Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dead Men Tell No Tales!

Obama is increasingly using drones to attack and kill al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan and other places. Often in the past the CIA and other agencies have sought to capture these various leader in order to obtain valuable information about their networks and future plan of attack. These practices seem to have been put on hold for some reason. There is nothing wrong in killing these leaders where ever they are found, but at the same time we should remain aware that when we kill them important information also dies.

The question seems to be is president Obama afraid to use enhanced interrogation methods in order to obtain information and that being the case has decided to kill them where they are found and disregard the fact that, "dead men tell no tales"!

To be sure, unmanned drones are critical in the struggle against al Qaeda. They allow the United States to reach terrorists hiding in remote regions where it would be difficult for special operations forces to reach them, or to act on perishable intelligence when the only choice is to kill a terrorist or lose him. Constantly hovering Predator (or Reaper) drones also have a psychological effect on the enemy, forcing al Qaeda leaders to live in fear and spend time focusing on self-preservation that would otherwise be used planning the next attack. All this is for the good.

The problem is that Obama is increasingly using drone strikes as a substitute for operations to bring terrorist leaders in alive for questioning -- and that is putting the country at risk. As one high-ranking CIA official explained to me, in an interview for my book Courting Disaster, "In the wake of 9/11, [the CIA] put forward a program that had a lethal component to strike back at the people who did this. But the other component was to prevent this kind of catastrophe from happening again. And for that, killing people -- especially killing senior al Qaeda leaders -- is potentially counterproductive in that we can't know or learn of future attacks. You can't kill them all, and you don't want to kill them all from an intelligence standpoint. We needed to know what they knew." FOX News


hbl said...

I think the current use of Predator drones is based more on the fact that the targets are in Pakistan making them unreachable for capture. We could send in a team but that would be problematic diplomatically if caught. And, we can't count on the Paki's to bring them out alive anyway.

WomanHonorThyself said...

excellent point..The problem is that Obama is increasingly using drone strikes as a substitute for operations to bring terrorist leaders in alive for questioning -- and that is putting the country at risk...but he would never ahem..'interrogate' a fellow Musslim!

Mike aka Proof said...

The logistics are muddied by the fact they the Predators have to follow the Miranda drones, broadcasting the Constitutional rights to those about to get hit.

TexasFred said...

The Hell Fire missiles used to kill these *Little Sheet Heads* are VERY damned expensive...

But, as said, teams in there are irreplaceable..

Right Truth said...

The only good terrorist is a dead one, and using missiles, drones, whatever is fine by me. But then we have to hear that some "civilian" was killed, or they make up lies that women and children were killed.

The ROE (Rules of Engagement) are so strict that the lawyers will not let a missile be fired unless they can almost assure 100% that no "civilians" will be hit.

That's why the bad guys live and stay WITH women and children.

Right Truth

Teresa said...

Obambi is against the useful methods that gain information from the terrorists. He favors Muslims, so I can't see him allowing a muslim to be interrogated in a proper manner in order to get him to give up valuable information. Drones are being relied upon way too much and we are losing invaluable information because of it.

Clint said...

I wrote a blog similar to this on Jan 9.

This WSJ Opinion Piece “Drone Wars” sums it up nicely:
"While this aggressive aerial bombing is commendable against a dangerous enemy, it also reveals the paradox of President Obama’s antiterror strategy. On the one hand, he’s willing to kill terrorists in the field, but he’s unwilling to hold these same terrorists under the rules of war at Guantanamo if we capture them in the field. We can kill them as war fighters, but if they’re captured they become common criminals."

It will be interesting to see if his ambiguous approach to fighting terror is successful. However, judging by the recent attempt to blow up the Northwest Airlines flight by another Muslim Jihadist, I am not optimistic that TeamObama’s approach will keep us as safe as when Bush was in office.

More American’s lives are at stake, right here on U.S. soil.

Good post Ron.


Ayrdale said...

Ron, I thought of you when I read this, re Afghanistan beating the USA (at cricket)...sorry to copy and paste the whole post, there's no direct link...

Victorious Afghan Hamid Hassan blogs about it here:

After the match, I had to go to do a post-match media conference and they all wanted to know how it felt to beat USA, but the opposition didn’t matter to me. I was just happy to win another cricket match.
I love getting the chance to play against different countries and this was the first time we had ever played USA in an international match. I could never have dreamed when I was young, that I would one day play them in a cricket game.

I am a big fan of American television and movies and my favourite film is Rocky – I vividly remember watching it when I was growing up – and one of my heroes is Sylvester Stallone.

I think that there is a similarity in the story of Rocky and the Afghanistan cricket team – we both started at the bottom and gradually made our way up the rankings. ...

Gradually? I thought Rocky did it with one fight.

Seriously though, it's fun to see a guy so gripped by the American ideal of the common man excelling, and as a result ... defeating America.

The way Hamid Hassan writes about Rocky and Silvester Stallone and so on makes me also think of this piece, about how the imminent decline into relative insignificance of the USA is once again being oversold, in which Joshua Kurlantzick says:

Most important, the United States is a champion of an idea that has global appeal, and Asia is not.
Although my part of the blogosphere is very anti-Obama just now, what with Obama seemingly hell-bent on ruining the USA's economy, the rise of Obama to being President of the USA must look like a very similar kind of story to Rocky, if you are someone like Hamid Hassan.

John Carey said...

You are spot-on Ron in this post!

We do need to capture a few live ones to gain information. But I also agree when you say that this is an easier way to avoid the whole interrogation issue.

Bill Smith said...

This one is difficult for me. I lost too many friends on the ground in Vietnam. More thoughts than answers or firm opinions:

I have always felt it is better to let the other die for his country or cause.

At the same time, a drone is only successful if we can confirm that the target is really a "bad guy" before we use the drone. This take more than relying on in country nationals. If we rely on them too much, then we eventually become killers for hire because we do not know whom we are really killing.

Somewhere we still need human intelligence.

Why is Obama squeamish about killing an Muslim terrorists or al Queda members face to face but has no qualms about doing so using drones when 1) we are not sure and 2) collateral damage occurs - innocents get killed?

Why is Obama willing to wait for Iran to have nuclear weapons instead of supporting Israel in eliminating the treat?

There is more going on here. And, recalling my 22 years of active duty, I must say that the civilians in Washington often appeared to play rather loosely with our lives.

PatriotUSA said...

Excellent post and many angles to this story. There is no substitute for boots on the ground, or human gathered intelligence. I do not care what the technology used is.
That said, the costs for such gathered intelligence can be extremely high in lives lost. I think the drones are a way Obama can show that he is doing something pro active against terrorism while keeping the lid on escalating the conflict as much as possible to appease the his rabid leftist supporters who just want to give up to Islamofacism and let them all in to this country.

Drone kills can be very hard to verify and the results are often from Islamic sources that I suspect
are questionable at best, for their
reliability. Like others, I lost alot of friends in Vietnam. Too many never came home alive.This is a tough nut but Obama changed the ROE and made it extremely difficult for our troops to defend themselves. The Muslims fight like true cowards. From schools, neighborhoods, bazars, near playgrounds and hospitals. Life is cheap, a throwaway commodity to these Islamofascists. They have proven that over and over since the 7th century.

Unknown said...

I do not like the drones. I saw that England is thinking of using them for police work. I can see how an oppressive government could use this to keep people in line.

Unknown said...

Well, I have never thought about it that way before. I have always thought that a dead terrorist is a good terrorist, but you could be on to something here.
Is he afraid of what they might say or is he hiding what they would have said? Interesting!

LD Jackson said...

I have to agree with Mr. Pink Eyes. I had not thought about it the way FOX is reporting. I am not sure I agree with them, but I can't win them all, I suppose. All in all, I don't have a problem with using the drones, especially considering most of the targets are in Pakistan, which makes them unreachable by conventional means.

To be honest, I am afraid FOX is reading too much into this story.

MathewK said...

It's a valid point. And it also shows that there is almost a disconnect in obama himself.

On the one hand he's carping about rights, lawyers and all that for terrorists in Gitmo, but the terrorists he just blew to bits were never tried in any court, they never got any rights, so it's a bit disjointed. Not criticizing him to taking out terrorists, just pointing out the craziness of it all.

Maggie Thornton said...

With Obama in the White House, I'd rather they be dead than put our CIA in the position of doing their job and then be tried for it.

I don't think effective interrogation will happen in this administration.

I agree with hbl, we cannot physically go inside of Pakistan to do what we must, so this seems to be working.

I had not thought of this angle, Ron. Very interesting.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

Fantastic post and spot on. We're back in Clinton land where ground intel is sorely lacking . . . and we'll pay dearly for it just as we did on 9/11.