A Killer of a "Joke"by Will Grigg
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A US citizen who jokes about assassinating the president or any other prominent official can expect to receive a visit from the Secret Service or the FBI. Even if the statement was an ill-advised act of whimsy, rather than a credible threat, the citizen who makes it will most likely be prosecuted and face fines and a prison sentence.
Things are rather different when public officials speak irresponsibly about killing citizens. This is true even – or perhaps especially – for officials who have the means to carry out such designs.
During the 2013 Cybersecurity Summit in Washington, Gen. Michael Hayden, the former chief of the CIA and the National Security Agency, joked about putting NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden on a “kill list.” Republican Congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, replied: “I can help you with that.”
The “kill list,” of course, refers to people who are subject to summary execution on presidential orders. No fewer than three US citizens on that list have been killed through drone strikes, and both Hayden and Rogers have been implicated in those extra-judicial killings.
This isn’t merely a bad joke. It’s a public admission of conspiracy to commit murder.