Adam Serwer: ….I realize that killing bin Laden was popular, but as someone who believes that the fight against terrorism can and should be conducted according to the rule of law, it’s important to make clear why killing bin Laden was legally justified.
Assassination is illegal under U.S. law! The executive order banning assassinations doesn’t apply to the targeting of lawful military targets during wartime … the Congress of the United States authorized the use of military force against bin Laden in full view of the public in 2001….
Killing bin Laden was illegal under international law! Human Rights First Daphne Eviatar: “As the leader of al Qaeda – an armed group against whom the U.S. is at war – who appears to have had a significant role directing its fighting forces, [Osama bin Laden] is targetable. It’s similar to the targetability of the commander-in-chief of any regular armed forces at war.”
But he was unarmed! …It would be illegal to kill bin Laden if he had surrendered or been captured first … Combatants aren’t legally required to allow lawful targets to arm themselves before killing them, rather the onus was on bin Laden to surrender.
Didn’t we violate Pakistan’s sovereignty? Maybe, but Jeremy Scahill reported in 2009 on the existence of a secret deal between Pakistan and the United States to allow the U.S. to go after bin Laden if they found him in Pakistan, while Pakistan would condemn any such operation after the fact.
What about Nuremberg? The Nazis got trials! In my view, a trial would have been morally preferable to killing bin Laden, but the absence of one doesn’t make his killing illegal. … I would have preferred seeing bin Laden face a federal judge. Of course, there’s another issue to consider here: How the hell do you find a fair and impartial jury to hear the case against Osama bin Laden in the United States?
From the OFA blog: “I’m only 16 right now but I’ll be 18 by the time of the 2012 elections, and Mr. Obama will be the first President I vote for. I’m in because I know Mr. Obama is creating a better future for me and millions upon millions of other teenagers my age, and I cannot wait until I vote for him because I know I will be voting for the successful future of America.”