In fact, yesterday’s principles apply very easily. The rule of law is a good thing, but it is an instrumental good, not a transcendental imperative. Every state will defend itself from enemies, and if that applies to the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, it applies also to the United States of America. And if the line beyond which the government needs to abandon the rule of law and impose order winds through Stokes Croft, then there is no doubt which side of it Bin Laden was on.
As it happens, I do not advocate an immediate Jacobite rising to replace the rotten Whig parliament and restore God’s anointed. But if I did, David Cameron would be quite justified in launching a cruise missile at my house.
Update: In the comments, newt0311 suggests “All sovereign entities are above the law”. Above, yes, but I would like to see the sovereign choose to act according to law. That’s closer to law in the scientific sense than the political sense, in that the essence is that society works better if the state’s actions can be predicted, rather than the sovereign being answerable to some oxymoronic super-sovereign body.
But in comparison to keeping order on the streets, that’s a luxury, as I described here in 2009.