Killing of Osama bin Laden


Madam, – I want to congratulate Martyn Turner on his wonderfully succinct summation of US world policy apropos the execution of Osama bin Laden (Opinion, May 4th).

Ever since the event I have been feeling extremely uncomfortable about this summary execution without trial carried out by US forces in the name of liberty and democracy. If anything was calculated to inflame extremist feelings in the Middle East then this surely is the catalyst for doing just that.

When I was at school we were taught that Christianity must turn away from the Old Testament message of “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” and instead “turn the other cheek”. Are we now going back to Old Testament justice? The final insult was the shared conviction that Barack Obama had now definitely secured his next term as President of the United States. – Yours, etc,


Park Avenue,

Sandymount, Dublin 4.

Madam, – I note that in your Editorial “Killing of bin Laden” (May 3rd) you describe the “triumphalist demonstrations in New York” as “understandable . . . but disquieting”, while several letter- writers expressed similar sentiments.

While it is certainly regrettable that many young people choose to acknowledge bin Laden’s death in this manner, many more used it as a time to reflect and remember those lost. I am somewhere in the middle. I found myself agreeing with the great American civil rights leader, Clarence Darrow who said, “I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction.” Hopefully, those in Ireland who felt overly-repulsed by the reaction here will attend and cheer the next Love Ulster parade or get out their mini Union Jacks to welcome Queen Elizabeth with great vigour. – Yours, etc,


W98th Street,

New York, US.

Madam, – The incorrect anagram in Brendan O’Brien’s letter (May 3rd) may have misled crossword fans. Perhaps describing Osama bin Laden as An Islam bad one would have been more apt. – Yours, etc,


The Sweepstakes,


Dublin 4.

Madam, – Raymond Deane (May 4th) succinctly identifies the patent and blatant international law violations inherent in the American forces’ actions in Pakistan. He also frames it within the relevant historical context of self-assumed legal righteousness “à la Americana”.

As self-appointed arbiters and enforcers of the supposed “free-world”, the US presumptively asserts a distorted right to unilaterally assassinate someone it believes is culpable of crime. No court, bar that of political expediency and self-imbued pseudo-legality. It seems also that illegal torture programmes, extraordinary rendition and propping up corrupt regimes as it suits, constitute its standard modus operandi. Yet it regularly attempts to claim the high moral ground.

Hypocrisy or what? Where is the UN in all of this? Is it simply a puppet-theatre for the big nations to corruptively foster their self-interest? Does Ireland thus acquiesce to the legal/ethical/moral travesty, just because we get lots of goodies from America? Collusion through silent obeisance is equal to support.

How sad and pathetic is that?

As Mr Deane rightly concludes, it will all merely “reinforce the contempt for international law that has turned the world into a slaughterhouse”. There is thus terrorism on all sides, statutory and otherwise. – Yours, etc,


Chapel Street,


Co Waterford.

Madam, – Whatever about “sleepy” Pakistani intelligence, no way would An Taisce have let him away with a wall that high. – Yours, etc,


Ballygaddy Road,

Tuam, Co Galway.

Madam, – What irony that the instigator of the 9/11 atrocity was usurped by another distress signal, Mayday. Perhaps bin Laden and his cohorts were unaware of the distress call used by radio operators to indicate grave and imminent danger, the telephone equivalent of which is 911 in US and Canada. – Yours, etc,



Co Mayo.

Madam, – Taoiseach Enda Kenny issued a statement in which he hailed the killing of Osama bin Laden as “a major achievement in the effort to rid the world of the threat of terrorism”. No mention in his 250-odd words of Ireland’s constitutional ban on capital punishment, nor any mention of any objection to extrajudicial execution – assassination to me and you.

Nowhere on Tuesday did we hear from officialdom any regret that bin Laden was not captured alive to be given a fair trial. Downing Street, Brussels, Merrion Street and, of course, Washington have all warmly welcomed the illegal assassination. President Obama spoke within hours of the killing about justice for the victims and the bereaved of September 11th, 2001. Those who gathered to sing and rejoice late into the night at the site of the atrocity also spoke of justice. What happened in Abbottabad in the early hours of Monday morning was not justice, but revenge.

Enda Kenny was recently elected as Taoiseach with a significant mandate from the Irish electorate. If he is to properly represent the citizens of this country, he must condemn absolutely the extrajudicial killing of Osama bin Laden. He must make it clear that in this humble republic we don’t do revenge, we do justice – justice which is delivered by an independent judiciary in full and open view of the citizen and fully free from political interference or influence. It is one of the cornerstones of our democracy and one which we cannot hope to defend if we simply become cheerleaders on the sidelines of illegal military actions and assassinations. – Yours, etc,


Delvin, Co Westmeath.

Madam, – In all the hype that has surrounded the killing of Osama bin Laden, one issue which falls to be determined is whether or not his killing amounts to an action upon which there has been total disregard for justice.

President Obama has stated that bin Laden’s killing has resulted in justice for all of those who have been affected by his callous and deceptive actions, but one cannot merely cast aside due process, a right to a fair trial, a court, a hearing? Even with a man as satanic as bin Laden, do we live in total disregard of international law, the principles upon which fairness is based?

In my opinion, while the US government may have concluded that the action was justified, has such a decision the effect of dispensing with the requirements of justice?

As a final-year law student, justice has always, in my own humble opinion, fallen to be administered by the judiciary. So is the killing of bin Laden a truly lawful act? Is it for elected representatives to now determine justice? – Yours, etc,


University College Cork.

Madam, – The killing of Osama bin Laden was not the justice that President Obama, a constitutional lawyer, learned about in an American law school.

The scenes of jubilation in Washington DC and New York City were understandable, but regrettable. While bin Laden’s death may have been unavoidable – I hope that it was – far better had he been captured and tried to the highest standards, which the US president pledged to abide by. In his inauguration speech the president said: “Our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.” If in fact bin Laden’s death was avoidable, then a unique chance for the United States to show the very best of itself to the world was lost, even though the president may benefit in terms of electoral politics.

In 1945, Robert H Jackson, the chief United States prosecutor, said in a court in Nuremberg: “That four great nations, flushed with victory and stung with injury stay the hand of vengeance and voluntarily submit their captive enemies to the judgment of the law is one of the most significant tributes that Power ever has paid to Reason.” – Yours, etc,


Eden Gate,

Delgany, Co Wicklow.

Madam, –   Before we become bored to death by the bleatings of the liberal lefties, I would like to make a few points.

1. 3,000 innocent civilians in the Twin Towers were unarmed. 2. Osama bin Laden’s wife was equally culpable, by not reporting his whereabouts   to the authorities before any more innocent civilians loss their lives. 3.   If the US could not trust Pakistan with the information as to his whereabouts, that is not the fault of the US. 4. Most governments at some time are required to make decisions which result in the death of other people. The fact that in this case they had the courage to witness at first-hand the   consequence of their decision is to be applauded. – Yours, etc,


The Golf Links,


Co Dublin.