In my estimate, one made by others as well, the team was instructed not to take him alive, in order to avert the possibility of scores of Islamists demanding his freedom, and putting Osama Bin Laden in the position of being a martyr for Islam, which he would obviously try to make himself. That today both Hamas, Hezbollah, and the armed wing of Fatah have all praised him as a militant leader and martyr makes it rather certain that this would have resulted had Bin Laden be taken alive. But in essence, that the SEAL team killed him means that they were indeed engaging in targeted assassination, precisely the kind that Israel is regularly criticized for by “human rights” groups when it eliminates anti-Israel terrorists in foreign countries by Mossad hit teams.
Hemingway asks, “Now that a Democratic President has employed JSOC to take out Osama bin Laden, will the fever swamps of the Left continue to assert that it’s just a Bush/Cheney plot to run around unjustifiably killing people?” The answer is yes, and they have already started.
Driving home today, I heard a report on radio news that a representative of Human Rights Watch condemned the killing of Bin Laden and said that what was now required was an official “homicide investigation!” (I have not been able to find this on the organization’s website, and was not able to take down the name of the individual who said this). But one can look no further than Glenm Greenwald’s at Salon.com. He writes sarcastically about Bin Laden’s killing that there is “nothing like putting a bullet in someone’s skull and dumping their corpse into an ocean to rejuvenate that can-do American sense of optimism.”
So, let us not pussyfoot. Obama ordered a targeted assassination of Osama Bin Laden, which is why most likely the first spin on the event, later retracted by administration officials, is that there was armed resistance and that bin Laden used his wife as a human shield. Victor Davis Hanson is correct when he writes: “It’s also easier to conduct assassinations abroad if the Commander-in-Chief is liberal.” You won’t find a Seymour Hersh article in The New Yorker condemning Barack Obama for using a secret assassination squad to carry out illegal actions. Instead, you’ll no doubt find a Hendrik Hertzberg column next week praising Obama for a great success, and for doing what George W. Bush was not able to. As Hanson writes, “Obama the law professor can assassinate bin Laden in Pakistan, dump his body in the ocean, and with first-person emphasis boast of our brilliant mission in a way Bush the Texan could not get away with.” Had the raid taken place during Bush’s tenure in office, we could be assured to find the pundits screaming about how the “cowboy President” hurt America’s image abroad by engaging in an inhumane military action that violated international law, as well as our Pakistan ally’s sovereignty.
So we are faced with liberals getting praised for precisely what would be condemned if a Republican and conservative had been Commander-in-Chief. Such are the times in which we live. So while we rightfully celebrate the justice that has been done by the death of the mass murderer Osama Bin Laden, let us also pause to give credit to the work done by the previous administration, which allowed Barack Obama to pull the brave action of our military off and to end with such great success.