Assassination Outlawed

Rep. Terry Everett is renewing his call to roll back a 27-year-old order outlawing the practice. Everett's Terrorist Elimination Act has received little support in Congress.

Terrorists such as Osama bin Laden are the real aim of Everett's legislation. But Everett acknowledges it could also apply to Saddam Hussein and other national leaders blamed for terrorist acts or harboring terrorists.

While command and control stations -- and the leaders who occupy them -- are fair game under international war laws, American policy forbids covert efforts to kill a leader before a war begins. Everett said that makes no sense.

The assassination ban is an executive order, issued by President Gerald Ford in 1976 and updated by President Ronald Reagan in 1981. That means it wouldn't take an act of Congress to rescind it. President Bush could simply roll it back on his own, and he wouldn't even have to announce it.

Alabama Democrat Artur Davis said if the U.S. is not at war with a country, it has no business trying to assassinate its leader.