Thursday, September 23, 2010

Iranian President Ahmadinejad in His Own Words

In This Issue:

- Ahmadinejad on Palestine & Holocaust
-Transcript of Iranian President Ahmadinejad's U.N. Speech
- Glenn Greenwald on Iran, Tea Party, Jon Stewart and Obama’s Assassination Policy

[Edited 9/24/10]

No comments on Iranian President Ahmadinejad's words from me--they speak for themselves to those who are willing to listen and learn the history. Ahmadinejad is the new Saddam to the mindless masses who believe their masters in the corporate mainstream media, Congress, AIPAC, and elsewhere. My bad memory still recalls the weapons of mass destruction that weren't, and the invasion and never-ending occupation of Iraq, not to mention nearly 5,000 American soldiers killed, thousands more seriously wounded, hundreds of billions of dollars spent (perhaps you can think of other American needs to spend the money on?), and more than a million dead Iraqis. Do you want hundreds of thousands of dead Iranians and another destroyed country on your conscience? Why not at least acquaint yourself with the man (not to mention his country) before committing support to another illegal atrocity?

Blatant self-interest and ignorance of voters aside, an interesting thing about "democracy" is that we all get to vote and have our opinion, whether we know the facts, have any actual intellectual ability, or have even tried to to understand events. Listening and believing in the "authoritative" demagogues on Fox news and the mainstream media is quite enough. Right? That is why we believed the lies of George W. Bush and now, at least some, of the lies by Barack Obama.

Iran's Ahmadinejad on Palestine & Holocaust
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is asked by MSNBC anchor Brian Williams to clarify his statements about the Holocaust. (September 2006)


Transcript of Iranian President Ahmadinejad's U.N. Speech

The following is a transcript of remarks by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the United Nations General Assembly in New York. September 19, 2010

Madam President, Distinguished Heads of State and Government, Distinguished Heads of Delegation, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I praise the Merciful, All-Knowing and Almighty God for blessing me with another opportunity to address this Assembly on behalf of the great nation of Iran and to bring a number of issues to the attention of the international community.

I also praise the Almighty for the increasing vigilance of peoples across the globe, their courageous presence in different international settings, and the brave expression of their views and aspirations regarding global issues.

Today, humanity passionately craves commitment to the Truth, devotion to God, quest for Justice and respect for the dignity of human beings. Rejection of domination and aggression, defense of the oppressed, and longing for peace constitute the legitimate demand of the peoples of the world, particularly the new generations and the spirited youth, who aspire a world free from decadence, aggression and injustice, and replete with love and compassion. The youth have a right to seek justice and the Truth; and they have a right to build their own future on the foundations of love, compassion and tranquility. And, I praise the Almighty for this immense blessing.

Madame President, Excellencies,

What afflicts humanity today is certainly not compatible with human dignity; the Almighty has not created human beings so that they could transgress against others and oppress them.

By causing war and conflict, some are fast expanding their domination, accumulating greater wealth and usurping all the resources, while others endure the resulting poverty, suffering and misery.

Some seek to rule the world relying on weapons and threats, while others live in perpetual insecurity and danger.

Some occupy the homeland of others, thousands of kilometers away from their borders, interfere in their affairs and control their oil and other resources and strategic routes, while others are bombarded daily in their own homes; their children murdered in the streets and alleys of their own country and their homes reduced to rubble.

Such behavior is not worthy of human beings and runs counter to the Truth, to justice and to human dignity. The fundamental question is that under such conditions, where should the oppressed seek justice? Who, or what organization defends the rights of the oppressed, and suppresses acts of aggression and oppression? Where is the seat of global justice?

A brief glance at a few examples of the most pressing global issues can further illustrate the problem.

A. The unbridled expansion of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons

Some powers proudly announce their production of second and third generations of nuclear weapons. What do they need these weapons for? Is the development and stockpiling of these deadly weapons designed to promote peace and democracy? Or, are these weapons, in fact, instruments of coercion and threat against other peoples and governments? How long should the people of the world live with the nightmare of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons? What bounds the powers producing and possessing these weapons? How can they be held accountable before the international community? And, are the inhabitants of these countries content with the waste of their wealth and resources for the production of such destructive arsenals? Is it not possible to rely on justice, ethics and wisdom instead of these instruments of death? Aren't wisdom and justice more compatible with peace and tranquility than nuclear, chemical and biological weapons? If wisdom, ethics and justice prevail, then oppression and aggression will be uprooted, threats will wither away and no reason will remain for conflict. This is a solid proposition because most global conflicts emanate from injustice, and from the powerful, not being contented with their own rights, striving to devour the rights of others.

People across the globe embrace justice and are willing to sacrifice for its sake.

Would it not be easier for global powers to ensure their longevity and win hearts and minds through the championing of real promotion of justice, compassion and peace, than through continuing the proliferation of nuclear and chemical weapons and the threat of their use?

The experience of the threat and the use of nuclear weapons is before us. Has it achieved anything for the perpetrators other than exacerbation of tension, hatred and animosity among nations?

B. Occupation of countries and exacerbation of hostilities

Occupation of countries, including Iraq, has continued for the last three years. Not a day goes by without hundreds of people getting killed in cold blood. The occupiers are incapable of establishing security in Iraq. Despite the establishment of the lawful Government and National Assembly of Iraq, there are covert and overt efforts to heighten insecurity, magnify and aggravate differences within Iraqi society, and instigate civil strife.

There is no indication that the occupiers have the necessary political will to eliminate the sources of instability. Numerous terrorists were apprehended by the Government of Iraq, only to be let loose under various pretexts by the occupiers.

It seems that intensification of hostilities and terrorism serves as a pretext for the continued presence of foreign forces in Iraq.

Where can the people of Iraq seek refuge, and from whom should the Government of Iraq seek justice?

Who can ensure Iraq's security? Insecurity in Iraq affects the entire region. Can the Security Council play a role in restoring peace and security in Iraq, while the occupiers are themselves permanent members of the Council? Can the Security Council adopt a fair decision in this regard?

Consider the situation in Palestine:

The roots of the Palestinian problem go back to the Second World War. Under the pretext of protecting some of the survivors of that War, the land of Palestine was occupied through war, aggression and the displacement of millions of its inhabitants; it was placed under the control of some of the War survivors, bringing even larger population groups from elsewhere in the world, who had not been even affected by the Second World War; and a government was established in the territory of others with a population collected from across the world at the expense of driving millions of the rightful inhabitants of the land into a diaspora and homelessness. This is a great tragedy with hardly a precedent in history. Refugees continue to live in temporary refugee camps, and many have died still hoping to one day return to their land. Can any logic, law or legal reasoning justify this tragedy? Can any member of the United Nations accept such a tragedy occurring in their own homeland?

The pretexts for the creation of the regime occupying Al-Qods Al-Sharif are so weak that its proponents want to silence any voice trying to merely speak about them, as they are concerned that shedding light on the facts would undermine the raison d'être of this regime, as it has. The tragedy does not end with the establishment of a regime in the territory of others. Regrettably, from its inception, that regime has been a constant source of threat and insecurity in the Middle East region, waging war and spilling blood and impeding the progress of regional countries, and has also been used by some powers as an instrument of division, coercion, and pressure on the people of the region. Reference to these historical realities may cause some disquiet among supporters of this regime. But these are sheer facts and not myth. History has unfolded before our eyes.

Worst yet, is the blanket and unwarranted support provided to this regime.

Just watch what is happening in the Palestinian land. People are being bombarded in their own homes and their children murdered in their own streets and alleys. But no authority, not even the Security Council, can afford them any support or protection. Why?

At the same time, a Government is formed democratically and through the free choice of the electorate in a part of the Palestinian territory. But instead of receiving the support of the so-called champions of democracy, its Ministers and Members of Parliament are illegally abducted and incarcerated in full view of the international community.

Which council or international organization stands up to protect this brutally besieged Government? And why can't the Security Council take any steps?

Let me here address Lebanon:

For thirty-three long days, the Lebanese lived under the barrage of fire and bombs and close to 1.5 million of them were displaced; meanwhile some members of the Security Council practically chose a path that provided ample opportunity for the aggressor to achieve its objectives militarily. We witnessed that the Security Council of the United Nations was practically incapacitated by certain powers to even call for a ceasefire. The Security Council sat idly by for so many days, witnessing the cruel scenes of atrocities against the Lebanese while tragedies such as Qana were persistently repeated. Why?

In all these cases, the answer is self-evident. When the power behind the hostilities is itself a permanent member of the Security Council, how then can this Council fulfill its responsibilities?

C. Lack of respect for the rights of members of the international community


I now wish to refer to some of the grievances of the Iranian people and speak to the injustices against them.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is a member of the IAEA and is committed to the NPT. All our nuclear activities are transparent, peaceful and under the watchful eyes of IAEA inspectors. Why then are there objections to our legally recognized rights? Which governments object to these rights? Governments that themselves benefit from nuclear energy and the fuel cycle. Some of them have abused nuclear technology for non-peaceful ends including the production of nuclear bombs, and some even have a bleak record of using them against humanity.

Which organization or Council should address these injustices? Is the Security Council in a position to address them? Can it stop violations of the inalienable rights of countries? Can it prevent certain powers from impeding scientific progress of other countries?

The abuse of the Security Council, as an instrument of threat and coercion, is indeed a source of grave concern.

Some permanent members of the Security Council, even when they are themselves parties to international disputes, conveniently threaten others with the Security Council and declare, even before any decision by the Council, the condemnation of their opponents by the Council. The question is: what can justify such exploitation of the Security Council, and doesn't it erode the credibility and effectiveness of the Council? Can such behavior contribute to the ability of the Council to maintain security?


A review of the preceding historical realities would lead to the conclusion that regrettably, justice has become a victim of force and aggression. Many global arrangements have become unjust, discriminatory and irresponsible as a result of undue pressure from some of the powerful; Threats with nuclear weapons and other instruments of war by some powers have taken the place of respect for the rights of nations and the maintenance and promotion of peace and tranquility;

For some powers, claims of promotion of human rights and democracy can only last as long as they can be used as instruments of pressure and intimidation against other nations. But when it comes to the interests of the claimants, concepts such as democracy, the right of self-determination of nations, respect for the rights and intelligence of peoples, international law and justice have no place or value. This is blatantly manifested in the way the elected Government of the Palestinian people is treated as well as in the support extended to the Zionist regime. It does not matter if people are murdered in Palestine, turned into refugees, captured, imprisoned or besieged; that must not violate human rights.

- Nations are not equal in exercising their rights recognized by international law. Enjoying these rights is dependent on the whim of certain major powers.

- Apparently the Security Council can only be used to ensure the security and the rights of some big powers. But when the oppressed are decimated under bombardment, the Security Council must remain aloof and not even call for a ceasefire. Is this not a tragedy of historic proportions for the Security Council, which is charged with maintaining the security of countries?

- The prevailing order of contemporary global interactions is such that certain powers equate themselves with the international community, and consider their decisions superseding that of over 180 countries. They consider themselves the masters and rulers of the entire world and other nations as only second class in the world order.


The question needs to be asked: if the Governments of the United States or the United Kingdom who are permanent members of the Security Council, commit aggression, occupation and violation of international law, which of the organs of the UN can take them to account? Can a Council in which they are privileged members address their violations? Has this ever happened? In fact, we have repeatedly seen the reverse. If they have differences with a nation or state, they drag it to the Security Council and as claimants, arrogate to themselves simultaneously the roles of prosecutor, judge and executioner. Is this a just order? Can there be a more vivid case of discrimination and more clear evidence of injustice?

Regrettably, the persistence of some hegemonic powers in imposing their exclusionist policies on international decision making mechanisms, including the Security Council, has resulted in a growing mistrust in global public opinion, undermining the credibility and effectiveness of this most universal system of collective security.


How long can such a situation last in the world? It is evident that the behavior of some powers constitutes the greatest challenge before the Security Council, the entire organization and its affiliated agencies.

The present structure and working methods of the Security Council, which are legacies of the Second World War, are not responsive to the expectations of the current generation and the contemporary needs of humanity.

Today, it is undeniable that the Security Council, most critically and urgently, needs legitimacy and effectiveness. It must be acknowledged that as long as the Council is unable to act on behalf of the entire international community in a transparent, just and democratic manner, it will neither be legitimate nor effective. Furthermore, the direct relation between the abuse of veto and the erosion of the legitimacy and effectiveness of the Council has now been clearly and undeniably established. We cannot, and should not, expect the eradication, or even containment, of injustice, imposition and oppression without reforming the structure and working methods of the Council.

Is it appropriate to expect this generation to submit to the decisions and arrangements established over half a century ago? Doesn't this generation or future generations have the right to decide themselves about the world in which they want to live?

Today, serious reform in the structure and working methods of the Security Council is, more than ever before, necessary. Justice and democracy dictate that the role of the General Assembly, as the highest organ of the United Nations, must be respected. The General Assembly can then, through appropriate mechanisms, take on the task of reforming the Organization and particularly rescue the Security Council from its current state. In the interim, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the African continent should each have a representative as a permanent member of the Security Council, with veto privilege. The resulting balance would hopefully prevent further trampling of the rights of nations.

Madame President,


It is essential that spirituality and ethics find their rightful place in international relations. Without ethics and spirituality, attained in light of the teachings of Divine prophets, justice, freedom and human rights cannot be guaranteed.

Resolution of contemporary human crises lies in observing ethics and spirituality and the governance of righteous people of high competence and piety.

Should respect for the rights of human beings become the predominant objective, then injustice, ill-temperament, aggression and war will fade away.

Human beings are all God's creatures and are all endowed with dignity and respect.

No one has superiority over others. No individual or states can arrogate to themselves special privileges, nor can they disregard the rights of others and, through influence and pressure, position themselves as the "international community".

Citizens of Asia, Africa, Europe and America are all equal. Over 6 billion inhabitants of the earth are all equal and worthy of respect. Justice and protection of human dignity are the two pillars in maintaining sustainable peace, security and tranquility in the world.

It is for this reason that we state:

Sustainable peace and tranquility in the world can only be attained through justice, spirituality, ethics, compassion and respect for human dignity.

All nations and states are entitled to peace, progress and security.

We are all members of the international community and we are all entitled to insist on the creation of a climate of compassion, love and justice.

All members of the United Nations are affected by both the bitter and the sweet events and developments in today's world.

We can adopt firm and logical decisions, thereby improving the prospects of a better life for current and future generations.

Together, we can eradicate the roots of bitter maladies and afflictions, and instead, through the promotion of universal and lasting values such as ethics, spirituality and justice, allow our nations to taste the sweetness of a better future.

Peoples, driven by their divine nature, intrinsically seek Good, Virtue, Perfection and Beauty. Relying on our peoples, we can take giant steps towards reform and pave the road for human perfection. Whether we like it or not, justice, peace and virtue will sooner or later prevail in the world with the will of Almighty God. It is imperative, and also desirable, that we too contribute to the promotion of justice and virtue.

The Almighty and Merciful God, who is the Creator of the Universe, is also its Lord and Ruler. Justice is His command. He commands His creatures to support one another in Good, virtue and piety, and not in decadence and corruption.

He commands His creatures to enjoin one another to righteousness and virtue and not to sin and transgression. All Divine prophets from the Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) to the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him), to the Prophet Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), to the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), have all called humanity to monotheism, justice, brotherhood, love and compassion. Is it not possible to build a better world based on monotheism, justice, love and respect for the rights of human beings, and thereby transform animosities into friendship?

I emphatically declare that today's world, more than ever before, longs for just and righteous people with love for all humanity; and above all longs for the perfect righteous human being and the real savior who has been promised to all peoples and who will establish justice, peace and brotherhood on the planet.

0h, Almighty God, all men and women are Your creatures and You have ordained their guidance and salvation. Bestow upon humanity that thirsts for justice, the perfect human being promised to all by You, and make us among his followers and among those who strive for his return and his cause.

Glenn Greenwald on Iran, Tea Party Candidates, Jon Stewart and Obama’s Assassination Policy

We speak with Glenn Greenwald, a constitutional law attorney and the political and legal blogger for Greenwald discusses White House rhetoric toward Iran; Jon Stewart’s and Stephen Colbert’s planned rallies in Washington, DC; the Obama administration’s assassination policy that includes targeting US citizens; tea party candidates in the November midterm elections; and much more. [includes rush transcript]


Glenn Greenwald, constitutional law attorney and political/legal blogger at

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AMY GOODMAN: World leaders have gathered in New York this week for a series of high-level meetings at the United Nations. Among them, the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who’s already attracted a range of critics protesting his presence outside the UN building.

On Monday, President Obama told a town hall meeting a military attack on Iran would not be the ideal solution to the "serious problem" of Iran’s nuclear program, he said, but that he’s not taking that option off the table.

For more on how the Obama administration is handling Iran, as well as other matters—for example, here at home, particularly looking at the tea party—we’re joined by Glenn Greenwald. He’s a constitutional law attorney and political/legal blogger for

Welcome to Democracy Now! Let’s start with Iran, and then we’ll move here to domestic politics. What about what President Obama said about Ahmadinejad and the nuclear program?

GLENN GREENWALD: There’s a great irony, because every time President Ahmadinejad comes to the United States, the same media commentary decrees him as some kind of crazy, threatening figure. The same set of two or three comments that he made that are of dubious translation are continuously repeated, much the way that Saddam Hussein, the fear mongering around him, was based on two or three assertions repeated over and over. And yet, what you have is evidence about what real aggression is, which is the President of the United States is always insinuating that we reserve the right, at any moment, at any time, at our will, to go on to military attack on Iran, even if they don’t attack us. Yesterday, Senator Lindsey Graham was at a luncheon at the American Enterprise Institute and said that we need to start finalizing plans for an attack on Iran that would not just be about striking at their nuclear facilities, but removing the regime, as well, though he said we shouldn’t do that with ground troops, but only with air and sea strikes, which would entail massive devastation of that country, huge numbers of civilian deaths. The very idea is monstrous. And you see these proposals talked about on an almost daily basis in leading American, and obviously Israeli, journals, as well. So when it comes to who threatens whom and crazy and deranged ideas, it is true that parties to this dispute are engaging in those kinds of actions, and sometimes Iran does, but far more often it’s not Iran who’s doing it.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s look here at home at this election year, the midterm elections, and the significance of the tea party.

GLENN GREENWALD: I think the significance, principally, of the tea party for the Democrat Party is that they don’t really have much to talk about in terms of why voters and supporters ought to go out and keep the Democrats in power. And so, what you see from the Democratic Party is this fixation on the tea party as a means of ratcheting up fear levels among Democrats and others, in order to encourage them to go to the polls. I mean, every pollster has said that the huge threat to the Democratic—the Democrats maintaining their power is this enthusiasm gap, the fact that Democratic supporters don’t perceive any reason to go to the polls. And so, in the absence of any reason to give them, all that you hear is a lot of focus on individual candidates like Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, these tea party candidates, to try and highlight their extremism, make people afraid of who they are, all as a means of encouraging people who don’t see any reason to go vote for the Democrats to do so. And I think that’s extremely telling, that two years into this administration, that that’s all the Democrats have is a fear campaign.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about Sharron Angle and Harry Reid’s chances. He was just here in New York last night at a Democratic fundraiser.

GLENN GREENWALD: Right. Well, I mean, there was an incident yesterday that really illustrates why anyone has a very difficult time supporting Harry Reid. He was at a fundraiser on the Upper West Side for very wealthy Democratic Party donors, which is where these candidates spend most of their time. And the New York—New York’s junior senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, was present, and he was talking about her and introducing her, and he said, "And Kirsten Gillibrand is here, or, as we refer to her in the Senate, the hottest member of the United States Senate"—you know, an absolutely revolting remark, sexist in every single possible way and offensive. And so, when you hear things like that—and Harry Reid has been, you know, saying things like this. He came out and said that the Park51 community center ought to move. He said, "We don’t want any people in Guantánamo anywhere near the United States." And so, when you hear this series of remarks from the most powerful Democrat in the Senate, you can show people all you want the craziness of Sharron Angle, but it’s very difficult to get people to be motivated to go out and care whether or not Harry Reid, someone like Harry Reid, remains in the Senate.

AMY GOODMAN: At the same time, he’s battling to overturn "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell." At the Netroots Nation conference, he hugged Dan Choi and said he, you know, promised to give him his ring back when they overturned "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell," though it’s not clear he will beat McCain on this.

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, it’s incredibly cynical. I mean, you see this flurry of activity over the last four weeks from President Obama and from Democratic leaders suddenly trying to don once again their progressive masks to convince people that they ought to go to the polls. And they know that "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" won’t be repealed. They know the DREAM Act is not actually going to be enacted. All of these measures that they’re talking about to stimulate the economy and create jobs are things that they know won’t happen, and that’s why they’re able to advocate them. You even saw, with the cynical appointment of Elizabeth Warren, who probably will do some good being able to create this agency to police Wall Street abuses, nonetheless they stayed away from the fight to actually appoint her as the director of this agency, so that once the election is over, they can find somebody more pleasing to Wall Street. So you—

AMY GOODMAN: Explain that, what they actually did.

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, there’s this—one of the best parts about the financial regulation bill, maybe the only truly meaningful part, is the creation of this agency, which is the idea of Professor Elizabeth Warren at Harvard to essentially police the ability of Wall Street to put fine print into mortgage and credit applications that lure the consumer into extremely one-sided and imbalanced transactions that they don’t know about, because they lack the sophistication, they don’t have lawyers to do it. And the idea of the progressive base was that she is the person who ought to be heading this agency, because she is genuinely committed to the idea of limiting Wall Street abuses. She’s a crusader for economic justice and for protection of consumers, exactly the kind of person that this administration needs but doesn’t have in important financial positions.

And the problem was, progressives were demanding it, but their real constituency, which is Wall Street and business, are horrified by the idea of Elizabeth Warren, and they needed to find some solution, because if they didn’t nominate her, progressives would be in revolt before the election. And so, what they did was they created this hybrid solution, where they pretended that they were going to appoint her, even though she has no real authority—she’s just an adviser to the President—to set up the agency, but not to run it, and meanwhile they’re telling Wall Street, "Oh, don’t worry, she’s not really going to have any authority. She’s not going to be the person who’s running it." And it’s these kind of symbolic gestures in the last several weeks that I think are almost more offensive, as they try and pretend that they are something that for the last two years they haven’t been.

AMY GOODMAN: And Christine O’Donnell, her significance?

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, I mean, if you were a Martian who came down from—to Planet Earth in the last week and just turned on television news and watched, you would think that Christine O’Donnell was by far the most powerful person in the world, because, especially on stations devoted to maintaining Democratic power, like MSNBC and other cable shows, it’s twenty-four hours nonstop about Christine O’Donnell, because that way, if you’re on one of these stations, you don’t have to talk about the things that Tariq Ali was here just talking about, about what we’re doing in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the continuation of Bush-Cheney terrorism policies. You get to talk about Christine O’Donnell and comments she made fifteen years ago on some late night television show as a way of mocking her and deriding her and distracting people’s attention from what a failure this administration has been. That’s why she serves such an important role. It’s a way of manipulating and distracting the voting base.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go to another subject you’ve taken on, and that is Jon Stewart making his announcement that he’s going to be holding a protest in Washington to—what was it?—counter what he identified as extremists on both sides. Let’s go to a clip.

JON STEWART: I see you’re intrigued, but there’s something still bothering you. "As a reasonable, busy person, I’d love to come, Jon. But I really don’t have time to handcraft a message or some signage." Not to worry. That’s where we come in. We’re going to have signs for you down there, if you don’t have time. Of course, you can bring your own, but here’s a quick one: "I disagree with you, but I’m pretty sure you’re not Hitler."

You may be asking yourself right now, sitting at home, "But am I the right type of person to go to this rally?" The fact that you would even stop to ask yourself that question, as opposed to just, let’s say, jumping up, grabbing the nearest stack of burnable holy books, strapping on a diaper, and just pointing your car towards DC, that means, I think, you just might be right for it.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. You wrote a piece about this called "The Perils of False Equivalencies and Self-Proclaimed Centrism." Glenn Greenwald?

GLENN GREENWALD: Right. Well, I was somewhat ambivalent about this rally, because, on the one hand, I think everybody agrees that we need more rationality and substantive examination in our political discourse, and so, to the extent that he’s calling for that, that’s a perfectly fine and uncontroversial idea. And, as well, he reaches a demographic group, young people, who tend to be politically disengaged, and he draws them into the political process, which I think is a very commendable thing to do.

The problem that I had with how it was structured and what it is that he’s saying—and he’s far more than a comedian; I mean, he’s a very influential voice among progressives and in the media narratives—is that, for one thing, I don’t think the problem with our politics is tone. I think the problem is content. There are all kinds of people who advocate extremely heinous ideas, but do so in a very soft-spoken and civil manner. Bill Kristol comes to mind, John Yoo, as well. These are people who can go on and be extremely polite in conversation and have done that on his show. So I think the problem, in terms of extremism, is not about tone, but about content, and to talk about tone, I think, distracts from the issue.

I also think that we don’t really have a problem with excess activism in the United States, as he seems to suggest—we need to stand up for the virtuous people who don’t go to rallies. I think going to rallies and being politically engaged and even passionate is actually a virtue and something that ought to be encouraged.

But the real problem I had with it is that, in order to appear as though he was being more evenhanded, he didn’t depict the extremism as being a problem on the right, which is the reality. These extremist ideas are really quite pervasive on the right. And so, what he did was he tried to create an equivalency by saying, well, it’s—the problem is on the left, as well. And he picked out 9/11 Truthers and a CodePink rally and suggested that people who call Bush a war criminal are every bit as inflammatory and extremist and to be condemned as, say, people who say the President was not born in the United States. And that’s an extraordinary false equivalency, because these extremist ideas are pervasive on the right. People who go to CodePink rallies are a tiny minority, for better or for worse, among Democrats. But more so, the fact that Bush is a war criminal happens to be true, and there’s ample evidence for it, including, as I cited, the report by the four-star general, Antonio Taguba, who is in charge of investigating detainee abuse, who concluded that George Bush and top administration officials committed war crimes. And so, I think what he was trying to do was to show how fair-minded he was by condemning both the left and the right. This is a common disease in our media, even though left and right are not equal.

AMY GOODMAN: And the competing rally of Stephen Colbert?

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, that, I think, is actually something that I found incredibly encouraging, because the rally there is “to keep fear alive.” And, of course, the American right is dependent, more than anything else, on fear. And as we talked about earlier, Democrats use fear, as well, to motive their base. And so, the role that fear plays in our political culture and the way in which politicians exploit that, I think, is one of the most central issues. And to the extent this rally is designed to mock that, I think that’s a good thing.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about your post, "Obama in Wonderland," at, where you talk about assassinations.

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, there’s this scene in Alice in Wonderland in which the Red Queen is sitting with the King, and Alice is in front of them, and they are condemning one convict after the next. And the King keeps saying, “Call in the accused. Let’s have the verdict and then the sentence.” And then, at one point, the Red Queen says, “No! I don’t want it that way. I want first the sentence and then the verdict.” And Alice objects, and the Queen threatens to execute her.

Well, if you look at what the President is doing with presidential assassinations, it’s almost exactly the same thing. Eight months ago, we learned that there’s a list that President Obama maintains with at least four Americans on it, one of whom is Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born cleric in Yemen, of individuals who President Obama, with no criminal charges, no trial, no due process, has ordered assassinated, to be killed anywhere they’re found, far away from a battlefield, no matter what they’re doing at the time, on the grounds—the accusation, unproven accusation—that they’re involved in terrorism. Well, that’s the sentence. The President has imposed the death penalty on these individuals. But two weeks ago, it was reported in the New York Times that the administration is now considering bringing an indictment against Awlaki in response to a lawsuit brought on his behalf and other—for other considerations, in order to bring him into a court and charge him with a crime, finally, in order to prove that he’s guilty—not in lieu of trying to kill him. They’re still trying to kill him, but just in case we don’t find him to kill him, at least we want to indict him. And the equivalence, how identical that was, was so striking. This was essentially Obama saying, “I, the President, hereby impose the death penalty on this American citizen with no trial,” and then eight months later he says, “Well, now it’s time to get around to charging him with a crime.” It’s sentence first, verdict after, just like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland decreed.

AMY GOODMAN: Glenn Greenwald, the racial and ethnic exploitation of economic insecurity?

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, I think, you know, one of the real dangers in terms of political extremism is when there are people who are suffering economically. And we have pervasive economic suffering in the United States. And one of the problems has been is that the Democratic Party has offered people who are truly angry and scared about their futures very few solutions, because they’ve been perceived accurately as standing for public—for corporate interests and lobbyists. And so, the void that has been left has been filled by these extremists on the right who use, traditionally and right now, economic, racial and other forms of culturally divisive tactics in order to exploit this economic anxiety. You see that with Islamophobia. You see that with fear mongering over immigration. And I think that’s when it becomes quite dangerous, when you combine that kind of demagoguery with economic exploitation, like the right is doing.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, you’re here in New York to participate in an event sponsored by Brooklyn Law School on the Mavi Marmara, on the Gaza aid flotilla. It’s an issue that you have taken on in a big way.

GLENN GREENWALD: Yeah, it’s Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. It’s at Brooklyn Law School. It’s open to the public. There’s a dinner served with it. And I think, you know, one of the real challenges that we have is to go back and look at how the American media depicted that incident, because the level of propaganda that shaped American discourse around that event, I think, was unlike any other. And it’s very—

AMY GOODMAN: This was the Memorial Day weekend in the United States, but it was when the Israeli commandos opened up fire on the Mavi Marvara and killed nine—eight Turks, one American citizen—onboard.

GLENN GREENWALD: Precisely. And if you go back and do a dissection, you know, kind of a post-mortem, about how the American media behaved and how the American people were misled about that incident, while it took place and in the weeks after, I think it’s incredibly instructive. And that’s what this event is intended to do.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you for being with us, Glenn Greenwald.

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