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The wrong way to fight terrorism? [The reply]

Targeted killings
Andrew Cockburn's Op-Ed about "taxpayer-funded assassinations" this year asked whether targeted killings were the most effective way to fight terrorism. Reader "DaveMarsh" responded on our discussion board with the following:

This author doesn't consider that during WW2 the US forces planned, and successfully carried out, the assassination of Admiral Yamamoto -- the mastermind of the Imperial Japanese Navy's tactics.  I'm sure that if the opportunity presented itself, there would have been many Japanese and German commanding officers and key political leaders killed.  These actions have a disrupting effect on the enemy's war effort.

I think that the author is a "selective" student of history.

Cockburn, an investigative journalist and author, offers this reply:

The study conducted by Rex Rivolo as part of his duties at the Counter IED Intelligence Center at U.S. headquarters in Baghdad in 2007-08  that I cited was unique because it dealt with hard data, as opposed to the conjecture and inference deployed by those who look to justify a high-value target policy.  There is no evidence to support the notion that the killing of Adm. Isoroku  Yamamoto shortened the war, but it did very nearly lengthen it.  The Japanese commander was ambushed thanks to our successful penetration of the enemy codes.  It is a miracle that the Japanese did not surmise this fairly obvious fact and change their codes accordingly, thereby depriving us of a weapon worth far more than the elimination of an admiral, however supposedly talented.

ALSO:

Anwar Awlaki: Targeted for death

Obama: A disaster for civil liberties

Anwar Awlaki's killing: Why it doesn't feel like a victory

--Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo: Among those killed this year by the U.S. were Osama bin Laden, left, and Anwar Awlaki. NATO forces helped bring down Libya's Moammar Kadafi, right. Credit: Associated Press

 

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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.



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