Saturday, May 14th, 2011...12:38 am

UPDATE: Justice Stevens said Killing Bin Laden was Legal

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Continuing the previous post on the legal concerns surrounding the operation that killed Osama bin Laden, this just came in:

Retired Justice John Paul Stevens – one of my favorite Supreme Court Justices – said that killing Osama Bin Laden was legal (WSJ reports):

“It was not merely to do justice and avenge Sept. 11,” but “to remove an enemy who had been trying every day to attack the United States,” Justice Stevens said at a dinner in Chicago, according to former Stevens law clerk Diane Amann, a University of Georgia professor who attended the dinner, which capped a Northwestern University symposium on the justice’s jurisprudence.

In 2004 and 2006, Justice Stevens wrote Supreme Court opinions holding that Guantanamo prisoners could challenge their detention before neutral judges, and that while in custody were entitled to the minimal protections of the Geneva Conventions. His rulings stressed that the laws of war—of which the Geneva Conventions, ratified by the U.S., form a principal part—cannot be ignored simply because the government found it “convenient” to do so.

But on Thursday, Justice Stevens indicated that those same laws of war permit the armed forces to kill an enemy commander who remains engaged in active hostilities against the U.S., as Navy Seals did on their May 2 operation inside Pakistan. “I have not the slightest doubt that it was entirely appropriate for U.S. forces to do,” Justice Stevens said, according to Ms. Amann’s account.


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