October 22, 2019

Was the Killing of Bin Laden Legal?

English: Osama bin Laden interviewed for Daily...
English: Osama bin Laden interviewed for Daily Pakistan in 1997; behind him on the wall is an AK-47 carbine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Around the time of then President Bush’s first declaration of a “War on Terror”, many questioned how there could be a war on an entity that was not a state.  That talk died down, as we went to war in different countries; however, with the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the talk has renewed:

Claus Kress, an international law professor at the University of Cologne, argues that achieving retributive justice for crimes, difficult as that may be, is “not achieved through summary executions, but through a punishment that is meted out at the end of a trial.” Kress says the normal way of handling a man who is sought globally for commissioning murder would be to arrest him, put him on trial and ultimately convict him. [Was Bin Laden’s Killing Legal? – Spiegel Online]

The crux of the argument is that it is never the role of those that enforce the law to decide justice.  It’s the role of the judiciary to convict and sentence.  In this case, especially as more news comes out that he did not have a weapon, he did not use his wife as a human shield, etc., that perhaps we carried out what we thought was justice without a trial.

Is that the American way?

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