If there was ever any doubt that the US doesn’t have a good handle on who the ISIS leadership is, it should be exemplified by the new reports of US officials openly talking about, in their effort to “destroy ISIS,” assassinating people whose Twitter accounts are seen as too pro-ISIS.
There appears, at the very least, to be some debate among counter-terror officials on the matter, though none seem to be questioning whether or not it’s appropriate to assassinate people on the basis of speech, and are simply arguing over whether or not it’s worthwhile.
The opponents see it as “wasting time” on “low level guys,” and believe the US should spend more time trying to assassinate actual ISIS leaders, instead of just killing Tweeters and declaring them “propagandists.”
One unnamed US official in favor of killing Tweeters, who ominously started his argument by declaring “we are the angel of death” like he’s some comic book villain, argued that since the ISIS war is a “propaganda war” and a “war of ideas” it’s entirely appropriate to kill people who are forwarding ideas they object to, saying he sees no reason to limit the killing to “military leaders.”
Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero was also a proponent of assassinating people on social media, saying ISIS has a “huge competitive advantage” on Twitter and that with little intelligence on the actual leadership of ISIS, you “attack what you can,” which means people on Twitter.
Another official, perhaps even more ominously than “angel of death” guy, talked up the killing of US-born cleric Anwar Awlaki as an example of the US assassinating people for speech, declaring “shoot your mouth off all you want. Eventually we are going to kill you.”