Rhonda Robinson

Killing Osama bin Laden: Assassination, War Casualty or Criminal?

Posted on March 19 2010 5:24 pm
Rhonda Robinson is part of NewsReal's editorial team. As a columnist, Rhonda has provided readers with thoughtful insight into social, political, and parenting issues since 1995.
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Thou shalt not kill. That is not only one of the Ten Commandments; it is central to any civil society. Politicians and pundits alike are quick to say that we live under the rule of law.

Everyone can agree on those two points, at least on the surface. It’s defining what that means where the differences lay. It’s becoming quite obvious that the leftist idea of justice is not the same as mainstream America. There are a lot of mixed messages on what “the rule of law” means, and how it applies in war time.

On MSNBC’s “Hardball,” host Chris Matthews, who once called West Point the enemy camp, and guest Bob Baer, former CIA and intelligence columnist, discussed the fate of Osama bin Laden.

The subject started by Matthews commenting on Eric Holder dismissing the idea of bringing Osama bin Laden to justice in a courtroom, stating we would never be able to take him alive.

Baer explained that Holder was right. We will kill bin Laden. Sooner or later someone will make a mistake, and we will take him out.


“So your view here is forget the jurisprudence here, and whether we should be talking about knocking people off here before we bring him to trial—is probably right.”


“It’s probably right but we shouldn’t talk about it. I mean we are a nation of rule of laws, we shouldn’t talk about assassinating people.”

The mixed signals here; we can and will kill him, but we shouldn’t talk about it because we shouldn’t talk about assassinating people.

Had bin Laden been simply some leader in a foreign country, he’s right. We don’t just assassinate people. However, that is not the case. This is a sworn enemy, who has taken credit for the deaths of thousands of Americans, he is at war with us-and we with him and the small army he leads-al Qaeda

In a war, enemies kill one another. It’s that simple.

What bin Laden is, by the laws we live by, determine how he is treated; we don’t assassinate political figures that we are not at war with, nor do we execute criminals without a trial. We can, and should kill an enemy that seeks to kill us first.

By not using the correct terminology, we look as though we are saying we live by the rule of law, but we don’t–and we make it okay by not discussing it in public. We fail to rightly define the issue.

Have politicians manipulated our language to the degree that we don’t understand our own vocabulary? Or is it that they are afraid to say what what they really mean?

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