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THE BIN LADEN BRIEF May 13, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in US Politics.
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Aside from any considerations of international law or related questions, the operation launched against Osama Bin Laden’s residence in Abbottabad was carefully planned and rehearsed.

The time is carefully chosen for maximum surprise. It is a military operation. The attackers blasted there way in, and got out after scooping up computer hard drives and thumb (USB ) drives within forty minutes, in the process shooting dead five people, removing the bodies of two, and hand cuffing all other residents. Then they got back into their helicopters and flew back to Afghanistan (I assume).

Maybe it is just a bad report, but the US Attorney-General does not seem to have prepared a detailed case to defend the actions. The BBC reports:

US Attorney General Eric Holder has said that the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s hideout, in which the al-Qaeda leader was killed, was “not an assassination”. Mr Holder told the BBC the operation was a “kill or capture mission” and that Bin Laden’s surrender would have been accepted if offered. The protection of the Navy Seals who carried out the raid was “uppermost in our minds”, he added.
. . .
The information we have… showed that [Bin Laden] was pushing al-Qaeda to engage in more plots in more areas of the world and on specific dates”. The attorney general reiterated that the operation was legal, saying that international law allows the targeting of enemy commanders.

“I actually think that the dotting of the i’s and the crossing of the t’s is what separates the United States, the United Kingdom, our allies, from those who we are fighting,” he said. “We do respect the rule of law, there are appropriate ways in which we conduct ourselves and expect our people to conduct themselves, and I think those Navy Seals conducted themselves in a way that’s consistent with American, [and] British values.”

Mr Holder said that material seized from Bin Laden’s home and now being analysed in the US had revealed that the al-Qaeda leader was still closely involved in the running of the organisation. “From what we have seen in just this initial review of the material shows that he was surprisingly in command of al-Qaeda,” Mr Holder said. “He was operationally involved in the work of al-Qaeda, it was not something that I think we expected necessarily to see. The information we have… showed that he was pushing al-Qaeda to engage in more plots in more areas of the world and on specific dates.” Mr Holder said that despite the death of Bin Laden, al-Qaeda still posed a threat to the US and its allies.

“I think this has been a significant step,” he said. “One cannot understate the importance of eliminating Bin Laden. He was a symbolic head of the organisation and, as we now know, an operational head of the organisation.

Supporters of Pakistan ex-PM Nawaz Sharif in Abbottabad denounced the US government
“But the threat has not gone. We have to face others in al-Qaeda, others still sworn to do harm to the US and its allies… and in the US over the past 18 months or so we have seen a new brand of terrorism, these home-grown radicals… who come after the American people. We have to deal with them as well.”

The interview with Mr Holder comes a day after a statement by Bin Laden’s family questioning why he was not captured alive. His sons criticised the US for carrying out his “arbitrary killing”.

Special rapporteurs Christof Heyns and Martin Scheinin said in a statement that deadly force was permissible in exceptional cases as a last resort. “However, the norm should be that terrorists be dealt with as criminals, through legal processes of arrest, trial and judicially decided punishment,” they added.

This explanation simply does not add up. For example, they had thought that bin Laden was the symbolic head of the organization, but now we have seen the computer evidence we have a post facto justification for our action. All the indications are that in this case all the indications are that the ends justified the means. The principal end would appear to be political which is the reason can be inferred someone thought to be a symbolic leader would be killed, not as a last resort, but as part of the plan. Whether the Navy Seals or the CIA operatives, and whether they numbered 20 or 80, they would presumably been individually more than a match, armed or unarmed, for any of the residents of the building.

There may be other factors, such as the existence of body bombs. As usual there is no expression of remorse for any of the people killed. Why was the action necessary?

The Attorney-General says “international law allows the targeting of enemy commanders”. So it is an act of war against a relatively small, decentralized organization. Whatever else might be said the legal case was not carefully assessed ahead of the action. Why now would that be unnecessary?

ELSEWHERE:

The DNA results are said to be inconsistent.

UPDATE:

Kai Ambos at Spiegel sets our the legal case that by implication argues bin Laden’s killing was crime, in the absence of contrary evidence. Of course, he is not that explicit. Therefore, so might be the killing of the other people.

Katherine Skiba in The LA Times reports:

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates called the raid against Osama bin Laden a “gutsy call” — “one of the most courageous” he’s seen a president make — because the U.S. had only circumstantial evidence indicating the Al Qaeda leader was at the compound in Pakistan.

“I had real reservations about the intelligence,” Gates, who earlier led the Central Intelligence Agency, said. “But it was the best information we had since probably 2001.”

Somebody is lying. A tedious repetition of lies is be taken for granted. Nobody would mount the operation on flimsy evidence.

Ted Lapkin for The Institute of Public Affairs suggests, “Sorry the anti-war left cannot have it both ways”.  Aside from name calling, and other emotional tactics, the argument that justice and the rule of law are fundamental to global peace. Implicit in the arguments put up in the demonization of  the other, even though their views and their actions  are detestable. Trials  are a mechanism to establish accountability and truth representing a barrier to tyranny.

UPDATE:

Looking for information on skip bins, I noticed the updated Wikipedia entry on Osama bin Laden.

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