Osama bin Laden Was Wanted Dead Not Alive

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US must have long ago concluded that security cost of detaining bin Laden was lethally prohibitive

[lBack Star News Editorial]

U.S. Couldn't Afford Capturing bin Laden Alive

People are debating whether the U.S. special force unit had an option of whether to capture or kill Osama bin Laden.

Given the history --the 9/11 attacks, bin Laden going into hiding, bin Laden continuing to release videotapes of himself pontificating on the "evils" of the U.S., and bin Laden eluding capture for 10 years-- no sensible person can expect that he would have ever been captured alive.

Therein lay the dilemma, causing the conflicting accounts the government provided about his killing--even after 10 years, it remained difficult to explain that bin Laden could not be simply arrested. Osama bin Laden presented less a security nightmare while he was in hiding than he would have to the U.S., in American captivity. Detaining bin Laden would present a security nightmare. That's one of the possible reasons why the United States had considered dropping heavy bombs on the compound where he resided.

Osama bin Laden was in full view and likely had the support of the Pakistani government--or at least its military and security agencies. Osama bin Laden could not have just walked across the border from Afghanistan into Pakistan. It's more likely that he was a frequent traveler between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

He may have permanently relocated to the mansion in Pakistan when the U.S. under the Obama Administration kicked up the levels of armed drone attacks against al-Qaeda suspects, mostly inside Afghanistan, but with increasingly more strikes inside Pakistan.

Osama bin Laden must have been shielded by some authorities in Pakistan. There are two authorities--the weak civilian government and the military apparatus. A militarized country like Pakistan cannot host a high profile guest like bin Laden without one of the authorities knowing about it and the highest levels. More importantly--is there a power struggle between the two authorities? Which one will prevail?

If bin Laden were captured alive where would he have been taken? Where would he have been secured? Certainly not in Pakistan, where he had remained a free man; certainly not in continental U.SA. Even in death the U.S. could not find a country to accept his body; in death, the U.S. has decided not to release his photo.

In captivity where would Osama bin Laden have been tried? Which prosecutors would have tried him? Whom would have defended him? Which court would have actually allowed him to speak about his beliefs in presenting a defense? How would his followers have been dissuaded from launching retaliatory strikes and hostage taking or revenge attacks in attempts to secure his release?

Consider the flack that the Obama Administration took for wanting to try Khaled Sheik Mohammed in a civilian court. Can you imagine the heat and political fallout for the Administration from even suggesting that the U.S. would have allowed bin Laden to stand trial?

Attorney General Eric Holder told a Senate Judiciary committee, in reference to bin Laden: “If he had surrendered, attempted to surrender, I think we should obviously have accepted that."

Not a credible statement.

All these factors must have been mulled over by President Barack Obama and his top national security and foreign policy aides. They must have concluded that Osama bin Laden would simply be un-detainable.

Some government officials have suggested that there were orders to arrest him and take him alive if possible. These are not credible
assertions. It's more convincing that the decision was made to kill bin Laden on sight.

Of course the government can't admit to such a position. That's why the government had offered the initial account that bin Laden had resisted arrest and been killed in  the "firefight."

More elaborate explanations of what led to bin Laden's death may be forthcoming. Sometimes the truth cannot be told and can only be discerned. Arresting, detaining and trying Osama bin Laden was simply too lethally prohibitive for the U.S..

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