Matt Waxman quoted in the Atlantic article, “It Wasn’t the Law That Stopped Other Presidents From Killing Soleimani”

Matt Waxman quoted in the Atlantic article, “It Wasn’t the Law That Stopped Other Presidents From Killing Soleimani”

“The [assassination] ban arose in response to covert CIA plots to, for example, kill Fidel Castro with an exploding cigar during peacetime—essentially, attempting to kill because of political differences, not in wartime self-defense, said Matthew Waxman, who directs the National Security Law Program at Columbia University and served in the Bush administration. The Obama administration used the term targeted killing for strikes on terrorist leaders in overseas battlefields—arguing that they fell under a right to self-defense in an ongoing war against al-Qaeda…

“The risks of action in other cases have restrained the U.S. from targeting military leaders—for instance, to hold on to the possibility of negotiations, or out of the belief, in Murphy’s words, that ‘such action will get more, not less, Americans killed.’ But action is not unprecedented. ‘We have [in the past] gone after very, very senior military leaders; usually that would be kind of in the course of an ongoing war,’ Waxman told me. During the Iraq War, a congressionally authorized state-on-state conflict, U.S. troops had a ‘deck of cards’ of top most-wanted figures, including senior leaders in Saddam Hussein’s armed forces. During World War II, the U.S. killed the Japanese admiral who plotted the attack on Pearl Harbor…”

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