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October 28, 2002

THE WHITE HOUSE IS DEFENDING PUTIN with some well-chosen words:

"The Russian government and the Russian people are victims of this tragedy, and the tragedy was caused as a result of the terrorists who took hostages and booby-trapped the building and created dire circumstances," Fleischer said.

Asked directly about the use of the knockout gas, Fleischer wouldn't say whether the administration believed it was appropriate. "We don't know what all the facts are," he said.

But, he said, "Given the fact that the terrorists were clearly serious and had already killed people, and apparently had the theater booby-trapped so all would die, it's important to know what the full circumstances are before venturing further."

I'm prepared to be convinced that using the gas was a mistake. But those who take that position ought to suggest what else Putin should have done under the circumstances. For more on this subject, look here.