In loving, living memory, John Melançon 1928 – 2007
I've missed most news coverage, but i heard that Obama said "justice has been done" with our military's extra-judicial killing of Osama bin Laden. This is disconcerting given the lack of judicial process in this instance and the broader contempt for rule of law and legal process exhibited by the Obama administration and its predecessor. Not that i consider courts to be the only legitimate arbiters of the broad concept of justice, but when it's the president of my country talking about the crime of mass murder... yes, i expect the steps of a legal process to be followed before lethal force is authorized.
Don't get me wrong, if there's a war anyway i prefer to see leaders targeted rather than see leaders play some game in which thousands of soldiers and civilians are killed. That requires, however, a war-- a formal declaration and an actual state with a military as an enemy. A global war on terror or drugs or the next abstract noun that few people publicly support is not a real war, except for the metaphorically challenged. An occupation (see Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, etc.) is not a war either.
Let's try to make this clear. No government should be killing people without a trial or a war. Put another way, no one should do something that may cause people to die without a really, really clearly stated and defended purpose, at the very least. As occupations and raining terror on people (including in the name of opposing terror) inevitably mean killing people (without well-defined, attainable, and publicly defensible goals), these should not be done at all.
What would a trial of Osama bin Laden (in absentee, presumably) sometime in the past ten years have cost our government? True, the investigation or cross-examination may have turned up evidence close to home of criminal neglect or complicity in the 2001 September 11 attacks, and surely shown the definite past ties between Osama bin Laden and ties between our ruling families and the bin Laden family. But the main cost would have been strengthening the standard of rule of law, not rule by executive whim (detentions, assassinations, bombings and missile attacks, invasions, occupations).
So yes, even when it is Osama bin Laden, why can't we truly do it right?