NATO and US military forces yesterday reportedly killed a son and innocent relatives — three young grandchildren – of the leader of Libya, because the leader of Libya refused to accept NATO/US demands that he step down. They deliberately targeted a residential compound, knowing (though they deny it) that innocent members of the leader’s family would be present and likely killed. But Washington’s elite can’t admit what everyone knows just happened. [Al Arabiya News reports the claims three grandchildren were killed are not true.]

Murder is a criminal act, possibly a war crime here, and if the reports are true, every one of the commanders and national leaders, including those of the United States, should be forced to resign or impeached, and be prosecuted. Except they won’t be, because America’s leaders are above the rule of law.

This obvious conclusion, however, is beyond the intellectual or moral capabilities of CNN’s Candy Crowley, who apologetically, and oh so diplomatically asked the clueless Jane Harmon and the evasive Steven Hadley whether this didn’t mean we are “targetting Qaddafi.” It was a cowardly, stupid question, because the answer is obviously yes. US and NATO forced tried to assassinate the leader and murdered innocent members of his family instead. But neither guest came close to an honest or straightforward answer.

Jane Harmon changed the subject. She said she worried we hadn’t thought through the implications at the “front end,” and lacked a strategic narrative for what we were trying to accomplish in the region. Regarding the actual bombings, all she could muster was, “We’re trying to soften it up.” Yes, Jane, “soften up” is what happens to human flesh when you drop massive bombs on people.

Steven Hadley was as morally bankrupt today as he was as Bush’s National Security adviser. He at least argued that if you’re engaged in a war, it is legitimate to attack the entire “command structure,” and Qaddafi was the head of the “command structure,” so fair game. Crowley must have thought that was a Very Serious Answer, because she did not bother to ask where the leader’s children and their wives and children fit in the command structure. We might ask the same about our own leaders’ families, now that Mr. Hadley has laid out the morally permissble rules of engagement.

Apparently none of these people can explain how we got from an effort to rescue others for humanitarian reasons to a deliberate, unlimited “war” in which one objective is the assassination of a foreign leader. And since this media-elite trio is, regretfully, representative of the moral cesspool that pervades Washington Beltway thinking, there was no reason to expect different answers.

But it is still astonishing the entire American defense and foreign policy establishment, from the President on down through our national security advisers and Congressional oversight, can be complicit in despicable murders and war crimes, and not one member of the Beltway elite can honestly describe what just happened.