Televangelist Robertson Under Fire

Venezuela President Hugo Chavez and Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson.
Venezuela's vice president accused religious broadcaster Pat Robertson on Tuesday of making "terrorist statements" by suggesting that American agents assassinate President Hugo Chavez.

"We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability," Robertson said Monday on the Christian Broadcast Network's "The 700 Club."

"We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator," he continued. "It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."

Chavez was winding up a visit to Cuba when he was asked at Havana's airport about a U.S. religious leader having said he should be killed.

"I haven't read anything. We haven't heard anything about him," Chavez said. "I don't even know who that person is."

CBS News Producer Portia Siegelbaum reports that Chavez, when asked about Robertson's call for his assasination, said he'd rather talk about life not death.

Chavez, dressed in his trademark long sleeve red shirt, proceeded to talk about Plan Milagro, a joint Cuban-Venezuelan medical project to return eyesight to tens of thousands of Latin America's poor by performing eye operations free of charge, Siegelbaum reports.

Televangelist Pat Robertson suggests the U.S. assassinate the leftist Venezuelan president.

Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel said Venezuela was studying its legal options, adding that how Washington responds to Robertson's comments would put its anti-terrorism policy to the test.

"The ball is in the U.S. court, after this criminal statement by a citizen of that country," Rangel told reporters. "It's huge hypocrisy to maintain this discourse against terrorism and at the same time, in the heart of that country, there are entirely terrorist statements like those."

CBS News Correspondent Gloria Borger reports that this is not the first time Robertson has made controversial statements. Recently he said on national television that so-called activist judges were worse than the 9/11 terrorists.

Relations between the Chavez government and the Bush administration have been strained for some time, reports CBS News State Department Reporter Charles Wolfson, but Robertson's call for assassination was something the State Department wanted no part of.