The administration’s preferred tack is terminating people with extreme prejudice. Assassination might be its signature method of warfare. Not only has it launched countless drone attacks against terrorists, it’s involved in a NATO air campaign in Libya that seeks to kill Moammar Qaddafi “by accident.”
These killings should be seen as of a piece with coercive interrogation. Both involve applications of violence without a formal judicial process. Both are legitimate only because we are at war. Both are cold-blooded, but consistent with U.S. and international law. To consider one beyond the pale and embrace the other with relish makes no sense. At least the lefty lawyers who condemn both interrogation and the killing of bin Laden are consistent in their legalistic opposition to all these acts of war. As American University law professor Kenneth Anderson writes, “If you are the advocacy community, targeted killing is just the next phase of the campaign that started with interrogation and detention.”
It’s certainly welcome that a liberal Democratic administration is willing to kill our enemies. Would that it considered it acceptable, when it suits our purposes, to capture and interrogate them, too.