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Dean: Bin Laden guilt best determined by jury

Dean, right, tours a car part factory in Seabrook, New Hampshire, earlier this week.
Dean, right, tours a car part factory in Seabrook, New Hampshire, earlier this week.

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Howard Dean
Osama Bin Laden

(CNN) -- Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean will not pronounce Osama bin Laden guilty before a trial, he said in an interview published Friday.

New Hampshire's Concord Monitor reported that Dean said he would not state his preference on a punishment for bin Laden before the al Qaeda leader was captured and put before a jury.

"I've resisted pronouncing a sentence before guilt is found," Dean said in the interview. "I will have this old-fashioned notion that even with people like Osama, who is very likely to be found guilty, we should do our best not to, in positions of executive power, not to prejudge jury trials."

Dean added he is certain most Americans agree with that sentiment.

Later, Dean released a statement clarifying, "I share the outrage of all Americans. Osama bin Laden has admitted that he is responsible for killing 3,000 Americans as well as scores of men, women and children around the world. This is the exactly the kind of case that the death penalty is meant for.

"When we capture Osama bin Laden, he will be brought to justice and treated in the same manner that President Bush is recommending for Saddam Hussein."

The interview covered a number of foreign affairs topics. Dean held fast to his belief that the capture of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein made America no safer.

"My opponents spent the week criticizing me for that, which I think was to their detriment" since the federal government has just increased the terror alert level to orange, indicating an elevated risk of an attack, Dean told the paper.

Dean also said he would continue noting he was the only "major" candidate to oppose the war. He said even with that stance, he could win over those who supported the war "by going after (President Bush) on terrorism, where he's really weak."

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