Who's afraid of Obama's kill list?

What’s all the fuss about President Obama’s “kill list”? If there is a list of terrorists to be killed with drone strikes on the soil of a country where we’re not officially at war, shouldn’t it be the president who decides to pull the trigger? For such an extraordinary occasion, ripe with moral issues and potential diplomatic consequences, it is properly the president’s call, not the CIA director’s or the nearest four-star general’s.

This has long been the case. When the United States fired cruise missiles at Osama Bin Laden’s training camp in 1998, it was President Bill Clinton who gave the order. When a team of SEALs raided Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan in 2011, few challenged that President Obama held the power to decide whether or not to go in. Why should this be the case for killing Bin Laden but not for killing the No. 2 or No. 3 al-Qaida leader in Yemen or Somalia?…

Stipulating that the United States needs to do this now and then (more about which, later), isn’t it a good thing that the president is taking responsibility for these borderline cases, that he’s not leaving it up to the spymasters or the generals, whose purview on such matters is narrower and whose tolerance for risk might be looser?

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