Washington, Oct 29: Four lawyers in US drafted out rationales intended to overcome any legal obstacles weeks before the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and made it all but inevitable that Navy SEALs would kill Laden, not capture him.
According to New York Times, fearing leaks, the White House did not allow the four lawyers Preston; Mary B. DeRosa, the National Security Council's legal adviser; Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon general counsel; and then-Rear Adm. James W. Crawford III, the Joint Chiefs of Staff legal adviser who worked in intense secrecy were not allowed to consult their aides or even the administration's top lawyer.
They did their own research, wrote memos on highly secure laptops and traded drafts hand-delivered by trusted couriers.
"Just days before the raid, the lawyers drafted five secret memos so that if pressed later, they could prove they were not inventing after-the-fact reasons for having blessed it. "We should memorialize our rationales because we may be called upon to explain our legal conclusions, particularly if the operation goes terribly badly," said Stephen W. Preston, the C.I.A.'s general counsel, according to officials familiar with the internal deliberations.
The legal analysis offered the administration wide flexibility to send ground forces onto Pakistani soil without the country's consent, to explicitly authorize a lethal mission, to delay telling Congress until afterward, and to bury a wartime enemy at sea. By the end, one official said, the lawyers concluded that there was "clear and ample authority for the use of lethal force under U.S. and international law."
Osama bin Laden's was killed by US Navy SEAL at a compound in Abbottabad, a military town near Islamabad on May 2, 2011.