Back in July, there were those on the Left who were upset to discover that we at one point had a plan in place to kill al Qaeda leaders wherever they might be.
Since 2001, the Central Intelligence Agency has developed plans to dispatch small teams overseas to kill senior Qaeda terrorists, according to current and former government officials.
The Obama Administration quickly let it be known that current CIA director Leon Panetta nixed the program as soon as he found out about it. The Left was assuaged and Dick Cheney was reaffirmed as a villain. All was right with the Left.
But under the covers, the Obama Administration had a problem. The President vowed to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility as well as the CIAs "Black sites" where terrorist suspects were whisked away so as not to allow other terrorists the knowledge that a high-value information-provider had been captured.
So the question became, with these tools off the table, what does the Obama Administration do with new terrorist suspects they may hunt down or otherwise run across?
The solution appears to be kill them where they stand.
Given the difficulty of detaining high-value terrorists in the United States, Cuba, Afghanistan, black sites or foreign countries, another possibility exists.
"To be perfectly blunt, I don't think that they'll pick them up at all," says Ken Anderson of the Hoover Institution and American University's Washington College of Law, who has written about these issues. "I think that we've actually allowed the courts to arrange the incentives to kill rather than capture."
Many national security experts interviewed for this story agree that it has become so hard for the U.S. to detain people that in many instances, the U.S. government is killing them instead.
Last month, American forces staged a raid on a car in Somalia. The man inside the car was a suspected terrorist on the FBI's most wanted list. American troops did not seize him. Instead, helicopters fired on the car, and commandos retrieved his body.
No messy detention. No icky interrogations. Just good clean blood on the tracks.
Now Leon Panetta may have nixed targeted assassinations of the al Qaeda leadership, but his boss sure hasn't. Predators continue to kill terrorists in Pakistan and elsewhere when it is inconvenient for a ground team to be present, and, it seems, we kill them even when we do have ground teams present.
It's better than capturing them given the environment the President has created.
There are a few drawbacks, however.
One is, we don't get to find out if the terrorist knows something that we should know.
Two, if the guy was innocent, we'll never know and he'll never be released.
But hey. It's the price you pay for winning a Nobel Peace prize.