Terminate with extreme prejudice
In military and other covert operations, terminate with extreme prejudice is a euphemism for aggressive execution (playing on the expression "termination with prejudice" of an employment contract). In a military intelligence context, it is generally understood as an order to assassinate. Its meaning was explained in a New York Times report on an incident during the Vietnam War.
According to Douglas Valentine in his book The Phoenix Program (1990), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) routinely used the term during the Vietnam War when firing its locally hired operatives. In cases of extreme misconduct, an assassination ("termination with extreme prejudice") was ordered.
In popular culture
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Apocalypse Now|
The term was used in the 1979 film Apocalypse Now, in which Captain Willard is ordered by Jerry, a man in civilian attire (presumably CIA), to "terminate the command" of the allegedly insane Colonel Kurtz with "extreme prejudice." The full exchange runs:,
- Colonel Lucas: Your mission is to proceed up the Nung River in a Navy patrol boat. Pick up Colonel Kurtz's path at Nu Mung Bha, follow it, learn what you can along the way. When you find the Colonel, infiltrate his team by whatever means available and terminate the Colonel's command.
- Willard: Terminate... the Colonel?
- General Corman: He's out there operating without any decent restraint, totally beyond the pale of any acceptable human conduct. And he is still in the field commanding troops.
- Jerry: Terminate... with extreme prejudice.
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