U.S. intelligence officials faced a difficult decision. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was looking for a suicide bomber. The target: an American jetliner. The only way for intelligence officials to ensure they controlled the plot was to have their own agent volunteer to be the bomber and then hand the bomb to the CIA. The tradeoff: They would lose a source penetrated deep inside the organization — but they would save lives.
The choice presented here is a choice between giving up some government spying, on the one hand, or standing by and knowingly leaving hundreds of people to be murdered, all for the sake of your military-political priorities. I suppose I should be glad they didn’t choose the latter. But I must point out that this is a
tradeoff only if you think you have a right to trade in human lives. And it is a
difficult decision only if you don’t value those lives very highly.