But what it if is the only option? What if he is unreachable by conventional law enforcement and has to be stopped immediately to prevent a terrorist attack? I'm not saying it's the first choice. I'm not saying it's the preferred choice. But if there is no other way then why not? If they are holed up in a cave in Yemen plotting against the U.S. then why not? If they're barracaded in a compound in Pennsylvania ready to give the order that will set a terrorist bombing into action then why not? If not acting will lead to the loss of even more innocent lives then why not?
Let’s take the cases you cited one by one...
RE: If they are holed up in a cave in Yemen plotting against the U.S. then why not?
I was for it. I consider that an act of war and treachery. In which case, blowing up an American Jihadist like Al Awlaki is justified ( and we did ).
RE: If they’re barracaded in a compound in Pennsylvania ready to give the order that will set a terrorist bombing into action then why not?
Now that’s a little different. If we knew he was in a compound in Pennsylvania, we could always surround the compound and wait him out.
If we knew he was going to give an order to set a terrorist bombing into action, it would be better to capture him to find out where the action or future actions are going to take place.
It would be better to capture him than to kill him.
You are talking about an *imminent* threat. Rand Paul said over and over and over again, just during the three of thirteen hours I watched, that he does not question the use of lethal force against an *imminent* threat.
Rather, Rand Paul was asking, What about a U.S. citizen, on U.S. soil, known to be involved in terrorist activities, but not at the moment posing an imminent threat? Can the Administration assassinate him?
You'd think the answer to that question would be a simple -- and an immediate -- NO! But Paul has gotten only lawyerly gobbledygook from Holder, Brennan and the WH for over one month on this simple question.
Perhaps the Administration is slow to respond clearly because they plan to expand the definition of "terrorist" to include Tea Party folks who cling hatefully to their guns, their Bibles, and their U.S. Constitution....