Bin Laden Hypothetical

Imagine we capture Bin Laden. On the plane flight back to the U.S. someone in the military decides on his own to push him out the emergency exit. Clearly this person is a murderer. He’d also very likely be considered a national hero by many. If you were President what would you do? I wouldn’t pardon him, but I’d make sure I got my best speechwriter to write an extremely persuasive speech explaining that I would have liked to, but my solemn oath to uphold the Constitution demands otherwise. I’m sure I’d still be called a terrorist sympathiser anyway.

I don’t see how anyone would think it was a good thing that Bin Laden was pushed out of the plane after finally being captured. I think the President wouldn’t hesitate to condemn the person who did it as having subverted justice. Who would it benefit to kill Bin Laden before a trial could take place? Very anti-climactic.

The scenario will never happen. Bin Laden’s last known location will be a crater.

The guy would be as much of a hero as Jack Ruby was.

What’s the reason for pushing bin Laden out of the plane, exactly? Possible reasons that come to mind are:

  1. The person doing the pushing beleives the guilt of bin Laden for various crimes is self-evident, and no trial is necessary

  2. For one reason or another, despite the widespread belief that bin Laden is responsible for serious crimes, the person doing the pushing believes that not enough evidence exists to convict him in a court proceeding

  3. Enough evidence exists to convict him, but any potential sentence would be insufficient in the mind of the person doing the pushing.

In all cases, massive further harm is done to the reputation of the US as a nation of laws (beyond the harm already done by its ongoing subversion of law through its recent enthusiasm for the use of torture and indefinite detention). Throw the book at him; he’d be pretty much the opposite of a national hero in my view. Likewise, any President who would seek to excuse this behavior would gaurantee my vote against him or against his party in the next election.

The administration would be pissed at losing the opportunity to interrogate him, and would go after the killer for at least that reason.

That’s exactly what I was thinking.

You don’t think millions of Americans wouldn’t think Bin Laden got what he deserved? And yes, millions would agree with you. That’s the whole point of my question. What should the President do when the popular decision isn’t the right one?

It’s a hypothetical. Bin Laden being captured is not impossible. It’s just less probable than your scenario.

I think the pusher would be universally derided as a schmuck. Now we have (a) no public trial (b) no captive, humiliated bin Laden to parade around as we did the broken Saddam and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed © no possibility to get further intel from him (d) no possibility to use him as a bargaining chip/negotiator with his compatriots (e) instant martyr, rather than defeated captive.

Where’s his hero’s welcome? It’s not like, even if the trial failed, OBL would EVER be allowed to go free or something. There’s no justification of, “the justice system doesn’t work … I can’t let him walk…”


Yes, and so would I, but that wouldn’t stop all of us for also thinking that it would have been much much better for a trial to have taken place.

The administration would have to punish the person who pushed him out of the plane, and severely. Conspiracy theorists would have a field day with wondering what Bin Laden had to say that made it necessary to silence him so thoroughly.

…and there had better be a body, too, or people would claim that he had actually escaped.

He would have to get the other folks on the plane to agree too…so, it would be a conspiracy. It would also be incredibly stupid. Assuming all that though (and assuming some kind of military transport that you could actually open the emergency exit in flight)…

I’d have to add ‘traitor’ to the list too, because having finally caught ObL, this guy would be taking upon himself the destruction of a valuable intelligence AND propaganda resource. ‘Murderer’? Who cares about that…this guy would be committing treason and I’d have to seriously question his motives (i.e. was he paid to do this? Is he part of some conspiracy that hoped, by killing ObL to keep their organization secret?)

He’d only be a hero to the lunatic fringe and the people who are nearly too stupid to breath on their own.

Launch an immediate investigation to try and get to the bottom of what is going on. Then I’d leave it up to the UCMJ to deal with the guy (assuming he’s military) or the courts (if he’s a civilian). I wouldn’t lift a finger to piss on this guys back if he were on fire for doing something so stupid and harmful to the US.

Pardoning him would never even cross my mind. Flaying him? Yeah, I might entertain that, if only in my own mind. But a pardon? No chance.

Well, if you gave such a speech you might. I doubt I would…and I doubt that the majority of the American people would look on this guy as some kind of hero. Even the right wing types would be pissed off because of the loss of the propaganda and intelligence value. The left wing would be pissed off over the tossing out of due process (as well as the other practical considerations)…the centrist would be pissed off. Everyone with more than two brain cells to rub together would be pissed off.
Now, if after ObL had been thoroughly interrogated, put on trial, sentenced to death and then killed (with due process) with dull spoons on TV…well, THEN the guy wielding the spoons (under the authority of the US and with full due process)…THAT guy might be a national hero for doing the deed. But the guy in your scenario? Traitor.

Given the risks involved, and potentially lives lost, in actually capturing Bin Laden alive, as opposed to blowing him to hell with a drone from a safe distance I imaginge that guy would be SERIOUSLY unpopular, and have the book thrown at him.

I’m sure the thought would occur to special forces types that put their ass on the line capturing him, that maybe they should take that guy on a little plane ride themselves and forget to secure his seat belt.

My guess is that if they were going to do something like that they wouldn’t bother waiting for the flight home…instead they would simply shoot him ‘during the capture’ or ‘trying to escape’…


As Toadspittle says, this would make Bin Laden a martyr.

Look at the implications of what you posted.

An American who kills a helpless prisoner without a trial is a national hero.
The US president should pretend to disapprove of murder, but let people know he likes it really.

It’s hard to get around the likelyhood that he’ll be captured because he said he wouldn’t be taken alive. However, if Bin Laden happened to trip and fall out of an airplane it wouldn’t be reported. His existence as a prisoner would cause too much trouble.

This is my hypothetical, so I get to set up the scenario. I don’t care about how Bin Laden would most likely be captured or killed. It’s just a thought exercise.

That being said, let’s ignore the plane and make this simple. Bin Laden is captured. It’s broadcast around the world and there’s no question we have him. A lone soldier, acting completely on his own (and assume the evidence is such that only the most conspiracy-obsessed will refuse to believe it) kills him. Do you really think a significant portion of public wouldn’t have liked to do the same if they had the chance and so wouldn’t want the soldier punished even though he clearly should be?

Or let’s make it simpler. Do most Americans want Bin Laden dead, and how do they want it to happen? I say yes, and they don’t care how.

Again, whatever the public at large would think. The military would be baying for that soldier’s blood. Capturing Bin Laden alive would be an incredible feat, after putting their lives on the line capturing him against all odds (Bin Ladens bodygaurds have strict orders to kill him if there is any chance of him being captured). It would then all be for naught, as some rear-echeleon schmuck decides to waste him, that would SERIOUSLY piss off the Special Ops guys invovled.