Executive Order 12333 prohibits the United States Government from engaging in or conspiring to engage in assassination.
Executive Order 12333–United States intelligence activities
Source: The provisions of Executive Order 12333 of Dec. 4, 1981, appear at 46 FR 59941, 3 CFR, 1981 Comp., p. 200, unless otherwise noted.
2.11Prohibition on Assassination. No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.
The following video shows president Obama explaining the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki on September 30, 2011.
The following report from Reuters gives added details on this “strike”:
The killing of Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen on Friday by a U.S. drone strike is the culmination of two years of extensive U.S. efforts to track down the American-born member of al Qaeda and put him out of action.
Awlaki, identified by U.S. intelligence as “chief of external operations” for al Qaeda’s Yemen branch and a Web-savvy propagandist for the Islamist cause, was killed in an attack by missiles fired from multiple CIA drones in a remote Yemeni town, U.S. officials said.
Among three other people killed in the attack, a U.S. official said, was Samir Khan, another American who turned to militancy and served as editor of “Inspire,” a glossy magazine used as a propaganda and recruitment vehicle by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The Yemen-based group is deemed by U.S. officials to be one of al Qaeda’s most dangerous offshoots.
The United States participated in the Libyan “right to protect” action under the United Nations which led to the capture and execution of Gaddafi again using US drones to attack his convoy. Let’s give the president some latitude on whether this was another assassination attempt since it did not kill Gaddafi directly. Let’s not go into the bin Laden attack.
The president has authorized the deployment of a strike team to Uganda in another “kill or capture” kinetic action:
US President Barack Obama has said he is sending about 100 US soldiers to Uganda to help regional forces battle the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army.
The force will use hi-tech equipment to assist in what analysts say is a “kill or capture” policy, the BBC’s Marcus George in Washington reports.
I am not judging the actions of the president in these matters. I am just curious what the penalty for violating presidential executive orders really is. I guess it is predicated on what your definition of the word “is” is.