Fighting Terrorists, Obama Goes for the Kill Instead of the Capture

Monday, February 15, 2010
(graphic: Trekshirts)

Shoot first and don’t worry about asking questions later. That is the policy of the Obama administration when it comes to hunting down terrorists. Instead of trying to capture high-value targets and interrogate them, U.S. intelligence and military specialists are increasingly under orders to kill terrorists when the opportunity presents itself.

Case in point: Saleh Ali Nabhan, leader of al-Qaeda in East Africa. Last September, U.S. Special Operations forces located Nabhan in Somalia and told the White House they could try to seize him or just take him out altogether. The choice from Washington was the latter, resulting in Nabhan being blown up in his car by American helicopters flying in from a naval ship positioned offshore.
According to The Washington Post, the administration seems more inclined to assassinate terrorists in order to avoid the thorny problems that President George W. Bush was confronted with over housing detainees. Whether it was imprisoning them at Guantánamo Bay or in secret prisons located throughout the world, the Bush administration’s holding of terrorists created political problems for the president—which Obama wants to avoid.
But emphasizing killing over capturing means the U.S. is losing out on chances to gather information through interrogations, which Republicans and some military officials have complained about.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Under Obama, More Targeted Killings than Captures in Counterterrorism Efforts (by Karen DeYoung and Joby Warrick, Washington Post)


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