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tv   Open Phones With Susan Herman  CSPAN  December 25, 2013 5:30am-6:11am EST

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development of the united. joining us now on the set is susan. day job president of the aclu. she's the author of this book "taking liberty." susan herman, where do we stand with -- when it comes to patriot act
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today? >> guest: the status of the patriot act is something i think a lot of people don't understand. because when it was enacted five weeks after 9/11, in october of 2001, congress hasn't had any hearings. they didn't get any idea what was going wrong. they had ideas about what tools to -- [inaudible] so the patriot act, ever since 2000 has been -- [inaudible] given the government all the dragnet tools to do surveillance and all these things. i found when george w. bush left the white house people asiewmented the patriot act had gone away. people were telling me what does the aclu have to do now? couldn't grow out of business and saying mission accomplished? the patriot act is very much with us. the current events i actually one thing i hope we can talk about. i think there might be some prospect for change. >> where? >> guest: one thing that happened. i started writing this weak in
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the -- book in the middle of barack obama's first term. at that time, people didn't understand that obama continued bush's policy. the surveillance and everything we were doing domestically. and so linda greenhouse referred my book to the wake-up call. people didn't wake up that much. people were not looking to re-examine the decisions that had been made in the fall of 2001 about what our antiterrorism strategies should be. so what i would say is there was a snooze alarm. and the wake-up call came with snowden. when he started releasing documents about what actually is going on behind the curtain and what kind of surveillance there is, i think people did start to pay more attention. i think for good reason. and so, well, i'll tell you i think it matters more than ever people be aware of what is going on and what is happening politically. there's pending in congress right now a bill both a u.s. aid freedom pact. i wonder how many of your
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viewers know the u.s. aid pact rate act was an ak anymore. if you visualize the letter stand for the name of the bill. which is uniting and strengthening america by providing appropriate tools required to intercept and obstruct terrorism. that's the name of the act. somebody -- [inaudible] so the u.s. aid freedom act all capital letters is something of a -- [inaudible] dragger of that tight. uniting and strengthening america by, you know, having freedom from electronic eves -- eavesdropping. this is something that is pending in congress. it now has over 100 sponsors in the house. i don't remember in the senate. it's the first time that congress has been looking seriously at the idea of rollingback some of the patriot act surveillance provision. >> host: does the aca lo support the u.s. freedom act? >> >> guest: we do.
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i think one thing that it does is it addresses one of the things we have learned from the snowden documents. the government is doing both collections about information, about the telephone calls that every american. who we call, what numbers we call, what numbers we get called from. the duration of our calls, how often we call, what time of day it is. and so this is just on all americans are collecting all of this information. and to me, the problem here is that what we're doing and i think a lot of people assume we need to give up our liberties in order to be safe. thing are more calls here and fewer benefits than people realize. one of the cost of this phone collection i think it's exactly the kind of massive surveillance that the people who wrote our institution particularly the fourth amendment were trying to prevent. so the fourth amendment is the part of the bill of the rights that protect us against unreasonable search and seizure. we could be secure in our
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persons, houses, and parents. the reason our founding father wrote this in the bill of right they didn't like the idea that the king's agent might be able to search what they were doing and look in their homes to see if they had sexual sedition locateture. -- literature. the concept there's an important value that the individual should have privacy and that the government not just be able to find out everything you are doing. everything though the fbi think they knew at the time the risk was maybe somebody was committing a exriem in the home. maybe the government wouldn't be able to find out. because they weren't allowed to walk to the home at will. they had to go through a court and process. to me what the patriot act enable -- enacted with the dragnet. it's one reason it's supporting having some limit on the government. no reason to suspect that the
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person has done anything wrong. >> host: what is the status of the fisa court? is it still active? >> guest: it's very active. so that's one of the things that happens. in the fall of 2001, what the congress did in order to be allow the government more surveillance power they built on a couple of areas there wasn't that much fourth amendment protection. the fisa court, the foreign intelligence surveillance court had been established as part of a comprise in the late '70s when people were very upset about nixon spying on political enemy. there was a church committee, frank church ran the important committee where they did a complete exploration of the american history about intelligence area. and they decided it was not permissible for the government to spy on americans without going through the court. but it was all right to spy on the soviet embassy to see what they were up to. it was the cold war. the idea that mens get constitutional protections
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foreigners don't. the 2001 legislation, and some legislation we've had since then basically said that even though if the government is targeting somebody who is a foreigner. and it's one end of a cfghts, they can pick up whatever the americans are saying at the other end. one thing that the fisa court authorized is in addition to what has been called the meta data. the telephone numbers you call or which you get called not the content. the government can pick up the content of american's e-mails, telephone calls, skype, whatever. within the foreign intelligence surveillance act as long as there's a foreigner someplace. that was another of the revelation of the snowden documents. but the fisa court has more to do with americans than you might think. >> host: since 2001, has the patriot act, the fisa surveillance, increased or decreased? >> guest: yeah. it's a great question. i think it's actually been
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increased. when president obama was a candidate, when he was running for office, he said no more national security that spy on americans. but now that he's president i think he sees the power differently. and he felt if he can be trusted with the dragnet powers. it sounds as if the fisa court allowed actually is an expansion and there's more and more material being collected in bulk and that what is being collected under the foreign intelligence surveillance act even though on americans has also increased. i think there's a possibility for another increase. for awhile until 2011, the government was also collecting e-mail addresses, internet dresses that we visit, the fisa court authorized that. and the government actually stopped collecting all of that information in 2011. but they could do it again because they're authorized to do that. this is tremendously broad power. >> and we're talking with susan herman. this is her book.
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202-585-3890. time zones dial in if you like to have a discussion about what we're talking about here freedom and surveillance, et, et. cetera. surveillanceyou served as president of the american civil liberty union. she's a professor of law at brooklyn law school as well. edward snowden in that parlor game hero or goat? >> guest: my usual response, peter, when people want to talk about snowden. my first response is to say instead of talking about the messager, should we talk about the problem? and i think snowden has done us a great favor. he said the reason he wanted to start releasing some of the documents so the american people could make the decision about whether they think we have gone too far.
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or whether they are too many costs? i think that's in fact discussion we're now having. i think his strategy worked. the american people are being informed. because one of the things we learn is not even just that the government was spying in ways i was already describing in my book, but that we had in the fisa court we had secret law. there was law that the court was making that the american people couldn't find out what the law was. to me, it really went too far. >> host: is there anything in the patriot act you agree with? >> guest: there was a lot. there was a collection of amendments to hundreds of previous laws. one of my favorite part of the patriot act which was wonderful at the time. it was a sense of congress resolution. saying we don't want to use 9/11 as an occasion to start discriminating against muslims. up fortunately that was easier to say than to actually effect. >> host: you say sketchy foray in to history suggests that a
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bipartisan commission may have the best chance of rising above the politics ha hamstring all branches of government and inspiring reflection and perhaps change. >> guest: right. i think what we could use at this point in time is something more like a church committee. i was mentioning before the u.s.a. aid freedom act which is a small fix for some of the things that are wrong with this collection it just goes too far. my book also talked about all sort of other kinds of laws nut to place on -- accept, october, of 2001. and these are expanded criminal laws that, you know, examples i give i chose stores about a person prosecuted farred crime for posting links to controversial speech on a website. a woman who was prosecuted for supporting a foreign terrorist organization, this was an iranian woman imprisoned in iraq for supporting the pro democracy group opposing the laws there
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now. when she finally got out of prison and got political asylum in the united states we prosecuted her for supporting the same pro democracy group. there are laws that people adopt know enough about. we don't need snowden to tell us those laws. i think if they don't know about abuse nothing happened. i think to have a -- the reason snowden paper give us the occasion to really look back overall at what we have done. i can understand the fall of 2001 we had laws that went too far. because at the time it was premature to figure out what the ante-dote should be when we hadn't yet analyzed the problem. we didn't have the 9/11 commission. we didn't understand what happened had on 9/11. if congress overdo it, i think they did. there was too many -- some of what they allowed is counter productive. but i thought that, you know, ten, 2012 years after that it should be possible to have a better conversation and the better informed the public is, the better the conversation.
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where congress is just beginning to look at the tip of it. i think it helps. >> host: is susan herman is our guest. cary in connecticut.. >> caller: i have to say that as much as i agree with the thing your organization does, okay. i also believe when it comes to christian rights, for example -- [inaudible] religious symbols, prayer in the schools, where are you there? that's number one. number two, i believe the patriot act -- [inaudible] and because, remember, the -- [inaudible] even though they weren't the radicals they were the ones that caused 9/11. so we are going to scrutinize those people. -- [inaudible] that's all i wanted to say. you have a great holiday season. bye, bye.
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>> guest: okay. thank you, carrie. two quick answers. on your point about the christians if you go we have an entire page about christians. we are in favor of the freedom of religion which is something we support. i think the more information you get the more you find out there are -- [inaudible] myths out there about the aclu -- my book is about people not only terrorists not only about them but us. now peter was asking before about the impact of some of these surveillance provisions and so forth. i was talking about how it gives us less privacy under the fourth amendment. it's not just the fourth amendment. it's also, you know, you talk about freedom of religion. that's about the first amendment. and my concern is that we're losing a lot of first amendment rights in term of freedom of speech, association, and of religion.
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so the freedom of religion if the government went after muslim charities right after 9/11. there were a lot of charities shut don -- down or doing badly. even though there was no evidence doing anything wrong. this that harms the first amendment. a study publish a week ago -- they did a survey of their members, the journalists and writers members of it. and what they found was that one in six of the people they surveyed said they centered them and no longer writing, speaking, or publishing researching certain subjects because they i were afraid they might attract the government's attention. they censored themselves. an additional one in six said they thought about censoring themselves. we're worried the people are going to call the aclu the government has a record of the phone number and who they called. and i just think it changes who
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we are as a society. ..
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it just seems to me, is it just too much of a conflict of interest for them to be overseeing rests? >> i think that we got a point. is this something that the aclu is concerned with, and of the gay concerned with this and that
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is mostly political question. and that is the checks and and we also have congress and the courts. and i think that this has resulted in in the failure of checks and balances said september 11. the president, if he is asking us to trust him with all the dragnets, congress will prove with this, although we may be able to in the courts have not been involved. one of the things i talk about in my book is about this that the courts have been avoiding common questions that have been raised. the aclu has been challenging
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them, their legality, constitutionality, and what the courts say about the supreme court confirmed last year. they said that they will not consider you to have standing unless you can prove that you are subject to secret surveillance. episodically a catch-22. they don't play when they are spying on you. and they will have to be proving that spirits of the problem is that we have the constitutional check in all three have been an echo chamber and we assume and i think that that is really unfounded. >> we have richard the main and taking liberties in the name of the book. >> hello, thank you for taking my call.
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speaking of being censored. i wonder if you're familiar of the book called extreme prejudice. >> richard boucher a little bit earlier, he asked the same question. >> have you heard of a susan landau? >> no. >> at the second time he's called without question. to were going to let him go. next caller. >> caller: hello, i'm concerned about the national defense authorization act you think the representatives would be out on vacation, the president in the and the house and the senate all signed in and would you please comment? >> yes, we were concerned about some of the things about that as well, and one of the things that they did was they authorized
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future president as well to detain people who are considered enemy combatants, including americans without adequate due process and i think that was a real problem that a lot of this law has never seriously been looked at. and there have been some money off reauthorization come up with a serious look at i think it needs and what you are suggesting is that other laws are coming into this area without really enough public attention and scrutiny and thought and do the people think that we have gone too far? >> has this happened a couple of times in our history similar to what the patriot act is like? >> there have been other times they have been similar. one of the things that i would talk about is around president nixon. and is it okay for the government to be spying on the
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american people. this includes history of the nsa and so forth and he said with the edwards noted documents every day is christmas in because he is learning about what we are doing now. so he has looked to telecommunications and so forth just turn over information. so we do have a history of spying, but this has gotten worse because the idea if it builds on this theory that the supreme court hacks. you don't have anything with a third party. so you shouldn't have told your banker your financial information and therefore the government can demand the information in the supreme court decided that this was fine, but think about how much more private information you and your viewers are sharing with third
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parties and what does your internet service provider know about you. everything is on the cloud and that means that if you take this seriously, even though the permission that we gave the government earlier, taking that 25, it's the same thing they did before the implications are greater. because we are talking about the government been being able to find out about their entire lives and we talk about how the patriot act inverts the conditions of democracy and the whole idea is that we are supposed to have a private enclave to think and exercise and decide who speak what in the government is supposed to be transparent to us that we know what they are doing. so what we are living with is that the government is having increasing secrecy and what we are doing is becoming increasingly transparent for the
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government. it also cuts off the avenues of repair. so you probably remember the librarians and the government cannot find out this. that is not american democracy. so i talk about the library and in the internet service provider to fight back and he was not allowed and he and librarians were not allowed to testify before the congress. this is further than we have gone before allowing them to use powers in this includes the great poet and playwright. i heard him speak a few weeks ago and he said that people thought it couldn't happen and
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he had come here as a messenger to say be careful what powers you give the government. he was responding to this and a lot of people were to say why should i care what the government goes about me if i'm not doing anything wrong and that would be with disbelief and derision. and i think that there are a lot of reasons that our freedom of speech goes down. >> do you censor yourself these days? electronically or in any form? >> i really try not to. the pan american center says that one in six have been censoring themselves and one additional one in six said that they seriously thought about censoring themselves, people who wanted to write about the middle east are now not doing it. and there was one person interested in writing about this, and i think that civil
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libertarians are unusually stubborn and unusually stubborn. every time an american has to think twice, before telling their doctor that they have a drug problem within the are googling the world nuclear, we are changing who we are as a society. >> anthony, you are the next caller with susan herman, the author of the book "taking liberties" and the president of the aclu. >> caller: yes, ma'am. i want to say that i was involved in a criminal case and my phone was tapped in the prosecution got that information. how they got that information, but they used that in court. my private phone calls with my attorney. would you comment on that on how far reaches?
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>> how often you get calls like this? >> well, we get calls a lot, people have a lot of concern about what the government is doing. i want to relate to what anthony was just saying. about the collection of data. because the government lawyer in this case says you don't get to challenge them, but they say it is okay because the government will tell them how they have been spying on what anthony is just describing the many found out it wasn't true. so the department of justice recently changed this they were collecting evidence and then they were not telling the defendants in criminal cases how they obtained the evidence. so it's another big thing as well. >> were you surprised by the
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edwards noted documents after the bush administration's? >> we already knew how brought these powers were. we already knew that there was a curtain they didn't know what was going on behind the curtain. >> i was just saying that i told you so. >> has there ever been a history when this hasn't been the case? >> i would go back to the beginning with the columnist that were thinking about having an american revolution and they were afraid that this would be the case. where people would have some privacy where the government can do everything. i've been talking about the rights that are at stake in the
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surveillance programs and another kind of story that i tell we are doing what we need to do and we don't need to give up liberty to be safe. they expect that it's going to be someone else and i see one of the callers who have suggested. the number of people are those who suffered from not and there is an american citizen as well. and this includes the surveillance happening under the foreign surveillance intelligence act even though he is an american. there is a man who lived and worked brooklyn and he was
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stopped in the subway system 21 times before he got upset and said this is supposed to be random stops. why do they keep picking on me. a statistician calculated that the odds of his having them stopped to him that many times and was one in 165 million. so you ask about history. and we also have a kind of -- some chapters in our history where we decide to go for the dragnets in the lockup of the japanese-americans during world war ii because we couldn't figure out disloyal people were. we need to learn the instance of the founding of the aclu and the attorney general was rounding up people and deporting them because they were foreign and they looked sly and crafty. so i think we should've learned that you have to watch this and what you give the american government and its not a way to keep our constitution.
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>> we have ed from spring hill, florida. >> hello. >> did you write the book? >> yes, that's interesting. people sometimes say, why did barack obama change his position. and i think that it changed he didn't trust george w. bush and i think when he became president, he felt differently about it and he trusted himself to use it wisely. or the president, i might not want to. but we don't have a chance of changing this as president, i don't know that we will ever have a chance. one thing he does say i don't care what people regional library, i only want to go after terrorists and nobody can really
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prove the abuses of his power. and number two i think that history shows us that there will be of use. and we have some of this noted documents. in this includes this as well. so i would like to think that i could remember the it is important to the that the constitution and i understand the difficult position. >> the next call for susan herman. margaret from florida, hello, and go ahead with your question or comment. >> hello. >> i'm so glad to hear you on this program and i am such a supportive. for the last 50 years i have
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watched and listened, but since 9/11 and the patriot act, i have just seen the country changing, and i see it changing and making the individuals less secure. because who can possibly go against the powers of the government and we saw this in germany and we saw this happen and you have this and that end with any other country we would be horrified. so thank goodness for your work and bless you. >> thank you. i very much appreciate your comment. we are trying very hard to keep our rights and democracy.
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one reason i'm optimistic that we are beginning to get a lot of pushback, particularly germany, as you mentioned, because they know that someone of the things that people are realizing is that the americans have had this over the internet. and one reason it's been so easy is the fiber optic cables and they are turning over information voluntarily or allowing the government to have a lot of access. it was just at a meeting of the white house were there a lot of people from the telecommunications industry who told the president that if we don't have better data protection, we will lose money because people are going to stop trusting the american companies and europeans will create their
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own ella communications companies and not come through unless they start pushing back and refusing to turn over this and they estimate that i just read as it can cost american businesses $21 billion per year. when you add that to the decimation of our rights and democracy. i keep coming back to that and that's the subtitle of my book. if we allow these things to go unchecked, there will be a next chapter and the next chapter and we could turn into the country of chile. >> you talk about some other countries. but it has been coming out in the press that this information, we spy on ourselves.
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>> we are guilty of spying a lot of other countries and people have also been saying this as well, but they may be doing the same thing. as well as those saying what have we unleashed here. this is something of an anti-american reaction. because of the american companies that have really been cooperating with the government and allowing it to happen. challenging the restrictions may want to be able to tell their customers that is the marketplace speaking but the people around the world. >> about people from the other side? >> this includes what we can take the information we can do via the information. >> i do think that we should
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have more restrictions. this includes europe and canada and for years, we are talking about the bottom line and it's been a big problem with multinational corporations and they are required to give this information to government the government and in europe are not allowed here. so to pavlov's dog situation we've been registering for a long time having these data privacy protection laws that would be more consistent with the countries that we consider his peers we do. even if they have this information, it is different for this. >> last call for susan herman. kennesaw, georgia. please go ahead. >> caller: hello, i am a supporter and contributor to your organization and i think
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you on the front lines of a battle to preserve our liberty. bringing up the point, that is just that people who claim that they don't find the nsa spying because they have nothing to hide in fear areas and that is 70% is being done by private corporations that allen hamilton is owned by cargo, which is really a centerpiece that runs this country in the bushes were part of it and so on. the point is that you'll just have to trust the government, you have to trust the corporations that are implicated
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oftentimes in polluting the water and the air and so on and so forth. >> okay, i think we got the point. thank you for calling. >> thank you. we have to be concerned about this as well. government doing that in through law so the companies that have this information don't just hand it over at will. the other thing is the role of the individual. so the rule is to dissent is patriotic to talk back to the government and say why are you doing this and this is going too far and i think what we are also discovering is the corporations are going to listen and google


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