Over at the New Yorker blog, Steve Coll has this post on the al-Aulaqi operation, and on related reporting in Dan Klaidman’s Kill or Capture.
Coll focuses on capture’s infeasibility, one of the conditions that reportedly must be satisfied before the government will use lethal force against an American terrorist abroad:
Klaidman’s reporting suggests the title of his own book may be misplaced. “Kill or Capture” conjures an image of Obama and his counterterrorism advisers holding one anguished debate after another about whether to immolate terrorism suspects with Predator drones, as they did Awlaki, or send in Special Forces or local militias to capture the accused for trial. In fact, the book makes clear that the Obama Administration has judged again and again—almost routinely—that capturing terrorist suspects outside of Afghanistan (where there is a friendly host government and an extensive prison system) is not feasible.
According to Klaidman, Obama’s advisers have concluded, for example, that the risk of creating political turmoil in Yemen is reason enough to avoid attempting an arrest there by, for example, landing Special Forces on the ground—as if Yemen were not already in a state of perpetual turmoil.