JONATHAN CHAIT MAY 4, 2011
Ben Birnbaum reports:
Kenneth Rothopined on bin Laden’s death via his Twitter account (@KenRoth), taking aim at comments made by the U.N.’s secretary-general: “Ban Ki-moon wrong on #Osama bin Laden: It’s not “justice” for him to be killed even if justified; no trial, conviction”.
I don't think this shows that Roth is crazy and should always be ignored. I do think it shows that the human rights community has ideas that are sometimes unrealistic, and these ideas should influence policymaking without being regarded as hard-and-fast rules.
Update: Human Rights Watch emails to protest the characterization --
Ken Roth objected to the use of the word "justice" to describe the killing. But that's not the same as opposing the killing itself, which we categorically have not done.
Killing someone on the battlefield, for example, may be totally justified. But I think it's legitimate to question whether it is a form of "justice" as Americans have traditionally understood that concept. We can debate whether that is appropriate rhetoric in this case (just as people can debate whether it's appropriate, from a moral and philosophical point of view, to be joyful about an evil person's death) without disagreeing on whether the action iself was appropriate.
I don't understand the distinction, but there you have it.