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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

November 06, 2002

A distinction without a difference

Yesterday, I posted a short piece about the “alleged” US targeted killing of a terrorist in Yemen (see IsraPundit or DawsonSpeaks) . “MadMan”, who runs the site, The Wrath of Kahn, posted a comment which provided links to the official text of the State Department reaction, as given by Richard Boucher in a press conference, Nov 5, 2002. I am quoting the text below primarily for the record, but also as a fine example of how “the best and the brightest” can twist words and ideas into such a convoluted pretzel that one begins to doubt the integrity of the government that stands behind such twisting.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, let the State Department contortions begin:

MR. BOUCHER: Our policy on targeted killings in the Israeli-Palestinian context has not changed --

QUESTION: In other contexts?

MR. BOUCHER: -- and we've discussed that and explained that many times.

QUESTION: And in other contexts?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to speculate.

QUESTION: Well, so you have one rule for one conflict and another rule for another conflict?

MR. BOUCHER: I would say that -- if you look back at what we have said about targeted killings in the Israeli-Palestinian context, you will find that the reasons we have given do not necessarily apply in other circumstances.

QUESTION: If I remember, your opposition, stated opposition at the targeted killings, has not been confined to instances where civilians were victims. I think, basically, it was a flat disapproval of targeted killings.

MR. BOUCHER: We have explained our opposition for a number of reasons. Sometimes all apply and sometimes some apply, but they are particular to those circumstances and I don't want to talk about any speculation about other events. But I think we all understand that the situation with regard to Israeli-Palestinian issues and the prospects of peace and the prospects of negotiation and the prospects of the need to create an atmosphere for progress -- a lot of different things come into play there.

QUESTION: And what's special about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that make targeted killings inadvisable?

MR. BOUCHER: All the things I just cited to your colleague.

QUESTION: I didn't hear those.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, you can look at the transcript.

QUESTION: When you draw a distinction between the Israeli-Palestinian context and other contexts, are you saying that targeted killing might be a legitimate practice in other contexts?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not drawing a distinction between anything and anything else; I'm just saying that if you look carefully, if you look at what we have said about targeted killings in the question of the Israeli-Palestinian disputes, you will see, first of all, as I said today, that our position has not changed, and, second of all, that the factors that we cited for our opposition to targeted killings were particular to that set of circumstances.
QUESTION: So, in other circumstances, it might be legitimate? That's a natural corollary of what you're saying.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, I'm not comparing and contrasting; I'm just saying that we've made our position clear and we stick by it.

Contributed by Joseph Alexander Norland.