Penning hard-core terrorists up at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba was a bad idea, President Barack Obama has said. Making men dedicated to slaughtering Americans think they might be about to die by drowning is just wrong, his administration has held.
But actually killing people, including Americans, with strikes from remote-controlled drone aircraft - with little evidence, and no proceedings other than an OK from the White House - that's all right. At least, it is Obama's policy.
No one outside the White House, the intelligence community and some in the military knows how many people have been executed by Obama's order. The White House assures us the killings were necessary to safeguard Americans.
Some in Congress are not comfortable with the ethical contradictions in Obama's judge, jury and executioner drone policy. Lawmakers of both parties have expressed serious reservations, including reasonable ones about the constitutionality of executing American citizens without trials.
We do not want to see the president's hands tied when it comes to his role as commander in chief. If you declare war on the United States, you should be dealt with appropriately, whether the year is 1861, 1941 or 2001. But the president should be able to tell us who he is targeting and why. That's called accountability.