Executive actions of the CIA

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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.[1] 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.[2] A possible list of "Executive Action" operations may include an attempt to kill Fidel Castro[3] using a cigar injected with Botulism toxin[4] and an alleged plan to kill rebel leader Che Guevara.[5]

The Ford administration forbade assassination in 1976 with Executive Order 11905. A Washington Post article, c. 1989[citation needed][verification needed], 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[who?] saw the ruling as giving a green light for Manuel Noriega to be killed "accidentally". Noriega survived the invasion and surrendered to US forces.

The CIA started to use drone strikes for targeted killing under President George W. Bush in 2001, during the War on Terror.[6] It lost authority to do so by order of President Barack Obama, but regained it again under President Donald Trump.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Escalante Font, Fabián. Executive Action: 634 Ways to Kill Fidel Castro. Melbourne: Ocean Press, 2006.
  2. ^ Valentine, Douglas (2004). The Strength of the Wolf: The Secret History of America's War on Drugs. Verso. p. 226. ISBN 9781859845684.
  3. ^ "C.I.A. Assassination Unit Described". The New York Times. October 1975.
  4. ^ Boadle, Anthony (July 2007). "Closest CIA bid to kill Castro was poisoned drink". Reuters.
  5. ^ "Summary of Facts Investigation of CIA Involvement in Plans to Assassinate Foreign Leaders" (PDF). Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum. June 1975.
  6. ^ The Story of America's Very First Drone Strike
  7. ^ Trump Restores CIA Power To Launch Drone Strikes