Osama’s death picture may be wanted all over the internet, but Osama’s death itself is now giving rise to the inevitable debate about its legality and the ‘wanted dead or alive’ issue.
If captured, imagine the issue facing the Trial of Osama bin Laden. This would have eclipsed any OJ trial and been a media-fest like nothing witnessed in the world. Inevitably it would create the most complex and involved legal proceeding in American history.
Issues would have abounded, from the legality of his being seized to the forum – military or criminal? – Guantanamo or US? His representation, his rights, his ability to see others . . it would be an endless array of legal threats, issues and appeals.
One blogger quoted the historian Hubert Bancroft who wrote about the Wild West and its predisposition towards violent justice and lynch law.
As one blogger Tim Stanley said:”In the past decade, some Americans have talked about “putting Osama on trial”. But those that did inevitably sounded slightly less desirous of justice than those who talked of personally putting a bullet between his eyes. For Osama must not just be caught, the public had decided, but be hunted down and killed. Even John Kerry, the figurehead for doubt and indecision in 2004, promised that much.”
COuld Osama have represented himself and used it as a further stage for propaganda?
Still, as the New Yorker noted in a column, the apparently universal acclaim for the killing represents a major shift in American perceptions of such actions. Following the revelations of C.I.A. assassination plots by the Church Committee, in the nineteen-seventies, President Ford issued Executive Order 11905 (later 12333), which stated,
No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.
It may be a shift in policy for the US. But most seem to agree, Osama’s death picture may not be around (publically just yet) but he is far better dead than alive for a whole lot of reasons.