Whilst not the most vocal human rightsist, and certainly no defender of the abhorrent Bin Laden (and not even against the death penalty where it can be proven beyond all doubt that the guilty party is guilty), I still found myself more shocked than I expected by the absence of due legal process in the dispatch of Bin Laden, and it has more or less now been admitted that it was a planned assassination rather than a response to the armed siege first reported. Nor have photographs or film footage been forthcoming.
Perhaps my queasiness lies in the fact that even Hitler would have received a trial as a war criminal had he not chosen to die by his own hand sixty six years ago. Has the Western World really regressed in its observance of civilised conduct since the Nuremberg trials, widely recognised at the time as a real advance for humanity and one of the positive outcomes of six years of horror?
As for making Bin Laden a martyr, there would have been no foolproof means of preventing this nor preventing the risk of violent retribution by what remains of his followers (vastly decimated in recent years by all accounts), whether he was dispatched by cold-blooded assassination or execution following a trial, or even lifelong imprisonment following a trial.
Granted such a trial would have been inconvenient, long-winded and ruinously expensive, but is that any reason to drive a coach and horses through the Geneva Convention and the ideals previous generations strove to leave as their legacy for a better and more civilised world?
Nor were the indecent levels of Western glee about this incident or the strange idea that burying Bin Laden at sea somehow conformed to Muslim burial law likely to appease his remaining followers.
I don't deny that it's a relief this undoubtedly evil man is no longer walking the earth and breathing the same air as me. I just think the Western World could have covered itself in more glory in its conduct and observance of due legal process in its dispatch of him. How else do we hope to set an example to the rest of the world that we in the West really do have the best ideals, the superior justice and the moral high ground generally over non-democracies?
Or perhaps the hope was that this would swiftly become yesterday's news and who cares about legacy and reputation in a fast moving Twitterati world anyway? But actions still have consequences whatever media fashion would have us believe.