Why Was bin Laden Shot?, Cont’d

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I want to add a couple of follow-up thoughts to my post yesterday about the exact circumstances under which Osama bin Laden was killed.

First, it’s clear that some people have misconstrued my post as an argument against killing bin Laden. That’s not my point. I’m more interested here in how the White House is describing the intent of the mission, why accounts of bin Laden’s last moments have shifted; And, above all, what exactly bin Laden was doing in his final moments. Who doesn’t want to know that?

Clearly, the precise legalities involved in killing bin Laden are murky–much as they are with our drone strikes, and our indefinite detention of terror suspects. But unless you are opposed to capital punishment in the absolute, or believe that we are compelled to put on trial any terrorist we are able to capture, the morality is less complicated. Heck, even the Dalai Lama isn’t bothered. (Which would put this United Nations official to the left of the Dalai Lama.)

Here’s thought number two. Many people, conservatives in particular, believe that torture is an effective and justified method of interrogation. Some of those same people are furious that anyone is questioning the circumstances of bin Laden’s death. Waterboarding defender Sean Hannity, for one, was hazing some hapless liberal over this on his radio show yesterday.

But why aren’t people like Hannity more upset that we may have killed bin Laden despite an opportunity to take him into custody alive? After all, there’s evidence that OBL remained deeply involved in directing al-Qaeda from his Abbottabad compound. So if you support torture, why not insist on waterboarding everything he knows out of him–perhaps giving us enough information to crush al Qaeda once and for all–and then you can put a bullet in his head? It’s a win-win.