July 11th, 2008
04:05 PM ET
12 years ago

Obama: Death penalty for bin Laden

CNN's Fareed Zakaria interviewed Obama Friday.

CNN's Fareed Zakaria interviewed Obama Friday.

(CNN) - Barack Obama again said Friday he favors the death penalty for Osama bin Laden should the 9/11 mastermind be captured.

In an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said bin Laden's actions have justified capital punishment.

"If he was captured alive, then we would make a decision to bring the full weight of not only U.S. justice, but world justice down on him," Obama said during the interview, the entirety of which is set to air Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

Watch: Part of Fareed Zakaria's exclusive interview with Barack Obama

"I am not a cheerleader for the death penalty - I think it has to be reserved for only the most heinous crimes," Obama also said. "But I certainly think plotting and engineering the death of 3,000 Americans justifies such an approach."

In the wide-ranging interview, the Illinois senator also criticized Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai for failing to bring order to his country.

"I think the Karzai government has not gotten out of the bunker, and helped to organize Afghanistan - the government, the judiciary, police forces - in ways that would give people confidence," he said. "So there are a lot of problems there. But a big chunk of the issue is that we allowed the Taliban and al Qaeda to regenerate itself when we had them on the ropes. That was a big mistake, and it's one I'm going to correct when I'm president."

UPDATE: Republican National Committee spokesman Alex Conant has sharply criticized Obama over his Karzai comments.

“Barack Obama had no interest in Afghanistan until he started running for president. Obama has never visited Afghanistan to meet our allies on the ground, yet he is audacious enough to assert that President Karzai has ‘not gotten out of the bunker,'" he said in a statement. "Obama’s words are naively out-of-touch with reality and offensive to America’s allies. Considering Obama’s negligent leadership of the Senate subcommittee charged with overseeing the NATO mission in Afghanistan, Obama has no credibility discussing Afghanistan."

Catch the full interview with Obama Sunday on Fareed Zakaria GPS, 1 p.m. ET

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (113 Responses)
  1. Rose

    Obama will say anything the people want to hear, to hear him talk, he is never wrong, he thinks he knows everything there is to know. Without his advisors, he would have no clue, people don't vote for advisors, they vote for the candidate and this guy is nothing but an empty suit with a big mouth!!!

    July 11, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  2. Neil

    Yes Lisa, if you still plan on writing Hillary's name thus making the ballot not count as write-ins are not tallied (it's diffferent for every state), go ahead. Take you psych meds while you're at at it too. Hillary has hung up the pantsuit, get over it!

    July 11, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  3. Tully

    arent osama and obama cousins?

    July 11, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  4. Obama Supporter from FL

    Lisa – I think if you took a look at their positions (their webpages are very helpful) you would see that Obama and McCain have very different positions on a number of issues. Which issues matter to you? Once you figure that out, you'll know how to vote. If I were you I would rather vote for the lesser of two evils than throw my vote away – a write-in campaign for president will never end up being anything other than a joke.

    July 11, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  5. AJ in Fla

    Mr. Obama please make sure that you first check with France and then with the ACLU..!!!! and don't forget Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Reid as they may have some demented liberal idea.

    God help us...!!!!

    July 11, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  6. Marie

    Death is a honor for him. To rawly kill him will be seen to many (far to many) in the world as martydom. If caputured alive, bring him before a world court and let the powers that be judge and execute him for his crimes. The US maybe lesser known as the great Satan.

    July 11, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  7. Ian

    And what penalty should leaders who took their country to war under false pretexts pay? How should they pay for the thousands of deaths, the thousands maimed and injured, the destruction of property and infrastructure that has exposed an entire nation to great hardship?

    Sure, you can remove your boogeymen with extra-judicial executions, illegal internment camps, and sham legal instruments, but such actions only cement world opinion in regard to America's over-reach. And really, how wise would it be to make a martyr of Osama Bin Laden (if he is even still alive)? Other than ensuring a lasting legacy for your "trademark" War on Terror, it would do little to make America (or the world in general) a safer place.

    July 11, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  8. Marc PDX

    @Independent Colorado... I usually don't cross talk to other posters, but I think you're confusing "strength on foreign policy" with thoughtless use of force. You can be powerful and forceful while still being weak on foreign policy. Policy, in and of itself, is not the same as force.

    Honestly, it is sad how thoughtless Barack Obama's supporters are. Democracy is the best form of government but it still has glaring weakness in that you can vote even if you're too dumb to drive.


    July 11, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  9. Ralph

    Civilized people don't support the death penalty.

    July 11, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  10. Doreen Johnson

    "World justice" Please Obama, you do not speak for this Canadian – no death penalty, ever, ever, ever!

    My goodness, where's Hillary???!

    July 11, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  11. EJ

    The statement made by Alex Conant and the RNC represents exactly what America is sick of - this hear-no-criticism, cowboy diplomacy that has led us so far off-track in terms of pursuing an effective foreign policy that we now see more deaths in Afghanistan than we do in Iraq. Their approval ratings have gone so far south that I wonder if they've forgotten how to take criticism constructively and include other sides in the debate.

    July 11, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  12. jason

    Like Ben Laden is responsable for anything...come on people get a clue.

    July 11, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  13. Stephen H

    To: Lisa July 11th, 2008 5:06 pm ET

    Lisa wrote:
    July 11th, 2008 5:06 pm ET

    I'm sorry Obama supporter from Fl, it's just so sad that we're stuck with McBama & McBush. Please help me, is there anything I can do besides write Hillary's name on the ballot?

    Get a life Lisa. Another bitter Hill-hypocrit whose sole aim is to attempt to sabotage Obama. Hillary has moved on and its time for you and the rest of the childish PUMAs to do the same. I wonder what are you guys going to do if Obama wins in November? You all will be forced to continue living the life of frustration and futility.

    July 11, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |

    If we can find Bin Laden and give the death sentence for killing 3000, how about we find Bush/Cheney and give the death sentence for sending 4100+ of our young people to be killed -

    July 11, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  15. Diing

    You run the risk of making Osama Bin Laden a martyr if you killed him without trials. However, a death penalty would deny and reduce him to nothing. Remember Saddam Hussein, he will never inspire people, but it would have been a different story had he been killed in action.

    Senator Obama is one heck of a smart man. He epitomizes…the best part of the United States. His position is shared by millions of people.

    July 11, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  16. Nate HUSSEIN

    Joe in NJ:

    No Joe, that would embolden them to take hostages to exchange. Let him swing!

    July 11, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  17. TonyNJHC

    Darn straight bin Laden should get the death penalty. But what will Obama say on this topic if he becomes president. After all, he states he is the candidate for "change". I believe he will change his mind once again, as he is for change. Wear is the flag pin today Mr. Obama? The Flag of Our Nation is not something to be ashamed of. Millions of American Heros gave their lives over the years, as they believed our flag, the symbol of Our Rights & Democracy were worth fighting for. Then again, since you were raised in exotic lands, maybe this was not taught to you in your younger years.

    July 11, 2008 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  18. Stephen H

    To: Charlotte July 11th, 2008 5:04 pm ET

    We all know about you and the rest of the childish PUMAs. Give it a rest will ya. Obama bashing is so old news with you guys. I shutter to think what you PUMA idiots will do if Obama wins in November. I can understand you not liking and therefore not supportin Obama, but why go out of your way to sabotage him. So childish and very irritating for the rest of us attempting to have an honest discussion of the topics here.

    July 11, 2008 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  19. HereWeGo

    Osama bin laden is already dead. Didn't he have kidney failure back in 2001? There is a million plus bounty on his head, he is not alive anywhere, he is probably been dead. He is too tall to miss.

    July 11, 2008 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  20. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    It should be no surprise that Obama wants the death penalty for bin Laden, all Americans want the same. However, while McCain and Bush beat the war drums in Iraq what did that have to do with the capture of bin Laden or WMD's. We need a leader, not a follower and Obama has proven not to be a Bush follower.

    July 11, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  21. Suzette

    Yes, Lisa. You can just go ahead and write her name on the ballot in November, and stop whining with the neverending discussion of writing her name on the ballot. Move on, already.

    July 11, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  22. DJ, LA, CA

    So why are we spending billions in Iraq again? oSama had nothing to do with Sadam...but Bush/Cheney/Rove keep lying and spinning the facts to get people to believe otherwise.

    July 11, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  23. Charlotte

    How are we going to find bin Laden? The police, FBI etc. could not find Shandra Levy and she was in a park. This is a joke, we are a joke to the rest of the world. We have all the so-called technology yet we come up empty handed. Why doesn't someone follow those guys leaving the tapes at that news station? Seems simple to me, put them under surveilaqnce they will eventually have contact with someone high up in Al Qaeda? AAH what do I know...

    July 11, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  24. Oh brother

    The whole world wants him dead really – what is so profound about that statement???

    July 11, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  25. Aimal

    I am an Afghan American.. I visited Afghanistan last year and i will go for another visit next month.. I cant agree more with Sen. Obama. karazi goverment has done notthing for the last 5 to 6 years to ease the problems and difficulties people face ... Afghans are frustrated with his leadership and his corrupt government.... Supporting someone merely because he is our ally does not help to solve our problems.. we have seen that in Pakistan by supporting a dictator President Musharraf. IT is time to have someone in the WH who can tell the truth and demand right action rather than loyalty... Obama is in touch .. what we have in John Mccain is another arrogant third term Bush foreign Policy... WE NEED CHANGE IN AMERICA

    July 11, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
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