terrorists who are blown up by missiles fired from unmanned aircraft, the administration argues that it is not depriving them of life without due process because it follows certain procedures, confined to the executive branch, before approving these extrajudicial killings. The Bin Laden raid, because it was more up close and personal, clarified what that means in practice: I got yer due process right here. BLAM BLAM.

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  1. It is rather curious that the administration, considering its apparent love of drone strikes regardless of the casualties inflicted, simply didn’t send a Predator missile or two down Bin Laden’s chimney.

    1. I’m surprised too, since it would destroy so much evidence.

      Although I guess if you’re going to send the team in to get him alive, so you can fake his death, you might as well give them credit. That way you don’t have to buy off a SEAL team AND a UAV team for the same op.

    2. Because they couldn’t prove they killed him. It wasn’t about killing Bin Laden, it was about bringing back his scalp for Obama to trot out.

      1. Well, Sug, given his history of pre-recording tapes with messages tailored for various contingencies the only way to make sure he was actually dead was up close and personal.

        1. I’m not saying it wasn’t a good idea, merely explaining why they don’t use a bomb.

          1. I agree with the scalp comment, but there’s also the certainty aspect. Even if they leveled the hillside, they wouldn’t know for certain if Osama had been there.

            1. And then realized that’s pretty much what Tonio said. Pls ignore above comment.

            2. No soup for you, BP. LOL.

        2. And given that, it was inevitable that the sitting president would be handed a PR trophy.

          1. which is where the trophy display should stop. Yes, the sitting POTUS gets the benefit of timing; fair enough. But this one likes to pretend that he planned the mission, piloted the troops in, and maybe even fired the shots.

            Never mind that the machinery for tracking OBL was in place long before Obama was anything more than Senator Present in IL. All that matters is the political mileage to be gained from the gullible.

        3. Maybe they figured he would have a lot of Al Queda plans and other information they could grab and just didn’t want to blow the place up?

          Not really sure, just wondering myself.

    3. Come on, what looks better on a campaign commercial? “I bravely ordered a missile fired at the house that Bin Laden was in,” or “I bravely made the decision to bravely order the SEALs to put an end to this existential threat to America?”

      1. Granted. It basically works the same as “My guys pulled Saddam Hussein out of a spider hole,” rather than “My F-16s bombed his palace.”

      2. “I bravely waited for Valerie Jarrett to decide for me, and then I bravely had my dubiously qualified CIA director delegate the final decisions to Admiral McRaven so that, if it failed, I’d have someone to blame, in addition to George W. Bush.”

        Brave, brave Sir Barack!

        Brave Sir Robin ran away.
        Bravely ran away away.
        When danger reared it’s ugly head, He bravely turned his tail and fled.
        Yes, brave Sir Robin turned about
        And gallantly he chickened out. ****Bravely**** taking
        to his feet, He beat a very brave retreat.
        Bravest of the braaaave, Sir Robin!

  2. I might be in a vast minority in my thinking, but I was pretty upset with the raid and execution of this guy. As has been pointed out, if the information was so good, why even risk a SEAL team and not drop a bomb on the compound? I thought justice would have been better served with a live capture and detainment as happened with Saddam.

    Like I said, I am likely in the minority since so many people are happy “We got him!”?, but America should stand out for being a nation of laws and not a nation of vengeance, however deserving it might be.

    1. We will probably never really know with certainty if the SEALs were told to take him alive if possible or whether they were told to simply kill him on sight, but I don’t think there was any way he was ever going to allow himself to be taken alive.

      1. “We will probably never really know with certainty if the SEALs were told to take him alive if possible or whether they were told to simply kill him on sight, but I don’t think there was any way he was ever going to allow himself to be taken alive.”

        According to the book written by a SEAL member who was there Osama was not armed when he was shot.

        1. He only knew that AFTER bin Laden was shot. He stuck his head out of the door, not a pair of empty hands.

          Whether or not it mattered we can debate without ever knowing what their orders were.

          1. He only knew that AFTER bin Laden was shot. He stuck his head out of the door, not a pair of empty hands.

            ^This^

            If Bin Laden had stuck his hands out the door, and yelled out “I surrender” before getting on his knees with his hands behind his heads, and the lead SEAL had shot him then, that would be one thing. Shooting someone who stuck their head out of a doorway during a combat mission is another thing entirely. They probably didn’t even have time to identify the guy sticking his out the door as Bin Laden before firing.

            The only part of Bissonnette’s version of events that I have a very slight issue with is maybe the fact that they shot him several more times as he was in his death throws. Although he was pretty much dieing by the time they did that anyway, and in the “heat of the moment” I can’t really blame them for that.

            1. The only part of Bissonnette’s version of events that I have a very slight issue with is maybe the fact that they shot him several more times as he was in his death throws.

              They didn’t send SEAL 6 to “bring him back”. They were sent there to kill OBL. They were successful.

              What if they shot him, but didn’t kill him? And in the process of getting him to the helicopter an armed force shows up, firefight ensues and you are forced to leave him there still alive? Mission fail.

              1. “They didn’t send SEAL 6 to ‘bring him back’. They were sent there to kill OBL. They were successful.”

                “John O. Brennan stated after the raid: ‘If we had the opportunity to take bin Laden alive, if he didn’t present any threat, the individuals involved were able and prepared to do that.'”
                “CIA Director Leon Panetta stated on PBS NewsHour: ‘The authority here was to kill bin Laden…Obviously under the rules of engagement, if he in fact had thrown up his hands, surrendered and didn’t appear to be representing any kind of threat, then they were to capture him. But, they had full authority to kill him.'”

                1. Quite simply, they lied. That’s what they tell the public to make themselves sound like a peace loving politicians who are out for truth, justice and the American way. Especially when there is no way to disprove it.

                  It’s NOT what ST6 does.

            2. The only part of Bissonnette’s version of events that I have a very slight issue with is maybe the fact that they shot him several more times as he was in his death throws. Although he was pretty much dieing by the time they did that anyway, and in the “heat of the moment” I can’t really blame them for that.

              Generally when one shoots or mortally wounds a living creature, it is considered humane to finish it off and end its agony. That might have been part of what was in play here. Speaking for myself, I think they should have let the son of bitch twitch a bit longer.

        2. Point?

          He’s an enemy combatant. He doesn’t need to be armed.

          A ball bearing factory isn’t armed either, but it’s a legal legitimate target.

    2. People were going to pay attention to Osama’s death, so it’s the one actual time when you have to worry about collateral damage.

    3. They didn’t drop a bomb–an option that was considered–because they wanted clear evidence. How much of that is national security concern and how much of that is political I’ll let you decide.

      Obama’s political foes would do best to never mention OBL. Compared to the other ways administrations have fought the War on Terra this has to be considered a resounding success. The other ways I’m thinking of include, oh, invading a completely unrelated country and getting hundreds of thousands of people killed for no discernible purpose, then not actually ever getting the perp in 7 years.

      There really was no option to do a trial, as ideal as that would have been. Half this country has a perpetual lynch mob mentality. A trial for OBL would have been politically disastrous for Obama. I’m not saying that makes it OK, I’m saying that’s just reality.

      1. Interesting that you admit that it was cowardice to order him killed on sight, and that you assume that that was the order.

        1. This country’s policy is clearly not to give Al Qaeda members due process. I actually don’t like that. But I wouldn’t call the raid cowardly; it was the highest risk/reward of the options available.

          1. we don’t give anyone in warlike situations due process. It’s not like OBL was Dillinger.

            1. I disagree with declaring “war” on a terrorist group. You declare war against a country. The Bush war formulation was license to discard the rules of civilization where they would otherwise apply.

              1. “You declare war against a country.”

                Drugs and Poverty are “countries”?

              2. What exactly, do you propose to do when a non-state entity declares war on you?

      2. The other ways I’m thinking of include, oh, invading a completely unrelated country and getting hundreds of thousands of people killed for no discernible purpose

        You mean like Pakistan? Or do the people we kill there not count?

        And “Saddam has WMDs” is certainly a discernable purpose; hell, most of Team Blue’s leaders at the time thought the same. Just because Dubya’s guys were wrong doesn’t mean that justification wasn’t given.

        1. I didn’t say there wasn’t a lie offered to justify it.

        2. most of Team Blue’s leaders at the time thought the same

          I can’t claim to have access to what they really thought. However, they didn’t have evidence of no WMD’s and didn’t want to look soft on terrorism. Always harder to disprove than to prove.

          1. I can’t claim to have access to what they really thought.

            maybe not, but tehre is ample evidence re: what they said. Google almost any combination of “Democrats WMD Saddam” and other words and the result is a who’s who of the party giving floor speeches that testify not just to the presence of bad weapons, but to a willingness to use them. Saddam, in fact, did use gas. Twice before. And Bill Clinton introduced the notion of regime change as US policy toward Iraq.

            Prior to Gulf II, we had a decade of weapons inspectors being punked at every turn by Saddam. There were dead Kurds who were evidence of something. But some folks prefer pretending that Bush singlehandedly made it all up. One of the largest mysteries of the time is how a man whose opponents are so sure is stupid beyond belief was able to plan and execute the farthest-reaching conspiracies imaginable.

          2. Having no counter-evidence, and not wanting to look soft on terror (or whatever), they fell into lock-step with the administration.

    4. See my 11:47 comment about tapes above, GeeBee.

    5. C’mon. What laws are you talking about? I guess we can pretend that OBL was not an enemy. Pretense only gets you so far. The fucker deserved what he got.

      1. Okay. This is why I like the Reason comments boards (when they don’t devolve into witty/mindless troll-bashing). I have read some of the responses and amend my original statement to saying that I am not unhappy with the outcome of Osama being dead, but based on the evidence I’ve heard it looks like the mission was never to take him alive, despite what some of the higher-ups said after the fact.

        The big issue comes from the gloating, followed by the continuation of the war on terror. The Obama supporters all rallied around him to say “Look what our guy did!”, when in reality he DID NOTHING but give the go-ahead. Then there are the shifting goal posts of what exactly the purpose of the War on Terror is about. It was about 9/11 revenge, then it was about stopping WMD’s, and both of those things are out of the picture now. So why are we still over there fighting?

    6. Dropping a bomb means you don’t know if you got him or not.

      I don’t have a problem with any of this. This man was a combatant and an enemy of the state. When and how he was killed is irrelevant. He wasn’t given a chance to surrender. He died in battle. PERIOD!

      Sullum’s question:

      Was Osama bin Laden Killed Because He Posed a Threat or Because He Had It Coming?

      WThe answer:

      Neither. Both. Either. Who fucking cares?

      1. And as I said yesterday. If you are planning to capture someone, you don’t send SEAL 6.

  3. Here is the problem a mouthy Administration bragging about black operations – and with SEALs following the example and talking about them.

    Taking bin Laden alive would have been a mess.

    1. Yes. And then there would have been the problem of what to do with him. Lock him away and suffer criticism for not following rule of law. Give him a trial and give him a pulpit. Just like it was a good thing that Hitler wasn’t captured by the allies.

      1. And you know that he wasn’t, because?

        The thing is, nobody would have given a crap if Hitler was captured, tortured for as much information as could be squeezed out of him, and then shot. Why anyone gives a crap about Bin Laden, I’m really not sure about…

  4. Nitpicking over the exact method of the delivery of Osama’s death sentence is not going to be a productive line of inquiry, folks. Yeah, it’s almost assured that the President wanted to get a PR coup out of it, but…who is going to care besides those of us who actually give a shit about due process for everyone regardless of how much of a scumbag they are? You know, all 23 of us.

    1. So for the 23 of you – how should this “due process” have been carried out?

      1. Another Clint Eastwood movie comes to mind…

        “They were decently fed, and then they were decently shot.”

    2. I’m going to be charitable and say that the job needed to be done, and that whoever was in office would have handled it the same way.

      The timing was probably event-driven, not PR-driven. Each election that passed with him still at large was a PR problem for the presidency, but most people understand that it was the military, not the politicians, who actually did this.

      And, yeah, due process, kinda sorta. This is one of those rare situations where I’m willing to allow a the govt a mulligan.

    3. Epi

      Take that to its logical conclusion. Due process for everyone? In war?

      It wasn’t an assassination. He was a combatant. That means you legally get to kill the sonofabitch on sight without needing anyone’s permission.

      You know…war?

      Now if you want to debate whether it needs to be a declared war, BY CONGRESS, I’d agree. But saying every soldier on the battlefield requires due process is complete bullshit.

      1. I don’t believe there is any evidence that Bin Laden was waving a white flag, either…

        1. Neither were the 15+ people that survived the raid

          1. I guess that’s because THOSE 15 people weren’t on the target list.

      2. In the case of Bin Ladin, he had “declared war” on us as I recall.

  5. Bin Laden was shot in the head as he peeked out of his bedroom doorway at the SEAL team ascending the stairs

    That’s some good shootiin’, that is.

    And for fuck’s sake, could we stop wanking about whether he should only have been shot if the civilian standard for self-defense was met by the SEAL Team? He was a dead man walking when the highjacker slit the throat of the first stewardess, and rightly so.

    1. And then he publicly gloats about all of the americans he killed several times over. Somebody kills 3000 of your people, shooting him on site is the least you do. I’d of put his fuckin’ head on a pike downtown mecca.

  6. Because he had it coming. Next question?

  7. “under the laws of war, which the Obama administration says apply to members and supporters of Al Qaeda, because soldiers are not supposed to shoot an enemy combatant who is trying to surrender or kill him after he has been captured (or, per Bissonnette’s account, incapacitated)”

    Ask the Marines who fought in the Pacific in WW2 how that works.

    1. are not supposed to shoot an enemy combatant who is trying to surrender

      Is this one of those cultural things? I mean, I’ve never heard that sticking your head out of a doorway is the Middle Eastern equivalent of putting your hands in the air, but hey, they’ve got lots of quaint customs over there.

      or kill him after he has been captured (or, per Bissonnette’s account, incapacitated)”

      Sorry, but “bullet to the head, brains leaking out on floor” is not incapacitated. Its dead. Maybe not this instant, but soon, and inevitably. Those anchor shots were delivering mercy, not death.

    2. The whole concept of universal, enforceable “laws of warfare” is bullshit. And I’m not advocating for atrocities, but just acknowledging reality.

  8. seals: “freeze” (colloquial english)

    but he moved…and got his 77 mermaids

  9. Remember when the left used to say terrorism was a criminal justice matter and not a military one? Right after 9/11 they were insisting bin Laden be arrested and tried in the Hague. I guess that “standard” is only for when the wrong people are in charge.

    1. As we all know, liberals being hypocrites is much worse than conservatives being authoritarian warmongering psychopaths.

      1. Especially when those same liberals continue the drone missile-slinging policies of their authoritarian warmongering psychopathic predecessor.

        1. The Obama foreign policy, while not consisting of a zero body count, is about 1,000 times better than the Bush foreign policy. But don’t let that stop you making self-congratulatory false equivalences.

          Targeted drone strikes in the right country land invasions in the wrong country.

          1. There should have been a “greater than” symbol in there.

            1. Is your home life so devoid of personal satisfaction that you really need to troll a message board every day?

              1. Don’t feed it, kinnath. Thursday.

              2. It’s just that my job is rather George Jetson-esque. What’s your excuse?

                1. $

                2. It’s just that my job is rather George Jetson-esque.

                  You sit around and get yelled at by your boss all day for being a lazy shit?

              3. It’s a sockpuppet, or someone of such density that he is likely to collapse in on himself.

              4. It’s a sockpuppet, or someone of such density that he is likely to collapse in on himself.

          2. The Obama foreign policy, while not consisting of a zero body count, is about 1,000 times better than the Bush foreign policy. But don’t let that stop you making self-congratulatory false equivalences.

            The equivalence isn’t false at all when they’re coming from a Nobel Peace Prize winner. But thanks for confirming how worthless that award is now.

            Targeted drone strikes in the right country land invasions in the wrong country.

            Until someone from Team Red takes over and does it, right Tony?

            1. People from Team Red are certainly going to be less judicious and competent in their use of military force. If President Romney continues the Obama doctrine, whatever that is, I’ll promise not to criticize him for it anymore than I criticize Obama.

              I retain the right to bitch when Secy of State Bolton sends soldiers into Iran and promises a cakewalk, though.

              1. People from Team Red are certainly going to be less judicious and competent in their use of military force.

                Presidents from which party got us involved in four major 20th century conflicts, again?

  10. I’ve got some issues with how the raid was conducted, but I’d say he had it coming, and even if he wasn’t the threat he had been, I don’t think he’d turned his threat level down to zero, either.

  11. The libertarian in me wishes he’d been captured and brought to justice in an American courtroom.

    The American in me wishes they’d handcuffed his hands behind his back, stuffed a grenade in his mouth, pulled the pin, and watched him run around in circles like a chicken until his head blew off.

    1. I would have preferred the Roman solution of crucification. Days and days of agony ending in an undignified death.

      1. I would have preferred the targeted killing of all of his male offspring before Osama was taken out.

        1. bunch of goddamn barbarians. Everyone knows the right thing would have been to give every family member of a 9/11 victim some object with which to whack OBL. One shot per person, please, and move along. Some would have gone for the head, others would hit vital organs to prolong the event.

          1. Obama should have impose The Pain.

  12. My biggest problem with the raid is that they crowed about it too soon. It would have been better to keep quiet for awhile threaten anyone who blabbed with treason and work any intelligence you could gleen from Bin Ladens computers etc. for at least a month or so.

    1. Pretty sure the Pakistanis would have told everyone what had happened.

      1. There is that. Still fan the flames of doubt awhile.

        1. Ha – I could see the email: “Hey everyone, OBL here. The infidels did not get me! To celebrate, I’m having a big get together with all my jihadist buddies! Let’s meet at 34? 45′ 68″ N and 72? 54′ 77″ E 0400 Saturday at 4 in the morning. Bring Your Own Virgins”

          1. Nice job with the coordinates. Puts it in a little village on River Road about 2.5 Miles SW of Thakot.

            Not sure how you get 68″ or 77″ though?

  13. The libertarian in me is pretty satisfied with how this worked out on the ground.

    Enemy combatant, war criminal, whatever. He was a legitimate target for a killing, with no particular need for due process. Is this kind of targeted killing is ripe for abuse? You bet your ass. Was this particular raid an abuse? No. Was it illegal under our Constitution or the laws of war? I don’t think so, although I get the most uncomfortable with an open-ended “authorization to use military force” that doesn’t square particularly well with a “declaration of war.”

    1. I didn’t object to the touchdown. But the endzone dance really pissed me off.

  14. Why is it that AF pilots can drop a bomb on Zarqawi, no problem, but ground troops (who are at much greater personal risk) must abide by these absurd “hostile intent” rules? OBL and every single person in that compound should have been shot, burned, or blown up immediately, whether carrying weapons or not, even if there was not a single AK47 within 1000 miles of the compound. It’s called war, folks.

    1. OBL and every single person in that compound should have been shot, burned, or blown up immediately…

      Q: Women and children…how can you shoot women and children?

      A: Easy, just don’t lead them as much.

      1. “Poon-tang.” The Hero of Canton has spoken.

      2. Again, it’s called war. Women and children have attacked Americans regularly in Afghanistan/Iraq; they pose just as much of a threat as a man. Anyone can wear a suicide vest.

        1. “Women and children have attacked Americans regularly in Afghanistan/Iraq.”

          Regularly!? Even if that were true that wouldn’t justify the targeting of women and especially children.

          Talk of Osama and WoT sure brings out the moral degenerates.

          1. Being in a state of war justifies it. Children are used by the enemy as suicide bombs and as human shields. The blame for that is on the enemy, not the US Soldiers who are trying to do their job and go home.

  15. Was Osama bin Laden Killed Because He Posed a Threat or Because He Had It Coming?

    Will Munny: It’s a hell of a thing, killing a man. Take away all he’s got and all he’s ever gonna have.
    The Schofield Kid: Yeah, well, I guess they had it coming.
    Will Munny: We all got it coming, kid.

    1. Why do you have it coming?

      1. Better not cut up, nor otherwise harm no whores…or I’ll come back and kill every one of you sons of bitches.

    2. One of all time favorate movies.

    3. The reaper comes for us all, clueless newcomer. It’s just a question of timing and circumstance.

      1. It’s a question of justice.

        1. There is none. We have the law as a poor substitute.

      2. Uh, there is no justice in a child dying of cancer. There is no justice in a bad man dying peacefully in his sleep after a long, prosperous life. The point we were making, and which you missed, is that every single one of us dies.

        1. If you look at what the movie quote actually says, you can see it has nothing to do with a child dying of cancer or any other natural death.

          The quote is about killing. The guy is saying that there is no difference between a criminal being killed and an innocent man being killed – we all supposedly “got it coming”. This is what I object to, because its bullshit.

          “It’s a hell of a thing killing a man” says eastwood. Sorry clint, but it is not a hell of a thing to kill OBL and the people shielding him.

    4. You forgot a few other lines that are more relevant, I think.

      Little Bill Daggett: “Well, sir, you are a cowardly son of a bitch! You just shot an unarmed man!”
      Will Munny: “Well, he should have armed himself if he’s going to decorate his saloon with my friend.”

      And Munny again: “I’ve killed women and children. I’ve killed everything that walks or crawls at one time or another. And I’m here to kill you, Little Bill, for what you done to Ned.”

      1. “I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man.”

        Oops. Wrong movie.

  16. A lot of people are saying “…but a trial would have been so messy”.

    Yeah…so? It would have been inconvenient for the government? Well boo fucking hoo. Is the convenience of the government the only thing that matters any more?

    1. OBL deserved a trial. So does Dick Cheney.

      1. Cheney is your father. Search your feelings you know this to be true.

        1. Cheney is your father. Search your feelings you know this to be true.

          It would explain his FUCK YOU, DAD philosophy.

      2. what does the constitutional law lecturer deserve for ordering a hit on an American citizen?

    2. OK, Warren, how would you have done the trial? Try him in civilian court as a simple criminal? Try him in military court like an enemy combatant? Some sort of special, made-up-for-that-purpose court and laws like Nuremburg?

      Could such a trial ever be really fair, or even approximating fair? To try him would be interpreted as weakness by the terrorists, and to not try him would considered unacceptable by our allies.

  17. The problem with foriegn policy and wars, is it truly is anarchy in that laws don’t really exist.

    There are some laws which punish people from time to time, but mostly winning ends that debate and we all know international law isn’t fairly enforced. (Who’s head of human rights council again?)

    Anyway, due to the general lawlessness, you can view each country as sort of a mob family; an Osama as someone who directly threatened a family’s power.

    As such, his continued existence is a threat to the US, as it demonstrates to others that you too can do these things and get away with them.

    So in the end – his current threat level isn’t the main reason for the mission. Just as Pablo Escobar had to go, so did Osama.

    1. True. Pretending that the Bin Laden situation is in any way similar to some guy accused of robbing a liquor store in a Constitutional Republic strikes me as extraordinarily naive.

      1. Murder is murder. Bash a man over the head with a rock, crash an airplane into the building he’s standing in, it’s the same result. It would be a procedural nightmare, trying one man for over 3000 counts of murder across multiple jurisdictions.

        1. Right. OBL was a rather unique case. Applying the same principles to him as we would to someone accused of an ordinary crime in Anytown USA is not really even possible, even if desirable.

          And OBL knew that, when he embarked on his career as a Supervillain. He did choose his fate.

          1. It is desirable because it exposes him and treats him like what he is: a criminal. Not a James Bond villain, not a monster out of hell, not an animal, just a feeble, evil, old man.

        2. Murder is definitely murder…. but when there is no law enforcement mechanism around to actually enforce murder laws… the way it’s handled differs a great deal.

          You can say and do what you please, society has an odd way of organizing itself whether you prefer that way or not.

          And a consequence of no one have a globally monopoly on the use of force, and therefore no one having the ability to enforce any laws, is sometimes revenge is enough of a motive.

          to keep the peace over the long run, punishment is required.

          Therefore, it seems in the absence of laws, all of these actions are altogether natural and understandable.

          1. And a consequence of no one have a globally monopoly on the use of force, and therefore no one having the ability to enforce any laws, is sometimes revenge is enough of a motive.

            I first have to point out that America has not been shy about applying its laws to foreigners. Ask Manuel Noriega. And in a nation that purports to hold due process and the rule of law in the highest regard, declaring people outlaw and their lives forfeit because trying them would be difficult or inconvenient (to who, I don’t know), I would think that such an idea would be at least moderately offensive to the citizenry.

  18. When was the photo released? I missed that.

    1. That was the fake. Never actually released.

    2. I was thinking the same thing.

      I think I would have heard about that.

      Maybe Sullum knows the real DeepThroat?

      1. That always anoyed me. I mean I don’t have any paranoid fantasies that this did not happen, but how in a free country can we utilize literally hundreds of millions of dollars, potentially low billions if you include training and such, to kill one man… and yet offer zero evidence other than “a few of us watched it happen”.

        But as we all know, freedom is just another word that changes with the times…

  19. I would have preferred he was embalmed with pig’s blood, had pig feces stuffed in his mouth and down his throat. Wrap his body in the carcass of slaughtered pigs… then cremate them all together. Take his ashes and toss it into a feed. Bin Laden deserved to die as many times as the lives he has unjustly taken.

    1. First, though, he should have been forced to eat bacon, just so he’d know what he’d been missing.

      1. That would have been cruel and unusual punishment. i like it.

  20. Was Osama bin Laden Killed Because He Posed a Threat or Because He Had It Coming?

    Yes. Next question.

    I mean, come on. Does it really matter? Dead is dead is dead is dead…

  21. So what? It’s OK with me if he had it coming.

    Sheltering him after 9/11 was an act of war by Pakistan against us, and we’d have been fully justified to fight them over it. If they want to make something of it, bring it on.

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