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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

"Who would Jesus assassinate?" 

First, lets make no mistake about what Pat Robertson actually said:
We have the ability to take him [Chavez] out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.
"Who would Jesus Assassinate?" asked Keith Olbermann at Countdown tonight.
One question raised by the whole Pat Robertson episode is whether being a religious extremist cause you to become mentally ill, or whether being mentally ill leads to religious extremism? Either way, Robertson now qualifies (see also Phelps, Fred).
But today's most remarkable non-denial denial statement came from Donald Rumsfeld. The AP story 'U.S. dodges Robertson comments on Chavez' includes a pretty lackluster distancing from Robertson's remarks and quotes Rumsfeld as saying "Our department doesn't do that kind of thing. It's against the law. He's a private citizen. Private citizens say all kinds of things all the time."
Oh, that Rummy -- just so coy, isn't he? Lets take a closer look at that remarkable statement:
"Our department doesn't do that kind of thing" -- baldfaced balderdash. Remember, for example, the Phoenix program in Vietnam. And the CIA has admitted to political assassinations like that of Allende in Chile. Bush's Herod Doctrine now OKs US preemptive strikes. And don't forget Ari Fleisher's remark in October, 2002 about how one bullet for Saddam wouldn't cost very much.
"Its against the law." Well, yes, it is contrary to international law as well as being a completely short-sighted and self-defeating policy. Of course, the US isn't a member of the international court, and the invasion of Iraq was against the law too. . .
"He's a private citizen." Yeah, like Saddam Hussein is now a private citizen. Pat Robertson hosts one of the most popular TV shows in the world, the 700 club; he tried to run for president 18 years ago, and still has influence in both the White House and Congress. So please excuse the world for thinking that maybe someone got him to run up a flag to see if somebody salutes.
"Private citizens say all kinds of things all the time." --well, yeah, but that doesn't mean remarks like this are just ignored. There is such a thing as hate speech, and the Secret Service is supposed to keep track of 'private citizens' who go around making threatening remarks about government leaders.
It just goes to prove how right Chretien was: "If you start changing regimes, where do you stop, this is the problem. Who is next? Give me the list, the priorities."

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