The decades of hand-wringing, lawfare, partisan and bipartisan moralizing over “torture”, and the ever-present drumbeat of criticism for the Bush administration, have all boiled down to this. Osama bin Laden is dead, killed by an American special forces assault team.
As for all of that talk about terrorists having rights, even Constitutional rights, and attempts to apply our criminal law to the battlefield, it was all meaningless. And despite having a cadre of anti-military leftists in the White House, our system worked.
During the campaign for the presidency, for example, then Senator Obama conflated crimes on US soil committed by people who were US residents with those captured on the battlefield overseas:
A terrorist is a civilian who commits a crime against other civilians to further a political agenda. Motivations, unlike the simple facts of injuries sustained or property damage done, must be determined at trial, and there is no way to judge motive ahead of time. So domestic terrorists must of course be tried in our civilian criminal court system, or at least arraigned there. To say otherwise is to open too wide the door to abuse.
Terrorists caught on the battlefield or nabbed overseas, on the other hand, should be treated as we used to treat pirates: on the consent of two officers, relieved of their heartbeats.
But that was not the stated policy of the Obama Administration. Rather, even those captured on the battlefield are mirandized, to be held over for criminal trial. For all of the talk about extending the rights of American citizens to foreign nationals caught violating the law of war, Osama Bin Laden was presumed guilty of 9/11, having been long ago convicted in the court of public opinion.
We recall that this has been the policy for a while. Eric Holder predicted last year that Bin Laden would be a battlefield casualty, saying
You’re talking about a hypothetical that will never occur. The reality is we will be reading Miranda rights to the corpse of Osama bin Laden. He will never appear in an American courtroom.
It turns out he was right. When the time came for the final assault on the bin Laden compound, everyone who was anyone gathered to watch the video feed, missing only the popcorn.
So let us not kid ourselves: it was a hit. We hunted him down at considerable cost in blood an treasure, and we shot him.
So when the United Nations Council on Human Rights investigates President Nobel, er Obama for war crimes, and they will, we should recognize that his guilt is ours.
And flip them the bird.