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Following the September 11. 2001, attacks, the White House said the presidential directive banning assassinations would not prevent the United States from acting in self-defense.
According to an October 21, 2001, Washington Post article, President Bush in September of last year signed an intelligence "finding" instructing the CIA to engage in "lethal covert operations" to destroy Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda organization.
White House and CIA lawyers believe that the intelligence "finding" is constitutional because the ban on political assassination does not apply to wartime. They also contend that the prohibition does not preclude the United States taking action against terrorists.