[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/23/art.pakistan.protest.jpg caption="Tribesmen and activists of Pakistani Islamist party, Jamaat-i-Islami, shout during a demonstration in Islamabad on January 23, demanding an end to Pakistan military operations and US missile attacks against Taliban militants in lawless areas bordering Afghanistan."]
CNN Executive Producer
Politically, it looked like the perfect one-two combination. Just hours after President Obama signs an executive order mandating the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility (the jab), the U.S. launches a double missile strike against targets in Pakistan (the right hook). Just as the skeptics were grumbling that the order to close Guantanamo and other secret CIA prisons meant the new Administration was "soft on terror," Wham! Hellfire from above.
The strikes that killed at least 17 people made me think of a question posed yesterday by a trusted source, who also happens to be a former top official at the CIA. We were talking about the President's desire to close the detention facilities and what implications that could have. He asked me a very pointed question: Why is it that people do so much hand-wringing over what to do with detention facilities for terror suspects, but nobody bats an eyelash over a missile strike?
The CIA won't comment on the missile strikes in Pakistan's tribal region along the Afghan border, the area where officials believe that Osama bin Laden himself is in hiding, but there are no doubt many sides to the fighting terror story. Intelligence operatives often risk their lives to capture suspects or gather intelligence about where they may be hiding; rendition operations cause political problems; the government has to walk the tightrope of protecting both its citizens against terror attacks and a suspect's human rights. But there were no such issues for the seventeen people killed in a remote corner of Pakistan. No detention facility, no questions for the media to ponder over what to do with detainees, and indeed no guarantee that those killed were all terrorist suspects. The knock-out punch has been delivered.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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