John Brennan, President Obama's nominee for the position of CIA director, said during Senate hearings last week that it is better to capture and interrogate suspected terrorists than to kill them from the sky. This is undoubtedly true, which is why Obama's take-the-easy-way-out and just drone-strike them policy is potentially harmful to the long-term security interests of the United States.
"I never believe it's better to kill a terrorist than to detain him," Brennan said. The President, though, does. Through an unprecedented use of drones to kill terrorists in places like Afghanistan, Yemen and Pakistan, the Obama administration has taken out a lot of bad guys. The President boasted of that during last year's election campaign. He presented it as evidence that he is tough on terrorists. And he is, for which we have given him due credit in the past.
However, there always is a tradeoff, and in this tradeoff we get corpses instead of intelligence. The President who famously said there is no military solution to the problem of terrorism is applying a military solution to the problem of terrorism.
Though it is nice to see Obama acknowledge that we are engaged in a war and not a criminal prosecution, his overreliance on drones has become a serious problem.
The President would rather kill with drone strikes and keep his hands clean than capture these guys and take them to Gitmo, where we could learn enough to, maybe, dismantle their networks for good. It's how we got Osama bin Laden, after all, as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta admitted on "Meet The Press" last week.
The Obama administration's greatest coup in the War on Terror came from the interrogations of captured terrorists by the Bush administration. But the President won't use those same successful methods to finish the job. Rather than risk being called a torturer, he just orders the terrorists executed via remote control. It's so much easier that way, for him, at least.