Ron Sparks Author, Poet

Why didn’t Osama bin Laden get a trial?


On May 1st, 2001 I checked my smartphone phone before I went to bed and saw that the President of the United States was preparing an important press announcement and would be addressing the nation live.  A late-night, unplanned, Presidential address; something big was happening.  Feelings of dread filled me as crawled out of bed, went to the living room, and turned on the television.  Did we get attacked again?  Was there another natural disaster on the horizon?  Were aliens spotted in Nevada – not the human kind?

For the first half hour there was nothing to see – just the scrolling banner on every channel saying that the President was coming on soon.  Then, in started trickling the news in advance of the address; Osama bin Laden was dead; killed by an American drone.

This was history.  Even though it was a school night, Carey and I woke the kids and brought them into the living room.  With only the flickering of the television providing light in an otherwise dark house, we all watched as the news story about bin Laden unfolded.

I was telling my kids to remember this; where they were and what they were doing when the news of bin Laden’s death reached them.  I remember vividly watching  the Challenger tragedy with my father from the side of the road in Orlando when I was 15-years-old.   I remember, as a 19-year-old, the Berlin Wall coming down.  Similarly, I will remember the death of Osama bin Laden – and my kids will share that memory with me.

As I waited for the President to come on I was tweeting with the rest of the world.  (see image)  My children and I were having philosophical discussions on war, peace, the Middle East, tolerance, and the state of America post-9/11.  With the rest of America I breathed a quiet sigh of relief when the President came on and confirmed bin Laden was killed.  I, too, smiled and celebrated at midnight with my family.  The mastermind of 9/11 was dead.  Small consolation to the families and victims of 9/11, but justice had been served.

Or had it?

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(click to enlarge)

As more and more details came out it became clear that there really was no “capture alive” directive for bin Laden and that it wasn’t a carpet bomb that did him in.  A team of Navy Seals surgically went into the compound, killed any possible resistance (the men in the compound) and left alive the women and children.  This wasn’t a crazy firefight – it was a superbly executed tactical mission and the goal was evident; kill Osama bin Laden.

That’s not justice.  That’s revenge.

While I do not argue that bin Laden needed to executed for his crimes, his verdict should have been dispensed by the courts of law in the world.  To unilaterally go into a country with whom we are not at war and kill bin Laden without the benefit if a trial is not the American way.  It’s the kind of tactics that, were they used on American interests, would spur a massive counter-attack and a media blitz of inhumanity and injustice.

The more I think about it the more shocked and appalled I am by this action of our government.  Even the Nazis, who killed millions and performed much, much more appalling and criminal acts than bin Laden got the benefit of a trial.  The world got the benefit of the Nuremburg trials.  We proved, with no doubts, that we were better than the bad guys and that no matter how much provocation was levied against us we would not succumb to the same uncivilized behavior.  The Greatest Generation indeed.

Had we captured bin Laden alive and given him a trial I am sure he would have hung from the neck until dead – but we’ll never know because revenge was more important justice.

America is supposed to set a standard for the world.  Somehow we’ve lost our way.

About the author

Ron Sparks

Ron Sparks is a technology professional, science fiction and fantasy author and poet living in Zurich, Switzerland. His latest book "ONI: Satellite Earth Series Book 1" is available on

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  • Feel free to leave anytime – the sooner the better – if you’ve developed a problem with how America deals with its enemies. We really don’t need anyone in America who thinks that vermin should be brought to trial.

    You are wholeheartedly with America or you are with the Muslim terrorists. It’s a binary toggle because there is no room for weakness when facing these vermin.

  • Ron, very well said as usual. Although my nature wants and desires immediate retribution for heinous crimes committed to my country, my friends, my family and my person, there is a time and a place for all things. I certainly am curious as to why we could execute so elite a plan but couldn’t or didn’t take it one step further to capture this man. Suspiciously I look at the next Secretary of Defense nominee and wonder at the coincidence of timing for this mission and his nomination. REGARDLESS, I am sure that many rest uneasy as to the magnitude and aftermath of such decisions. I’m not sure that there is a good solution for fixing this problem.

    Jono, please take some time for a little self-analyzation and comparison. Your words are not much different than those used by the “vermin” you refer to. Need you be reminded that our government is founded on principles of opposites (ie democrats and republicans)? If you question nothing, you learn nothing. Binarybiker hit it right on the head when he says you present a false-choice fallacy. I would suggest broadening your horizons and adding a little realism to your view points. Keep your opinion if you must but at least take a moment to recognize how narrow a view you are allowing yourself. Cheers!

  • Hey bro you either wholeheartedly take cream with you coffee or you are a transvestite. We really have no room for people who don’t take cream with their coffee. By we I mean every single American citizen. Now pack your bags and get the hell out!!

      • Those who do not drink coffee have lower heart beats per minute and therefore couldn’t push American blood that is so thick with pride, since we are absolutely better than everybody else. So if you don’t drink coffee it’s a damn obvious choice you’re leavin’ on a jet plane real soon.

  • The problem with having a trial is that they would have had to let him go, because they have no evidence that he’s done anything!

Ron Sparks Author, Poet

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Ron Sparks

Ron Sparks is a technology professional, science fiction and fantasy author and poet living in Zurich, Switzerland. His latest book "ONI: Satellite Earth Series Book 1" is available on


A man of many passions, I lay claim to a myriad of interests and hobbies. Among them, I am an amateur astronomer, an avid motorcycle rider, a whiskey aficionado, a (poor) surfer, a scuba diver, a martial artist, a student of philosophy, a proponent of critical thinking, a technologist, an entrepreneur, a cancer survivor, and I harbor a lifelong love of science fiction and fantasy. Feel free to strike up a conversation on the social networks below.

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