This quote from Eric Holder regarding the Bin Laden raid drives me up the wall:
Seeking to quell any legal questions about the raid, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said, “It was justified as an act of national self-defense,” citing Bin Laden’s role as the architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
No, no, no. Whether or not that statement is true, it is not the proper legal defense for the raid in Pakistan. What people constantly fail to grasp is that police action conducted in your home country on your own citizens, and military action conducted in the context of war, have completely different legal underpinnings. Now likely Mr. Holder knows this (or I sure hope so), and is simply playing to the public ignorance, but his insistence of doing so simply reinforces this misunderstanding.
When the police bust into your home — hopefully with a valid arrest warrant — they are supposed to give you an opportunity to surrender. In fact, they are only allowed to use force in the event they feel their lives or the lives of other are actively in danger or threatened with GBH – great bodily harm. War, however, is different. In war, one of the stated purposes is to kill as many of the other guy as possible. Thus, any member in the warmed service of an opposing beligerant party is a valid target so long as s/he is not actively in the process of surrendering. You can drop a bomb on an enemy barracks without first sending out nice little leaflets asking politely for their surrender. An American solder somehow stumbling across an unarmed Nazi S.S. officer sipping coffee in a Paris cafe could shoot the man in the head without warning. And yes, we can roll into Bin Laden’s compound and take the bastard out.