Suspending the ban on assassinations-as established in Executive Order 12333-serves no practical purpose. The Executive Order is not an obstacle to effective prosecution of the War on Terrorism; in fact, its reach is very limited. Although common sense might suggest that "assassination" equates with the targeted killing of a specific individual, the term is in fact a legal term of art with a very narrow definition derived from the Law of War. As a result, Executive Order 12333 only prohibits a very narrow spectrum of attacks in wartime or against clear threats to national security. As the United States has not typically engaged such means to attack "leadership targets" for several decades, publicly rescinding the offer now would grant no more freedom to act and only would serve to undermine the United States' public diplomacy abroad.
American Law and Policy on Assassinations of Foreign Leaders: The Practicality of Maintaining the Status Quo,
B.C. Int'l & Comp. L. Rev.