posted on Jul, 23 2003 @ 10:30 PM
Policy on murders - quite unclear.
WASHINGTON TODAY: Assassination ban still on books but widely ignored
GEORGE GEDDA, Associated Press Writer Tuesday, July 22, 2003
In theory, pursuing with intent to kill violates a long-standing policy banning political assassination. It was the misfortune of Saddam Hussein's
sons that the Bush administration has not bothered to enforce the prohibition.
Acting on a tip from an informant, the brothers were killed during a six-hour raid Tuesday at a palatial villa in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
They ranked just below their father in the deposed regime. Odai, in particular, had a reputation for brutality.
Officials said people inside the villa opened fire first -- but left little doubt what the U.S. troops hoped to accomplish.
"We remain focused on finding, fixing, killing or capturing all members of the high-value target list," Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, commander of
coalition troops in Iraq, announcing the deaths of Odai and Qusai.
The ban has been overlooked so often in recent years that some wonder why the administration doesn't simply declare the measure null and void.
Earlier this week, the U.S. administrator for Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, stated in usually candid terms the administration's disregard for the
assassination ban. Appearing on NBC TV's "Meet the Press," Bremer said U.S. officials presumed that Saddam was still alive and that American forces
were trying to kill him.
"The sooner we can either kill him or capture him, the better," Bremer said. Often in the past, officials resorted to winks and nods or other
circumlocutions when asked about U.S. actions that gave the appearance of homicidal intent.
Consider President Reagan's response when he was asked whether the bombing of Moammar Gadhafi's residence in 1986 constituted an effort to kill the
"I don't think any of us would have shed tears if that had happened," Reagan said. Over the past five years, U.S.-sponsored assassination attempts
have been on the increase. Targets have included Osama bin Laden, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic among others.
Former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said before the start of the Iraq war that the assassination ban would not apply once hostilities broke
"People who are in charge of fighting the war to kill United States troops cannot assume that they will be safe," Fleischer said, making clear that
Saddam would not be exempt.
Bremer says the rationale for going after Saddam now even though he is no longer in power is that he remains a rallying point for supporters.
The ban on assassinations, spelled out in an executive order signed by President Ford in 1976 and reinforced by Presidents Carter and Reagan, made no
distinction between wartime and peacetime. There are no loop holes; no matter how awful the leader, he could not be a U.S. target either directly or
by a hired hand.