Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, ‘uncomfortable’ over Bin Laden unarmed death

I am glad to see that spiritual leaders are not pleased with the assassination of Osama Bin Laden. BBC News had a story about the Archibishop of Canterbury’s discomfort with the fact that an unarmed man was killed rather than taken alive and brought to justice.

General Lord Dannatt, the former head of the British Army, defended the action of the US special forces. Lord Dannatt said that, while ideally Bin Laden would have been captured, his killing was “unfortunate but necessary”. “The special forces troops going in had been briefed, perfectly reasonably, that if Bin Laden was anything other than naked, he could be assumed to be wearing a suicide vest. Unless he put his hands straight up and surrendered straightaway they had to assume that he had evil intent.”

I have to admit that I disagree with Lord Dannatt that the USSF HAD to kill bin Laden if there was a non-lethal alternative available for his capture. Additionally, The US has offered two different successive accounts of the killing of Bin Laden. Originally, officials said the al-Qaeda chief had “participated” in a firefight when he was shot dead. On Tuesday, the White House corrected this, saying Bin Laden was unarmed. But it still insisted that he was resisting capture – although it is unclear exactly how he did this. Likewise, the number of USSF personnel have varied between “two dozen” and 79.

I have to admit to being in agreement with the Archibishop, Dr Williams, who said:

“I think the killing of an unarmed man is always going to leave a very uncomfortable feeling because it doesn’t look as if justice is seen to be done…In those circumstances I think it’s also true that the different versions of events that have emerged in recent days have not done a great deal to help…I don’t know the full details any more than anyone else does. But I do believe that in such circumstances when we are faced with someone who was manifestly a war criminal in terms of the atrocities inflicted it is important that justice is seen to be served.”

As I mentioned in my previous post about this, Did Bin Laden have to die?, that the US should attempt to follow its own claims about justice and due process and not engage in summary executions.

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