Obama’s latest flip-flop: Death penalty for bin Laden! Update: Double flip-flop with a global test?
posted at 5:50 pm on July 11, 2008 by Ed Morrissey
Just three weeks ago, Barack Obama said that he would not make Osama bin Laden into a martyr if he was captured. Today, Barack Obama suddenly thinks the death penalty would be keen-o for OBL. In a CNN interview, Obama said that although he was not a death-penalty proponent, he thinks murdering 3,000 Americans justifies an execution:
If he was captured alive, then we would make a decision to bring the full weight of not only US justice but world justice down on him. And, uh, I think that I’ve said this before, that I am not a cheerleader for the death penalty … I think it has to be reserved for only the most heinous crimes, but I certainly think that plotting and engineering the death of 3,000 Americans justifies such an approach.
Has he said this before? Not exactly. In fact, this is what he said on June 18th:
“What would be important would be for us 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 assure that the United States government is abiding by basic conventions that would strengthen our hand in the broader battle against terrorism,” Obama said.
So Obama, who has had at least 18 months to consider how he would treat the most wanted terrorist in the world if he fell into his hands, suddenly changed his mind over a space of three weeks. Not only did he change his mind, Obama wants everyone to believe that — wait for it — he’s said the same thing all along. And it’s not like this is some arcane point of policy wonkishness; this is a cut-and-dried question on a central point in the war on al-Qaeda, and Obama is making it up as he goes along.
Barack Obama. Change like you wouldn’t believe.
Obama, who has expressed reservations about capital punishment but does not oppose it, said he would support the death penalty for Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks.
“The first thing I’d support is his capture, which is something this administration has proved incapable of achieving,” Obama said. “I would then, as president, order a trial that observed international standards of due process. At that point, do I think that somebody who killed 3,000 Americans qualifies as someone who has perpetrated heinous crimes, and would qualify for the death penalty. Then yes.”
So what exactly does Obama want to do with OBL? He wants to execute him, but then doesn’t want to make a martyr of him, and now three weeks later he’s back to execution. However, the comment about “not just US justice but world justice” calls into question Obama’s entire assertion. Most of our European allies oppose the death penalty altogether. Does that mean Obama wants a Kerryesque “global test” on how we should treat bin Laden?
And for that matter, why isn’t “US justice” good enough? Does Obama consider that somehow defective for a case of mass murder on American soil?