. . . . but you have to ask, beyond the obvious meting out of rough but deserved justice to a man responsible for the death of thousands of innocent people, does this matter as much as it might have in '02, when we were still afraid of another attack like that carried out on the World Trade Centre? Given that little has been seen of him in recent years, is he really still a prominent figure in Al-Qaeda, or has he been little more than a figurehead for some years now?
Captured alive he might have given some evidence to debunk some of the conspiracy theories which have been widely disseminated since almost immediately after the 11th of September, 2001. However, since every one of these theories that I am aware of has already been thoroughly debunked, this matters less than it might. Indeed, it seems inevitable now that conspiracy theorists will fix on the details of this operation as yet more 'proof' that the 2001 attacks were an inside job.
It also might have been nice to put him on trial. However, since it is now the policy of the US government to try terrorist suspects captured in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and elsewhere before secret military tribunals, much of the impact that might have come from a Nuremburg-like trial would have been dissipated. In fact it would have probably served only to highlight the violations of the human rights at the hands of the US government of those held in Guantanamo and elsewhere.
According to the information that has come out about the taking of hostages by Bin Laden's men during the operation, it does appear that the operation was supposed to capture him alive. However, it is unlikely that any of the people involved in planning the operation will be too sorry that he died as a result of it.