Yes, the article was adapted from a soon-to-be-released book, in this case that would be “Power Wars: Inside Obama’s Post-9/11 Presidency,” by Charlie Savage.
Nevertheless, the New York Times exclusive that run under this headline -- "How 4 Federal Lawyers Paved the Way to Kill Osama bin Laden" -- was a major coup, creating lots of sizzle in Beltway land.
The content of this news feature raises all kinds of ethical and moral questions, in part because of the revelation that the operation was, basically, a kill job from the get go.
Normally, that wouldn't put this in GetReligion territory. However near the end there is one rather interesting passage that raises all kinds of religious questions, while including a major slap-your-face revelation that I sure has heckfire had not heard before. Hold that thought. Here's the buzz-worthy lede:
WASHINGTON -- Weeks before President Obama ordered the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in May 2011, four administration lawyers developed rationales intended to overcome any legal obstacles -- and made it all but inevitable that Navy SEALs would kill the fugitive Qaeda leader, not capture him.
A few lines later, there is this Times summary of the goods it has landed:
While the Bin Laden operation has been much scrutinized, the story of how a tiny team of government lawyers helped shape and justify Mr. Obama’s high-stakes decision has not been previously told. The group worked as military and intelligence officials conducted a parallel effort to explore options and prepare members of SEAL Team 6 for the possible mission.
The legal analysis offered the administration wide flexibility to send ground forces onto Pakistani soil without the country’s consent, to explicitly authorize a lethal mission, to delay telling Congress until afterward, and to bury a wartime enemy at sea.
What jumped out at me was the "bury a wartime enemy at sea" reference.