Donald Rumsfeld weakly dismissed Robertson's hateful incitement: "Private citizens say all kinds of things all the time." But Pat Robertson is no mere private citizen. He was a candidate for the position of Republican Presidential Nominee in 1988. He is a vocal religious leader and broadcaster. He has access to both the electorate and government, and his comments should be held to a higher standard of scrutiny.
"If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it"
"We have the ability to take him out and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another 200 billion dollar 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 get it over with."
I wonder if Rumsfeld would be similarly dismissive of an American broadcast by a Moslem cleric waxing homicidally about the British Prime Minister. Incidentally, Tony Blair outlined his government's response to those "fostering hatred, advocating violence to further a person's beliefs, or justifying or validating such violence": deportation and exclusion, imprisonment for British nationals, or even stripping citizenship.
Whether it is Pat Robertson or my hypothetical Moslem cleric who calls for the assassination of a head of state, he should be unambiguously reprimanded and distanced by the Administration; his telecast, as Jesse Jackson has suggested, should be investigated by the FCC; and his comments should be reviewed by the authorities to determine whether they are criminal. Anything less would be transparently hypocritical.
Take another look at Robertson's comments, and you will see a couple of implicit assumptions that no one has yet commented on. First, that the $200b invasion of Iraq was mounted to depose a strong arm dictator. Second, that the US has the capacity to assassinate a head of state with covert operatives, suggesting it may have exercised that capacity in the past.