Obama, McCain camps spar over bin Laden comment

June 20, 2008

binladen.jpgCHICAGO – Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s campaign is attacking rival Barack Obama for saying that if al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is caught, the United States should avoid making him into a martyr.
Allies to McCain have suggested the comment shows the Democratic candidate opposes the death penalty for bin Laden — an interpretation the Obama campaign says is false.
The Illinois senator was asked on Wednesday how he would proceed if bin Laden were captured. He said he was not sure if bin Laden would be caught alive because of shoot-to-kill orders.
Concerning how to try the al Qaeda leader, Obama said it was important “to do it in a way that allows the entire world to understand the murderous acts that he’s engaged in and not to make him into a martyr and to be sure that the United States government is abiding by the basic conventions that would strengthen our hand in the broader battle against terrorism.”
McCain adviser Randy Scheunemann seized on the word martyr.
“Now, the last time I checked the definition of martyr, it’s someone who dies for a cause or is killed for a cause and it seems to be that Sen. Obama is ruling out capital punishment for Osama bin Laden were he to be captured alive under U.S. jurisdiction,” he said.
The Obama campaign said that interpretation was wrong and noted Obama is on record saying he believed bin Laden “would qualify for the death penalty.”
When he spoke about bin Laden on Wednesday, Obama cited the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals after World War II as an example of how the United States “advanced a set of universal principles” in bringing to justice people who committed heinous acts.
After the Nuremberg proceedings, 10 top Nazi figures were hanged following the main trials and several dozen lower-lever figures were hanged following other trials.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage: http:www.reuters.com/globalcoverage/2008candidates

Photo credit: Reuters Afghanistan stringer (Bin Laden speaks at news conference in Afghanistan in 1998)


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“Just Words”..

Obama is a lawyer. An amazing Orator. Rhetoric is his principle tool…the sole reason he is in the position to be the next President of the United States of America. Feed any other lie to me and I’ll just shrug it off, but you can’t expect me to believe that an orator, a lawyer, a job where words are scrutinized to an almost discriminatingly exhaustive manner, you can’t expect me to believe that his use of martyr was an incident. This would be commensurate to President George Bush using the word “commensurate”. When Bush mis-speaks, it is understood he is not an orator…not in any sense of the word. It would be absurd for Bush to come out speaking in the manner Obama has displayed throughout this race and it should be absurd to believe that a “slip-up” was made when Obama used the word “martyr”. Obama is a very impressive person with an interesting past.
Love him or Hate him, I think that this language coupled with the views of his radical close friends is enough to leave people on the sidelines absolutely terrified about what they don’t know about this man. New to politics means open to scrutiny; sooner or later, Americans must decide whether the unknown is worth the message of change. I personally feel the bi-partisan choice is the real change and McCain is as bi-partisan as a republican has come in a long time.

And we know just what to expect from him. Straight talk and moral compass aligned.

Posted by Karlthomas | Report as abusive

As a follower of Jesus, I am anti-death penalty and nothing Obama said regarding Bin Laden made me believe he is anti-death penalty. He specifically referenced the Nuremburg trials and as noted in the article many of those convicted were hung … to death.

So while I don’t agree with Obama around the death penalty, I do agree (and here is why he is so beyond the current administration) if you are going to rebuild America’s standing in the world, and reduce the propaganda value to terrorists, you must bring Bin Laden to justice, not to revenge. It must not be sham justice. Obama is clearly talking about the means (a fair and open trial), and not the ends (death or other).

Lets restore America’s reputation for fairness and justice of the sort our founders fought for. Obama can do that.

Posted by QuakerJohn | Report as abusive

“to do it in a way that allows the entire world to understand the murderous acts that he’s engaged in and not to make him into a martyr”

You must be going out of your way to mis-understand Obama’s meaning here. Obama and every other red blooded American would be more then happy to give Bin Laden the death penalty! The problem is not whether we have the political backbone to execute the scumbag, it’s whether Bin Laden’s execution would only give him martyrdom status. Getting executed by the US may just be the best thing for Bin Laden and his cause if he where captured. You ever think of that? Of course not … you republicans are still convinced that you can kill your way to victory against radical Islamic groups but if you haven’t noticed, they aren’t scared to die … so the execution does NOT serve as a deterrent it simply gives him martyrdom status.

The only way to win this is to kill those persons already engaged at the most radical level all the while addressing the factors that are causing a small percent of young Muslims to join up. Mostly, this is a problem that Muslims will have to solve for themselves not us. We can help but Muslim leaders will have to outline what that help is; not us. But the heavy lifting needs to be done by the Muslim communities that these radicals are coming from.

Posted by JK | Report as abusive

Obama has clearly indicated that a trial is a good way to avoid adding fuel to the idea of martyrdom. To pretend that not killing someone is the only way to avoid martyrdom is rather narrow minded. Speaking of words, it doesn’t make sense to accuse someone of meaning something that was not said.

Also speaking of words, we must suppose that “karlthomas” meant to say “accident” when he said “incident.”

Posted by Greg Rogers | Report as abusive

I imagine that a man who openly takes credit for the attacks on September 11 would be able to be subjected to “sham justice”. Since when is a confessed murderer ever able to be brought to “sham justice”. Sham Justice implies that there was no justification for jailing, convicting, etc…

I imagine sham justice is rather prevalent in American court rooms for confessed murderers.

sham n.
1. Something false or empty that is purported to be genuine; a spurious imitation.
2. The quality of deceitfulness; empty pretense.

I think there is pretense and I think there are plenty of things to prove that a genuine crime was committed.

Claiming “sham” is tantamount to claiming that bin Laden is not responsible for the attacks. Truly unpatriotic, in favor of death penalty or not.

Posted by Karlthomas | Report as abusive

my bad on the misuse of words…I admit my mistake

I don’t have my blogging proofread by an adviser

I think for myself and I make mistakes. This isn’t a republican vs democrat thing, this is a conservative view and I’d be happy to vote for anyone opposing more government control and new government programs. You want that, go to a state that embraces such…Australia and Britain seem to be close mirrors to the democratic agenda. I prefer my America to mirror the constitution. No Democrat or Republican in a century or more has hit upon that path. I am proud of what I have and I earned what I have through hard work. I expect nothing that isn’t earned. Thus my reluctance to vote democrat(ie: “socialist” health care). I dislike government spending on attempts to spread freedom and steal oil(though I realize the purpose of the effort) thus my reluctance to vote republican. But most of all I prefer that one of the ten original amendments to the US Constitution not me meddled with. Having a gun is not the purpose of this right; the purpose is to assert the state’s and people’s power over the federal government. Oklahoma has taken the first step in pointedly asserting the overstepping of the current administration and many before them. Having the ability to over through a tyrannical government was on the minds of the Founding Fathers and still holds true today. A gun is the means to hold the government accountable. I vote Republican because I don’t foresee a disarmament in that party’s future.

Posted by Karlthomas | Report as abusive

Osama Bin Laden will never be taken alive. His bodyguards have orders to shot him before he is captured. Americans are smarter then that now. They now know that McCain/Bush went Iraq looking for WMD when there was none. McCain/Bush took their eye off the real prize Bin Laden a long time ago. McCain/Bush gave Bin Laden a free ride. Now 4 and half months before the elections McCain whats to spar with Barack over this?

Latest Iraq Coalition Casualty Count – 4102 Americans, 172 UK, other 137. Wounded – 29798 Americans. Because of today’s medical advancements more of our troops are surviving. We see our wounded everywhere now.

Bush, McCain and their allies should be held accountable for Iraq until all our troops are home safely and this mess they created is over.

As for Bin Laden, he hasn’t really seen what the Americans and the UK can really do with the right leadership. All he knows is McCain/Bush/Cheney.

Posted by Tongassberry@ | Report as abusive

Just because Osama bin Laden and his henchmen are as evil and therefore as ugly as J.R.R. Tolkien orcs, Mr. & Mrs. Reader, does not mean that Mr. Obama should not be elected president or that Mr. McCain should be so elected.

In other words, this is a red herring issue, as are many during political campaigns.

The next president shall have little if any control over how and when Osama bin Laden is tried (if and when the evil one is captured, i.e., not nailed to the nearest wall first). I’m using an expression here. It is not to mean that he would be crucified and martyred…just killed. Who knows, the evil one might even attempt suicide to avoid capture. I don’t know how fanatically religious the guy really is.

My earlier comment assumes that the next U.S. president stays within the boundaries of the federal executive branch as dictated by “this Constitution for the United States of America”, i.e., as dictated by Article II of the SUPREME LAW of the land (not “second highest law” but THE HIGHEST LAW). The current president has apparently overstepped his authority several times. This has now resulted in (by 60% of those republicans & democrats voting, i.e., 58% of the 435 members of the house) thirty-five (35) articles of impeachment being referred to the house’s judiciary committee for consideration. “Impeach” means “accuse” by the way. Conviction or acquittal of a president (or vice president et al) is reserved to the senate.

The legislative branch needs to stay within its boundaries also, i.e., as dictated by Article I. A majority in congress stepped outside these boundaries (i.e., stepped on the Constitution) in support of the president (who stepped on the Constitution first). However, the unconstitutional legislation that congress has passed in regard to terrorists is slowly but surely being chipped away at by the federal judicial branch (including the supreme court), e.g., “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it” as stated in Article I. Section 9. Clause 2. Apparently the terrorist activities of September 11, 2001 (and admitted to by Osama bin Laden), were not an “Invasion” from the judicial branch’s point of view. That point may have been debatable…but no more. Note that suspension of “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus…” is a legislative power, and not an executive power. I’ve learned over the years that legislation can be passed by a majority of both the house of representatives and the senate…and signed into law by the president. However, said laws can be “unconstitutional” as all get out, i.e., what is commonly referred to as being “illegal”. Any U.S. law that goes beyond the authority allowed to the federal legislative and executive branches (i.e., the authority allowed by the U.S. Constitution) is IOA (illegal on arrival), whether challenged within the judicial branch by We the People or not.

I predict that the judicial branch, i.e., as dictated by Article III, will have free rein to conduct the prosecution of Osama bin Laden. I doubt seriously that the party presently in control of the house of representatives and the senate will even attempt to meddle in the affairs of the federal judicial branch when it comes to the issue of Osama bin Laden. Neither will the president come January 20th, even if it turns out to be Mr. McCain.

We’ve seen what happens when one branch of the federal government sticks its nose in the business of another branch of same, e.g., the election of the current president in 2000. In that case the judges and chief justice of the supreme court of the judicial branch usurped the constitutionally dictated prerogatives of first, a state (i.e., Florida); and then secondly, the constitutionally dictated prerogatives of the federal legislative branch, specifically the house of representatives. Electors are chosen by the states. Electors elect presidents. The house of representatives elects the president if the Electors cannot. Contrary to “popular belief”, We the People do not choose Electors in any state by “popular vote”.

However, woe be to any Elector who decides to go his or her own way in a presidential election, i.e., in the opposite direction of where the majority of a state’s voting electorate says to go.

OK Jack

P.S. Some small insight into the U.S. electoral college is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_c ollege#Modern_electoral_colleges

Posted by OK Jack | Report as abusive

karlthomas obviously likes mccain and his opinions are not to inform but rather persuade. take everything he says with a grain of salt.

Posted by natemc | Report as abusive

Yes, as karlthomas said, you know what to expect from John Mccain. Straight talk. He means what he says. No ambiguity. No ifs or buts. So let’s check out this straight talk…

“(It is) common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran, that’s well known. And it’s unfortunate.” (Except that Iran’s population is majority Shia Muslim, while al-Qaeda is made up of hardcore Sunni Muslims. Iran is not training al-Qaeda. And that’s well known.)

“Bomb, bomb, bomb … Bomb, bomb Iran” (Nice one John.)

“Basra, Mosul and now Sadr City are quiet.” (On the same day that McCain made those claims, two suicide bombings occurred in Mosul and another suicide bomber struck in a nearby town. At least 30 Iraqis were killed and dozens were injured.)

“General Petraeus goes out there (in Baghdad) almost every day in an unarmored Humvee.” (Except that there are no unarmored Humvees in Iraq.)

“I’m going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. … I still need to be educated.” (Is that right?)

Posted by Mark O | Report as abusive

It is always amazing, how Republicans like to take words out of context, “enhance” them with new meanings and use these fabrications to attack their opponents. When faced with the argumentative strategies of Republicans, one walks away with the impression that an IQ of 50 counts as genius among them. Or else, how can one understand their absolutely stupid, illogical lines of reasoning. Obama’s remark, that it should be avoided to turn Osama bin Laden into a martyr, is a good sign that he has the intelligence and insight to reverse the disastrous policies of GWB. Policies that have cost hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and thousands of American lives. GWB and his Republican cronies have made America less safe. It will be President Obama’s job to clean up the mess that GWB and his Republicans have created. This could not be expected from McCain. McCain’s strategies would continue GWB’s failures.

Posted by apo | Report as abusive

I’m afraid this debate — both at the Obama-McCain campaign level and on these pages — says more about the pathetic and puerile level of political discussion these days than anything else.
To many of us who live and work in the Muslim world — I am in Afghanistan — the martyr concern is a legitimate issue to consider, whether you ultimately agree with it or not.
It has nothing to do with Democrat or Republican and is a bit more important and sophisticated than being simply reduced to an “Yes you did”, “No I didn’t”, push-me-pull-you level.

Posted by Boot | Report as abusive