Osama: The Questions That Must Be Asked

By Richard Lutz.

Now that the dust is settling over the killing of Osama bin Laden, there are some uncomfortable issues that must be addressed. They are issues that can split a room in half as I have found out in the past couple of days.

First, the latest facts: The self-proclaimed murderous terrorist was unarmed when American soldiers burst into his house. There had only been one gunmen and he had been quickly dispatched before bin Laden was found in his room.

As a women moved towards one of the armed US soldiers, she was shot in the leg. Then Osama was killed.

Many feel this was right. It was correct to kill a highly dangerous suspected terrorist even if unarmed. After all, western forces were chasing him for ten years for a heinous crime.

But here’s the question: if it is alright to kill an unarmed suspect (and a highly suspect one at that) because he has been ten years on the run and is a self proclaimed mass murderer, the theory of western justice has been derailed. It comes down to the stance that it is OK to kill some suspects but not all suspects.

If we kill Osama bin laden, who is next? Can we kill all murder suspects or mass murder suspects. Can we kill rape suspects? Or, going to extremes, can we knock off muggers, stalkers or house burglars? When is it right to ignore law? Where is the line drawn?

If one specific case can be exempt from our laws, should all cases be exempt?

It is a big question. When can justice be ignored because the suspect has been chased for a decade and is a murderous icon such as Hitler or Stalin or Pol Pot were murderous icons last century.

If the US, or the UK for that matter, wish to remain high minded and be seen to be enlightened and propelled by a theory of justice, then the American military, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have failed, not succeeded.

Just as the previous administration failed by approving torture, illegal imprisonment in Cuba or unknown prisons in places such as Egypt or Romania.

And if it is quietly, uneasily agreed that torture squeezed out vital facts about Osama’s location, then questions must be asked not whether the vital facts are important but whether they were revealed by vile means.

And if those vile means are approved by a body politic, then can torture be used for other crimes too?

As I said, it makes for uncomfortable reading. And this issue does and has split a room in the past few days. But it must be reviewed by all of us.