Seymour Hersh reports in the New Yorker this week that an unmanned (but not unarmed) surveillance aircraft operated by the CIA had a vehicle carrying Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar in its sights but did not fire on it because legal clearance for the attack could not be obtained. Hersh’s article is not available online, but according to the BBC story I linked to, the failure to pull the trigger greatly displeased Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

However, as far as I’m concerned, this sort of thing gives the United States whatever shreds of moral superiority we can claim when we compare ourselves to the rest of the world. For the time being, assassination is illegal in this country, and as such, it would have been wrong for us to evaporate Mullah Omar with an anti-tank missile, no matter how sleazy he is. Even if other people don’t respect us for it, it’s important to be able to respect ourselves.