Imagine it is 1982 again, and the Ministry of Defence has just announced the killing in Boston of Martin McGuinness, and of the people with him, by a missile-strike launched from a Royal Navy destroyer moored on the Boston River, saying: "A very bad man just had a very bad day."
The MoD official does not offer hard evidence, just the assurance that he has been "linked with several attacks on British soil".
It would have been unthinkable.
So why, then, is it deemed acceptable for the US to carry out the illegal assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen?
I have little sympathy for radical clerics. But if we believe they have committed crimes, then we should get them in the dock and have them tried and prosecuted.