RSS FeedFacebookSearch
Gary Younge
Attempt to assassinate Saddam legal - unless he surrenders first

President Saddam, it is argued, can be treated as a fair target because he is chief of the Iraqi military at a time of war. "International human rights law allows you to target military commanders," said Jim Ross, the senior legal analyst at Human Rights Watch in New York. "The Geneva convention gives a great deal of leeway when it comes to attacking combatants."

If the US agreed to a truce whereby President Saddam gave himself up in return for an end to military action, it would be illegal to kill him, Mr Ross said. Under the Geneva convention they must minimise civilian casualties when in pursuit of a foreign leader.

It is precisely the fear of a retaliatory attack on an American leader that prompted President Gerald Ford to issue a ban on assassinations of heads of state in 1976. Executive order No 12333 declares: "No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination."

Mr Ford's ruling has been signed by every president since, but many have sought to sidestep it. In 1986 President Ronald Reagan ordered air strikes on the presidential compound of the Libyan leader, Muammar Gadafy. Two years later the ruling was "reinterpreted" under George Bush senior in order to target the Panamanian leader, Manuel Noriega. The new understanding was that the prohibition did not apply if a leader was killed as an unintended consequence of an action undertaken or supported by the government.

George Bush junior then further broadened his authority after the terrorist attacks on September 11. In a secret directive he authorised the CIA to target suspected terrorists for killing, when capture was impractical and civilian casualties could be minimised.

© Gary Younge. All Rights reserved, site built with tlc
Stranger in a Strange Land – Encounters in the Disunited States
book review
'It often takes an outsider to look inside. This is especially true of the United States.'
 follow on twitter
RT @Pescanik: Gary Younge: Brexit – uzrok ili simptom krize? Teško je zamisliti scenario po kome Britanija neće biti predmet podsmeha još n…
RT @MikeSegalov: "Justice for Grenfell means the people responsible going to prison. It was not without warning, we’ve all seen the letters…
RT @monanicoara: Counties that hosted a 2016 Trump rally saw a 226 percent increase in hate crimes
RT @KGuilaine: ‘To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time’ James Baldwin
Brexit is not the cause of Britain’s political breakdown. It’s a symptom | Gary Younge
RT @HeaneyDaily: All I ever did was follow In his broad shadow round the farm. I was a nuisance, tripping, falling, Yapping always. But tod…
RT @OccupyLondon: Vast #darkmoney being invested in manufacturing hate and othering our brothers and sisters. We need to return to our fami…
RT @livlittle: Any state schools with majority girls of colour who would like some copies of @galdemzine ?? DM me with your address and I'l…
"Brexit didn't cause the political crisis. The political crisis caused Brexit. That crisis is global. We may, as ye…
© Gary Younge. All Rights reserved, site built with tlc