The question, ‘Was Osama bin Laden Assassinated?’ is crucially important. If he wasn’t then he was murdered. That would leave President Obama and Hillary Clinton as co- conspirators to murder. Additionally the US Navy Seals who committed the act would also be indicted, quickly finding out that that the 1947 Nuremberg Defence remains unacceptable**. Assassination is murder. Assassination has a special legal status insofar as assassins are not described as murderers, even though they commit murder. Why is assassination acceptable murder? The key feature of assassination is that the target deserves to die and is beyond any possibility of legal process.
The US government was acutely aware of the legal minefield implied by their action against Osama. In the baldest terms the US action had three principal components:
(1) a military incursion into a friendly foreign country
(2) a heavily armed attack on a domestic property in that country
(3) (a) at best, a kidnapping of a citizen of a foreign country
(b) at worst, the murder of that citizen.
Osama bin Laden was a civilian over whom the US government had no legal powers whatsoever. Eric Holder*** the US Attorney General claimed that the action against Osama was “…. lawful, legitimate and appropriate in every way.” This appears risible. Just how could the US government have a ‘lawful or legitimate’ authority to operate in a foreign country without permission? This is an a priori claim to US Imperium: an imperialist state exercising power as it sees fit. And Holder’s use of the concept ‘appropriate’ beggars belief. It is a struggle to fit the concept of ‘appropriate’ with a night attack resulting in death, in a foreign country,, without permission, against an elderly man in his own home.
In Western Europe there is no death penalty for even the most odious and heinous crimes. This is not the case in the USA. Osama bin Laden’s death was concocted in the USA and therefore as Osama was the leader fo a terrorist group, which was hugely successful in promoting mass murder, then the appropriate US sentence would be death. It also appears to be an ‘open and shut’ case. There is no doubt about his guilt, as he boasted about his terrorist groups ‘successes’ and so the judicial process could proceed smoothly. It follows that the USA’s expertise in rendition, as witness by several hundred inmates **** of Guantamano Bay, Osama could and should have been captured and put on trial.
But was he ‘beyond any possibility of legal process?’ The evidence is unequivocal. That there was every opportunity to kidnap Osama is witnessed by the fact that his body was taken to USS Carl Vinson for burial at sea. A drugged, bound Osama would, from a logistical point of view, have been identical to a dead Osama. The Navy Seals demonstrated that Osama was killed intentionally and that there was no attempt to use USA expertise in ‘rendition’.
Was Osama murdered or assassinated? It appears that Osama was murdered on the orders of the US government. Therefore should an enterprising European lawyer take out a warrent against President Obama or Hillary Clinton they could be arrested for conspiracy to murder.
*This is an urgent question for countries committed to the rule of law. The Israeli government when faced with knowledge of Adolf Eichman’s life in Argentina used Mossad to capture him (illegally) and then brought him to Israel for trial and execution in 1960.
**’I was obeying orders.’
***Vyshinsky, the Soviet judge in the 1930s show trials, is a vile example of legal officers with flexible attitudes towards the law in support of their governments.
****779 in total