Quoted in Business Insider

Business Insider’s Michael Kelley quoted me extensively in this article on why targeted killings came to dominate Obama’s counterterrorism policy.

“The outcry over extraordinary rendition — which was how President Bush went about capturing and interrogating a lot of these suspected individuals — was incredibly unpopular … abroad [and] in the U.S.,” Foust said. “Frankly, killing people polls better, and it polls strongly across the aisle.” …

Foust explained that capturing targets had become a “political black hole of what to do with detainees,” after the shuttering of black sites left no standard process for arrests and extradition in hot spots such as Yemen and Pakistan.

“That poses a lot of really big challenges to doing this in an up front, legal way,” Foust said. “It doesn’t mean it’s impossible, just that it would take a lot of work to put that into place … You end up creating this ecosystem where killing is easier, more politically palatable, and more popular than capture.” …

The biggest problem going forward, according to Foust, is that the aggressiveness of the targeted killing program against al-Qaeda invites overuse.

The U.S. justification for drone strikes in non-battlefield countries such as Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia are questionable, and expansion to al-Qaeda affiliates in MaliSyria, and Iraq would be difficult to defend.

“It’s a slippery slope of essentially taking anyone who is attempting to brand themselves with the terror brand [i.e.al-Qaeda] and labeling them a threat to the U.S., which then opens up this whole menu of options that includes drone strikes,” Foust said. “That’s the kind of slippery slope policy making that concerns me.”

Read the whole thing at Business Insider.

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