When OBL claimed responsibility for 9-11, he was either telling the truth, or he wasn't. If he was telling the truth, then he's a monster that killed thousands. If he wasn't, then he was lying to build a terror organization that had the goal of killing thousands. Either way, the man wanted to kill people because of the political and religious thoughts in his head. From what we know, that was all he cared about. I don't miss his presence in the world.
But, I still don't like the fact that the USA just went and killed an un-armed man who was apparently only defended by his wife and some friends. If the Navy Seals can't handle a couple of un-armed senior citizens without killing them, then they are vastly over-rated on their hand-to-hand combat skills.
I do not believe that the government should have the power to either execute or assassinate. Giving the state the power to do either is very dangerous, and history shows that any state that has these powers is almost certain to abuse them.
Leaders are like serial killers. Once they start killing, once they get the taste for blood, once they realize that they can solve problems by killing their opponents, they almost never stop killing on their own. They'll kill for as long as they have the power to kill, and the only way to stop them from killing is to remove them from power. Which itself becomes much more difficult and dangerous as when you try to remove them from power, then you become a big problem to the leader and thus a potential target of the leader's death squads.
Below is a post about assassinations based on an article up on Socialist Worker. If you look at that list, you notice that many of the names are from one era. During the 1950's and 60's, America's leaders got in the habit of thinking that assassination was a valid tool for solving problems around the world. The other reason for this cluster is that we know about those killings from the period of post-Watergate, post-Vietnam perestroika that the US had in the 1970's.
That post-vietnam period forced an official end to assassination as a policy of the US government. It broke the deadly cycle of president after president thinking that the way to solve problems was to kill the people causing the problems. Now, copycat killings have begun again. Bush was proud to restart the American tradition of being the world's gangster power which murders those who dare to stand in opposition. Obama has now shown that in this very important area, he is no change at all from Bush.
Thus, once again we are deep into an era where US presidents of both parties feel that its perfectly legitimate for them to kill their opponents to solve problems. If I have a deep unease in hearing about Osama's end at the hands of a navy death squad, then its because this isn't the sort of world I want to live in. That unease is there because this isn't the sort of United States of America that I believe in. I don't want my country to be the mafia boss of the world.
That wasn't the America that was founded over two centuries ago. That's not the America which so many have died defending. That's not the America I believe in. Of course, in today's America, its those who don't show proper joy at the killing of OBL that are attacked as un-patriotic and un-american. Here in Orwell's century, that's how those who believe in the same ideals as those who overthrew tyranny to found this country are abused.
During the American Revolution, it would have been King George III who would have believed he had the power and the right to kill any who opposed him. In fact, those who signed the Declaration of Independence did so knowing they would be hanged as traitors if they ever came into the clutches of the King. America was founded fighting against this sort of tyrannical power to kill.
There's another reason why many should feel a very deep unease about this. In the last era when American Presidents decided they had the power to assassinate their opponents, those assassinations followed them home. The last era of assassination as American policy had its own wave of American assassinations. It was the era where we saw our leaders gunned down. As well as an era where we saw our government assassinate opponents like Fred Hampton. Don't count on this latest wave of assassinations staying overseas.
There's a quote I keep on the side of this blog.
“In a government of law, the existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.”
-- Justice Louis Brandeis
It is not wise to have the government saying that killing is an appropriate way to solve a problem.