May 6, 2011

The May 2 lead story by Scott Wilson and Craig Whitlock on the death of Osama bin Laden was well written and reported. But on the continuation, the story referred to the deadly attack as an “assassination.”  It was not.

Executive Order 12333 prohibits but does not define assassination. In 1988, as a civilian attorney in the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Army, I researched the issue to define assassination. I coordinated my draft opinion with the judge advocates general of the Navy and Air Force; the general counsel of the Defense Department; the general counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency; and the legal adviser of the State Department. In 1989, the Army’s judge advocate general signed an unclassified memorandum defining assassination to provide clarity to the prohibition. It was provided to the House and Senate intelligence oversight committees and was published in the State Department’s volume of significant international law documents.

Assassination is murder committed for political purposes. The killing of enemy military personnel in time of armed conflict is not assassination.

Nor is it assassination to attack the leadership of armed non-state actors such as Osama bin Laden who have been and remain engaged in planning and executing armed attacks against a sovereign state. Because bin Laden was a lawful target, the attack was neither murder nor assassination.

W. Hays Parks, Lorton

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I was disturbed by Bradley Graham’s May 2 front-page description of Osama bin Laden as a man who “demonstrated the power and global reach of a terrorism campaign rooted in centuries-old Islamic beliefs and skilled in modern-day technology.”

While it is fair to say that bin Laden was skilled in the use of technology to spread his terrorist beliefs, to suggest that his sinister and bellicose beliefs can be traced or ascribed to foundations in Islam was unjust and potentially inflammatory. One can only hope that Graham’s statement did not represent the views of The Post, its readers or the public.

John Graham, Potomac

The letter writer is unrelated to the author of the story cited.

emailed/ john graham <grahaj05@gmail.com> 12021 Coldstream Drive Potomac, Md  20854 Home:301-299-6992 Business: 301-469-1086/na

wilson/whitlock5.3

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I read your May 1 lead story on this great occasion to get all of the facts about the operation, only to come to this paragraph:

“Obama announced bin Laden’s death eight years after Bush declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq . . . in front of a ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner . . . .”

What was the purpose of that completely unrelated piece of information, except to take yet another dig at a president you didn’t like? Is there nothing you can report without using the occasion to insert your own political jab?

Bill Shults, Gaithersburg

sig ok — “just my opinion” — bill@tcgcis.com Gaithersburg, MD 240-399-0730