The gang that couldn't shoot -- period

True, the New York Times did not stipulate that terrorists on the “secret list” might be dispatched by a bullet instead by a drone-launched missile. The story did mention that the CIA used a drone to kill an al-Qaida leader in Yemen.

One might recall that in 2002, even D.C. Democrats wanted to get Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants more than they wanted to get Dick Cheney.

The worst part of this story is that it suggests that the CIA is run by a bunch of half-cocked cowboys looking for a direction in which to point their guns — while the very point of the hit squads was to kill the bad guys without killing innocent bystanders. And, I would add, to do so at great bodily risk to CIA agents.

No doubt, CIA brass in the end decided that the risks and diplomatic fallout of an agent getting caught — either by the enemy or the press — were too great.

Such are the sensibilities in Washington that, collateral damage notwithstanding, it is politically safer to bomb terrorists than to shoot them.