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Thiessen Admits That His “Too Many Dead Terrorists” Critique Is Hollow BS

By Matthew Yglesias on February 11, 2010 at 1:45 pm

"Thiessen Admits That His “Too Many Dead Terrorists” Critique Is Hollow BS"

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Back on Day 57 of the endless snowstorm, I noted Marc Thiessen’s weird argument that Barack Obama is too good at killing terrorists when he should be capturing and torturing them. Last night, Thiessen went on Bill O’Reilly show to push the idea, and even O’Reilly was a bit dubious, basically inducing Thiessen to admit (and without even shackling him to the ceiling or anything) that there’s nothing to this critique:

O’REILLY: [Panetta] puts a sheet of paper on your desk. He says we got a Taliban big shot in this village. We can get him with a drone missile, a hellfire missile. Okay. Should we or should we not? And you say, well, I’d love to talk to this guy and interrogate it. And Leon says you know what? We can’t get in there. It’s impossible. He’s up in the mountains.

THIESSEN: Sure.

So there’s no issue here. There’s absolutely no reason to believe that the Obama administration has been deliberately passing up opportunities to capture terrorists. The provocative version of Thiessen’s thesis is that Obama ought to deliberately pass up opportunities to kill terrorists in hopes that at some future point they might be captured and tortured. But that’s not what’s happening.

It’s too bad Thiessen’s raised this smokescreen, since there’s a much more legitimate question about whether liberal missile strikes don’t do more harm than good. A certain amount of criminal activity, related to drugs and prostitution, seems to be taking place on my block. If we had satellite surveillance of a major drug figure walking down the sidewalk in front of my building and the response to that was to launch a missile at the guy, I’d be kind of pissed. And if you do that a dozen times and one of the missiles goes wrong and winds up blowing up a big chunk of my apartment building, I’d be really pissed. This is the real balance that needs to be struck, and there’s reason to be concerned that the Obama administration’s stepped-up missile attacks have tilted us in the wrong direction.

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