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 @typemediacenter: #ICYMI, read @garyyounge’s recent five-part @guardian series on the challenges, tensions, and vast untapped potential…
RT @MSNBC: 2017 marked the first time firearms killed more people than motor vehicle accidents, according to a new report. https://t.co/zvf…
"Aimee was generous, always guiding outreach workers to homeless people she considered vulnerable. She was less goo… https://t.co/6M64Or8KoG
RT @LSHGofficial: The Staying Power of Peter Fryer - Discussion with contributions from @DavidOlusoga @garyyounge, and Terry Brotherstone.…
RT @DrFrancesRyan: “Austerity was absolutely a choice. You chose to hurt communities.” @Miatsf absolutely destroys Kate Andrews and a Tory…
RT @NesrineMalik: ‘It is not talent but access to the right people, the adventurism of those with nothing to lose, the financial comfort th…
RT @NLawrenceOBE: We always mark the birthday of our son Stephen. We will never forget him. I also remember others suffering the ongoing gr…
RT @hoperoadpublish: We've got that #FridayFeeling, as the weekend is prime book reading time! Looking for a great diverse read? #TheNowh
RT @Maxine_GLabs: I am looking for #BAME features writers please? Please send me names, a contact (email or social) and areas of interest/s…
RT @eldiarioInt: "Socialismo" ya no es una palabrota en Estados Unidos https://t.co/zpwg0oCKii Lo explica Gary Younge (@garyyounge) https:/…
© Gary Younge. All Rights reserved, site built with tlc