The concept of a secret agent having a “licence to kill” was not created out of thin air by Ian Fleming after WWII. And 007 was not the first either. (There were obviously six other agents before him.)
The use of lethal force had been authorized during the war to eliminate Nazi enemy agents and meet ‘force with force’ as required. But who ‘authorized’ the killing?
It shouldn’t surprise you that our governments did. Sure, they wanted to appear to keep their hands clean, so they created departments to oversee the spies, and gave them secret directives so that they knew what they could and couldn’t do.
Meet Rowan Pope: the merciless and sinister father of D.C.-fixer and crisis-manager Olivia Pope and formerly the immoral head of the clandestine, black-ops division “B613.”
According to a fan site of the show: Despite [B613] serving the US government so far it doesn’t appear that they answer to anyone not even The President of the United States. At present they seem to deal with a large number of covert missions; specifically Torture and Assassinations made to look like suicides. B613 has recently been re-established via [an] Executive Order signed into law by President Mellie Grant. (Fandom)
This depiction of a rouge ‘black ops’ task force shows our collective paranoia of what may be happening in the real world.
Of course, the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) has been around since forever, it seems. This movie from 2015 has the team working outside governmental controls in order to track down and eliminate a shadowy enemy group who happen to be former agents thought to be dead.
Ethan Hunt is a man of singular focus, which means he won’t let a little thing like being outlawed get in the way of doing his job. So much for ‘rule of law’, eh?
War on Terror
Even the NSA has come under increasing criticism for its flouting of the rules. Freedoms that are ‘inalienable’ rights in the USA are being encroached upon every day in the name of National Security. The reply to that criticism is simple: do you want to feel safe, or not?
And that really is the point of all this law-breaking: if the ‘bad guys’ are doing it, we better do it before they do, to put a stop to it. It’s the Wild West again.