Was killing bin Laden legal?

May 3, 2011

By MJ LEE | Politico

As more details of the death of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden surfaced Monday, some individuals suggested that the killing of the Al Qaeda leader by U.S. special forces may have violated international law.

However, human rights and civil liberties groups that have sharply criticized the Obama administration for its use of lethal force against terror suspects outside of war zones remained largely mum after the notorious bin Laden was shot by U.S. Navy SEALs in an operation that took place in Pakistan, where the U.S. is not involved in formally declared combat.

Tom Malinowski, the Washington director of Human Rights Watch, said his group wasn’t prepared to express an opinion “until we know more solid details about the facts of the operation.”

“There are certainly circumstances under which lethal force is justified even in a law enforcement situation far from the battlefield,” Malinowski said in an email. “But we’ll have to know more about what actually happened before making a judgment.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has vocally opposed the Obama administration’s use of lethal force outside of armed conflict zones, told POLITICO it has not released an official comment on bin Laden’s death, and has no plans to comment on it.

Some legal scholars and intelligence analysts are also expressing concerns that the covert military operation in Abbottabad was further evidence to them that the U.S. is taking the wrong approach in the so-called “global war on terror.”

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern went as far as to say that bin Laden was “martyred by U.S. forces acting arbitrarily and independently in a Muslim nation.”

“The professor turned president was out to show how tough he is and how his crackerjack extrajudicial assassins can get their man,” McGovern said. “There are commonly accepted legal ways to capture and bring such people to a court of law — yes, even the ‘bad guys’ like Osama bin Laden.”
Terrorism – even that perpetrated by Osama bin Laden — is a criminal action and doesn’t necessarily require military force, according to Mary Ellen O’Connell, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame. “If we’re not there by the authorization of the U.N. Security Council, then we should be using law enforcement methods – not military force,” she told POLITICO.

But O’Connell added that at least for the time-being, White House counterterrorism John Brennan’s statement on Monday that “if we had the opportunity to take [bin Laden] alive, we would have done that,” was significant.

“It was very important that he said that, as that would have been consistent with what international law and fundamental principles of the rule of law would require,” O’Connell said.

To read more, visit: http://www.politico.com/politico44/perm/0511/was_killing_bin_laden_legal_dfcb4ff6-1458-4820-bcc9-3cf1205fb259.html

5 Comments - what are your thoughts?

  • Elaine says:

    Did he worry about it being legal to kill 3,000 people on 9/11????

    Thank you Navy Seals for finally giving him what he so richly deserved

  • the only ilegal situacion is to leave bin ladin so long

  • dave hays says:

    Are you out of your fucking mind?
    This guy admitted to planning 9/11.
    Get real.
    He needs to be dead.
    By the way, your guy G. Bush wanted him dead or alive.
    He just couldn’t get it done.

  • Peggy Whalen says:

    You have got to be kidding me to even suggest that his civil rights might have been violated! What about all the civil rights of the people he arranged to have killed? I can’t even imagine anyone caring about his rights when he stepped all over American’s rights , invaded our air space, crashed 2 planes into 2 buildings killing thousands of innocent people, placed hijackers on planes so that they could cause crashes killing hun dreds more and we are supposed to care about his rights…whatever! You know for a long time I anguished over the fact I couldn’t pray for him because I am a Christian and I tried really hard to pray for him,but the words wouldn’t come and now that he’s dead i can’t even imagine him coming face to face with anyone but Satan so he probably has given me something to answer to God for when I die,but I’m praying God will forgive me because He knows what evil lay in that man’s heart.Illigal to kill him? maybe! worried about his civil rights heck No!

  • BW says:

    One less mad dog, silver spoon terrorist, funding the murder of innocent people under the guise of the religion of peace. While using his family’s money to do it. He got what any mad dog gets eventually, the gun. To hell with international law, none of the other dirtbags at the UN abide by any of them anyway.

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