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Assassination as Foreign Policy, Should the U.S. Kill Saddam Hussein?

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The U.S. hunt for the former Iraqi president intensified yesterday near Tikrit as troops carried out dozens of raids. Democracy Now! hosts a debate between National Security Law director Robert Turner and Marjorie Cohn of the Thomas Jefferson School of law on whether the U.S. should assassinate Saddam as they did to his sons last week.

The Arab satellite station Al-Arabiya last night broadcast an audiotape said to be from Saddam Hussein.

On the tape, Saddam Hussein allegedly offered condolences to the Iraqi nation for the deaths of his sons. The voice said, “I mourn to you the deaths of Uday and Qusay and those who struggled with them. You are the honor of this nation. America will be defeated.”

Meanwhile, the UN secretary general’s special representative in Iraq Sergio Vieira de Mello called for Saddam to be captured alive. He said it was too easy an end for Saddam to be killed.

There have been numerous debates in the media over the release of the bloody and grisly photos of Uday and Qusay Hussein. But few have asked whether killing them was justified at all.

In the legal periodical Jurist, law professor Marjorie Cohn writes:

“Uday and Qusai Hussein should have been arrested and tried in Iraqi courts or an international tribunal for their alleged crimes. George W. Bush cannot serve as judge, jury and executioner. This assassination creates a dangerous precedent, which could be used to justify the targeted killings of U.S. leaders.”

There are some who would argue differently. Robert Turner of the University of Virginia School of Law writes on the targeting of Osama Bin Laden:

“Intentionally killing a murderer like bin Laden when necessary to prevent the slaughter of additional innocents is not assassination.”

Today on Democracy Now! a debate on the US policy of assassination.

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