There’s an interesting debate taking place on Capitol Hill concerning whether we should capture or kill members of Al Qaeda.
Proponents of capturing senior Al Qaeda members site the intelligence value that might be gleamed from their capture and interrogation. In addition, they also note that the drone strikes that have killed many militants have angered governments from Pakistan to Yemen.
Advocates of killing Al Qaeda stress a need to take Al Qaeda members out of the field of battle. An added consideration is the cost of drones compared to the cost of sending an intervention force into a Pakistan or Yemen.
While I understand both viewpoints, I have serious reservations about capturing Al Qaeda operatives that cause me to lean towards the kill model pursued by President Obama.
Al Qaeda is not one entity, but rather a bunch of smaller organizations, who are largely operated with a fair degree of autonomy. The cell structure is typically smaller (3-4 people) as well, meaning that capturing even the most senior leaders of Al Qaeda may provide limited intelligence value.
Capturing terrorist leaders also implies that once in custody, terrorists will tell the truth.
Pardon me, if I don’t feel comfortable trusting my security to the truthfulness of men who dedicate themselves to the task of convincing people to blow themselves up because they consider it sanctioned by Allah.