I just want to address one last aspect of the OBL thing before moving on. The usual left wingers are asking whether the killing of bin Laden was legal.
Prof Nick Grief, an international lawyer at Kent University, said the attack had the appearance of an “extrajudicial killing without due process of the law”.
Cautioning that not all the circumstances were known, he added: “It may not have been possible to take him alive … but no one should be outside the protection of the law.” Even after the end of the second world war, Nazi war criminals had been given a “fair trial”.
The prominent defence lawyer Michael Mansfield QC expressed similar doubts about whether sufficient efforts had been made to capture Bin Laden. “The serious risk is that in the absence of an authoritative narrative of events played out in Abbottabad, vengeance will become synonymised with justice, and that revenge will supplant ‘due process’.
I wouldn’t usually address this but even Andrew Napolitano, with whom I rarely disagree, has been arguing this point as has a Glenn Greenwald, with whom I frequently disagree but respect.
Napolitano also admitted that his emotional and patriotic sides rejoiced at the news of bin Laden’s death, but his moral and legal sides realized that governmental assassination is very dangerous and unlawful. Napolitano argued:
“Beyond the issue of whether the government is telling us the truth or pulling a fast one to save Obama’s lousy Presidency – is the issue of the lawful power of the President to order someone killed, no matter how monstrous, how dangerous or how unpopular.”
Napolitano wondered could the President authorize the killing of anyone he deemed an enemy and sarcastically asked could Obama next kill Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh?
This is an unusually stupid utterance from Napolitano. But just to address this.
There is no doubt in my mind that this was legal. I appreciate that people are worried about the rule of law. But there’s not really a doubt that the President can order the death of an opposing combatant. They can. They have. They should.