Notice that the focus of discussion in this article is whether targeted killing should be replaced by capture and interrogation. The only issue is the value of one process or the other to the US. There is absolutely zilch about the morality of targeted killing or the legality of snatching someone and taking them into captivity without charge and often for years. Note that CIA operatives have recently been tried and found guilty in Italy for kidnapping a terror suspect and rendering him to Egypt--where of course he was probably tortured. Note that Obama has not disavowed the practice of rendition. It never seems to dawn on commentators that intelligence operatives and special forces operating as judge, jury, and executioner might have a few moral and legal issues surrounding the practice.
This is from the Washington Post.
Under Obama, more targeted killings than captures in counterterrorism efforts
By Karen DeYoung and Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writer
Although senior administration officials say that no policy determination has been made to emphasize kills over captures, several factors appear to have tipped the balance in that direction. The Obama administration has authorized such attacks more frequently than theW. administration did in its final years, including in countries where U.S. ground operations are officially unwelcome or especially dangerous. Improvements in electronic surveillance and precision targeting have made killing from a distance much more of a sure thing. At the same time, options for where to keep U.S. captives have dwindled.
Republican critics, already scornful of limits placed on interrogation of the suspect in the Christmas Day bombing attempt, charge that the administration has been too reluctant to risk an international incident or a domestic lawsuit to capture senior terrorism figures alive and imprison them.
Some military and intelligence officials, citing what they see as a new bias toward kills, questioned whether valuable intelligence is being lost in the process.
Even during the Bush administration, "there was an inclination to 'just shoot the bastard,' " said a former intelligence official briefed on current operations. "But now there's an even greater proclivity for doing it that way. . . . We need to have the capability to snatch when the situation calls for it."
Lack of detention policy
One problem identified by those within and outside the government is the question of where to take captives apprehended outside established war zones and cooperating countries. "We've been trying to decide this for over a year," the senior military officer said. "When you don't have a detention policy or a set of facilities," he said, operational decisions become more difficult.
Military officials emphasized that terrorism suspects continue to be captured in Iraq and Afghanistan. But in Iraq, where counterterrorism operations must be approved in advance by its government and conducted with Iraqi forces in the lead, all prisoners must be turned over to Baghdad.
In Afghanistan, the massive U.S.-run prison at the Bagram air base is scheduled to be relinquished to the Afghan government by the end of the year. Its 750 prisoners include about 30 foreigners, some of them captured in other countries and brought there. But recent legal decisions, and Afghan government restrictions, have largely eliminated that option.
"In some cases," the senior military official said, captives in Afghanistan have been taken to "other facilities" maintained by Special Operations forces. Such detentions, even on a temporary basis, have become more difficult because of legal and human rights concerns, he said. ...
Al-Qaeda and Taliban havens in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas along the border are considered part of the Afghanistan war theater. The Pakistani government tacitly permits CIA-operated unmanned aircraft to target terrorist sites and militants up to 50 miles inside the country. Under an executive order first signed by Bush and continued in force under Obama, the CIA does not have to seek higher administration authority before striking.
But while U.S. Special Forces work closely with the CIA on the Afghan side of the border, any ground operation in Pakistan would require specific White House approval, which so far has not been granted. In addition to the difficulty such a mission would pose amid a hostile population in rugged terrain, the Pakistani government has drawn a red line against allowing U.S. boots on the ground, and the risk of sparking an anti-American backlash is seen as too great.
Beyond Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, potentially lethal operations must be approved by Obama or his designee, which can include the CIA director and the defense secretary. In Yemen, stepped-up military and intelligence cooperation with the country's government, including the use of U.S. aircraft and munitions for raids against a list of targets suspected of involvement with terrorist groups, was approved by Obama late last year, and at least two lethal attacks have taken place in coordination with Yemeni ground forces. Any captives belong to Yemen.
"There are certain upsides and certain downsides to certain paths," the administration official said. "The safety and security of U.S. military personnel is always something the president keeps at the highest level of his calculus."