GLENN: So let's start here. If I told you that the president had a list of people that he could assassinate and it was a list of people that were on the battlefield and off the battlefield, your friends wouldn't believe me. If I told you that these were American citizens, that the president who campaigned against scooping Arabs off the street without due process had a list of people that he deemed a danger and a terrorist threat, American citizens that without due process would be assassinated, your friends wouldn't believe me. That's why I'm going to have to go to another source, and I apologize because I know it's cable news. So, you know, "Oh, well, then he just went to Fox." I want you to listen. Listen please carefully to this report.
GREENWALD: Well, I know that that's the fact. I mean, the Republicans are at least being consistent. When Bush was president they said, we think the president should be able to have whatever powers he wants in an unchecked fashion as long as it's justified by terrorism and war. The Democrats, though, said that they were against those things, that the president shouldn't have powers to exercise in an unchecked fashion. And again if you look at what Democrats, including Barack Obama, objected to, it was merely things like eavesdropping on Americans and detaining them without due process and without charges. And now Democrats have completely abandoned those objections now that there's a Democrat in the White House and apparently not just detaining and eavesdropping Americans but targeting them for murder is acceptable to the Democratic Party now that there's a Democrat in the White House.
GLENN: Now listen.
GREENWALD: And again if you justify that, targeting American citizens for assassination without any due process, what don't you approve of?
RATIGAN: Are you surprised at the media's lack of an outroar relative to this when you consider what it might have been if George W. Bush did the exact same thing? Quickly.
GREENWALD: Well, I think the media wasn't really particularly all that upset about what Bush did, either, and I think the problem is that if you justify something with the word terrorism, it scares the media and they are afraid to appear sympathetic to terrorism by opposing it. And what they have to get back to is the basic rights and Constitution that say that political leaders in the United States cannot exercise power in an unchecked way.
RATIGAN: Glenn, sing it loud, sing it proud. Thank you so much for —
GLENN: Of course that was — was something wrong with the tape? That didn't sound like Neil Cavuto. Oh. Oh, that's right. It wasn't. It was Dylan Ratigan, a name most of America had never heard of because he's in the witness protection program, otherwise known as MSNBC. And is that Glenn Greenwald from Salon?
PAT: Mmm hmmm.
GLENN: That's Salon and MSNBC.
Now, I tweeted this this weekend. Your friends wouldn't believe it if it came from me. But here it is, MSNBC saying where's the press on the president developing a list with the national security adviser of people that can be assassinated because they're a threat to terrorism. And not just on the battlefield. We are now giving — remember with Bush they talked about the FISA court. You are going to some FISA court? How dare you! For eavesdropping on American citizens overseas! That was their problem.
Now the president, who campaigned that he doesn't want to scoop up Muslims and just hold them without trial — I didn't know we did that in America but apparently so. American citizens that were held without trial, scoop them up because they're Muslim, that wasn't going to happen anymore, at least on a mass scale. But now we're not even talking about scooping them up. We're talking about executing them. We're talking about assassination.
Now, something's not right here because the president's men all say there is no terror. They all say there are no Islamic extremists. They all have done everything they can to shut down the war on terror. What is going on?
GLENN: So what is this really all about? We have the president when he is running for office saying that we're not going to round up Arab families anymore. I didn't know we were.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: If there's an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.
GLENN: Okay, stop.
PAT: Whole families.
GLENN: Whole families were rounded up.
PAT: Wow, wow.
GLENN: Whole families were rounded up.
PAT: We shouldn't have done that.
GLENN: No, we shouldn't have. I didn't know we did.
PAT: That threatens my security. I'll second that emotion.
GLENN: Okay, it threatens your security. It threatens your security if the president is allowed to make a list of people, American citizens, American citizens that he wants to assassinate. Because they pose a threat to the nation.
PAT: Well, those are the only people who can pose a threat because we know there's no other terrorists around. We've heard that from John Brennan.
GLENN: We know that what?
PAT: There's no terrorism, there's no terrorists, there's no jihadists.
GLENN: Hold it.
PAT: There's no extreme Islam.
GLENN: Here's John Brennan. Here is the guy that is helping make the list and check it twice.
BRENNAN: The president's strategy is absolutely clear about the threat we face. Our enemy is not terrorism because terrorism is but a tactic. Our enemy is not terror because terror is a state of mind. And as Americans we refuse to live in fear. Nor do we describe our enemy as jihadists or Islamists because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam meaning to purify oneself of one's community. And there is nothing holy or legitimate or Islamic about murdering innocent men, women and children.
GLENN: You know, he says terror in kind of a weird way, terror.
GLENN: Terrorists, there's no terror. Maybe it's the fact that he went to school in Egypt for oh, so many years that he has that weird terror. Anyway, I'm sorry to such a sidetrack there. ADD, I don't know what that has to do with anything. Anyway, so who is the president targeting? Well, we know that there's one American citizen who is a cleric in Yemen. Okay. You know what? I'm probably with ya on the Yemen guy. Probably with ya. But he's an American citizen and he is also not on the battlefield. I'm not saying that we have to go capture him and bring him back or cut him any slack. Could we maybe have a little due process before we execute? If you're on the battlefield, shoot them in the head. Shoot them in the head. If you are now outside of the battlefield area, I don't think so call me old fashioned.
PAT: Like the Salon.com guy said, if this was Bush saying these things or having this policy, the left would be in an uproar. Democrats would be screaming at the top of their lungs.
GLENN: So why is he doing this? Because he doesn't want innocent Arabs just scooped off the streets, but he will go without due process, any due process. Just make a list of people that need to be assassinated in case of an emergency. In an event happens, the orders are there from the president: Just shoot these people. Oh. Okay. Wow. Really? Hmmm.
[NOTE: Transcript may have been edited to enhance readability - audio archive includes full segment as it was originally aired]
September 11, 2013
"Between a balanced republic and a democracy,
the difference is like that between order and chaos."
John Marshall, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court