The news agency Reuters has reported (6/10/11) that American citizens who are terrorists like Anwar al-Awlaki are being placed on a kill or capture list by a secretive panel of senior government officials, which then informs the President of its decisions.

The role of the president in ordering or ratifying a decision to target a citizen is apparently “fuzzy” according to Reuters. Clearly, though, not warm and fuzzy.

Do other countries have such panels? One might be able to imagine Russia having something similar, with President/PM Vladimir Putin having a good old chuckle as he listens to the panel’s Top 40 hits of the week.

Does Australia have something similar? And who might be on any hit list that was approved by Prime Minister Gillard? Would Kevin 13 be asking that question himself right now?

Australians, having invented the “fair crack of the whip, mate”, would no doubt consider it appropriate to allow nominations to such a list. Because, let’s see, there are those awful landlords featured on A Current Affair recently, and there are the sleazebags who smuggle in the thousands of people invading Australia in little boats. And all Australians hate people who try to rig or cheat at sport, and of course, there are those un-Australian bakers who don’t know how to make a proper lamington. They really need to be done away with.

More pertinently, one should be asking who might be the members of the “judging panel” that decides on who to hit? Imagine, if in the US during George W Bush’s presidency the panel included Donald Rumsfeld? All those conspiracies about why it took until Barack Obama became President to get Osama Bin Laden would have even more of a run in the National Enquirer.

There are some obvious candidates for a “Hit Panel”. Kyle Sandilands would have to be front runner, and of course Graham Richardson would be in the Chair. With his super-sized knife, our Crocodile Dundee, Paul Hogan, would also be a natural. That would be one way he might keep the ATO off his back… permanently.

But seriously, there are clearly cultural relevancies that need to be considered here. Obviously, the Bulgarians would carry out the work using poisoned-tip umbrellas. The Japanese would apologise as they squashed people to death on the commuter trains. The French would strike their targets with a picket, and the Italians would love ’em to death at a PM’s Bunga Bunga party.

Regardless, I can see numerous novels about corruption of the process, when some innocent thriller writer gets targeted because he or she has invented a plot that is just too close to reality. Come to think of it, I saw a show on TV recently called At Home with Julia…