According to the Daily Telegraph, when asked at a press conference whether he thought the US had been right to kill bin Laden, he initially declined to respond, but later replied: "I think the killing of an unarmed man is always going to leave a very uncomfortable feeling, because it doesn’t look as if justice is seen to be done in those circumstances."
I must confess that while my concerns are not exactly the same as the Archbishop's, my belief in due process ["Due process holds the government subservient to the law of the land protecting individual persons from the state. When a government harms a person without following the exact course of the law it constitutes a due process violation which offends against the rule of law." (Wikipedia)] does make me somewhat uncomfortable with the whole business.
According to clause 29 of the Magna Carta, which is, I understand, one of three clauses still in force in English law,
"NO Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the Land. We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right."
OK - I know that Osama bin Laden was not an English Freeman, and that it is generally accepted that he had committed mass murder of hundreds of innocent people, and that what he got was exactly what he gave to others, and was what he deserved, and that it could be said that this happened in the course of fighting a war, and that he was, apparently, resisting arrest.
That last fact, of course, is the key. He was resisting arrest. Had he surrendered, he would have been taken alive. Hence, the US Attorney General, Eric Holder, said:"Let me make something very clear, the operation in which Osama bin Laden was killed was lawful. . . . 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."
Does the fact that he was resisting arrest mean that it was appropriate to kill him? Not, in an of itself, it doesn't. Not in the United Kingdom, nor in the USA. Shooting him dead could only be justified if it was done in self-defence, i.e. if he was a threat to the life of one of the Navy Seals. Resisting arrest does not justify shooting dead a suspect, even if he is a mass murderer.
However, as the Archbishop pointed out, he was unarmed.
Which is why I too, am uncomfortable. I am realise that the US Attorney General knows much more about the law than I do, but it does seem to me that very little effort was made to follow due process.