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Bond's "licence to Kill"; what does it really mean?


So the double-naught designation gives the holder a "licence to kill". Is it only for sanctioned assassinations? Is it supposed to protect him from killing random civilians that get in the way? Can Bond shoot someone in the middle of the street and not be prosecuted? Is there reciprocity with other countries? Can Bond kill people in Canada or the US? Is there no recourse to the law if Bond kills someone he shouldn't?

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Well, my understanding is that he is sanctioned to kill according to his better judgement while in execution* of his duties.

There is no "real life" version of this kind of thing. Assassinations are what they are, and I know there are rules around their use within spy agencies and governments, but it's never legal to hop over to another country and waste somebody in the international sense.

I think it's like having a company credit card and business expenses. Bond returns from a mission and he hands in a report folder including who he killed, when he killed them, and with what purpose. M approves it and sends it to archives for redacting. If there's something odd in there that sticks out, M would probably call Bond into his office, "Why did you murder the bell hop, 007?" and so forth. Bond has to justify expenses and murders. I've always assumed it just gave him a little more leeway than the average agent with who he is allowed to slay.

*Pun absolutely intended.

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Sometimes he does it over the phone in a code that only "M" understands:

From Quantum of Solace:
M : Ask him about Slate.
Tanner : She wants to know about Slate.
James Bond : Slate was a dead end.
Tanner : He says it was a dead end.
M : Damn it! He killed him.

I love how Tanner just did not pick up on that.

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I know it's a long time ago but I really like this post 👍

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Thank you. I appreciate your taking the time to say so three years later.

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My impression is he's basically a weapon of destruction and all collateral damage is go. Now if he gets caught popping civilians, he will of course be disavowed, arrested like a normal person, and likely assassinated quickly before he could divulge secrets.

If M finds out he's just wasting people left and right, I should imagine he'd be pulled off mission immediately and if he didn't fall in line at HQ, they'd send another 00 agent to mop him up.

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I imagine there is probably also a clause that the UK will never extradite him to another country if he is ever discovered.

PS: I imagine he also has some kind of protection on US soil from his association with Felix Leiter.

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I'm now assuming that Bond now without his "licence to kill", doesn't have legal clearness to kill Sanchez and his minions. In other words, when he for example, fed Killifer to the shark, dragged Dario into the grinder, and set Sanchez on fire, they all fit within the legal definition of murder. Then again, you can I think, make a justifiable case that Bond was merely acting in self-defense since he would've in all likelihood, been killed himself if he didn't react.

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