Executive Action is a term that may have been used by the Central Intelligence Agency starting in the early 1950s. It refers to assassination operations . It is said that these operations may have been conducted by the CIA's Division D, a subsection of the agency's Directorate of Operations . A possible list of "Executive Action" operations may include an attempt to kill Fidel Castro using a cigar injected with Botulism toxin and an alleged plan to kill rebel leader Che Guevara.
The Ford administration forbade assassination in 1976 with Executive Order 11905. A Washington Post article, c. 1989 , may have reported that a "secret" ruling of the U.S. Department of State's Office of Legal Advisor had interpreted that Ford's Executive Order only banned intentional killings of foreign leaders, thus clearing the way for "accidental" killings of foreign leaders; for example, during the confusion of a coup or invasion. Since this ruling was one of at least four preceding the U.S. invasion of Panama, some saw the ruling as giving a green light for Manuel Noriega to be killed "accidentally". Noriega survived the invasion and surrendered to US forces.