The May 2011 Co-Presidents Message, Bonnie & John

When President Obama announced that Osama bin Laden had been killed, most of the nation celebrated. Chanting crowds were jubilant. Surviving loved ones of 9/11 victims found some relief, believing that some justice had been done. Millions of others were simply amazed and gratified that the deed had finally been done.

A few raised questions about the decision to kill bin Laden. Why not capture and try him, they asked. They said it would have been a tribute to the rule of law in international affairs. In addition, it would have been a great victory for modern civilization over that practiced by bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

As facts about the situation have emerged in after action reports, it seems that capture and trial were not viable options, given the apparent support supplied by Pakistani forces. Living in a fortress only 30 miles from Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, bin Laden lived among willing hosts. These Pakistani forces were as surprised by the attack as was bin Laden, since President Obama did not tell our ally, Pakistan. A surgical attack ordered by the President and accomplished by Navy SEALS in less than 40 minutes, resulted in the killing, not capture and trial, of bin Laden.

The President announced that justice had been done. As a legal scholar, he’s right. In war, it’s legal to kill those who have declared war and promoted attacks on our nation, as did bin Laden and his organization, Al Qaeda. nevertheless, it was probably a difficult decision for the President, since he had to undercut our ally, Pakistan, to achieve his goal. So, Mr. President, thank you for making a thoughtful and difficult decision. A grateful nation salutes you for your action.