Was Killing Bin Laden Legal? Experts Weigh In

   By drodriguez  May 07, 2011

Eyebrows were raised earlier this week when U.S. officials released a statement that Osama bin Laden was armed when confronted by the U.S. Navy SEALs but later revised it saying he was actually unarmed at the time of his death. As details of bin Laden’s death pour in from the White House, some experts are questioning whether the killing should be considered legal under international law.

A recent report from CNN discusses whether bin Laden’s death should be considered lawful while pointing out that the administration expresses belief that the operation was absolutely carried out in accordance with the law.  

For some, the question of legality comes down to whether he was surrendering with his hands raised or not.  It has been reported that he did not in fact raise his hands in surrender during the raid and was actually in motion when he was shot.  

Head of DePaul University’s International Human Rights Law Institute and former U.N. war crimes investigator, Cherif Bassiouni believes there is more to consider when deciding whether bin Laden’s death was lawful.  Bassiouni says, “killing of any individual sought by law enforcement in the course of a lawful arrest is always a question of facts. Did the person resist?  Did the person have a deadly weapon?  Were the arresting officers in fear of their lives? These are all pertinent questions.”

What do you think of the way the raid and subsequent killing of Osama Bin Laden went down?

Do you think the U.S. conducted itself in accordance with international law?

Make a Comment

haveitoldyoulately by haveitoldyoulately | BROOKLYN, NY
May 13, 2011

I watched that day as the towers came down, in horror. He killed 17 of my UNARMED friends on 9/11. Most never found, and most never given a proper burial, as there was nothing to bury. There was nothing legal about THAT. I'm just sorry they didn't blow his body apart, leaving him in a dust pile.

blueeyes1 by blueeyes1 | Topeka, KS
May 13, 2011

I believe he was most likely killed in a legal manner as an act of war allows. He put up a fight and left the SEALS no choice but to defend themselves. My heartfelt thanks to the men and women on the ground who put their lives in harms way in order to either capture or in this case stop this madman from hurting innocent people again.

gardengirl10 by gardengirl10 | VIRGINIA BCH, VA
May 12, 2011


twostellas by twostellas | RALEIGH, NC
May 11, 2011

Yes, absolutely.

babsywabs by babsywabs | Notre Dame, IN
May 11, 2011

Questions are being raised about the legality of this coward's killing, partially because he was unarmed. I can recall a day when almost 3,000 people, who were ALSO UNARMED, were killed in a merciless, cowardly attack, ordered by him. A few days ago I watched a news show that revisited the timeline on 9/11. The sight of people who had to make the horrible choice - stay or jump? - brings it all back as though it was yesterday. It brings me to tears each time I see the devastation wrought in New York, in Washington, and in Pennsylvania. Did bin Laden deserve to die? Yes, yes, yes. Was he killed legally? If you think the answer to that question is no, then nothing I say will change your mind. The coward is dead. Hopefully that fact will provide some sense of peace and closure to the families of those he killed almost ten years ago.

jeantemple by jeantemple | Huntington, NY
May 11, 2011

NO OSAMA BIN LADEN WAS NOT KILLED LEGALLY. When the order was given, "do not bring him in alive" the search for bin laden became a criminal enterprise -- murder.

docmp78 by docmp78 | Fridley, MN
May 11, 2011

I agree with everyone...y should we think about criminals who did not bother to clinch ,when they killed millions all around the world. Why to waste our money in all the trials?? And Plus it sent out a BIG message to all the criminals ,that they could be killed by US ,even though a terrorist country supports them. I call this the ultimate power which US showed,saying that we'll not tolerate this nonsense,and will find you wherever you are hiding.

jennwigg by jennwigg | Raleigh, NC
May 10, 2011

Seriously? Why, do the criminals have so many rights? These, people take advantage of the Law & World. I, feel so much safer now!

flutietootie by flutietootie | brooklyn, NY
May 09, 2011

Since there have been so many versions of how he died, I do not think anyone can say for sure it it was legal or not. The only people who know what really happened are the Navy Seals so we have to put our trust in them making the correct decision.

msfriendly by msfriendly | MONROE, WI
May 09, 2011

Were the thousands of people that he killed done legally?! To even question this is insane!

lweingart01 by lweingart01 | Chicago, IL
May 08, 2011

Who cares. How many innocent people did he kill?! Good riddance, Osama!

mina77 by mina77 | STONE MTN, GA
May 08, 2011

Seriously?!? Who cares if killing him was legal!

Christinew by Christinew | Rochester, NH
May 08, 2011

I think he got what was well overdue. He is responsible for killing thousands in the U.S. and killing innocent people all over the middle east. I feel the raid was justified and if he wasn't willing to surrender then him being killed was justified as well.

MadHatter by MadHatter | Whitestone , NY
May 07, 2011

A lot of people probably wouldn't even care that he was killed legally or illegally, as long as he is dead. Personally, I think he will be a dead man regardless. The man is responsible for killing thousands of people with his guidance and beliefs. If he isn't killed then, he would be killed later on in a public trail or something. Saves money being spent on a stupid trial for something he is guilty for without a doubt. The verdict is still going to say Guilty and death penalty for him.