On 29th April 2011, President Barack Obama signed an excecutive order that authorised the Navy Seals VI unit to seek and kill Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks on the targets in USA. Are we to believe that the US president has the authority to order the execution of those deemed inimical to the US. Is this argument that USA can violate the sovereignty of a state, enter its territory, carry out a clandestine operation, pick up the evidence and leave, all actions done in accordance to domestic or international law. No court of law has ever convicted the target of the May 1st attack and therefore what is the legal basis of Obama's actions. I have no problem at all with the killing of terrorists, but I am raising a larger issue: the legal and constitutional validity of the presidential order of April 29th 2011.
The nearest example that comes to my mind is the infamous case of Adolf Eichmann who was captured by the Israelis in Brazil and brought to Jerusalem for trial and execution. In this case, the Government of Israel acted according to the testimony of several who gave evidence in the Nuremberg trials. Eichmann was indicted for crimes against humanity and there was ample eyewitness accounts of his direct involvement in the crimes at several camps in Europe. Further there was also the domestic legislation in the new state of Israel that made the capture and trial of German war criminals a responsibility of the Government of Israel and international law went along with this extended interpretation of the doctrine of eminent domain over German war crimes claimed by Israel. I want to know whether there is any provision in US law that enables or authorises the US president o carry out attacks on targets chosen by the US. I am not going into the merits of this particular case. I am raising a larger legal issue. Of course the USA can come out ans declare that they violated the sovereignty of Pakistan as they believe that the situation in that country makes it a "terrorist state" and hence the USA is not obligated to be constrained by the principles of international law.
Pakistan has become a haven for terrorists of every kind and therefore it is not a state in the true sense of the world. It does not have full control over its territory. Sayed Hafiz, a known terrorist is moving about freely in the country. Dawood Ibrahim a known criminal is being protected by the ISI. Since Pakistan does not have control over its territory and its so called civilian government has no monopoly over the use of force within the borders, USA can make a strong case for the violation of the sovereignty of Pakistan. As far as Osama bin Laden is concerned, though there is no evidence that can stand up in a trial court, the law of national self defence does permit nations to defend themselves.
There is now controversy over the killing of the man. I had raised this issue in my very first blog on this subject. The Obama Administration made things difficult for itself by giving contradictory version of the sequence of events leading to the killing of Osama. First they said that he fired at the raiding assault party and Leon Panetta stood by this version. Then they said quite truthfully that that he was not armed. This has not gone well. USA should have stood by one version. Then they said that he used a woman as a human shield and then they back tracked. Now both these contradictions are fueling speculations about the manner in which Osama was killed. There is even one theory doing the rounds that Osama bin Laden was killed in cold blood. I do not subscribe to this version.
Finally the pictures. THe most gruesome image was of the fall of the Twin Towers. How is it that USA is not revealing the pictures of the dead Osama bin Laden. Is there something in the pictures.