Nice Assassination

William Saletan, via Slate:

AssassinationIn Syria, the U.S. has used the T-word to describe rebel operations that inflicted mass casualties, such as two car bombs that killed 44 people in Damascus last December. Russia and China have used the same language. Russia’s foreign ministry called the December explosions a “barbarian terror attack,” and China condemned them as “terrorist bombings.” In May, 55 people died, and more than 300 were wounded, in another pair of blasts. Russia’s deputy foreign minister blamed “terrorist groups,” as did China.

Wednesday’s Damascus bombing was different. The insurgents detonated their device so close to their target—the country’s military elite—that everyone known to have died was one of the bad guys. So while President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denounced the Bulgarian tragedy as a “terrorist attack,” nobody in the U.S. government applied that word to what happened in Damascus. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who as CIA director in 2009 oversaw the agency’s abuse of the T-word in the Afghan incident, called the Syrian blast what it was: an “escalation in the fighting.” A State Department spokesman essentially said Assad’s henchmen got what was coming to them: “The United States does not welcome further bloodshed in Syria. We note, however, that these men were key architects of the Assad regime’s assault on the Syrian people.”

Read the rest here.