Obama takes no prisoners

Here’s a quick ‘n’ dirty way to get around those messy “legal and human rights concerns”
raised by the detention practices at places like Guantanamo and Bagram. Instead of capturing
your foreign terrorists (or “terrorists”), you just dispatch assassination teams to whack ’em.

Now just imagine what would happen if al Qaeda (or whoever) were to start assassinating
our top officers. That, of course, would be assailed as utter barbarism by our government
and media, and used to justify God knows what further violence abroad.

But let’s note that (as usual) the GOP is now railing at Obama for a strategy that didn’t seem
to bother them at all when Bush & Co. were using it, as this president (as usual) is evidently
only doing more of what his predecessor did.

And let’s note also that the WashPost would probably not be reporting this development if
the Republicans were not condeming it (as mainstream “balance” dictates that there is no story
if “both sides” happen to agree).

In any case, the basic question raised by both the GOP and WashPost is a very narrow and
“pragmatic” one: If we just kill them, instead of grabbing and “interrogating” them, we’ll
lose a lot of “valuable intelligence.”

By putting it this way, the WashPost dances clear around the gross fact that “interrogation,”
in the US “war on terror,” has meant torture–and that such torture is deplorable not just
because it tends to yield no “valuable intelligence” (which is another narrowly “pragmatic” argument), but because it’s wrong: a flagrant violation of both US and international law
(and also something Jesus wouldn’t do).

And, for that matter, this whole “war on terror,” increasingly conducted by official death
squads operating on sealed orders from on high, is as un-American as the Divine Right of
Kings, the use of thumb-screws and the rack, and the public burning of religious heretics.

And it’s no more acceptable because Obama’s doing it.


Under Obama, more targeted killings than captures in counterterrorism efforts
By Karen DeYoung and Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 14, 2010; A01

When a window of opportunity opened to strike the leader of al-Qaeda in East Africa last September, U.S. Special Operations forces prepared several options. They could obliterate his vehicle with an airstrike as he drove through southern Somalia. Or they could fire from helicopters that could land at the scene to confirm the kill. Or they could try to take him alive.

Read more.

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