“There was no indication” that Osama bin Laden wanted to surrender to U.S. forces who killed him on Sunday night, Attorney General Eric Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.Holder says Osama bin Laden killing was legal and justified.
“It was justified as an act of national self-defense,” Holder said. “If he had surrendered, attempted to surrender, I think we should obviously have accepted that, but there was no indication that he wanted to do that and therefore his killing was appropriate.”
In his address on Sunday night, President Barack Obama said that bin Laden was killed “after” a firefight at his compound in Pakistan. But senior administration officials spiced up the narrative a bit. John Brennan, Obama’s counterterrorism advisor, said at a televised press conference that bin Laden had used his wife as a human shield. But hours later, the administration walked back that account.
Since then, the White House has said that bin Laden did not have a gun but did say he was “resisting.”
“Resistance does not require a firearm,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters yesterday.
“Let me make something very clear, the operation in which Osama bin Laden was killed was lawful,” Holder said Wednesday. “He was the head of al Qaeda, an organization that had conducted the attacks of September 11. He admitted his involvement.”
CIA Director Leon Panetta said in an interview Tuesday that “the authority here was to kill bin Laden.”
“Obviously under the rules of engagement, if he in fact had thrown up his hands, surrendered and didn’t appear to be representing any kind of threat then they were to capture him,” Panetta said. “But they had full authority to kill him.”