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 Osama Bin Laden 
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Joined: July 6th, 2007, 8:29 pm
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I've been feeling very uncomfortable today. Despite the appalling results of this man's fundamentalist islam, and the understandable grief of those who lost loved ones in atrocities, is it ethical to kill the man?

The lumpen crowds at the White House shouting 'USA, USA' sickened me just as much as 9/11 did. They knew where the guy was, they could surely have brought him to more of a semblance of justice than the crowing 'justice is served' masses?

I read his obit online earlier - he was, IIRC, the 17th child of 54, his father died in his early teens. Despite great wealth he was easy prey for the fundamentalists he met at uni. He took a path none of us here would agree with, which led to the deaths of thousands.

But is it right to kill him? It doesn't feel right to me...


May 2nd, 2011, 10:50 pm
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I think it was right to pursue him. I don't know whether the official message we're getting, that he was challenged before being, is true, and I am against the death penalty which he probably would have got if captured alive. If it was wrong to kill him, what would have been the right thing to do when his whereabouts became known?


May 2nd, 2011, 11:01 pm
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I was surprised that his body was buried at sea.


May 3rd, 2011, 7:10 am
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I also got the impression that capture was on the agenda with bin Laden's death as the second option and also thought that "bringing him to justice" would have been the better option. His death has made him a martyr, a powerful status in traditional Islamic thinking.

However his capture may have meant widespread hostage taking, not something any American pres could consider lightly. The potential death of American citizens is, in political terms, of less concern than their being held by the enemy. The latter would almost certainly result in even more action by American special and conventional forces in attempts to rescue those being held.

I am sure the location of any land burial of bin Laden's body would have leaked out eventually. That spot would have possibly become a place of pilgrimage, a focus for attention for the radicals and a physical reminder of their perceived need for retribution. Burying him at sea reduced that effect, hopefully.

Further thoughts: I did notice that they at least attempted some form of respectful service as they disposed of bin Laden's body, though some Imams are claiming that this was not Islamic in form. To abide by Islamic tradition they had to "inter" the body within 24 hours which almost certainly precluded it from being taken back to America.

If they had taken it back to the States there could have been a hostage situation once, the radicals demanding the repatriation of the body.

All in all, though for less than moral or ethical reasons perhaps, they treated bin Laden and those civilians around him with more respect than, perhaps, the radical Islamists may have exhibited had the situation been reversed. In the sphere of world politics and opinion this is important, despite what cynical "We did it the proper, honourable way" slant may be put upon it.

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May 3rd, 2011, 8:57 am
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I can never compltely make my mind up over the death penalty but in this case I can see no practical alternative alive he would have been a focus for any one wantint to excuse his action we are doing it to get bid ladens release more hostages etc.Dead he is a martyr but withuot a grave no focul point to atract the fanatics. If he was taken alive can you imagine the legal and media circus that would ensue. Some lawyer demanding his right to this and that and us tv.


May 3rd, 2011, 10:59 am
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I am uneasy about the way this was done as well, but I can't come to any conclusions yet.

There have been several blog posts about this including:

When is an execution not an execution?

The death of Bin Laden and the justification for torture

How to Celebrate Justice

A comment by Crispian mentions something Tweeted yesterday:

"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy." - Martin Luther King

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May 3rd, 2011, 11:35 am
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Fia wrote:
I've been feeling very uncomfortable today. Despite the appalling results of this man's fundamentalist islam, and the understandable grief of those who lost loved ones in atrocities, is it ethical to kill the man?
It depends, and in this case, I think the answer is yes.

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The lumpen crowds at the White House shouting 'USA, USA' sickened me just as much as 9/11 did.
I'd rather have crowds of rednecks yelling their heads off than 4 planes killing thousands.

Quote:
They knew where the guy was, they could surely have brought him to more of a semblance of justice than the crowing 'justice is served' masses?
It depends, but I doubt it. The US, correctly IMO, concluded that they couldn't even tell Pakistan what they were planning to do, for fear that their intentions would be betrayed, leading to even more deaths. The US say they went in to arrest him, though how they proposed to get him out without losing any lives I don't know, so I doubt the threshold was high before any shoot-to-kill order was given. I don't think justice is better served if lives are sacrificed to keep Bin Laden alive to spend a life in jail, besides the added threats of hostage taking etc. Also, consider what police in the UK would do if faced with a gunman who is prepared to fight his way out. They would shoot if other lives were in danger, as seem highly probable in Bin Laden's case.

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I read his obit online earlier - he was, IIRC, the 17th child of 54, his father died in his early teens. Despite great wealth he was easy prey for the fundamentalists he met at uni. He took a path none of us here would agree with, which led to the deaths of thousands.

But is it right to kill him? It doesn't feel right to me...
In this instance, yes.


May 3rd, 2011, 2:55 pm
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If almost 3,000 of your fellow citizens were killed in one day, you might feel differently. The celebrations you see are more a sigh of relief that at least this one, very influential man, is no longer going to be able to encourage others to such atrocities. We do not celebrate this man's death, we celebrate an end to his reign of terror. If what happened on 9/11 had happened in one of your countries, we would have made the same effort to help your country find justice.

We have to face that fact that the war on this kind of terrorism will never end. There will always be other radicals who will pick up the sword to fight on. The best any of us, no matter what country we live in can do, is to be aware and inhibit and stop terrorism as we find it. The U.S.A. is not the only country in danger by these people. Every country that does not bend to their will is a target. We have to be united in our efforts.

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May 3rd, 2011, 3:02 pm
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Whilst I cannot ever rejoice at the death of even the most evil of men I can understand that those who have been directly affected by his organisation might feel differently.

My own concern though is whether this was a politically astute move. He had become largely ineffective, was personally contained and more concerned at remaining undiscovered than in spreading more terror. We have now created a martyr whose followers are still out there and who will be encouraged to avenge his death. If we had left him an isolated leader, unable to effectively communicate with his people, it might well have allowed his organisation to slowly die. Revenge might be sweet but it is not a strategy which wins many wars.


May 3rd, 2011, 5:28 pm
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A good point, David.

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May 3rd, 2011, 5:53 pm
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david house wrote:
Whilst I cannot ever rejoice at the death of even the most evil of men I can understand that those who have been directly affected by his organisation might feel differently.

My own concern though is whether this was a politically astute move. He had become largely ineffective, was personally contained and more concerned at remaining undiscovered than in spreading more terror. We have now created a martyr whose followers are still out there and who will be encouraged to avenge his death. If we had left him an isolated leader, unable to effectively communicate with his people, it might well have allowed his organisation to slowly die. Revenge might be sweet but it is not a strategy which wins many wars.

it is not revenge to pursue a mass murderer, is it? And though some extremists will no doubt see him as a martyr, his continued survival might also be seen as a victory - who knows, and who are you to decide? Yes, al Qaeda seems somewhat less powerful than it was, but it and its progeny are still killing people (as recently in Marrakech). Burial at sea after a reasonably respectful treatment of the body does seem to have been the best of whatever options were available.


May 3rd, 2011, 8:02 pm
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Quote:
it is not revenge to pursue a mass murderer, is it? And though some extremists will no doubt see him as a martyr, his continued survival might also be seen as a victory - who knows, and who are you to decide? Yes, al Qaeda seems somewhat less powerful than it was, but it and its progeny are still killing people (as recently in Marrakech). Burial at sea after a reasonably respectful treatment of the body does seem to have been the best of whatever options were available.


All I expressed was a concern that this might prove to be a wrong strategy. Time alone will confirm or deny. This has not been positioned as the "pursuit of a mass murderer". This has been decribed as a "war on terror". If the purpose was truly to bring a mass murderer to justice then his capture and trial would have been appropriate. "Wanted, dead or alive" was how Bush described it. If it truly is a war then the strategy to win it is more important than any individual victories.


May 4th, 2011, 11:42 am
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I agree with David, this has introduced the element of the feud in the actions of the Americans, the death of an opponent in the tradition of the Mafia. Feuds are nasty things. This was possibly an element in any case, retaliation by the radicals for the perceived crimes of the Great Satan, but his act may have brought it to a focus.

I am not sure whether the lack of active reprisal, knee jerk reaction, is a sign of the weak position of al Q and its affiliates or whether they are cooking up something big or widespread and synchronised.

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May 4th, 2011, 12:31 pm
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There is also the collection of all the records and other data taken away with his body. Might be more important than the man. (?)


May 4th, 2011, 12:37 pm
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jaywhat wrote:
There is also the collection of all the records and other data taken away with his body. Might be more important than the man. (?)
Reckon so, jaywhat. It's a pity they did not also get the courier they tracked for so long alive.

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May 4th, 2011, 12:43 pm
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Since there is no absolute morality, whether killing Osama was "ethical" is for each individual to decide. From my point of view, it was morally acceptable. For some of you, it was not. What more is there to say?

Personally, I showed unseemly glee.


May 4th, 2011, 5:05 pm
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Dave B wrote:
I agree with David, this has introduced the element of the feud in the actions of the Americans, the death of an opponent in the tradition of the Mafia. Feuds are nasty things. This was possibly an element in any case, retaliation by the radicals for the perceived crimes of the Great Satan, but his act may have brought it to a focus.

so what should have been done? Nothing? I agree with David about the War on Terror concept - this was a mistake. 9/11 was a crime, an especially huge one but still a crime. The way that supposed Al Qaeda operators have been treated is disgraceful: they should have been charged and tried, or else released. But none of this alters the fact that Bin Laden admitted to conceiving the 9/11 attacks and so should have been tracked down and apprehended; whether the shooting itself was unavoidable we may never know for sure


May 5th, 2011, 1:16 am
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animist wrote:
Dave B wrote:
I agree with David, this has introduced the element of the feud in the actions of the Americans, the death of an opponent in the tradition of the Mafia. Feuds are nasty things. This was possibly an element in any case, retaliation by the radicals for the perceived crimes of the Great Satan, but his act may have brought it to a focus.

so what should have been done? Nothing? .......


'Ang on, animist! :wink:

I was only introducing a possible factor to be considered, not saying that it should have changed anything recently done or in the future.

Strategic planning requires that all factors be considered, whilst I am not part of any planning organisation it is interesting to consider such things and then monitor events - just like the media "experts" do, they have no influence on matters but that does not stop the broadcasters calling on their opinion. I presume to compare my own analysis with theirs.

It is a "pastime" with a dark side but I have been analytical since I took my first toys to pieces, to see how they worked, at about age 4. It's in my genes I think.

I agree with you about the way that the Americans have treated the suspects, Guantanemo Bay and its regime was a huge mistake that has done the US's reputation no good and tends to make something of a mockery of their attempts at "honourable" behaviour latterly. However I can see that they had a problem between the Geneva Convention (covering declared wars and people in the uniform of recognised state armed forces), International Law (which has barely caught up with the modern situation), and their internal legal system (which does not always apply to events in foreign lands). So they invented a new one, in effect, that did not work at all and does not even have full acceptance in their own country.

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May 5th, 2011, 10:13 am
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what happened to the woman who was shot in the leg and was not killed? Who was she and where is she now?

I, too felt uncomfortable about the way this was carried out, however, to a certain extent I can understand why it was done.

I don't think for even one second that (as Carja puts it) that it's "an end to his reign of terror."

Unfortunatly, al quaeda is seen by many people as some kind of highly organised group, with bin laden as some kind of supreme commander. It's not as simple as that, and is in fact something much more dangerous. There are Islamic militants all over the world who are hell bent of wreaking havoc on whoever they think is the enemy of Islam and who have never heard of al qaeda.

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May 5th, 2011, 9:58 pm
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Last I heard the shot woman, bin Laden's youngest wife IIRC, was in a Pakistani Military Hospital receiving, "the best possible treatment". There are some kids in the hands of the Pakistanis as well I think.

One report said that she and bin Laden had spent the last five years in a single room. I am not sure what that means; either he was reluctant to even leave that room for security reasons or he was attempting to come close to his promise to live a simple life - trying to make as little use of "luxuries" as possible.

I think you are right about this nor ending the terrorist activities, getreal, and your analysis is a real one unfortunately.

It has been said that bin Laden's death may cut off much of al-Q's income since he was still accessing his own money.

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May 5th, 2011, 10:12 pm
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