Assassination ban still on books but widely ignored. In theory, pursuing with intent to kill violates a long-standing policy banning political assassination. It was the misfortune of Saddam Hussein’s sons that the Bush administration has not bothered to enforce the prohibition. (link)
Yes, let’s call it what it was: an assassination. None of this arrest them and bring them to trial and then execute them. No, we now skip straight to the execution stage. If anybody else but the U.S. did this, it would be a terrorist act. And we’ll no doubt condemn it the next time it happens. But when it’s us that does it, well I guess that must be A-OK. [Al-Muhajabah’s Islamic Blogs]
Actually I very much doubt that it was an assassination–capturing the brothers alive would have been too good a propaganda coup for the Feds. More likely, the office in charge was ordered to “capture them if possible,” and the NCOs in that unit quietly told their troops, “don’t be a hero, their capture is not worth your life.”
However, I wouldn’t have a problem with it even if they actually had been assassinated. If they were captured alive they’d still end up being killed, but first there would be a lengthy kangaroo court “war crimes trial,” which the Iraqi people would no be allowed to participate in except as witnesses. Do we really need yet another fake trial making a mockery of the American legal system?
Note also that I would have been entirely in favor of a private organization taking up a collection to hire assassins to truly assassinate Saddam and his sons, as an alternative to conquering the country. It would have been vastly cheaper, less destructive, and wouldn’t have involved robbing Americans at gunpoint to pay for the whole thing. Naturally the US government would never permit anything so civilized to occur.