"The CIA Hit List": Muslim Men to be Murdered as "Threats to the US"
"The CIA Hit List" is a media term for selected Muslim men to be murdered as threats to the United States. As President, Bush used the phrase for his list of "terrorist" suspects when the policy was first made public mid-December 2002. Names on the “hit list” surface, then recede so it is hard to be sure who is current. (1)
The Bush announcement, aware of prohibitions against assassinations in the executive orders of former presidents, designated the suspects as "enemy combatants" to avoid a direct confrontation with the laws of war (LOW) aka laws of armed conflicts (LOAC), which are binding on the U.S.(2). Media reports of Dennis Blair, the Director of National Intelligence, in testimony to the House Intelligence Committee February 3, 2010, make no mention of "enemy combatants" when he reserves the right to include American citizens as targets for murder.(3) Then on April 6, 2010 a spokesman for the intelligence community announced that Anwar al-Aulaqi, a Muslim cleric and American citizen is added to the CIA hit list.(4) The imam is known for his statements of faith on the internet. Because he is an American citizen Presidential approval was required for the death command. But more importantly, al-Aulaqi is a civilian.
To quote the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,(5) signed and ratified by the U.S. and now part of the Laws of War,(6)
"In countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes in accordance with the law in force at the time of the commission of the crime and not contrary to the provisions of the present Covenant and to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This penalty can only be carried out pursuant to a final judgement rendered by a competent court.
"When deprivation of life constitutes the crime of genocide, it is understood that nothing in this article shall authorize any State Party to the present Covenant to derogate in any way from any obligation assumed under the provisions of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide." (ICCR, Part III Article 6, #2, & 3).
Assassination of anyone is expressly forbidden in the Laws of War (Law of Land Warfare, Section 2, #31). Because this addresses State policies so clearly, both Presidents Ford and Reagan issued executive orders forbidding assassination. President Reagan's Executive Order 12333 (Dec. 4, 1981) states: “Prohibition on Assassination. No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination” (Section 2.11). "Indirect participation is forbidden as well"(Section 2.12).(7) An attempt to counter the Executive order was proposed through legislation ( H.R. 19: Terrorist Elimination Act of 2001) which failed and again in 2003 which failed. This order remains in effect. As customary law it can't be superseded as law for executive convenience. Germany's Third Reich, for example, evolved convenient laws to strip Jews of the right to own property or work.(8) At liberation those "laws" were recognized as simply tactics of the genocide.
It is the declared policy of the the Department of Defense to "comply with the law of war."(9)
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