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Entitled "United States Foreign Intelligence Activities," this executive order was released by US President Gerald Ford on February 18, 1976. While most of the order deals with mundane issues such as federal oversight of intelligence activities, subsection g of Section 5 ("Restrictions on Intelligence Activities") has been the subject of considerable interest. It reads, in full:
Prohibition of Assassination. No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.

This subsection was renewed by the Carter administration in Sec. 2-205 of executive order 12036, and by the Reagan administration in Sec. 2.11 of executive order 12333. It remains in effect today. Because it is not a law passed by the Congress, it may be rescinded by Presidential action, or superseded by the enactment of an overriding federal law.

Executive Order 11905 was issued in the wake of embarrassing revelations about the CIA's botched assassination attempts aimed at Fidel Castro. Since its issue, it has been illegal for the United States to assassinate anyone. This is much to the consternation of many in the government who wish to give the intelligence community a freer hand in dealing with individuals who are perceived as threats. Osama bin Laden is one such figure.

In the wake of the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Republican Senator Bob Barr urged the Clinton administration to lift the assassination ban and go after bin Laden. This advice was not taken, so in early 2001 Bob Barr introduced H.R. 19, the "Terrorist Elimination Act of 2001," which would lift the ban via direct Congressional action. As of the date of this writeup, the act has not passed; but in the wake of the 9/11/01 terrorist bombings in the US, the issue is being carefully reconsidered.

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