Thank God he was killed, not “captured.” If he had been captured, there would have been some kind of trial. Some kind of fake, orchestrated, television show of a trial. Lawyers, judges, and others would have danced around trying to give Osama bin Laden the appearance of a fair hearing before his inevitable execution. It would have been a farce — a farce that our military and/or civilian courts are not equipped to handle.
Better for Bin Laden to meet his end as he did: via a double tap from a Navy Seal….
Osama bin Laden was killed, not captured. If he had been taken into custody, what followed would have been the most complex and wrenching legal proceeding in American history. The difficulties would have been endless: military tribunal or criminal trial? Abroad—at Guantánamo?—or inside the United States? Would bin Laden have been granted access to the evidence against him? Who would represent him? What if he represented himself, and tried to use the trial as a propaganda platform? All those questions faded into irrelevance with bin Laden’s death on Sunday.
That’s just the half of it. An Osama bin Laden trial would not have been like Nuremberg. At Nuremberg the world was trying to process how many people could be held responsible for an attempted genocide, but the mastermind behind those atrocities was already dead. The correct analogy for Nuremberg would be the trials of the people being held at Guantanamo Bay, and look at how that is tearing us apart. We’ve spent so much time arguing over how these people should be treated, where they should be tried and by whom, that we’ve kind of lost sight of the very good and brave work it took to capture them in the first place.
At some level, that is the problem with an adversarial system of justice. The system doesn’t work unless somebody zealously stands opposed.
Osama bin Laden won’t be granted the dignity of somebody standing up and speaking up for his rights. No solider or civilian will have to concern themselves with how Bin Laden is treated or how he is cared for. Nobody will have to defend this guy. This wasn’t only about justice, it was also about vengeance. Vengeance we wanted and deserved. And vengeance can be ugly and violent. Better that mission was carried out in a freaking Pakistani suburb than in an American court of law. Better that mission was monitored by a predator drone than a cable news truck. We are all cleaner for it. As a commenter said this morning:
I’d like to think the last thing that went through his head, other than the bullet, was how the hell Barry Hussein ever got the best of him
Now, there will be some who argue that it would have been better if the U.S. could have brought him back alive in an effort to “prove” to some in the Muslim world that the U.S. really did capture him. Or to silence conspiracy theorists who will undoubtedly claim that Osama is still alive and working on a new record with Elvis and TuPac.
Well, you know what? I don’t care. I don’t give one little nose hair about what some people would have wanted as “proof” that this evil man is no more. We didn’t go after him for their benefit. He wasn’t public enemy number one because he provided grist for the conspiracy mill. Osama bin Laden was a mass-murdering terrorist who killed thousands, here and elsewhere, and now he is dead. If you don’t want to believe that, fine, please enjoy a complimentary kiss of my ass on your way back to whatever paranoid rock you live under. The rest of us are reveling in this small measure of justice.
And because he died in the theater of operations, it’s a justice that we can all fully enjoy. Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, prosecution or defense. We don’t have to fight each other over how this man should be brought to justice; instead we can simply hug and cheer that justice has been meted out.
Thank you to the soldier who double-tapped Osama bin Laden. The American system of jurisprudence owes you one.
Earlier: Breaking: We Got The Bastard