Al Qaeda has now made it official: It says the suicide bomber who killed seven CIA employees in Afghanistan on Dec. 30 acted in retaliation for the killings of Qaeda leaders in Pakistan by U.S. Predator drones, and in particular for the drone-inflicted death of Pakistan Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud. President Obama has stepped up the use of these loitering, pilotless surveillance and bomber aircraft in the past year, seemingly to great effect. National Journal this week publishes two feature stories ("'Wanted: Dead'") and ("Are Drone Strikes Murder?") examining, respectively, the military aspects of the drones and the legal questions surrounding their use. Many international law experts say the drone strikes amount to illegal extrajudicial killings.
But what do you, the experts, think about these strikes?
Predators are one of our primary counter-terrorism tools -- CIA Director Leon Panetta said last May, "Very frankly, it's the only game in town in terms of confronting or trying to disrupt the Al Qaeda leadership." Should we continue to use them not only in Pakistan, but in Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere as often as we deem fit? Is the public backlash against these remote killers in these countries worth considering, or just a necessary side effect of a valuable tool? Does the Israeli experience with drones to counteract violent opposition on its borders offer any useful lessons? And, are Predator strikes really disrupting Al Qaeda that much when, in the space of four months, the group has been able to launch three significant attacks -- the attempted Christmas bomber, the CIA suicide bomber, and the attempted assassination last August of the Saudi counter-terrorism chief, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef?