Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Obama and Osama

Listening to Obama’s careful statement a phrase jumped out. The President said, “Following a firefight Osama was killed.” Sounds like an execution. In the face of much glee in the States and elsewhere, was this wise or avoidable?
Geoffrey Robertson writing in the Independent also has serious concerns.
“America resembles the land of the munchkins, as it celebrates the death of the Wicked Witch of the East. The joy is understandable, but in some respects, unattractive. It endorses what looks increasingly like a cold-blooded assassination ordered by a president who, as a former law professor, knows the absurdity of his statement that “justice was done”. Amoral diplomats and triumphant politicians join in applauding Bin Laden’s summary execution because they claim real justice – arrest, trial and sentence would have been too difficult in the case of Bin Laden. But in the long-term interests of a better world, should it not at least have been attempted?”
“America’s belief in capital punishment is reflected in its rejoicing at the manner of Bin Laden’s demise. It is ironic to reflect that Bill Clinton secured his election by approving the execution of Ricky Roy Rector (a convict so brain-damaged that he ordered pumpkin pie for his last meal and said that he would “leave the rest until later”). And now Barak Obama has most likely secured his re-election approving the execution of Bin Laden. This may be welcome, given the alternatives. But it is a sad reflection on the continuing attraction of summary justice.”
“It was not always thus. When the time came to consider the fate of men much more steeped in wickedness than Bin Laden – the Nazi leadership – the British government wanted them hanged within six hours of capture. President Truman demurred, citing the conclusion of Justice Robert Jackson that summary execution “would not sit easily on the American conscience or be remembered by our children with pride, the only course is to determine the innocence or guilt of the accused after a hearing as dispassionate as the times will permit and upon a record that will leave our reasons and motives clear”. He insisted upon judgment at Nuremberg, which has confounded Holocaust-deniers ever since.”
“Killing instead of capturing Osama Bin Laden was a missed opportunity to prove to the world that this charismatic leader was in fact a vicious criminal, who deserved to die of old age in prison, and not as a martyr to his inhuman cause.”
Steve Bell in the Guardian has his own take on the killing.

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