August Desmond on Politics

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JANUARY 30, 2012 4:02PM

Leon Panetta and Terrorists

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Leon Panetta, CBS News interview, January 29, 2012:

"If someone is a citizen of the United States and is a terrorist who wants to attack our people and kill Americans, in my book that person is a terrorist - and the reality is that under our laws, that person is a terrorist, and we're required under a process of law to be able to justify that despite the fact that this person may be a citizen, he is first and foremost a terrorist who threatens our people, and for that reason we can establish a legal basis on which we ought to go after that individual just as we go after bin Laden just as we go after other terrorists, why? Beacuse their goal is to kill our people, and for that reason we have to defend ourselves."


 

Let me know if the following seems like an unfair summary of Mr Panetta's argument.

"If someone is...a terrorist, in my book that person is a terrorist - and the reality is that...person is a terrorist...he is...a terrorist...terrorists."

I really don't see that he expressed anything in between those extracts that really counts as what a linguist would call information, at least as could be presented to a skeptic.

I would like to point out this line, however:
"...we're required under a process of law to be able to justify that despite the fact that this person may be a citizen, he is first and foremost a terrorist who threatens our people, and for that reason we can establish a legal basis on which we ought to go after that individual..."

What exactly is that process of law? And when do you plan on justifying your claim that the American citizen named Anwar al-Awlaki was a terrorist? Or even to define what "terrorist" means without just saying the word "terrorist" another five or six times?

Also, if Alwaki was an American citizen, as Panetta seems fully ready to admit, doesn't that mean that Leon Panetta and Barack Obama are also terrorists - since they killed one of "our people"? Even when subsequently asked, Panetta did not claim that the President's right to murder Awlaki came from any kind of forfeiture of citizenship.

To go back to his full answer and what that means for America generally - if the reason terrorists are terrorists is because they "kill our people," what about murderers, Mr Panetta? Murderers! On American soil! Murdering Americans! Killing our people! Can we just start dropping drone bombs or whatever on accused murderers now too? Just replace the entire judicial system with the CIA's drone strike program. After all, the wars on drugs or poverty are wars, are they not? Man up and let's start making some craters.

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