WASHINGTON - The Obama administration on Wednesday forcefully defended the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden by US military forces as an act of national self-defense and said that he made no attempt to surrender.
US Attorney General Eric Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee that bin Laden had no intention of being captured by American forces which conducted the operation over the weekend in Pakistan.
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"Let me make something very clear, the operation in which Osama bin Laden was killed was lawful. He was the head of al-Qaida, an organization that had conducted the attacks of Sept. 11. He admitted his involvement," said Holder, the chief US law enforcement officer.
It was lawful to target bin Laden because he was the enemy commander in the field and the operation was conducted in a way that was consistent with US laws and values, he said, adding that it was a "kill or capture mission."
"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," Holder said.
US Senator Kelly Ayotte on Wednesday said she had seen one of the photos of bin Laden and that it confirmed his identity.
"I have seen one of them," the Republican senator said. "Another senator showed it to me."
She said it was a facial shot.
Asked if the photo confirmed the identity of the dead man as bin Laden, she said, "My view, yes."