Michael Moore: You 'Hate Being an American' If You Wanted Bin Laden Killed Without a Trial

Ever looking to criticize the American populace from his cardboard platform, filmmaker Michael Moore lashed out Thursday on CNN at supporters of Osama bin Laden's assassination. "We've lost something of our soul here in this country," he said of the mission to kill the al Qaeda leader rather than capture him and try him in court.

A guest on Piers Morgan Tonight, Moore contrasted the assassination with the post-World War II Nuremburg trials. He claimed that America then, unlike now, put itself above the level of its enemies by trying their leaders instead of simply executing them.

The liberal filmmaker ripped Americans' disregard for a trial and their support of an assassination. "The second you say that, you're saying that you hate being an American," he huffed. "You hate what we stand for, you hate what our constitution stands for....We should be standing up and saying 'listen, damn it, we're Americans. This is the way we do it. You commit a crime, we put you on trial.'"
 

As for the Americans who would not want a terrorist trial to take place in civilian courts in New York City? They are "wusses," according to Moore. "You hear stuff like that and it's like, what are we? A bunch of wusses....We're afraid to even put out and have a trial because somebody might get hurt or they might get mad in some other part of the world and plan to hurt us?"

Well actually, that seemed to be the prevailing sentiment when attorney general Eric Holder announced in 2009 that the trial of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed was to be held in downtown Manhattan. But Moore didn't let the fears of the majority of Americans get in his way while hitting Obama from the left.

During the lengthy interview which CNN granted him, Moore also took the time to admonish the Americans who celebrated bin Laden's death. "I don't think Jesus would go down to Ground Zero like a lot of people did on that – on Sunday night with champagne bottles and pop corks and have a party," he preached.

Moore added later that he "would like to know" how long the Obama administration has known the location of Osama bin Laden. He expressed similar sentiment in 2003 when he claimed that the Bush administration knew the location of bin Laden, but would not take him since he was funded by Bush's friends, Saudi Arabia.

Moore also believes that al Qaeda no longer exists as an official terrorist organization. "I think there are a lot of people running around calling themselves al Qaeda," he said. But the group was "dismantled" when the revolutions began in North Africa and the Middle East. "What I think, it was the day that the revolution began in Tunisia," he said.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on May 5 at 8:07 p.m. EDT, is as follows:

8:07

PIERS MORGAN: My next guest is a man of strong and controversial opinions, especially when it comes to Osama bin Laden. He says al Qaeda's top man was executed by the United States.

And Michael Moore joins me now. Michael, let me start with a simple question. Were you pleased when you heard that bin Laden had been killed?

MICHAEL MOORE: I'm pleased that he will no longer be around to do any harm to anybody. The world is a better place without him. To be -- to celebrate someone's death, I think that goes a step further than my own -- it's not the way I was raised. I was raised in an Irish Catholic home. I believe in those principles that I was raised with. I hear a lot of people in this country often say, what would Jesus do? I don't think Jesus would go down to Ground Zero like a lot of people did on that -- on Sunday night with champagne bottles and pop corks and have a party.
 


(...)

8:20

MOORE: No, no. They killed him. But what I'm saying is they didn't kill because there was some kind of firefight or something going on. They went there with the intention to kill him. That's an execution and -- or an assassination, whatever you want to call it.

And I think -- I think, look, like I said, I'm glad he's gone. But I just feel something has -- we've lost something of our soul here in this country. And maybe I'm just an old school American who believes in our American judicial system. Something that separates us from other parts, other countries where we say everybody has their day in court no matter how bad of a person, no matter what piece of scum they are, they have a right to a trial.

And this man was a mass murderer. He was responsible for the deaths, at least in this country, of nearly 3,000 people. And you know after World War II, we just didn't go in and put a bullet to the head of all the top Nazis. We put them on trial. We took them to Nuremberg and we put them on trial, and we said, no, this is important for the world to see these criminals and it's important for history to have a record of what they did. And so we're going to do this in a courtroom and we're going to show these Germans how we do it – with fairness, with justice. You're going to get to have your own attorney. You get to have your day in court. That's how we do it. That's what separates us from you, Nazi scum.

(...)

8:22

MOORE: We are at a point now where we don't -- 'what do we need a trial for, just get rid of him.' The second you say that, you're saying that you hate being an American. You hate what we stand for, you hate what our constitution stands for.

We stand for something different than that and we're better than them. We don't just operate in an uncivilized way the way they did on 9/11. We operate in a moral way. And what better way to show that? 'Don't bring them to New York. Don't have the trial in New York. This could -- this will put us in jeopardy. This could – this might...' – you know, and then you hear stuff like that and it's like, what are we? A bunch of wusses now that we just -- we're afraid to even put out and have a trial because somebody might get hurt or they might get mad in some other part of the world and plan to hurt us?

You know we should be standing up and saying, 'listen, damn it, we're Americans. This is the way we do it. You commit a crime, we put you on trial. That's the way it works here. And if you try to hurt us or mess with us while we do that, you've got something coming.'

You know, but instead, here in New York – 'oh, no, don't have the tru...' You know, it's like -- we've just lost something here and I think that's what -- you know, what so -- what made people feel so good about the Navy SEALs – and, I know a number of Navy SEALs and Army Rangers and these guys. They are really -- I mean, they are the best of the best.

And it was just amazing how in a matter of minutes they did what should have been done years and years and years ago in terms of finding him and bringing him to some sort of justice.

(...)

8:29

MORGAN: I'm back with my special guest, Michael Moore.

Michael, let's turn to the existence of bin Laden in this compound. It's emerging tonight and the "Washington Post" have claims tonight that the CIA were watching bin Laden in this compound for quite some time, which is certainly a theory that you've been putting forward. What do you think about the fact that bin Laden appears to have been there for up to five years, in this large property right next to Pakistanis' military intelligence?

MOORE: Right next door to it. Right next door to their West Point. Well, again, you know, they are asking us to believe that nobody knew. I mean, I think most people would assume that the Pakistani government knew.

Remember, the Pakistan government is probably our third or fourth largest recipient of our foreign aid, 1.5 billion a year. And we've been paying them a lot of money because we wanted them to find bin Laden and to stop al Qaeda there in Pakistan.

So it wasn't in their best interests, really, to -- for the show to close, you know, on Saturday night, you know, on Broadway. They have to keep the show going. And I think the Pakistani government liked the show. Generals made a lot of money. A lot of those generals had nice vacation homes in that town that were paid for by the various bribes and funds provided by your tax dollars and mine.

MORGAN: Michael, let me just put a point to you.

MOORE: Yeah.

MORGAN: Would you go further, because you've hinted at this – would you go further and say that President Obama or his intelligence advisers -- are you suggesting any of them had knowledge for a considerable period of time?

MOORE: I'd like to know that. I'd like to know that. I think we should know that. They've admitted that they've known for some time. I'd like to know how long that time is.

Over those five years, seriously -- or was some deal cut with the Pakistanis, they would essentially keep him under house arrest?

Think about this, there's no body guards in that house. We've always heard about bin Laden and his body guards. They show up that night, on Sunday night, and there's not a single bodyguard? There's two couriers, the guys who are essentially like his personal Fed Ex. But no there's bodyguards protecting him. Well, why not? Well, maybe because he's already on a Pakistani military base being protected or being watched or maybe under house arrest. Who knows?

I mean, there's any number of possibilities. These questions need to be asked. And we should demand these answers. Something doesn't smell right about any of this. And I think President Obama will get to the bottom of this.

(...)

So fortunately, we have a president who is also a lawyer and a very smart guy. And I think probably he's spending a certain amount of time right now getting to the bottom of what the truth is, what the real story is. And we will eventually know what that story is.

MORGAN: In terms of Afghanistan, obviously we've taken out the leader of al Qaeda, but the entity continues to exist in various forms around the world.

MOORE: Really? Like what? Where?

MORGAN: Would you now withdraw --

Well, you don't believe al Qaeda exists in any form?

MOORE: I think there are a lot of people running around calling themselves al Qaeda. I think -- first, I think bin Laden is there in that house for five years. He's got a laptop, but they won't let him have Internet.

Okay, first of all, somebody said he's probably the only guy in the last decade that got any work done. But what kind of work could he do? I mean, essentially, if the Pakistani government had him there under some sort of watch or house arrest or whatever it's called -- you know, there haven't been events linked to him over the last few years. He has been fairly subdued, if you want to say, in terms of actual terrorist --

MORGAN: Do you believe al Qaeda has been dismantled?

MOORE: Well, I think, listen, actually, the day that al Qaeda was dismantled, personally, frankly, what I think – it was the day that the revolution began in Tunisia. That was the end of al Qaeda. And then the revolution in Egypt. Nonviolent, peaceful uprisings of people who wanted democracy and who don't want al Qaeda. That has done more to undo -- you see, all of these years, what people in the Middle East did bin Laden free? What freedom or anything did he bring to anybody there? The people on the streets of Tunisia, though, they freed their country. The people on the streets of Egypt, they freed their country. The people in Syria are going to free their country. The people in Jordan, all throughout that area, they are going to do this.

They don't want al Qaeda. They don't need al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is dead to them. So we need to just step back from this and say, bin Laden's dead. What now should we be doing with a trillion dollars that shouldn't be going into unnecessary wars?

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014