Attorney General Eric Holder told members of Congress this week that Osama bin Laden will never face trial for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks because he'll almost certainly be "killed by us or by his own people." Meanwhile, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, maintains that the plan is to take the al Qaida leader alive. Is capturing and interrogating bin Laden no longer a central goal of the U.S. war against terrorists? (Watch Eric Holder's comments before Congress)
Killing bin Laden would be a huge mistake: Osama bin Laden no doubt dreams of becoming a martyr, says James Joyner in Outside the Beltway, and U.S. soldiers hunting for him probably "would very much enjoy pulling the trigger." But the military and the Obama administration must know that we'll be better off with "the intelligence and propaganda value of dragging the Big Cheese in."
"Bin Laden wanted: Dead or dead"
Catching bin Laden alive was never really an option: Eric Holder was just pointing out the obvious, says Barbara Starr in CNN.com. Former president George W. Bush once said the U.S. wanted bin Laden "dead or alive," and that's still the mission. But top military and intelligence officials have long assumed that if we ever get close to bin Laden he'll take a cyanide pill or have his bodyguards shoot him.
"Analysis: The last 100 yards to bin Laden"
Dead or alive? We win either way: Al Qaida doesn't rely on Osama bin Laden to stage attacks any more, says Gordon Lubold in The Christian Science Monitor, so "removing him from the battlefield" won't "necessarily have any tangible effect on terrorist plots against the U.S." Nevertheless, "capturing or killing bin Laden would deal an enormous strategic blow" to al Qaida, so both are worthy goals.
"U.S. wants Osama bin Laden alive, US commander in Afghanistan says"
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