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Report: If Captured Alive, Obama Favored Putting Osama Bin Laden On Trial

In an interview with Vanity Fair's contributing editor, President Obama said if Osama bin Laden was captured alive, he would have favored putting him on trial in a federal courtroom.

"We worked through the legal and political issues that would have been involved, and Congress and the desire to send him to Guantánamo, and to not try him, and Article III," Obama told Mark Bowden, who will detail the interview in his book The Finish. "I mean, we had worked through a whole bunch of those scenarios. But, frankly, my belief was if we had captured him, that I would be in a pretty strong position, politically, here, to argue that displaying due process and rule of law would be our best weapon against al-Qaeda, in preventing him from appearing as a martyr."

The quotes were included in a web preview of an upcoming excerpt of the book in Vanity Fair.The magazine also reports that Obama was ready to execute what his administration couldn't do with Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, which was give him a criminal trial.

Of course, none of this came to be, because bin Laden was killed during the raid on his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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