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What is Bin Laden Due?

Fred Thompson continues to have trouble with answering questions about Osama bin Laden. His latest answer, to reporters while campaigning in South Carolina, seemed to suggest that the world's most wanted terrorist should be subject to the constitutional protections afforded criminals in the U.S.

"We've got due process to go through" Thompson said, elaborating on his promise to "capture and kill" bin Laden. "I'm not suggesting those things happen simultaneously."

The answer is the third attempt in less than a week to address how he would deal with the Sept. 11 mastermind if he were elected president. Bin Laden has eluded capture and has recently issued a new video from hiding urging more attacks against the U.S.

On his second day of campaigning, Thompson said Bin Laden was more "symbolism" than anything else, suggesting that capturing him would not be a top priority for a Thompson administration.

Later that day, after being criticized by his rivals as soft, Thompson altered his rhetoric, telling an audience that Bin Laden "ought to be caught and killed."

Thompson spokesman Todd Harris, who was traveling with Thompson in South Carolina today, explained that, yes, Thompson wants Bin Laden killed, but not before "we ... milk every ounce of intelligence information out of him to fight the war on terror."

As Harris explains it, Thompson does not believe that Bin Laden should receive the same constitutional due process protections of American citizens. Rather, he said, "he's talking about the same kind of due process that they receive at Guantanamo."

--Michael D. Shear

By Washington Post editors  |  September 10, 2007; 4:38 PM ET
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OUCH !!! This excerpt from article in today's NH Concord Monitor by columnist Katy Burns

"Thompson managed a rare two-fer: He poked a stick into the eyes of all the other Republican candidates who'd been slogging along the campaign trail for months, and he gave a figurative finger to New Hampshire voters by eschewing a Granite State debate held that same night. Thompson's stunt was not just insulting or gimmicky. It was both arrogant and tacky, far, far beneath anything Arthur Branch, his TV character, would do."

"His refusal to debate his fellow candidates before a live audience hints at more than a bit of cowardice on Fred's part. If he's not ready to stand up to mildly challenging questions now, how on earth will he cope with the rigors of a real campaign?"

Posted by: dale | September 10, 2007 5:30 PM | Report abuse

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