President Barack Obama hoped to put terrorist leader Osama bin Laden on trial in a civilian court if he was captured alive, according to an upcoming piece in the November issue of Vanity Fair.
“We worked through the legal and political issues that would have been involved, and Congress and the desire to send him to Guantanamo, and to not try him, and Article III.” Obama told Vanity Fair contributing editor Mark Bowden.
“I mean, we had worked through a whole bunch of those scenarios," the President continued. "But, frankly, my belief was if we had captured him, that I would be in a pretty strong position, politically, here, to argue that displaying due process and rule of law would be our best weapon against al-Qaeda, in preventing him from appearing as a martyr.”
In a clandestine "capture or kill" mission last year, Obama ordered Navy SEALs to raid a compound in Pakistan where the terrorist leader was believed to be living. Amid the raid, the commandos shot bin Laden in the head, believing that he was attempting to retrieve a weapon.
Early in his administration, Obama had pushed to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-confessed mastermind of the September 11 attacks, in a federal court in New York. But Republicans in Congress halted his plans by prohibiting the President from transferring Guantanamo Bay detainees to the United States. Mohammed has been held in Guantanamo Bay since 2006 and faces a military trial.