Wednesday 28th of September 2022

…and the 11th commandment sayeth: "you shall assassinate, kill, blow up people who displease you when they know too much…..

President Joe Biden’s assassination of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan was illegal under both U.S. and international law.

After the C.I.A. drone strike killed Zawahiri on Aug. 2, Biden declared, “People around the world no longer need to fear the vicious and determined killer.”

What we should fear instead is the dangerous precedent set by Biden’s unlawful extrajudicial execution.

[Related: Al-Qaeda Chief Killing Does Not ‘Make Us Safer’]


BY Marjorie Cohn


In addition to being illegal, the killing of Zawahiri also occurred in a moment when the United Nations had already determined that people in the U.S. had little to fear from him. As a United Nations report released in July concluded,

“Al Qaeda is not viewed as posing an immediate international threat from its safe haven in Afghanistan because it lacks an external operational capability and does not currently wish to cause the Taliban international difficulty or embarrassment.”

Just as former President Barack Obama stated that “Justice has been done” after he assassinated Osama bin Laden, Biden said, “Now justice has been delivered” when he announced the assassination of Zawahiri.

Retaliation, however, does not constitute justice.

Targeted, or political, assassinations are extrajudicial executions. They are deliberate and unlawful killings meted out by order of, or with acquiescence of, a government. Extrajudicial executions are implemented outside a judicial framework.

The fact that Zawahiri did not pose an imminent threat is precisely why his assassination was illegal.

Violated International Law

Extrajudicial executions are prohibited by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which the United States has ratified, making it part of U.S. law under the Constitution’s supremacy clause. 

Article 6 of the ICCPR states,

“Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.”

In its interpretation of Article 6, The UN Human Rights Committee opined that all human beings are entitled to the protection of the right to life “without distinction of any kind, including for persons suspected or convicted of even the most serious crimes.”

“Outside the context of active hostilities, the use of drones or other means for targeted killing is almost never likely to be legal,” tweeted Agnès Callamard, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. “Intentionally lethal or potentially lethal force can only be used where strictly necessary to protect against an imminent threat to life.” In order to be lawful, the United States would need to demonstrate that the target “constituted an imminent threat to others,” Callamard said.


Moreover, willful killing is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions, punishable as a war crime under the U.S. War Crimes Act. A targeted killing is lawful only when deemed necessary to protect life, and no other means (including apprehension or nonlethal incapacitation) is available to protect life.

Violated US Law

The drone strike that killed Zawahiri also violated the War Powers Resolution, which lists three situations in which the president can introduce U.S. Armed Forces into hostilities:

-First, pursuant to a congressional declaration of war, which has not occurred since World War II.

-Second, in “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.” (Zawahiri’s presence in Afghanistan more than 20 years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks did not constitute a “national emergency.”)

-Third, when there is “specific statutory authorization,” such as an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).

In 2001, Congress adopted an AUMF that authorized the president to use military force against individuals, groups and countries that had contributed to the 9/11 attacks “in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”


was one of a small circle of people widely believed to have planned the 2001 hijacking of four airplanes, three of which were flown into the Pentagon and World Trade Center buildings. But since he did not pose “an immediate international threat” before the U.S. targeted him for assassination, he should have been arrested and brought to justice in accordance with the law.

The attack against Zawahiri violated Obama’s targeting rules, which required that the target pose a “continuing imminent threat.” Although former President Donald Trump relaxed Obama’s rules, Biden is conducting a secret review to establish his own standards for targeting killing.

Biden Continues Illegal Drone Strikes

In spite of the Biden administration’s claim that no civilians were killed during the strike on Zawahiri, there has been no independent evidence to support that assertion.

The assassination of Zawahiri came nearly a year after Biden launched an illegal strike as he withdrew U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Ten civilians were killed in that attack. The U.S. Central Command admitted the strike was “a tragic mistake” after an extensive New York Times investigation put a lie to the prior U.S. declaration that it was a “righteous strike.”

Biden declared that although he was withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan, he would mount “over-the-horizon” attacks from outside the country even without troops on the ground. We can expect the Biden administration to conduct future illegal drone strikes that kill civilians.

The 2001 AUMF has been used to justify U.S. military actions in 85 countries. Congress must repeal it and replace it with a new AUMF specifically requiring that any use of force comply with U.S. obligations under international law.

In addition, Congress should revisit the War Powers Resolution and explicitly limit the president’s authority to use force to that which is necessary to repel a sudden or imminent attack.

Finally, the United States must end its “global war on terror” once and for all. Drone strikes terrorize and kill countless civilians and make us more vulnerable to terrorism.



Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, and a member of the national advisory boards of Assange Defense and Veterans For Peace, and the bureau of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers. Her books include Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral and Geopolitical Issues. She is co-host of “Law and Disorder” radio.

This article is from Truthout

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.






over the hill……..



the terrorists of the US empire…….

 By Scott Ritter


Ukraine and its Western backers should be held accountable for the ‘suicidal’ attack on Europe’s largest nuclear powerplant


The US secretary of state hoped to make Russia look like a ‘nuclear terrorist’. Instead, he implicated himself


Even as UN Secretary-General António Guterres addressed survivors of the World War Two US atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima, halfway around the world, the armed forces of Ukraine seemed hellbent on unleashing a modern-day nuclear holocaust on Europe by firing artillery rockets at the Zaporozhye power plant. 

This week's assault, which damaged safety equipment and disrupted power to the facility, the continent's largest, was characterized by Guterres as “suicidal.”

Kiev was quick to blame Russia for the attacks, accusing Moscow of conducting “nuclear terrorism,” and calling for the international community to send in a delegation of “international peacekeepers” to “completely demilitarize the territory.”

The Zaporozhye nuclear facility has been under the physical control of Russia since its forces occupied the site back in March. Since then, the plant has been operated by Ukrainian technicians working under the supervision of Russian atomic energy experts. The facility contains six nuclear reactors which, before the start of the military operation, generated approximately one-fifth of Ukraine’s electricity. Three of these reactors ceased operation after the Russians took control the site, and another one was forced to shut down after the facility was shelled on August 5. The two remaining reactors were likewise compelled to reduce their output to half as a safety precaution.

Ukraine’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yevhenii Tsymbaliuk, declared that Russian forces were attempting to cause electricity blackouts in southern Ukraine by shelling the plant. The Ukrainian state nuclear agency, Energoatom, has accused the Russian military of placing explosives throughout the Zaporozhye nuclear plant, which would be detonated in the event of a Ukrainian counterattack which threatened to capture the facility. The Ukrainian military has also accused Russia of placing military equipment, including ammunition, in buildings located near the nuclear reactors.

The only problem with the Ukrainian narrative is that, simply put, none of it is true. The August 5 attack on the Zaporozhye nuclear facility was carried out by artillery rockets whose impact characteristics point clearly to having originated from Ukrainian controlled territory. Moreover, Russian air defense and counter-battery radars situated in the vicinity of the plant would have detected the ballistic trajectory of the incoming rockets, providing unimpeachable evidence of the origin of the attack. So, too, would have US and NATO intelligence collection platforms operating over and around Ukraine. And, given the propaganda victory that could be achieved by releasing such evidence, one can rest assured that the US would very much take full advantage of any scenario which would reproduce the release of U-2 imagery during the Cuban missile crisis, or the release of the audio tapes of the Soviet fighter pilot downing KAL 007.

This, of course, won’t happen. And given the reality that Russia is engaged in the active defense of the Zaporozhye facility, it is unlikely that it would give away important intelligence about its radar capabilities just to score cheap public relation points. Russia has long been reticent about engaging in cheap propaganda, preferring to let its performance on the battlefield do its speaking for it.

Not so the United States and Ukraine, which have a track record of collaboration when it comes to disseminating information designed to undermine the Russian narrative and “get into the mind” of Russian President Vladimir Putin – even if the information being released to the public is not true.

The Ukrainian attack on the Zaporozhye nuclear facility was, in typical Orwellian fashion, forecasted by the United States four days before it took place. During an August 1 news conference at the United Nations, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Russia of using the nuclear facility as a base from which it conducted artillery strikes against Ukraine. Blinken declared that the act of firing artillery rockets from proximity to the nuclear power plant was “the height of irresponsibility,” implying that these rockets could land on the power plant itself. Blinken also added that the Russians were using the nuclear facility as a “nuclear shield” which prevented any Ukrainian attack out of fear of striking the nuclear reactors.

Blinken’s brazen parroting of Ukrainian government talking points was made more absurd by the absolute dearth of evidence to back up his powerful pronouncements. Normally, when someone of the stature of the Secretary of State speaks in such a public manner about issues of this importance, there is some intelligence information that is released – for instance, overhead imagery showing Russian troop locations near the Zaporozhye nuclear plant – to sustain the allegation. No such data was provided, however, because Blinken had ceased functioning as the head of the American diplomatic service, and instead was functioning as little more than a Ukrainian propagandist.

For its part, Russia has made it clear that there were no Russian forces located in the vicinity of the Zaporozhye nuclear facility save for a small contingent of troops for security purposes (it is, after all, an active nuclear power plant.) Again, while Russia can clearly provide overhead imagery of its force disposition in the vicinity of the plant, operational security precludes it from doing so. It is, after all, the job of the accuser to provide the evidence of a crime, not the accused.

Blinken’s August 1 statement served as the initiation of a public relations campaign which culminated in the Ukrainian artillery attack on the Zaporozhye nuclear facility. The goal of this campaign appears to be twofold – first, to put Russia in a bad light, and second, to allow Ukraine to accomplish that which it could not achieve through military force – the eviction of Russian troops from Zaporozhye. The calls for international intervention emanating from the West point to a concerted effort in promoting a pro-Ukrainian narrative even when all parties know the underlying facts sustaining this narrative are not true. To counteract that, Russia has extended its own invitation to IAEA monitors to visit the powerplant and summoned a UN Security Council meeting to discuss the situation.

This is far more serious than simply another information warfare campaign gone bad. While the Zaporozhye nuclear facility is constructed to standards which would be able to survive a direct hit from an artillery rocket, the disruption of power and/or damage to safety equipment could lead to the kind of runaway event that preceded the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The Russian Defense Ministry noted that the Ukrainian attack on the power plant had caused a power surge which triggered an emergency shutdown. The head of the Ukrainian company operating the plant further noted that all but one power line connecting it to Ukraine’s energy system had been destroyed, declaring that any power blackout could be “very unsafe for such a nuclear facility.”

Secretary-General Guterres rightly called the attack on the Zaporozhye nuclear facility “suicidal.”However, the “nuclear terrorists” involved in this atrocity do not hail from Moscow, but rather Washington and Kiev. When the dust from Russia’s military operation finally settles, and those responsible for perpetrating crimes such as the attack on the Zaporozhye nuclear facility can be held accountable, Tony Blinken’s name should, if there were any justice in this world, be at the top of this list. 


The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.