Liberal Group Asks Robertson to Retract Call for Assassination of Venezuelan President

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:31 PM EDT

(3rd Add: Includes comments by State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.)

( - A liberal media watchdog group Tuesday called on Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson to retract statements he made calling for the U.S. to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

On the Monday edition of his show "The 700 Club," Robertson said Chavez should be killed, because "it's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war." Media Matters for America President and CEO David Brock called Robertson's comments "an irresponsible use of the public airwaves.

"Pat Robertson's call for the assassination of a foreign leader is an irresponsible use of the public airwaves, as well as a call for the Bush administration to violate the executive order banning assassination," said Brock in a statement. "Responsible news outlets should think twice before providing him a platform from which to peddle his inappropriate and inaccurate claims."

During his Aug. 22 program, Robertson called Chavez a "danger" who will make Venezuela "a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent.

"There was a popular coup that overthrew him (Chavez). And what did the United States State Department do about it? Virtually nothing. And as a result, within about 48 hours that coup was broken; Chavez was back in power, but we had a chance to move in," said Robertson.

"He has destroyed the Venezuelan economy, and he's going to make that a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent," said Robertson. "You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.

"It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger and the United ... This is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen. We have the Monroe Doctrine, we have other doctrines that we have announced," Robertson added.

"And without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability," Robertson said.

"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," he added.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Robertson's comments were "inappropriate," adding that assassinating foreign leaders is not the policy of the U.S. government. "We do not share his views," said McCormack.

When asked about Robertson's comments Tuesday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the Defense Department "doesn't do that kind of thing." Robertson is a private citizen, Rumsfeld said, adding that private citizens make those kinds of comments all the time.

Rumsfeld also said the U.S. "favors peaceful democratic relationships" between the countries in the Western hemisphere and the U.S. is in favor of "each country working out its own solutions politically free of external influence."

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