Murdering The Language: When Assassination Is Called Something Other Than Assassination

“Over the decades, killing a leader or prominent person under the rubric of covert action has been called many things by those who plan and oversee operations but never assassination, because assassination is illegal. Killing a leader or prominent person at the behest of the president is legal under Title 50 of the U.S. Code.

“President Dwight Eisenhower’s advisors discussed “eliminating’ foreign leaders, and they set up a Health Alteration Committee to “neutralize” or “disable” certain people. They spoke in riddles to uphold the construct of plausible deniability. Congress later found President John F. Kennedy’s advisors formalized killing and called it Executive Action.  To President Ronald Reagan the construct became “pre-emptive neutralization” — eliminating terrorists before they had a chance to strike again. Under President George W, Bush the term “lethal direct action” was used. Under President Barack Obama killing terrorists became known publicly as “targeted killing.” The question arises, how does killing any one person advance U.S. foreign policy objectives?”

— Annie Jacobsen, Surprise, Kill, Vanish: The Secret History Of CIA Paramilitary Armies, Operators, And Assassins” (p. 4)


“Post-truth is pre-fascism.” 

― Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century