MSNBC hosts split sharply from each other on Tuesday over the question of the Obama administration's drone policy.
The majority of the channel's programs devoted some attention to the Justice Department white paper obtained by NBC News, which says the government can order the killing of Americans if they are believed to be senior Al Qaeda members, even if they are not actively plotting attacks.
The network's more conservative hosts had the most vociferous arguments against the program. Joe Scarborough, long a critic of drone strikes, professed himself outraged.
"This is so frightening," he said. "If George Bush had done this, it would have been stopped."
On "The Cycle," conservative S.E. Cupp had a heated argument with Obama supporter Touré about the strikes.
"We're at war with Al Qaeda right now," Touré said. "If you join Al Qaeda, you lose the right to be an American." After going back and forth with him, Cupp shouted, "700 innocent children were not in Al Qaeda, Touré! That's what's happening."
Touré also talked about the killing of the 16-year-old son of alleged Al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. Co-host Steve Kornacki said that he was troubled that "someone decided he should die."
"If we have people who are working against America, then they need to die," Touré said.
In the evening, Ed Schultz spoke against the program.
"I'm troubled by it," Schultz said. "It doesn't meet the moral or constitutional standard that we expect of any administration ... we're losing the moral high ground by doing this." He added that liberals who backed the program had "come a long way" from opposing warrantless wiretapping under the Bush administration.
But Chris Matthews spoke in favor of it on "Hardball."
"If someone joins an army that's determined to destroy the United States ... is that person still an American?' he asked, adding, "That's a great question." He concluded, "I still think sometimes you have to do things that are not nice. We're fighting a war."
On her show, Rachel Maddow -- who was the first anchor to talk about the paper on Monday -- said that she was not troubled by the idea of the US killing "bad guys."
"The issue here is, who's a bad guy, and how do you figure it out?" she said.
There was no way to know what Al Sharpton or Lawrence O'Donnell thought of the paper, because they did not address it on their shows.
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