Assassins & Assassination at Work

ENTERTAINMENT/POLITICS - Do you remember the assassination of JFK?

Chances are likely, you don't remember because you weren't even born yet.

Warning! The video of the JFK assassination is pretty graphic. You can actually see a chunk of JFK's head being ripped off by the bullet.

In my lifetime, I don't recall anyone important being assassinated.

Mysterious deaths maybe, like the death of weapons inspector Dr. David Kelly in Britain who said publicly there was no WMD left in Iraq, but turned up dead 4 days later from a supposed suicide.

Dr. David Kelly's mysterious death sparked the Hutton Inquiry, which mostly talked about the lead up to leaked information in the media. The inquiry largely ignored the possibility David Kelly might have been murdered, as there was no suicide note and he was killed by an overdose of medication.

A book entitled "The Strange Death of David Kelly" by Norman Baker contends that Dr. Kelly didn't commit suicide and was killed because Britain and the United States wanted to further the war against Iraq.

With Barack Obama, the first black president in the White House, and George W. Bush now in retirement (but under relatively heavy guard) you'd think someone would try to shoot one or both of them.

I am not saying I am supporting such a thing, but I am hardly the first person to suggest the possibility of someone trying it. Security around Barack Obama is the highest any American president has ever seen. The Secret Service is absolutely paranoid about an attempt on him.

And George W. Bush? People have been joking about killing him for 9 years now, and there was even a 2006 film directed by Gabriel Range on the topic called "Death of a President" in which Bush gets killed coming out of Chicago Sheraton Hotel.

In the film the assassination is then investigated and the blame goes to Syria, because of a Syrian suspect. However, as it turns out it was the father of a dead American soldier (who had died in Iraq) who did the deed.

Then there's the mythology around assassins. We tend to revere them as sex symbols, powerful and aloof from the rest of society.

Thanks to the marvel of James Bond movies... I'd say we have a healthy appetite for assassins themselves, both male and female assassins. We don't have to go far to find them. Kill Bill (starring Uma Thurman), La Femme Nikita, Mr and Mrs Smith (starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie), Assassins (starring Sylvester Stallone and Antonio Banderas), etc...

But when have we ever seen a female assassin in real life?

To my knowledge, never. It seems to be a predominantly male occupation, despite all the movies, TV shows and comic books on the topic.

So if female assassins don't exist, why the obsession with them? Just because femme fatales are sexy?

Maybe so.

We also tend to think of assassins as two possibilities: Guns-for-Hire, or Vengeful Vigilantes.

I have only seen two films which depicts an assassin as funny: 'The Tailor of Panama' and 'The Matador', both starring Pierce Brosnan, and in both cases a gun for hire who wants to retire.

We don't see assassinations very often. By their very nature, they are rare. Maybe that explains our interest in romanticizing assassins in North American culture. Unlike superheroes like Superman, Batman, SpiderMan, etc. assassins do actually exist in real life, and they have (supposedly) skills that go beyond the norm of regular people.

The ideal (James Bond-ish) assassin has a list of talents that includes knowledge of martial arts, sniper training, military training, cat burglar like grace and acrobatics, lots of tools and gadgets... and in theory they're also good at charming people, which implies their good with the opposite sex.

(Note the similarities between James Bond and Batman: Neither has super powers, both use gadgets, gadget-oriented supercars, have a British guy named Q or Alfred helping them out and by the end of the movie usually saves the damsel in distress by ultimately outsmarting the villain.)

But you see there's a problem... the James Bond-ish assassin doesn't exist. Even Ian Fleming, British-spy-turned-novelist, wasn't actually an assassin. He was just a spy, and by his biography not really that spectacular of an one (Ian Fleming was also a racist and modern printings of 'Dr No' et al have had to be altered because they're just not kosher, but thats a different matter).

Real government assassins, the ones we never hear about, are probably so good at their job we would never know it was an assassination. They'd make it look like suicide, like poor Dr. David Kelly.

And vigilante assassins, the ones who aren't motivated by a paycheque but some kind of political strife, are much more realistic in comparison. Where is the movies about them? Usually vigilante assassins are depicted as the villains, and perhaps they are, but it does seem strange that government assassins are treated like sex symbols in Hollywood, while the more realistic vigilante assassins get such a bad reputation.

After all, if Big Brother was watching over our shoulder and assassinating people who go against the government (either by accident or by design), why should we be glorifying a career-killer when in reality they sound more like villains?

Lets take the case of Alexander Litvinenko, a Russian spy who spoke out against the Russian government (Litvinenko's superiors ordered the assassination of Russian tycoon and oligarch, Boris Berezovsky) and was later poisoned by someone in the Russian government back in 2006. Litvinenko died from the poison radionuclide polonium-210 (a radioactive poison reserved for military use).

So government assassins are real, and they really shouldn't be romanticized.

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