Newt Gingrich Schools CBS's Pelley on Killing American Born Terrorists Overseas

During Saturday's Republican presidential debate in South Carolina, CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley arrogantly argued with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich about the "rule of law" concerning killing American born terrorists overseas.

By the end of the exchange, Pelley, with a smug, condescending expression on his face, looked quite foolish as the audience applauded and one of Gingrich's opponents on stage actually commented, "Well said. Well said" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

Scott Pelley: Speaker Gingrich, if I could just ask you the same question, as President of the United States, would you sign that death warrant for an American citizen overseas who you believe is a terrorist suspect?

Newt Gingrich: Well, he's not a terrorist suspect. He's a person who was found guilty under review of actively seeking the death of Americans.

Scott Pelley: Not-- not found guilty by a court, sir.

Newt Gingrich: He was found guilty by a panel that looked at it and reported to the president.

Scott Pelley: Well, that's ex-judicial. That's-- it's not--

Newt Gingrich: Let me-- let me-- let me tell you a story-- let me just tell you this.

Scott Pelley: --the rule of law.

Newt Gingrich: It is the rule of law. That is explicitly false. It is the rule of law.

Scott Pelley: No.

Newt Gingrich: If you engage in war against the United States, you are an enemy combatant. You have none of the civil liberties of the United States. You cannot go to court. Let me be-- let me be very clear about this. There are two levels. There's a huge gap here that-- that frankly far too many people get confused over. Civil defense, criminal defense, is a function of being within the American law. Waging war on the United States is outside criminal law. It is an act of war and should be dealt with as an act of war. And the correct thing in an act of war is to kill people who are trying to kill you.

Male Voice: Well said. Well said.

Maybe someone should tell debate moderators that the participants are supposed to debate each other not them.

Also fascinating about this exchange was how as he was being schooled, Pelley was heard saying "No," and the folks at even included that in their transcript.

Let's understand that Pelley's bona fides as an expert on military law include attending journalism school at Texas Tech University with his bio not specifying if he actually earned a degree. From what I can find, he has not authored one book in his career on any subject let alone the one he was challenging the former Speaker on.

By contrast, Gingrich has a B.A. in history from Emory University, a Masters and Ph.D. in modern European history from Tulane, and has authored 25 books including seven on war.

So maybe Pelley ought to wipe that smug, condescending look off his face:

(H/T Right Scoop)

Pakistan Afghanistan Foreign Policy Debates 2012 Presidential CBS Evening News CBS Video Scott Pelley Newt Gingrich
Noel Sheppard's picture

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