What If Bin Laden Had Turned Himself In?

Something that’s been on my mind since we found out where Osama bin Laden was hiding is the fact that by trying to save himself he actually avoided the opportunity to create a huge headache for the United States government. After all, suppose that six months ago he’d just walked into a Pakistani police station and surrendered. What happens then? A trial in Pakistan? Deportation to the United States? A new round of debates about military commissions, except this time at a much higher level of public attention? The whole thing would have been a political nightmare for an Obama administration that doesn’t engage in Bush-style gleeful shredding of the rule of law but often seems disinclined to live up to its rhetoric on this score. A raid and a firefight are exactly what the government wanted.