Member Rara Avis
Yes, Ron, of course I must present it as opinion and conjecture on my part, since I wasn't there to hear Obama give the order.
I wasn't there, either, Mike. However, I was there (so to speak) when the President told us what the mission parameters were. Capture if possible, kill if there is resistance. I see no reason to believe that wasn't the truth.
Of course, some clarification of "resistance" might be justified. On American soil, for example, we don't expect the police to fire unless they're in fear for their own safety. Should we hold Navy Seals to the same standard? I tend to think probably not, but I'm open to argument on that. I suspect that moving an intractable prisoner across foreign soil covertly might be difficult?
I think John is right. If bin Laden had offered no resistance, he likely would still be alive.
Interestingly enough, in the middle of the "don't knows", you state Osama Bin Laden did not want to be taken alive. Of course there is no way you can know that.
Actually, Mike, I think there is a way Bob could reasonably know that. You and me, too. We can listen to what bin Laden has told us in that regard. He claimed, repeatedly and quite vociferously I believe, that he would never be taken alive. Again, I see no reason to believe that wasn't the truth.
Still, Mike, in spite of the justifications, I see your point. And I think it revolves around earlier discussions we've had as to whether terrorists should be seen as criminals or as enemy combatants. If bin Laden was simply a criminal, like your Al Capone analogy might suggest, our government should have followed procedures and tried to have the man arrested and extradited. There's a few potential sticklers, like the difference between a serial killer and a mass murderer, and of course Pakistan's willingness or ability to arrest and extradite, but those are details in my opinion, not foundational issues.
On the other hand, if bin Laden was an enemy combatant? That's clearly a horse of an entirely different color.
If we follow that road a little farther it will take us to the detainees in Gitmo. If we see them as criminals they clearly should be given their day in court. Or be released for lack of evidence. The alternative, however, isn't to see them as enemy combatants, Mike, but rather to see them as former enemy combatants; i.e., prisoners of war. That, too, is a horse of a different color.
If a handful of Navy Seals started shooting Gitmo prisoners in the head because they "resisted" their continued detention, Mike, I think just about everyone would be outraged. Their situations simply are not comparable to bin Laden's situation. As prisoners, whether criminal or combatant, they are entitled to humane treatment. Not because they deserve it, but because WE deserve to be a humane people who do what is right even when it costs us to do so. Torture isn't about "them" and never has been. It's about us.
For what it's worth, I still prefer to see domestic terrorists as criminals. To me, bin Laden was indeed no different than Al Capone. And so, to answer your original question, Mike, I suspect we would have killed Capone had he resisted during any of his arrest attempts. I don't know what level of resistance it would have taken for the police to feel justified putting a bullet in Capone's head, but I have no doubt such a level existed. As it clearly did with bin Laden.
Whether Capone or bin Laden, you might well find me arguing against the use of excessive or unnecessary force. Or not, depending on circumstances and the safety of others present. What you would never find me arguing against, however, is humane treatment once Capone, bin Laden, or the prisoners at Gitmo were taken into custody. Killing someone because you must is not the same as torturing someone because you want to. Accepting the former doesn't mean I have to accept the latter.
That's not hypocrisy, guys. It's simple logic.