Open Letter to President Obama: Bin Laden Assassination Is Not Something to Celebrate

By Dan Handelman

Mr. President:

We were very troubled by your announcement Sunday night about the death of Osama Bin Laden. You described his assassination at the hands of a secret U.S. operation as “justice,” an “achievement” that “should be welcomed by all people who believe in ce and humanity.”

You also invoked the roughly 3,000 people who lost their lives on 9/11, speaking of the families torn apart by their deaths. We mourn their deaths just as we mourn the deaths of the hundreds of Pakistani civilians who have been killed by the CIA’s drone program, the tens of thousands of Afghanis who have died since the U.S. attacked that nation — which never attacked the U.S., and the millions of Iraqis who have died under bombs and as a result of sanctions and the infrastructure destroyed by the U.S. and its allies.

And yes, we also mourn the death of Osama bin Laden, not because we agreed with his tactics or message, but because our government has killed him in our name with no trial, due process, or other forms of justice that we used to pride ourselves on as a nation. And then, you had his body dumped at sea.

The fact that so many have been killed with the purported goal of making America safer does not make our country immune nor acquit our nation of murdering innocent people. If you truly believe our policies are justified, it is time for the U.S. to re-join the International Criminal Court and accept the rule of law of the rest of the planet.

Mr. President, we also recognize the significance of the announcement of this assassination on the 8th anniversary of George W Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech. Here is what we beg of you, a Nobel Peace Prize winner: If Bin Laden’s death is a strongly significant act of “justice” and closure for the 9/11 families, let us now take all of our troops out of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, stop the airstrikes in Pakistan and Libya, and work toward a truly peaceful means to resolve international conflicts.

As with the death penalty (which was hastily applied to Saddam Hussein by a fledgling Iraqi court system), nothing can be done now to undo what has happened. But you, Mr. President, can prevent more loss of life by ceasing our military operations overseas.

We await your reply.


Dan Handelman and other members of Peace and Justice Works’ Iraq Affinity Group, PO Box 42456, Portland, OR 97242; (503) 236-3065;; Φ

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