Heather Conn Blogs

spoutin’ about by the sea

Beam me up, Scotty — it’s Rapture time »« Living in Emergency: survival at its rawest edge

Guest blog: Bin Laden’s death no civilized result

As a guest blogger this week, Massachusetts lawyer Frank McElroy (my hubby) offers his view of Osama Bin Laden’s recent death (murder).

The summary killing of Osama Bin Laden, though it may have been necessary on the ground, is just a damned shame. Had he been captured and brought to answer in the sophisticated federal district courts of the United States (or the courts of many other countries), I, and the world, would have had the benefit of a public procedure, a trial, likely a sentence.

 Most importantly, we would have had an affirmation that even in the most difficult circumstances, civil society is based on law, not on personalities, heinous, kind or powerful. Having Osama crack big rocks with a hammer into smaller rocks, alone, until his last moment, is a punishment that I believe befits his crime.


Death at the end of a muzzle or a hangman’s knot is far too easy in my mind. Just think of the crimes he committed. It’s one thing for a dead body to twist in the wind at the end of a rope, another to twist in the wind and contemplate an unending misery borne of the horrors visited upon one’s victims.


I can’t imagine anything more interesting and likely instructive than Bin Laden, in chains in the U.S. District Court in Southern Manhattan, properly defended. I’d have traveled and stayed for that, maybe even have volunteered to defend him.  That’s what makes the results legitimate, credible, civilized.

I cannot begin to credit the claims of Republicans who, long ago, affirmatively minimized Bin Laden to a point of no influence or activity. Now they claim that their former leader, George W. Bush, is ultimately responsible for the great feat of eliminating this true scourge.


Barack Obama and the power of the United States of America killed Osama Bin Laden.  Nobody else.  That was not wrong, but it was a lot less than what the world needed.  The audacious nature of the raid ensured shooting and death, and that’s what happened.  Not a lot really, compared to what Bin Laden has wreaked upon the world.  It could have had a different result, although I can’t imagine any planning that would have assured Bin Laden’s capture rather than extinction.


When Saddam Hussein was being tried for his horrifying crimes, I tried mightily to find a way onto his defense team, led by Ramsey Clark.  I wasn’t in time — they hung him from a hook in a dark room with no windows.  That’s not justice.  Having him testify or not, but being present in a court of law with unbiased triers of fact and administrators of law, that’s justice. 

I don’t believe in the death penalty for lots of reasons, one of which is that it doesn’t carry any real weight.  It creates an artificial end, and history shows that the value of human life is thin at best. 

Editor’s note: As someone committed to a path of nonviolence, I feel conflicted over Bin Laden’s death. I am grateful that Obama chose not to use a missile to kill Bin Laden and hence, risk killing innocent civilians. Yet, when westerners joyfully gather publicly to celebrate his death, how is that different than those in the Middle East who cheered the fall of the Twin Towers? 

May 16, 2011 at 8:05 pm
1 comment »
  • May 17, 2011 at 4:05 amWendy

    Very interesting observations. I am concerned too with the United States entering a foreign country & assassinating someone just because they want to. Bin Laden has now been made a martyr to his followers & who knows what the consequences of that are going to be.

Leave a Reply