Waterboarding* KSM mastermind 9/11 planner is inhuman torture, against ‘our values’; capping OBL, a ‘kill mission’, perfectly alright, a cause for celebration, re-election?
War is for one purpose: to get the other guy to say ‘Uncle’. Decimating his fighters, ruining his finances/means of production, even wiping out civilian populations is OK if he ends up quitting the fight. Problem being, the GWOT isn’t so much about vanquishing another country or alliance, but a bunch of radical crazies and their state sponsors. So we use the tools in the toolkit as best we’re able; we have many tools.
Targeted assination? Maybe once in a blue moon, but not so much. If you’re mopping up the battle area just short of the surrender and you pop the Big Guy, makes sense, especially if you’ve got the drop on him and he refuses to give up, fire away. Otherwise, as a propaganda device or a form of justice, negative. Grab him, put him on display, interrogate him, try him & execute him (quickly, not years in the doing). But dropping in and popping somebody in order to get a quick bounce in the polls, I don’t think so. (Lest you think I’m blindly partisan, I’d have said the same thing 4 years ago, but I think we’d have had a different outcome if this happened back then.)
Our Special Ops folks are surgically-honed, world class specialists. You don’t waste their talents. If we wanted the dude alive, he’d likely still be breathing; notice the female defender was only wounded. Unless OBL was blasting away Rambo-like, we could have taken him alive, easy, without loss to our side. We didn’t and there’s a reason we didn’t.
With the current Administration’s difficulties in capturing, jailing, questioning, tribunal-ing and executing bad guys, they’ve tended to rely on Hellfire missiles to simply take ’em out, rather than grabbing them and squeezing the juice out of them. Ditto OBL. Avoid the headaches, take him out, do a victory dance, indirectly trash-talk your predecessor again (neener neener, I got him and you couldn’t!) and cruise to re-election. Doesn’t smell quite right to me.
And for all this stuff about we can’t just drop bombs on him, we’ve got to have boots-on-the-ground for positive ID (the so-called ‘gutsy decision’), then how about coughing up the proof? But I guess if some nutball burning a book in Florida is enough to worry the command structure about troop safety, showing nasty snuff-photos of Sheik Osama is out of the question. After all, the commando team’s ID satisfied Big Ears, so I guess we’ll just have to take his word for it, HE GOT OSAMA! Now shut up, eat your veggies and re-elect, OK?
*with prior lawyerly approval and a physician at hand to prevent injury/death