The general rules are that assassinating of leaders of a country are a no-go for any modern country. partially because of the extreme retaliation that would result, partially because you open the door to your own leadership being assassinated. Of course plenty of governments have been accused of secretly planning, or even successful pulling off, an assassinating before, but nothing publicly acknowledged.

I'm wondering if any large governments, especially more modern ones, have had an open and explicit policy saying that they usually wouldn't assassinate other world leaders unless that leader does some policy. I don't really care what the policy was, only that they had an explicit "you're fair game if you do this" sort of policy.

So for example in theory you might have some country warn that anyone who used nuclear weapons, or perhaps used them in a first strike situation, is now open to assassination attempts to discourage more dictatorial countries from having a single crazed leader starting a nuclear war.

Again I don't care what policy makes one fair game for assisination, only if there was an explicit warning that the action would make you fair game. I'd actually settle for a any semi explicit warnings, you know one of those we totally don't assassinate anyone, but we still highly advise you rethink your plans for your own good wink wink, nudge nudge.

  • 2
    Did you intend to ask Did any governments threaten foreign leaders with assassination if they implement a certain policy? Jan 26 at 19:19

2 Answers 2


Yes - the United States.

Executive Order 12333 ordered:

No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.

It built on Executive Orders 11905 and 12306 which made similar prohibitions. It was later given a "more relaxed interpretation" which excluded the case of terrorists.

  • I feel like you need to quote the 'more relaxed interpretation' for this answer. Right now you only have provided proof that they say they won't assassinate anyone.
    – dsollen
    Jan 26 at 20:12
  • I'm pretty much quoting Wikipedia. But that last bit is not significant to the answer. Jan 26 at 20:15
  • I disagree. The question explicitly was about rather there were actions that would make a country that usually avoided assassination willing to utilize it. You have proven only that a country usually avoided assassination. Without proving there is a situation where that usual 'no assassination' rule no longer applies the question has not been answered. It not applying to a country that aids terrorists (or whatever the 'relaxed' prohibition actually says) could qualify, but without better explaining that half of your claim you haven't yet fully answered the question.
    – dsollen
    Jan 26 at 20:39
  • According to Wikipedia, EO 12333 was last amended on July 30, 2008 by George W. Bush. It also is incorrect that it applies to leaders of nations harboring terrorists. Instead the language merely authorizes the targeting of terrorists directly.
    – hszmv
    Jan 27 at 12:11

I'd be surprised if this exists. The 'go to' big stick is war, not assassination.

The US has been involved in several "regime changes" for countries that it didn't like. I expect that the "regimes" understood the threat, but we did not officially DO the assassination ourselves (yes, the CIA has covertly done it, but not as official policy). If a nation officially threatened assassination, other countries would condemn and probably sanction the offending nation.

Here is the relevant page from our 'defacto' source of truth. I don't see officially authorized assassinations, but several CIA ops to accomplish the same thing:


  • I would no longer call wikipedia a "definitive source." It is flat out wrong in many places, and obviously biased in many, many others. Jan 26 at 19:10
  • Fair enough, I grabbed the wrong word from that mental grouping. I was reaching for 'de facto' source of truth. Jan 26 at 20:46
  • We're on politics.SE, so referencing wikipedia is okay (okay but not great). On skeptics.SE, it is no longer considered to be a reliable source. Jan 26 at 21:16
  • I'll steer clear of skeptics SE, then and stay in friendlier waters :) Jan 26 at 22:05
  • Skeptics SE prefers primary sources; Wikipedia is fine for background information, but you have to check that their claims are referenced to reliable sources. It's normally fine unless you're a member of the "reality has a liberal bias" crew, but you wouldn't reference it in a scientific paper and Skeptics (sometimes) works at a higher standard. (As for threatening assassination, why would you threaten something that's so hard to do, when there are many easier ways of threatening a country?)
    – Stuart F
    Jan 30 at 10:44

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