David Ignatius at the Washington Post relates how CIA lawyers nixed a proposal to sabotage detonators so that the bombs detonated in their own hands.
The insurgents who kill our young soldiers are ruthless, but we have sometimes been cautious in our response. Take the question of targeting bomb makers:
There may be an unlimited supply of explosives in Iraq, but there is not an unlimited supply of people who know how to wire the detonators. In 2004, CIA operatives in Iraq believed that they had identified the signatures of 11 bomb makers. They proposed a diabolical -- but potentially effective -- sabotage program that would have flooded Iraq with booby-trapped detonators designed to explode in the bomb makers' hands. But the CIA general counsel's office said no. The lawyers claimed that the agency lacked authority for such an operation, one source recalled.
There are technologies that would allow us to detonate every roadside bomb in Iraq by heating the wires in the detonators to the point that they triggered an explosion. But these systems could severely harm civilians nearby, so we're not using them, either. "In our system, we often are not given credit for the fact that we are very concerned about collateral damage," Meigs said.
Now if only the US would actually get credit for these acts of punctilio or humanity then there would be some recompense for their forbearance. How often is it argued that tne enemy is only responding to American barbarism. If only we had climbed to even higher moral ground! We would conquer by our magnificence. Now consider the case above in point. Do you suppose the enemy is bowled over, morally impressed at the American reluctance to booby trap IED detonators so that bombmakers might not lose their hands without due process? Does anyone think the Guardian or the BBC will write a tearful letter of gratitude to the Central Intelligence Agency. No doubt they will be tearful, but they will be tears of laughter.
Acts of humanity, where appropriate, must be practiced for their own sake. Anyone who thinks he can win the admiration of the enemy or the left has another thing coming.