Politico: Bin Laden Killing in a Legal Gray Zone


Categorie: Afghanistan, David Axe, Extremists, Legal, Pakistan |
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Abbottabad. AP photo.

Abbottabad. AP photo.


The early-morning raid that killed Osama bin Laden was, according to CIA Director Leon Panetta, “the culmination of intense and tireless efforts on the part of many dedicated agency officers.” Panetta also thanked the “strike team, whose great skill and courage brought our nation this historic triumph.”

But it’s unclear who was on the strike team — the 25 people aboard two specially modified Army helicopters. Most of the “trigger-pullers” were, apparently, Navy commandos from the famed SEAL Team Six.

At the “pointy end” — a Beltway euphemism for combat — the operation targeting bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, looked overwhelmingly military. But the months-long process of gathering intelligence and planning had a CIA flavor.

Indeed, President Barack Obama described it as agency-led. The intelligence community pinpointed bin Laden’s location. Panetta monitored the raid in real time from Langley. The assault team may have included CIA operatives. Senior administration officials called it a “team effort.”

But did the CIA have people on the ground in Abbottabad? It’s not an academic question. Exactly who was on the strike force that killed bin Laden has major policy implications.

Read the rest at Politico.


2 Responses to “Politico: Bin Laden Killing in a Legal Gray Zone”

  1. qingl78 says:

    People, lawyers mainly, seem to think that man made laws have the same force as physical laws and that violating them will cause the universe to collapse.

    I see the value in trying not to violate the “laws of war” too much but for the healthy functioning of the state sometimes these laws have to be violated and no, the universe will not collapse. There has to be a balancing of laws with common sense or else we could just replace lawyers and judges with computers.

    Lawyers seem to believe in a kind of American exceptionalism, that being the belief that America, a nation of lawyers, will fall the law at all times. Which is kind of ironic, for reasons too numerous to list here. But this dynamic of trying to follow laws at all times or they have failed as a state, has been around since the beginning of the nation state. When confronted about entering Rome with his 5 legions, Lucius Sulla famously stated, “Do not quote laws to men with swords”.

  2. Brian Black says:

    Of coarse it’s in a legal grey zone. Lawyers write laws, but also rely on legal grey zones for much of their continued employment.
    If we ever became a society with crystal clear laws, we wouldn’t need lawyers. There’d be thousands of them starving, begging for cases in the street.

    And I’m reasonably sure the CIA would not have left the intel sweep of Bin Laden’s compound to the military.

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