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Thursday, March 20, 2003

What Is Banned By The Assassination Ban? (LazyBlawg)

Grant Henninger has a question about war, law and assassination: "If we kill Saddam in the first strike is it an illegal assassination or is it a legitimate action as part of the war?" On this subject, the Guardian today writes, "By declaring war, Mr Bush legitimised the apparent assassination attempt against President Saddam. In a state of war, the congressional prohibition on the assassination of leaders is lifted." Related reading: Professor Jeffrey Addicott's JURIST Forum piece last November, entitled The Yemen Attack: Illegal Assassination or Lawful Killing, and a Los Angeles Times analysis, U.S. Enters a Legal Gray Zone, reproduced at Global Policy Forum.

[Update] From a press briefing earlier today by Ari Fleischer:

Q: Ari, if the United States is at war, and if you assert that the United States has the right to target the Iraqi leader and his inner circle as part of command and control, does that make the President and the White House a legitimate target for Iraqis?

MR. FLEISCHER: Somebody — a reporter asked me that question a few weeks ago and my answer this [sic] is my answer now; you can tell anybody who wants to know the answer to that to get their own international lawyer, I won't do it for them.

Mr. Fleischer apparently was referring to his February 26, 2003 briefing: "I have no intention of becoming Saddam Hussein's international lawyer."

[Update] On September 22, 2001, Glenn Reynolds pointed to Jacob Sullum's discussion of the development and interpretation of the assassination ban ("License to Kill"), and wondered about "Assassination as Policy:" "[I]t doesn't involve killing lots of innocents, as war inevitably does, and it has a tit-for-tat quality that seems fair. [¶]What I've never seen mentioned, though, is the corrosive political effect it might have...."

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