U.S. General Wesley Clark floated a plan Friday for dealing with so-called “lone wolf” terrorists on American soil: imprison them in internment camps before they get the chance to attack the U.S.
In an appearance on MSNBC to discuss the shootings at Chattanooga military sites, the retired general and former Democratic candidate for president said we should be dealing with “disloyal” American citizens who’ve been “radicalized” the same way the U.S. did during World War II – and called on allies to do the same.
“In World War II, if someone supported Nazi Germany at the expense of the United States, we didn’t say that was freedom of speech, we put them in a camp, they were prisoners of war,” Clark said.
He also said: “If these people are radicalized and they don’t support the United States and they are disloyal to the United States as a matter of principle, fine. It’s their right and it’s our right and obligation to segregate them from the normal community for the duration of the conflict.”
Clark suggested that American Muslims could come to embrace radical Islam after losing a girlfriend or if “their family doesn’t feel happy here.”
He was harkening back to the United States’ forced imprisonment of as many as 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent during the second World War, more than half of whom were U.S. citizens.
Murtaza Hussain at The Intercept noted that Clark’s remarks are a particularly surprising departure from his previous criticism of President George W. Bush’s response in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and what Clark has called a Bush-led imperialist strategy for the Middle East.
In a response provided through a spokesman Monday afternoon, Clark said: “Whoa, aim before you shoot, friends. It’s a sad choice, but if people choose ISIS, they should be treated as spies or enemy combatants – or both. I’m frustrated with the argument that sedition is free speech because there is a role for government to step in to prevent a dissenter from becoming an active shooter, or worse.
“Any implication that I support racial profiling or interning people based on their ethnicity or heritage is dead wrong. I’m for separating people who have made dangerous decisions from the rest of society.
“The US has the obligation to protect our own population from terrorists. And if the domestic terrorist threat grows due to ISIS, we must act responsibly and promptly.”
Watch the full clip below:
This post has been updated at July 20, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT.