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. scrambler

    Finally someone who will focus on capturing Bin Laden and not just attacking other countries for oil. Smoke him out of his cave, Mr President. Go get em!

    Obamanation 08

    YES WE CAN!!!

    July 11, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  2. Can we just be American?

    Yes stay focus – get Bin Laden and bring him to justice.... It is amazing that we are in Iraq fighting when Bin Laden is not there.... oh yeah WMDs right? which none was found and we have 4000 plus solders who sacrifice their life for what? Okay say Obama is not experience in these things but Bush and Cheney is right? I take Obama any day ... and remember the alternative is called McBush or McSame or Mc... yeah you get it!

    July 11, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  3. George

    He is perfectly right about Afghanistan, a corrupted government can not give people confidence.

    July 11, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  4. Dennis in Orlando, FL

    Can you say President Barack Obama

    Obama 08!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 11, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  5. J-Unit

    And how do we know Osama Bin Laden is resposbile for 9-11? or if he even exists? If he is EVER found. He deserves a fair trial.

    Remember we were duked into going into Iraq over WMD.

    July 11, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  6. Peter

    This is essentially a non-story. I am against the death penalty for a variety of reasons (as are many people), but if anyone would deserve the death penalty, it would be Bin Laden. I think virtually all of the US would agree about that (hence this is a non-story).

    To respond to some things other people say: 1) A real international trial (versus a sham trial) is essential, would diminsh the "martyr fear," and is exactly what Obama said he would seek, 2) The prosecutor seeks the death penalty before the trial... hence it is a death penalty case (which is why Obama said he would seek the DP), 3) It is beyond me how this is Obama "changing his position?"

    July 11, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  7. Linda31

    Obama makes sense. At this point Bin Laden is enjoying himself and mocking the US. Although death would be too sweet, life is something he does not deserve. Obama sounds pretty strong to me.

    July 11, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  8. BOLD

    A bold position, Obama! C'mon – why even ask such a question?

    July 11, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  9. rogelio, CA

    I oppose death penalty because it affects the entire family of the criminal HOWEVER Bin Laden Is such a pork that deserves to die for all of his hatred and crimes against Americans.

    July 11, 2008 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  10. GuyInColumbusOH

    What would Jesus do??? Hmmmm....How very Christian of you Barack Obama !!!!

    July 11, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  11. Amazed

    Soooooo Now you have to have visited a place before you are qualified to talk about their actions? Did Bush and Cheney go to Iraq before they attacked?

    BTW Charlotte, He's the head of a sub-committe that would not be the ones calling a hearing. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.

    July 11, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  12. Dave

    Aries – a 4×6 cell? You're too generous..Let him rot in a 2×3 cell.

    July 11, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  13. Brian

    A Typical Republican states:

    "Bush is a great president because a Terrorist attack has not occurred since 9/11"

    The best thing you can take from this presidency is that the WORST thing that happened, during the presidency, didn't occur twice! That is sad..... Bin Laden wasn't even caught "Dead or Alive"

    July 11, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  14. Catherine

    Wait a minute! Wouldn't we have to find him in order to execute him?!?! Good luck Barack.

    July 11, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  15. Obama The King?

    Obama – Go after Osama NOW! Go back to Washington and convene your subcommittee that you've neglected for the last 2 years!

    July 11, 2008 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  16. WORST PERSON!!!!

    To: Texas Trail Dog and Brian knoxville Tn......Where are You Guys!!!

    Where are You! ........Can't HEAR YOU!!!!!

    July 11, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  17. John Smith

    think the 18 million "bitter" Hillary supporters should just shut-up, vote for McCain, and pray for the best of a 3rd Bush and probably 4th term. This is the ONLY chance the Dems have to win the White House and it is theirs to screw it up as they have done in the past.

    Thanks to Obama, he has shown that this nation can move beyond "crowing" of the old guard. Let us all be "cry babies" when MCain gets into office. So, Obama supporters should NOT in any way encourage the bitter Hillary supporters; let them sell their souls and the nation to McCain, Bush and the Republicans. No Dem will have a chance in 2012.

    If 18 million love Hillary, then we can conclude that:
    18 million other Dems hate Hillary,
    12 million Independents hate Hillary, and
    20 million plus more even hate Hillary. So, Hillary simply does not have a chance now or in the future!

    July 11, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  18. OH

    I would love to hear and read more from the avid Hillary supporters such as Lisa. She is so sweet! BUT have you given the maximum donation to Hillary's debt/campaign as yet? Hmmm...Only a pity that it is us who are paying down that debt and not you avid supporters.

    Fact of the matter is out dear leader and President should shoulder the blame. He was the one who pulled the troops out of Afghanistan and invaded Iraq instead.

    The "Mission Accomplished" message is yet to be written because our arch enemy is still at large. Does anyone remember a guy name "Osama"? Yeah, the one responsible for 9/11. Where the heck is he? Go figure!

    July 11, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  19. Real person for Obama.

    I was reading through blogs and I find something disturbing, when people have to bashed Obama even if the ticker said good things about him.

    I know for some people who hate a candidate have to criticize the candidate, but not that far.

    Poll shows Obama lead grow by 2% and some negative folks are bashing Obama.

    You don't have to blog if you got nothing to say you know. Because you hate someone doesn't mean you have to bashed that person even if it is happy time.

    I guess most Obama haters would have prefer those ugly words from Mccain camp should have been Obama's camp.

    That is how much i think those people actually hate this guy and because you hate Obama thus mean you have no issues you want the candidate to address.
    If you have issues that interest you , you would have lean on the candidate that promotes your issues that matters to you.
    If you like killing people, wars and someone who have no idea how to grow the economy and who promote Bush policies vote for Mccain.

    Thus mean you like the way things are at the moment.

    So, these are the type of people that voted for Bush because they hate Al Gor and Hate John Kerry. Hey now I guess you have not learn from your mistakes, the person you voted for is now the worst president in the history of American.

    Please don't bashed these guys if they haven't done anything wrong. You may bash when you think they make mistakes or do something stupid.

    These candidates doesn't bash each other the way bloggers do.

    July 11, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  20. No McCain!

    As much as I would like to see Bin Laden dead, this isn't a good idea.

    These extremists WANT to be killed, they WANT to be martyred, because they believe they are performing Jihad which means they are willing to die to defend their "Islam." Besides, the extremists could be enraged for this. They only understand one thing, death for the "right cause."

    Make him suffer a life sentence and let him know what it was like for the families of 9/11. That's a better plan, in my opinion at least. But first, we need to get out of Iraq so we can find him and capture him! He's not in Iraq...

    Obama '08

    July 11, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  21. Miss T, Cary NC

    Jonathan, Hartford Ct
    "How long will it take YOU to find him?

    Why is he even still out there making videos? Have you asked that question of GWB? Afterall 9/11 happened on his watch. He did a pretty good job of capturing Saddam Hussein for killing his own people. Why has he not devoted as much attention to OBL? At least Obama wants to make finding him a priority. Or is that your issue? That Obama may do what Bush has not been able to do?

    July 11, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  22. Ron Nebraska

    You know, it occurs to me that if Jesus Christ himself was running for President, whatever party was opposite Him would discount and denigrate any ideas He had to better our country. Just goes to show that the blind ignorance in our country has become epidemic and our democracy has been a failed experiment due to a lack of knowledge and initiative by the public to educate themselves.

    July 11, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  23. Nancy from FL - GO PUMAS!!!

    Muslims only kill other races! And Obama is funded by people who are terrorists like Osama!!!!

    Hillary or McCain 2008!

    July 11, 2008 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  24. Linda of Atlanta

    Has McCain visited Afghanistan? Did his visit make any improvements in the situation? Obama's not visiting Iraq and Afghanistan are just red herrings that the Republicans believe we are dumb enough to accept as legitimate. We are not! Has Bush visited? He's the President, with the authority to have changed his policies. McCain's visits did not change Bush's decision to transfer resources from Afghanistan to Iraq. In fact, McCain shares Bush's decision that Iraq is the be all and end all of our foreign policy.

    July 11, 2008 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  25. Jayson

    Big surprise here since he was disappointed when the Supreme Court ruled that the death sentence was un-Constitutional for child molesters

    July 11, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
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