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Eric Holder: Killing Bin Laden Was 'An Act of National Self-Defense'

Chris Hondros/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration isn't going to apologize for killing an unarmed terrorist, especially one who killed nearly 3,000 unarmed people on Sept. 11, 2001.

Attorney General Eric Holder made it crystal clear Wednesday during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that killing Osama bin Laden "was justified as an act of national self-defense."

It was revealed after Sunday's raid by the Navy SEALs at the compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan that bin Laden was not armed when they found him in a room with one of his wives.  However, after the woman lunged at the SEALs, the decision was made to shoot her and then kill bin Laden.

Holder explained to lawmakers that the al Qaeda leader "was by my estimation and the estimation of the Justice Department a lawful military target and the operation was conducted in a way that was consistent with our law, with our values."

The attorney general backtracked a bit during his testimony when he first said that Special Forces should have allowed bin Laden to surrender if that's what he intended to do.  However, Holder later remarked there would have been a "good basis" for SEALs to take down bin Laden even if the fugitive made some indication that he wanted to surrender.

This explanation probably won't satisfy some scholars of international law who contend that using lethal force against a military target outside a declared combat zone is illegal.  This opinion also applies to the CIA sending predator drones into Pakistan to kill al Qaeda and Taliban operatives, since Islamabad contends it's a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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