Speculation begins over if Obama violated international law in hunt for Osama bin Laden

Matthew Boyle Investigative Reporter
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Though the international laws and treaties surrounding missions like the one President Barack Obama sent a group of Navy SEALs on Sunday when they killed notorious terrorist Osama bin Laden are unclear at best, some in the media are already questioning how Obama went after bin Laden.

For instance, Salon’s Glenn Greenwald criticizes the United States and Obama for using violence. Greenwald argues that killing bin Laden rather than capturing him causes Americans to rally around the flag, sparking what he considers a dangerous precedent for violence. “I’d have strongly preferred that Osama bin Laden be captured rather than killed so that he could be tried for his crimes and punished in accordance with due process (and to obtain presumably ample intelligence),” Greenwald wrote. “But if he in fact used force to resist capture, then the U.S. military was entitled to use force against him, the way American police routinely do against suspects who use violence to resist capture.”

Greenwald said those “are legalities” and “will be ignored even more so than usual.”

“The 9/11 attack was a heinous and wanton slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians, and it’s understandable that people are reacting with glee over the death of the person responsible for it,” he wrote. “I personally don’t derive joy or an impulse to chant boastfully at the news that someone just got two bullets put in their skull — no matter who that someone is — but that reaction is inevitable: it’s the classic case of raucously cheering in a movie theater when the dastardly villain finally gets his due.”

The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin questions the legality of Obama’s mission to kill bin Laden. Toobin concedes that, if bin Laden had been captured instead of killed, “what followed would have been the most complex and wrenching legal proceeding in American history.”

But, Toobin argues that the Navy SEALs sent in to kill bin Laden were possibly “assassinating” him. “No one today is shedding any tears about bin Laden’s death. (He apparently resisted capture, which offered an additional justification for killing him),” Toobin wrote. “But it’s worth remembering what gave rise to the ban on assassinations. It is, to put it mildly, an easy power to abuse. Bin Laden didn’t get a trial and didn’t deserve one. But the number of people for whom that is true is small. At least it should be.”