The Shooting of Osama Bin Laden

70 state troops fly into a foreign country without the permission of that country’s government and shoot an unarmed criminal suspect, twice in the head, without a trial, in front of his wife and 13 year old daughter.

Horrah for justice ?

In Europe we do not allow the death penalty for mass murderers, even when they are found guilty after a public trial with an independent judiciary and a jury of citizens.

In America the death penalty is only carried out in a minority of States and even then it is after a trial (and usually several appeals) during which the soundness of a conviction is tested and re-tested.

Yet the US and European governments see no problem, in this case, with executing the criminal without trial ?

Remember, nobody is actually accusing Bin Laden of personally murdering anyone. His alleged crime was the PLANNING of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The people who hijacked the planes and flew them into the tower were the actual murderers. Bin Laden himself can be accused of conspiracy to murder or being an accessory to murder.

If Bin Laden did plan the 9/11 attacks, then that is certainly a terrible crime and he should have been captured, tried and if the law provides, executed after due process.

But are we even sure that he planned them ?

“In April 2002, the head of the FBI, Robert Mueller, informed the press that after the most intensive investigation in history, the FBI could say no more than that it “believed” that the plot was hatched in Afghanistan, though implemented in the UAE and Germany. What they only believed in April 2002, they obviously didn’t know 8 months earlier, when Washington dismissed tentative offers by the Taliban to extradite bin Laden if they were presented with evidence.”

Of course Bin Laden claimed “Credit” for the 9/11 attacks, but as the leader of a terrorist group wanting to destroy the USA he had every incentive to claim this, even if he had no knowledge of it at all.

It is not unheard of, for people to confess to crimes they didn’t commit.

It was in Bin Laden’s interest to claim responsibility, but it also served US interests to blame him, regardless of whether he was actually involved or not.

Bin Laden has been used by various US administrations as a convenient Orwellian Goldstein figure to focus public anger and allow them to pass a number of laws taking away civil liberties in the name of national security. (Most notably thePatriot ACT).

I am not saying that Bin Laden didn’t plan the 9/11 attacks, I have no idea if he did or not, and nor does any other member of the public without an open trial and an appraisal of the evidence.

The US Government already has form when it comes to blaming people not involved when it serves their objectives,  they repeatedly tried to justify the war in Iraq by linking it to the events of 9/11 despite eventually accepting that Iraq played no role in it.

What if the shoe were on the other foot ?

Many people in Iraq believe that Tony Blair is a war criminal, he was without question the leader of a country that engaged in a war of dubious legality that resulted in the death of many thousands of innocent civilians.

Would we accept it as justice if an Iraqi special forces team landed in the UK and shot Tony Blair in the head in front of Cherie and his children?

Moral principles have to be universally applicable, they cannot work one way for people we don’t like and another way for people we do.

Words by Murray Rothbard

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