U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder affirmed here Wednesday that the operation in which Osama bin Laden was killed was “lawful” as he was a “lawful military target.”
During a hearing at the Senate Judiciary Committee, Holder said bin Laden was the head of al-Qaeda, “an organization that had conducted the attacks of September the 11th,” and that “he admitted his involvement.”
He added that bin Laden has said “he would not be taken alive. The operation against bin Laden was justified as an act of national self-defense. It’s lawful to target an enemy commander in the field.”
“So he was, by my estimation, the estimation of the Justice Department, a lawful military target and the operation was conducted in a way that’s consistent with our law, with our values,” he stressed.
Holder continued that if bin Laden had “attempted” to surrender “I think we should obviously have accepted that, but there was no indication that he wanted to do that, and therefore his killing was appropriate.”
Furthermore, the U.S. official said in the “short term” they are looking at “if there are going to be retaliatory attempts or attacks as a result of bin Laden’s death.”
“I think that we will ultimately be more safe as a result of his death, but in the short term I think we have some serious concerns that we have to be ready to address,” he noted.
As for the material seized from bin Laden’s compound, Holder indicated that it is “being reviewed by an interagency team,” adding “as we glean information from that material, we will make appropriate decisions.”
Meanwhile, news media reported that U.S. President Barack Obama has decided not to release photos of bin Laden’s death.