Assassination: An Assessment

Date of Graduation

Fall 1999


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

William Van Cleave


This thesis is an assessment of the possible use of assassination by the United States against those who threaten U.S. interests through acts of terrorism and warfare. With the terrorist bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on 7 August 1998, the United States government and its citizens were once again forced to confront the realities of international terrorism. Osama bin Ladin has been indicted for these bombings, as well as other terrorist attacks against the United States and its citizens. Saddam Hussein is a Near Eastern despot who was a threat to the United States even before his invasion of Kuwait in 1991. Hussein has been developing nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons in order to destroy Israel, a strategically important U.S. ally, and to limit U.S. actions in the Near East. With regard to both Osama bin Ladin and Saddam Hussein, many in the public have asked the question, "why don't we just kill him?" This thesis attempts to answer this question by examining the option of assassinating those who threaten U.S. interests through acts of terrorism and warfare. Under certain circumstances, assassination of these individuals by the United States Government is possible, legal, and moral.

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Fred W Mankins


Open Access