UPDATE: CIA director Leon Panetta, speaking on NBC News, just admitted that some of the information used to capture bin Laden came from what he called “enhanced interrogation techniques.” This was in response to a question by anchor Brian Williams about whether waterboarding had been used to extract information about bin Laden.
According to the New York Times, the White House, trying to correct false reports about Osama bin Laden’s death, now admits that he was not armed:
Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, read the narrative in an attempt to correct statements by administration officials who had suggested that Bin Laden was armed during the raid.
Under questioning, Mr. Carney said that the White House stood by its claim on Monday that Bin Laden had resisted capture, but said that “resistance does not require a firearm.” Mr. Carney said that the new narrative was the result of “fresh” information.
Well, many unarmed people resist the police by struggling, striking out, or the like, but they’re not killed. This suggests that the US simply engaged in murder. And that was obvious from the mission, which was not to capture him but to kill him.
Perhaps this plan was meant to avoid a trial, during which bin Laden could have made statements inciting terrorism, but it’s still not right. We are supposed to bring people to justice through the courts, not through vigilante justice. If bin Laden had resisted in a way that endangered his captors, that would have justified killing him. But if he didn’t, this is simply officially sanctioned murder.
Under our system, criminals—even horrible ones like bin Laden—are supposed to get a trial. I know it doesn’t always work out that way when war is involved, but it should.