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"You Have The Right To Remain Dead"

A few years ago, when certain folks were talking about how terrible it was that we weren't treating captured terrorists and illegal combatants like common criminals, with all the rights that go with that status, I made a prediction: once word of this trickled down to the men and women on the front lines, we'd start seeing a lot fewer prisoners. It was simple pragmatism: if you make it far more inconvenient to capture the enemy vs. just killing them, and imposing all kinds of conditions and restrictions and requirements for our forces when they start capturing, then you'd most likely see a rise in the "screw it" mentality.

That was what I predicted -- a change in policy from the bottom.

Now I'm wondering if the change in attitude might be coming not from the bottom, but from the top.

One major shift in policy that the Obama administration has made in the War On Terror Overseas Contingency Operation has been an increase in strikes on terrorists with unmanned drones.

The political appeal of this is obvious. Drone strikes don't put American lives at risk. They're considerably more deniable than "boots on the ground" And what's there not to love about dead terrorists?

But while I like the idea that President Obama has discovered something that seems to resemble testicular fortitude, I am slightly troubled at one aspect -- the loss of potential intelligence that could be garnered from those terrorists captured alive.

When we interrogated the EunchBomber for those precious 50 minutes before someone suddenly remembered that we ain't really at war and Mirandized his fried ass, we got quite a bit of useful information from him. Had the passengers simply killed Abdulmutallab after he tried to kill all of them, we'd have been spared a lot of aggravation and arguing -- but lost out on a bit of useful intelligence.

Dead terrorists are, by and large, a good thing. And President Obama is to be lauded for his efforts in making some very bad people "good" terrorists.But I can't help but wish he was both a bit more open about it, and he'd be more aware of the usefulness of occasionally capturing and sweating of select bad guys.


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Comments (33)

I think you give Barry too ... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

I think you give Barry too much credit for the emphasis on DEAD terrorists. Yeah, he likes drones, 'cause no one cries when a drone dies. But I think the troops may have just decided that selective elimination ends a lot of potential 'political problems' down the road.

No worries. Once the... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

No worries.
Once the amateurs realized that being in charge is harder than being a community agitator, they'll turn the terrorists over to countries that don't worry about the ACLU, human rights groups or Democrat demagoguing . :

"The NY Times is reporting that the second in command of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Baradar, has been captured in Pakistan.
...

According the The Times' report, Baradar is being interrogated by both Pakistanis and Americans. " (-LegalInsurrection blog)

Interrogated by Pakistan, eh? When they use torture, it's the real thing, not just dripping water on someone's face.
Will the Paki's read him Miranda? Will they give him an ACLU lawyer? Where's the Dem outrage?

Jay -- One issue. ... (Below threshold)
James H:

Jay --

One issue. The underwear bomber has become useful again, even Mirandized. The FBI flew his family in, and they urged him to cooperate ... and he has continued talking.

James, I'm sure that come t... (Below threshold)

James, I'm sure that come trial EunuchBomber will say that we threatened his family to get him to talk... after all, why would we fly them all the way here except to show him that if he didn't tell us what we wanted to know, we'd have them killed?

Might not work, but I'm pretty sure he'll argue it...

J.

My reaction to the increase... (Below threshold)
Oldflyerb:

My reaction to the increased use of drones is that in some ways it is analogous to Clinton's fondness for cruise missiles. The benefit is that it reduces our casualties; the downside is that it greatly increases the potential for collateral damage. I seem to recall that the Dimocrats were hyperventilating about the innocent lives destroyed by Bush's use of drones.

With regard to the undie bomber; his cooperation is a little late. His information was no doubt pretty perishable. Since his family is prominent and respectable, I expect that they told him to get his head right and try to preserve a smidgeon of their respect. And oh, by the way, don't be stupid, take the plea-bargain the stupid Americans are offering.

The Pakistani's don't have ... (Below threshold)

The Pakistani's don't have to torture Baradar.

There's a much easier way to get info out of him; use his own beliefs against him:

Just zip tie his wrists and ankles to a chair and dowse him in pigs blood. Then the Pakistani's tell him that if he doesn't sing like a canary, they're going to let him die of thirst.

Oh and they'll throw fresh pigs blood on him every morning he's alive.

There will be no doubt in his mind that the Pakistani's are not kidding and will do it.

Tell him he has 24 hours to give up the intel because after that it won't be actionable, so once the deadline passes nothing he says will matter and he will have made his 'bed'.

His choice; give up intelligence or no virgins and no heaven (he's unclean) so, by his own religion's dogma, he will shortly be in hell, where he will spend eternity with the real Satan.

Jay,I agree with y... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

Jay,

I agree with you that capturing live terrorists is preferable for the reasons you stated. I disagree with your assessment that Obama does not understand this. While Pakistan has shown cooperation with the U.S. in fighting terrorist, they will not allow us to carry out covert operations inside Pakistan. This was true for the Bush administration as well. But they do allow us to fly our drones in there airspace. So Obama does not have a choice between sending in troops or using drones. The number of drone attacks has increased under Obama.

About 2 weeks ago the CIA in cooperation with Pakistan, captured Abdul Ghani Baradar, who is the 3rd highest ranking Taliban leader. He is being interrogated by both the U.S. and Pakistan.

Tina S., I guess you are in... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Tina S., I guess you are in full support of the hundreds of innocents that died from the drone attacks? No, sorry. I forgot, Obama sent them. If GW sent them, it would be a slaughter.

We do not know what it cost us to have Pakistan let the CIA into their country, but I bet it was a huge amount of money. I do remember Obama saying he would nuke Pakistan if he was president.

Truth is, no one has access to the intelligience Bush used and now Obama. We won't know for years, but the left certainly never gave Bush a pass when it came to his actions. Now the left knows how it feels. ww

Heck, every time we smoke o... (Below threshold)
Roy:

Heck, every time we smoke one of those terrorists with a missle, the net intelligence overall goes up.

Garandfan might be right, t... (Below threshold)

Garandfan might be right, this may be something instituted at a much lower pay grade and put Obama in the position of not liking it but not wanting to have to declare an end to an effective program of killing terrorists... he's already perceived as weak, that would be just another nail.

Tina S., I guess y... (Below threshold)
Tina S:
Tina S., I guess you are in full support of the hundreds of innocents that died from the drone attacks? No, sorry. I forgot, Obama sent them. If GW sent them, it would be a slaughter.

WildWillie,

I have never criticized Bush's use of drones. I credit the Bush administration for demonstrating there effectiveness,

We do not know what it cost us to have Pakistan let the CIA into their country, but I bet it was a huge amount of money. I do remember Obama saying he would nuke Pakistan if he was president.

WildWillie,

The Obama administration increased spending on Direct Overt U.S. Aid and Military Reimbursements to Pakistan from $1.9 billion to 3.4 billion.

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/row/pakaid.pdf


Truth is, no one has access to the intelligence Bush used and now Obama. We won't know for years, but the left certainly never gave Bush a pass when it came to his actions. Now the left knows how it feels. ww

WildWillie,

That's a fair criticism, you have a valid point.

Roy -"Heck, eve... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Roy -

"Heck, every time we smoke one of those terrorists with a missle, the net intelligence overall goes up."

Darwinian selection for Jihadi intelligence?

Hmmm. This might be a feature or a bug, depending...

TinaS: " While Pakistan has... (Below threshold)
Drago:

TinaS: " While Pakistan has shown cooperation with the U.S. in fighting terrorist, they will not allow us to carry out covert operations inside Pakistan."

Wow.

Can people really be this naive?

(rhetorical......)

<a href="http:/... (Below threshold)
NewEnglandDevil:
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.

The White House authorized the second option. On the morning of Sept. 14, helicopters flying from a U.S. ship off the Somali coast blew up a car carrying Saleh Ali Nabhan. While several hovered overhead, one set down long enough for troops to scoop up enough of the remains for DNA verification. Moments later, the helicopters were headed back to the ship.

The strike was considered a major success, according to senior administration and military officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the classified operation and other sensitive matters. But the opportunity to interrogate one of the most wanted U.S. terrorism targets was gone forever.

james h "One issue. ... (Below threshold)
Marc:

james h "One issue. The underwear bomber has become useful again, even Mirandized. The FBI flew his family in, and they urged him to cooperate ... and he has continued talking."

There in lays the problem, in a bolt of lightning they flew in his family and... praise be... he "started talking"...

... Weeks later and any and everything he gave up WEEK LATER could very well be useless trash, perishable in the parlance of the CIA.

No one, including you james h knows whether he's "useful again," you're guessing, hoping, just like the obama admin.

tina s "While Pakis... (Below threshold)
Marc:

tina s "While Pakistan has shown cooperation with the U.S. in fighting terrorist, they will not allow us to carry out covert operations inside Pakistan."

Not very informed on this current story are you?

If the paki's aren't allowing the U.S. to conduct covert ops, how is it that nearly every story says this was a joint paki/CIA raid that captured this jihadi cut throat?

Are all those MSM stories incorrect?

TinaS: " While Pakistan ... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

TinaS: " While Pakistan has shown cooperation with the U.S. in fighting terrorist, they will not allow us to carry out covert operations inside Pakistan."

Wow.

Can people really be this naive?

(rhetorical......)

Drago,

I'm not sure what point your trying to make.

The point I'm making is that its not fair to suggest (as Jay Tea did) that Obama should send more troops into Pakistan and rely less on drones. Obama does not have this option nor did Bush have this option. Pakistan won't allow it.

If the paki's aren't all... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

If the paki's aren't allowing the U.S. to conduct covert ops, how is it that nearly every story says this was a joint paki/CIA raid that captured this jihadi cut throat?

Thats an excellent question. The U.S. can not conduct it's own independent missions in Pakistan.

tina s "The point I'm... (Below threshold)
Marc:

tina s "The point I'm making is that its not fair to suggest (as Jay Tea did) that Obama should send more troops into Pakistan and rely less on drones."

No what you suggested was the U.S. wasn't allowed to conduct covert ops within Pakistan's boarders.

Obviously that's patently false given this was a joint Pak/CIA covert op that captured this jihadi cut throat.

tina s "Thats an exce... (Below threshold)
Marc:

tina s "Thats an excellent question. The U.S. can not conduct it's own independent missions in Pakistan."


The evidence on the ground, or more appropriately in the air, suggests U.S. drone flights and attacks are in fact independent missions.

Tina,The ... (Below threshold)
Kenny:

Tina,

The point I'm making is that its not fair to suggest (as Jay Tea did) that Obama should send more troops into Pakistan and rely less on drones. Obama does not have this option nor did Bush have this option. Pakistan won't allow it.
Thats an excellent question. The U.S. can not conduct it's own independent missions in Pakistan.

Maybe Jay Tea actually listened to what Candidate Obama said in August 2007:

In a speech delivered today, the Illinois senator, who is trailing Hillary Clinton in the race to become Democratic nominee, said he would dispatch forces to Pakistan even without the permission of President Pervez Musharraf.

I agree with you that we should NOT conduct an independent military mission on the soil of an ally without their permission.

But who knows what our fearless leader will actually do...

Let's face it. This arugula... (Below threshold)
Sir Toby Belch:

Let's face it. This arugula munching, muslim-lite President abhors ALL violence.....all non-union violence, anyway.

The evidence on the grou... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

The evidence on the ground, or more appropriately in the air, suggests U.S. drone flights and attacks are in fact independent missions.

That may be the case, but it is the agreement we have with Pakistan.

tina s "That may be t... (Below threshold)
Marc:

tina s "That may be the case,"

May be the case?

No that is the case, as opposed to your alleged agreement.

Both the Bush and obama admins have conducted drone strikes in Pakistan and both have have done it independently, supposedly.

The interesting thing to me is how the whinners and bed wetters were all over Bushes case concerning drone attacks but next to nothing is said in comparison to now as obama not only continues the policy but has increasingly stepped up the program

Tina S "The point I'm ma... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

Tina S "The point I'm making is that its not fair to suggest (as Jay Tea did) that Obama should send more troops into Pakistan and rely less on drones. Obama does not have this option nor did Bush have this option. Pakistan won't allow it."

Except when they allow it.

Tina S: "Thats an excellent question. The U.S. can not conduct it's own independent missions in Pakistan.""

Except for when we do.

Tina S in response to Marc's statement that the drone attacks in Pakistan suggests they are in fact independent missions: "That may be the case, but it is the agreement we have with Pakistan."

Except when it's not.

Tina: The point... (Below threshold)

Tina:

The point I'm making is that its not fair to suggest (as Jay Tea did) that Obama should send more troops into Pakistan and rely less on drones. Obama does not have this option nor did Bush have this option. Pakistan won't allow it.

I was not talking specifically about Pakistan, but the war generally. He's done the "more ground troops" of late in Afghanistan, and it's working, but the increased reliance on drones (in Africa as well) is slightly troubling. It's effective, but I question if it's necessarily more effective than boots on the ground in some circumstances.

As I said, I'm inclined to back Obama on this. But while it's good, I think it could be better.

J.

No one, including ... (Below threshold)
James H:
No one, including you james h knows whether he's "useful again," you're guessing, hoping, just like the obama admin.

I submit the following into evidence:

The young Nigerian man accused of trying to bring down a U.S. plane on Christmas Day is talking. Officials say Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab has been provided useful intelligence for weeks now. The FBI has been under fire for reading him his rights soon after they arrested him. Critics say after that, he clammed up and U.S. authorities lost out on valuable intelligence.

But NPR has learned that Abdulmutallab wasnt quiet for long.

To continue:

[T]he FBI went to Nigeria to convince his family to come and get him to cooperate. [...] [T]hey helped convince him to talk to authorities. And as soon as they did that, Abdulmutallab started naming names of people and helping authorities locate al-Qaida training centers he allegedly visited in Yemen. And his information, we understand, was at least partly responsible for the arrest of 10 people in Malaysia last week. [Emphasis added]


james h "Officials say... (Below threshold)
Marc:

james h "Officials say Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab has been provided useful intelligence for weeks now."

But.,.. but.... BUT, just how is that possible and based on the admins own "story?"

First it was "interrogated for only 50 minutes," the latest according to the WaPo a day or so ago was he was "interrogated for 9 hours."

And leave us not forget 3 days after the failed attack obama called him an "isolated extremist," yet on the same day ABC reported his connection to terror organization[s].

The overall point is this, the admin has bungled the entire Gonad Bomber incident from top to bottom. Their "story" is BS from top to bottom.

Jay:I was not t... (Below threshold)
Tina S:

Jay:

I was not talking specifically about Pakistan, but the war generally. He's done the "more ground troops" of late in Afghanistan, and it's working, but the increased reliance on drones (in Africa as well) is slightly troubling. It's effective, but I question if it's necessarily more effective than boots on the ground in some circumstances.

Thanks for taking the time to respond. Now that I better understand your position I take back my criticism. I have not followed whats happening in Africa enough to have an oppinion.

TinaS: "I'm not sure what p... (Below threshold)
Drago:

TinaS: "I'm not sure what point your trying to make."

No kidding.

I guess I could "explain" it to you, but unfortunately I cannot "comprehend it" for you.

The crotch rocket blower up... (Below threshold)
914:

The crotch rocket blower upper has the right to be droned and remain silent.

And if You aint dead enough... (Below threshold)
914:

And if You aint dead enough.. Will send in Obama's clowns to work their economy black magic on ya!

Anyone care to guess in whi... (Below threshold)
epador:

Anyone care to guess in which country "that won't allow US combat operations" the original CIA drones were based? With full permission/cooperation of that country's government?

And where did the CIA find all those experienced Predator pilots and sensor operators?

Hmmmm.




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