Presidential Decision Directive 39

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Presidential Decision Directive 39 (PDD 39) is a 1995 order by President Bill Clinton, setting U.S. policy for counterterrorism.[1] While it not been fully declassified, its states U.S. policy to "deter, defeat, and respond vigorously to all terrorist activities and against our citizens, or facilities...domestically, in international waters or airspace or on foreign territory."

Many of its principles appear to remain in effect, although affected by organizational changes, such as the creation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and replacing the Director of Central Intelligence with the Director of National Intelligence.

Assignment of responsibilities

It assigned a number of responsibilities to various agencies and officials, although the full list remains classified.

The Departments of State and Justice shall use all legal means to exclude, deport, or other methods to remove aliens who pose a terrorist threat.

Return by Force

See also: Extraordinary rendition, U.S.

When terrorists wanted for violation of U.S. law are at large overseas, their return for prosecution shall be a matter of the highest priority. ... If we do not receive adequate cooperation from a state that harbors a terrorist whose extradition we are seeking, we shall take appropriate measures to induce cooperation. Return of suspects by force may be effected without the cooperation of the host government, consistent with the procedures outlined in NSDD-77 which shall remain in effect."


NSD-77, issued by George H. W. Bush, a directive whose title remains classified, was summarized by the 9/11 Commission staff as "If extradition procedures were unavailable or put aside, the United States could seek the local country's assistance in a rendition, secretly putting the fugitive on an airplane to the United States or some third country."[3]