The United States attempted to free hostages held by al-Queda in Yemen, but during the effort, the hostages were murdered. Though the militants operating the compound where the hostages had been housed were not believed to have had any prior knowledge about the raid, they believed that they were "on edge" due to a previous rescue attempt (The Australian). Though the American forces attempted to catch the militants by surprise, a noise, possibly a barking dog, alerted the militants, who proceeded to shoot the hostages and exit out of the back (ABC News).
The operation had been authorized by President Obama, who believed the life of Mr. Somers, one of the hostages, was in "immediate danger" due to a video released that threatened his murder in 72 hours (Reuters).
Tragically, the coldblooded murder of the hostages also doomed an effort by Gift of the Givers to secure the release of one of the hostages, who was set to be released one day after the raid had taken place; the United States government was not aware of this when attempting the raid (New York Times).
Though this illustrates the danger in using armed forces in attempted rescues, in this case, given that the executive branch had strong cause to believe that the life of an American was in imminent danger, I believe they made the correct choice, given the information they had, to conduct the raid, and take the gamble that the rescue operation would be successful, instead of dooming the hostage to likely death.
Additionally, this event further highlights the cruel, cold-blooded, heartless nature of al-Queda. Their complete disregard for innocent lives continues to disturb America, and adds justification to international efforts to obliterate them.
Questions for discussion:
1) Do you believe that the United States, specifically, the executive branch, was justified in authorizing the raid? (I would actually be very interested in hearing arguments about why they weren't.)
2) The United States has a policy against paying ransom, because doing so would serve to encourage future kidnappings. Is this policy justified to prevent a means of "rewarding" kidnappers or should the United States modify their policy to protect the lives of its citizens at all costs?