Talk:Death of Osama bin Laden

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Good article Death of Osama bin Laden has been listed as one of the Warfare good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
May 2, 2011 Articles for deletion Kept
October 14, 2011 Good article nominee Listed
Current status: Good article
This article has been mentioned by multiple media organizations:
  • John Moe (2011-05-02). "For bin Laden news, it's not Twitter's moment, it's Wikipedia's". American Public Media. Archived from the original on 2011-05-03. Retrieved 2011-05-03. I read the Wikipedia page about the attack and it was comprehensive. Wikipedia gets slammed sometimes for being unreliable and a place where any yahoo can alter reality to anything they like. The page about the attack is extensive, well sourced, and incredibly informative.... In high profile cases like this, these pages are being extensively edited and also extensively policed. Good stuff.  (details)
  • Thomas Rid (2011-05-02). "Death of Osama Bin Laden on Wikipedia". Department of War Studies, KCL. Archived from the original on 2011-05-09. Retrieved 2011-05-09. So the man’s dead. Quite an event. As Europeans are waking up and catching up with the big news, one question is: who’s got the best coverage? Believe it or not, but Wikipedia is one of the candidates. In less than five hours and in an impressive 400 edits, a dedicated team of self-appointed authors and editors has come up with a pretty good (and protected) article.  (details)


Acronym GPVNG-18 should read GPNVG...short for Ground Panoramic Night Vision Goggles.


Ben Ferencz[edit]

@Glrx: I reverted your removal of Ferencz's comment for several reasons.

First, Ferencz was one of the major prosecutors of the Nuremberg Trials, successfully convicting leaders of the Einsatzgruppen who murdered millions of people in Eastern Europe. He was also a friend to Telford Taylor and Robert Jackson.

Second, Ferencz was one of the most important voices in the creation of the International Criminal Court, and has received the U.S. presidential Harvard Law School medal of freedom.

Third, Ferencz's position is radically different from what otherwise appears in the article concerning the legality of the killing, and the notion that the killing might have been illegal receives virtually no mention without Ferencz's position.

Fourth, Ferencz was quoted by the New York Times in the aftermath of the attack.

best -Darouet (talk) 17:39, 26 July 2016 (UTC)

Please observe WP:BRD.
An importnat issue is WP:DUE.
1. Ferencz may have been one of 12 major prosecutors in the 1946 trials, but that was years ago. The guy was born in 1920, so the comments are coming from a 91-year old, long-retired lawyer. I'm not seeing significant prominence to make his remarks essential. WP:DUE
2. The insertion only cites a single voice. DUE requires several voices.
3. "If a viewpoint is held by an extremely small (or vastly limited) minority, it does not belong on Wikipedia, regardless of whether it is true or you can prove it, except perhaps in some ancillary article."
4. Publishing a letter in the NYT does not carry editorial weight.
The insertion has other problems.
The statement is not concrete. It has a hypothetical about self-defense but does not come down on one side or the other. Ferencz military law view is also not nuanced. If a combatant has surrendered, then you don't shoot him. If he hasn't surrendered, he's fair game.
The edit was poorly placed: it preceded Holder's viewpoint rather than being a counterpoint; it also preceded the UN Security Council's viewpoint. The insertion does not mention the disagreement of professor of international law Ben Saul. That suggests the edit is PoV.
Glrx (talk) 18:33, 26 July 2016 (UTC)
1. WP:NOTABILITY "is not temporary," and Ferencz, even now at 96 years of age, is still regularly quoted in the press. He was issued a presidential Harvard Law School metal of freedom 1.5 years ago [1].
2. The views of others including Holder and Law Professor Steven Ratner are mentioned here, and there's no reason to endlessly replicate them.
3. Ferencz's voice is notable, in one of the sources you can see he's joined by another expert, and his view was published by a number of very high quality reliable sources.
4. The NYTimes' decision to publish his letter, alongside his qualifications in international law and the fact that he's cited elsewhere on this issue, contributes to the notability of his position.
Ferencz doesn't need to say "it was illegal" when we don't know the exact circumstances of OBL's death. He states that if Bin Laden wasn't a combatant at the moment of his killing, then the killing was illegal, and that's a perfectly clear legal position to hold.
If you'd like to place the quote elsewhere, @Glrx: let me know. I'm fine with that. -Darouet (talk) 18:59, 26 July 2016 (UTC)
I never said that Ferencz is not notable. WP:DUE is something else.
The quotations you give below are speculative. Some premises are contradicted by statements in the article.
You need better sources if you want to imply that Obama, Clinton, Holder, Brennan, Panetta, McRaven or seals are guilty of murder.
Glrx (talk) 19:26, 26 July 2016 (UTC)
It's not appropriate to edit with an agenda, in this case, to remove legal opinions, by distinguished legal figures cited in high quality media, that the killing is illegal. -Darouet (talk) 19:48, 26 July 2016 (UTC)


@Glrx: I made a post at WP:NPOVN (and pinged you at the time). Every editor who commented - Stephan Schulz, Yahya Talatin and Scoobydunk agreed that Ferencz's position deserved to be restored, with Scoobydunk cautioning not to accord Ferencz undue weight. I've pinged them in case I'm misrepresenting their views. Given this response and none from you, I've restored the comment, sourcing to the BBC and Guardian.

I see that in past far more material including these kinds of views were included in the article: [2]. While I don't propose to restore all of them, I think Ferencz is particularly notable for the reasons articulated above, and is a good representative of these kinds of views. -Darouet (talk) 19:41, 10 August 2016 (UTC)

I reverted because the above is forum shopping. Get consensus on this talk page.
The ex-prosecutor's view is very polar. The section presents a neutral view that some believe military and others believe civil enforcement. Ferencz's view is action may be criminal even if a military op. That view is UNDUE unless many others hold it. The paragraph is also poorer than the previous sentence that expresses a similar viewpoint: if ObL was outside of the fight, then killing him would violate the GC.
Glrx (talk) 20:54, 10 August 2016 (UTC)
Don't be ridiculous: NPOVN is the first and only forum I've taken this to. I went there because you're the only person participating here on the talk page, and are unable to understand basic WP:NOTABILITY and WP:DUE policies. It looks like you have a problem with consensus too, which isn't surprising, given your prior comment promising to approach this subject as a POV warrior, and not an encyclopedian. -Darouet (talk) 21:09, 10 August 2016 (UTC)
@Glrx: did you even read the comments at NPOVN? -Darouet (talk) 21:11, 10 August 2016 (UTC)
Thia seems straightforward. The section word-wise is slightly in favour of the 'no problem' at all thesis (readers will dismiss the Pakistani statement in all probability. To object to registering what high level legal experts say simply because one imputes to editors a desire thereby to charge Obama, Clinton, Holder, Brennan, Panetta, McRaven with murder is absurd, indeed comical. I would also note that Glrx, observing that I, another editor, linked Darouet's restored text, refused to take this as what it was, an indication that a third editor agreed with Dsrouet, and dissented from his lone hold-out rejection of this material. Nishidani (talk) 21:32, 10 August 2016 (UTC)

Media quoting Ferencz position[edit]

  • The New York Times (letter by Ferencz) - [3] - "...was it really justifiable self-defense, or was it premeditated illegal assassination? The Nuremberg trials earned worldwide respect by giving Hitler’s worst henchmen a fair trial so that truth would be revealed and justice under law would prevail. Secret nonjudicial decisions based on political or military considerations undermine democracy. The public is entitled to know the complete truth."
  • The Week - [4] - "A former chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials said today that the "instant justice" meted out to Osama bin Laden a week ago was morally wrong and the United States should have done everything possible to bring him to trial... Ferencz joins a growing list of people questioning the manner of Osama bin Laden's death. The Archbishop of Canterbury said last week he felt "very uncomfortable" about it, while two senior United Nations officials have asked that the US explain the precise details of Bin Laden's killing in Abbottabad. As Ferencz wrote in a letter to the New York Times, 'The Nuremberg trials earned worldwide respect by giving Hitler's worst henchmen a fair trial so that truth would be revealed and justice under law would prevail. Secret non-judicial decisions based on political or military considerations undermine democracy.'"
  • BBC - [5] - " 'The issue here is whether what was done was an act of legitimate self-defence,' said Benjamin Ferencz, an international law specialist who served as a prosecutor during the Nuremburg trials and argued that it would have been better to capture Bin Laden and send him to court. 'Killing a captive who poses no immediate threat is a crime under military law as well as all other law,' he told the BBC World Service." ... Like Mr Ferencz, British law professor Philippe Sands QC says it is impossible to make a definitive legal judgement without knowing precisely what happened. But he says the case for the raid's legality has been weakened. 'The question to ask is: were the measures taken in the actual situation that pertained reasonable and proportionate, given the circumstances in which the [Navy Seals] found themselves?' he told the BBC. 'The facts for Bin Laden don't appear to easily meet that standard... I think it's deeply troubling if we are indeed moving to a place where you can have a global assassination policy for those who are perceived to cause trouble,' he added. The UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns, and the special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Martin Scheinin, have raised a similar concern."
  • The Guardian - [6] - "Benjamin Ferencz, an American lawyer who was a US prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials and who lives in New York state, asked whether the killing was justifiable self-defence or premeditated illegal assassination. He would have preferred for Bin Laden to have been captured and put on trial. Ferencz, 92, said: 'The picture I get is that a bunch of highly trained, heavily armed soldiers find an old guy in pyjamas and shoot him in the chest and head, and that borders, without access to more facts, on murder.' He added: 'Even [the head of the Luftwaffe Hermann] Göring had a right to trial.'"
(This interview is quoted in the 2014 Springer textbook, Presidential Policies on Terrorism: From Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama)

Other sources[edit]

  • Al Jazeera - [7] - "Eric Holder, the US attorney general, defended the US operation against bin Laden as lawful. But some in Europe said bin Laden should have been captured and put on trial. 'It was quite clearly a violation of international law,' former West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt told German TV. 'The operation could also have incalculable consequences in the Arab world in light of all the unrest.'"

-Darouet (talk) 18:42, 26 July 2016 (UTC)

Obama informing Bush before his official statment[edit]

should this be added? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Alderaanrefugee (talkcontribs) 14:22, 8 August 2016 (UTC)

Judicial watch[edit]

FOIA requests and acquisitions of government documents related to OBL's death are obviously relevant to this article. @Volunteer Marek: you know how WP:BRD works, and should have brought your concerns here before reverting my revert. If you personally consider Judicial Watch to be a conspiracy site that's alright, but you need to have reasons to declare so here.

Furthermore, it's unclear what your objection to this material is, particularly an image from McRaven's email obtained by FOIA. Are you suggesting it's a fabrication? That it's irrelevant? Explanation would be helpful. -Darouet (talk) 16:56, 3 October 2016 (UTC)

CNN article, and NBC News article. Highly unlikely that this is a "conspiracy theory," though I appreciate the colorful imagination involved in conceiving of that. -Darouet (talk) 17:14, 3 October 2016 (UTC)

The issue is not that several groups tried to get info and photos released - the issue is that JudicialWatch (also RT) are not reliable sources. And yes, they do peddle conspiracy theories. They also refer to the SPLC as a "anti-Christian hate group" and accuse them (as well as several other mainstream organizations) of being "domestic terrorism" [8]. It's crap. Now, twice a day, even a stopped clock is right, but we still shouldn't use it.
If you want to include Judicial Watch in the list of "Numerous organizations (which) filed FOIA requests" I guess that's fine, though it's sort of legitimizing a fringe organization to put it along side with legit orgs like Reuters or AP. The paragraph starting with "Judicial Watch followed its FOIA request with a FOIA lawsuit on June 8, 2011..." needs secondary, reliable, sources, not JW itself + RT. Likewise, images are also subject to Wikipedia's RS policy and including an image from RS, possibly out of context or misrepresented, is a violation of WP:PRIMARY, WP:UNDUE and WP:NPOV.
I'm going to replace the sketchy sources with cn tags for now, so as to give folks a chance to find actual reliable sources, but I'm removing that image.Volunteer Marek (talk) 17:28, 3 October 2016 (UTC)
BTW, I did not mean to rollback your revert. The screen did that little "skip" when it loaded and I hit the rollback button by mistake. I tried to make a dummy edit with an edit summary explaining that but because it did not included any changes to the article itself, it's not showing up in page history (which is weird, cuz you used to be able to do that). So my apologies for hitting that rollback.Volunteer Marek (talk) 17:32, 3 October 2016 (UTC)
Thanks for the explanation. Clearly more needs to be written on the Judicial Watch page about their history and affiliations. In this case, whatever that history may be, the documents they've acquired are quite real. I'll work to improve this content here later this week. -Darouet (talk) 17:52, 3 October 2016 (UTC)