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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 20, 2009 4:30am-5:00am EDT

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done. these are very important debates and i don't minimize them. we have a responsibility to come up with an answer to a problem r vhd job done. and i say that for the full understanding that i like
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working with my colleagues and like giving people pay chance to be heard and like a debate on issues, but also know when i'm taken advantage of to some degree. i won't let that happen. there's a tipping point that we'll have to move along at a pace that may not sats fi everyone's interest. i prefer not to go that route. but i don't want to be taken advantage of here. there's a way of dealing with the matters and i urge my colleagues to do so. >> i'm very dois appointed you think we're taking advantage of you. >> not yet. >> that's an important point and your example of 14,000 people a day losing insurance is very important. cbo says the bill we have before us causing 10 million to lose insurance and we've got to fix that. and we have been left out of the drafting -- >> those bureaucrats. >> so it's important that we have our amendments. >> oh, those bureaucrats.
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>> i know the amendments have been accepted and i want people to look at those amendments, some of those are technical -- most of those are technical corrections and that doesn't get to the heart of the bill. what we're talking about on some of these amendments that we're taking some time on do get to the heart of the bill. and coverage -- we started on what's supposed to be the easiest part of the bill. coverage will be the more difficult part of the bill. we'll have to have time to talk about that. i hope that isn't condensed into one day of talking. i think there are opportunities to make this difference there too. >> mr. chairman, you and i came off of a couple weeks of deep engagement in a legislative issue and it came to conclusion a bill that had been around a long time and you're passionate when you engage and you're fair. i want to acknowledge that. let me remind the chair and all the members. there are some pieces in the base bill that are enacted a year after the bill signed into
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law. most of the bill takes effect in 2011 and 2013. even with passage of this bill, most americans aren't going to feel any impact until the next administration because of the 2013 date. so i realize that the chair has been given a task that he didn't necessarily create the legislation or the time line. but i would plead with him to continue to show his patience that i know he has. if we get to a point where this blows up, it blows up. but i think that there are many of us passionate on this side about getting it right. there seems to be a difference on comparative effectiveness that maybe we can't close that gap. but it took us a day and a half to get there to realize that, if
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that's where we are. there are other issues that may take that long. but i urge the chair don't cut the debate short. because this is a debate we're having for the american people. i thank the chair. >> any further comments from my colleagues? it is noon and unless there are other amendments, what i would say, mike, let me say to you here, that we'll set a new time for the cbo meeting and we'll also consultation work with you to set new filing deadlines for amendments. >> could i say something about cutting the debate short? i think we've really spent all week on this. we've gotten a lot done. most of what we've got done is because of my willingness to accept amendments n many instances it's been my willingness based on experience if we listen to each other,
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there are good ideas. when we have the same debate over and over again, including the same language, the same case examples and whatever, i'm puzzled by the efficacy of that. if it were appreciate debate or new ideas or different things, fine. giving me language on little pieces ever paper on which i'm going to commit the sacred fortunes and hest the united states for decades, this is not the way to go. we can't do this on the back of envelopes. so i'm for debate. i enjoy the debate. i love the interaction of the legislative process. but i think we havepppppp0
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>> good evening everyone. if i could quiet the crowd please. i am john podesta, the center -- president of the center for american progress. it is a great honor to be hearing this panel. on behalf of the american constitution society, i would like to welcome all of you to tonight's plenary panel, which is entitled the levers of change, how progress is made in
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today's policy environment. i would also like to extend special thanks to all of our panelists who have been generous enough to donate their arrival time to participate in this discussion. we have several members of the administration up here, and given the pace of the new administration, i think spending a friday evening doing anything but being in a catatonic state is really an heroic effort. i know that the panel will be lively, and it just by way of one housekeeping business, you will get to ask most of the questions tonight. you need to reach into your back in right -- pullout a card and write your question on the card. people will collect them and give them to me. if you do not have a card, just write it on a piece of paper. i just want to set the stage briefly for this panel. change is a word we have heard over and over again during the
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past few months. we heard a lot of it during the course of blasters campaign, and i think for a reason. -- the course of last year's campaign. in november, after eight years of conservative leadership -- i wanted to say it failed conservative leadership, but they told me to pull my fangs in. the american people went to the polls prepared to send a clear, decisive message that they were ready for a shakeup in washington. the election and inauguration of president obama reflects a sea change in politics and policy in the federal government. i think it mirrors a fundamental shift and american attitudes. our country has become more progressive on a variety of key political and social issues. research done by the court crescive studies program -- by the progressive studies program shows there is broad support for a number of pressing priorities.
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8% of the electorate agree there is a need for more environmentally sustainable life styles, 79% agree there needs to be government investment in education, infrastructure, and science. 65% are looking for guarantees for for what health coverage for all americans, and the polls that just came out in the ""washington journal" mirrors that. on a macro level, the change in popularity level in the progressive label over the past several years serves as another bellwether. 67% find the term progressive to be favorable, partly because president obama intends to talk about progress and being a progressive. that was up from 42% in 2004. we have seen a momentous shift not just in policy but in the public perception of what needs to happen and the attitudes of american voters as well as the leadership in washington.
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that is creating a host of opportunities and challenges for policy makers from the of recovery in reinvest mill that was past 25 days into the president's -- after his inauguration, a wide variety of executive actions that we will hopefully get you tonight, the legislative battles currently taking place on capitol hill, to the nomination of a new supreme court justice. we are seeing how these prospects and problems influence how we make progress. that is what we will talk about this evening. we will explore how these levers of change have shifted, how the shift will influence the way we operate in a new policy environment. our panelists this evening represent expertise in a wide range of fields that encompasses this topic. i would once again like to thank them for joining us. i will give them introductions at the front end and begin by asking each panelist to say a
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few words, but i will try to steer this by asking them a question at the front end. lisa brown is very well known in this crowd. [applause] she now serves as assistant to the president, white house secretary, a position i occupied for president clinton. i expect her to be the chief of staff and the white house in the last three years of the obama administration. she cochaired the agency review for the obama-biden transition process. prior to joining the transition, she served for six years as the executive director of the american constitution society where she helped lead the organization to the tremendous growth and prominence it has today. lisa also was counsel to vice president al gore before her
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duties -- before duties in the vice president's office, she served in the office of legal counsel in the department of justice. she has seen a lot of variety from different perspectives. he is executive she of staff to vice president joe biden. before joining vice-president gore's staff, ron was chief of staff to janet reno and assist -- associate counsel in charge of judicial selection. he has been a veteran of five presidential campaigns. he directed the fall debate preparations for president obama as well as john kerry in 2004. in 2000 and served as general counsel on the vice president recount committee in florida, a role made slightly more famous by kevin spacey.
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on capitol hill he stirred that reduce service that staff director for the senate democratic committee. enforcement actions brought by government lawsuits against governments and in congressional investigations. mr. francisco advises clients before the committee on foreign investment in the united states and is a recognized authority on constitutional and national security laws. in addition, mr. francisco advises individuals and companies subject to congressional investigation such as the international coal group in connection with the 2006 sago mine action. more important from the perspective of this panel, he served as associate counsel to president bush from 2001-2003.
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spencer overton is the principal deputy assistant attorney general for the office of legal policy at the department of justice. he is currently on leave from a @@@@@@@ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @) dispenser court took on about 12 roles. he is a former board member of
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the american constitution society. our last palace is senior advisor at the office of management and budget. she works on issues regarding the preparation and supervision and administration of the federal budget for executive branch agencies as well as coordination of the administration's procurement and financial management intermission and regulatory policies. before joining omb, she was a partner and head of the appellate litigation group at a firm in new york. she was the solicitor general of the state of new york, special counsel to the white house justic department and law clerk to the u.s. supreme court justice john paul stevens. she also helped in the transition -- headed up the role of picking and putting lawyers into the administration, so if you have any be about that, you can see her after the panel.
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we had a great chance to work together during that time. we were going to have greg craig on the panel tonight. it is tough in the white house counsel's office. he is not yet in witness protection, but he had an unavoidable conflict so he will not be with us this evening, so i regret that. but he is with us in spirit. so let me start. in honor of her role as the former executive director of the american constitution society, i will start with lisa. i want to ask you a two-part question. the first part is, you have been the executive director of the american constitution society and you have now been the white house staff secretary. we know which one is harder. you have to answer which one is more fun. when your done with that, last year i think at this conference,
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if you ask anyone in the audience, probably everyone assumed if a democrat was elected president, he would close guantanamo. he has pledged to do that. you might want to reflect a little bit on why you think there has been so much resistance to that, particularly on capitol hill. most of the people in the room would have thought that he might have abandoned military tribunals in favor of moving the prisoners at guantanamo for the criminal-justice process through the uniform code of military justice. now that you are in there really grinding and working on those issues, explain a little bed about why the president chose to stick with military tribunals -- explain a little bit about why
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the president chose to stick with military tribunals. >> first, i just have to say it is amazing to be here and to be on this side of the microphone. it is the first time i have done it. i look at these lights and i cannot see everybody there will. it is really terrific to be here. i consider it an honor to be here, and more fun -- they are boasts spectacular. there isn't -- they are both the spectacular. everything i did with a csis helped prepare me for what i am doing now. the breath of issues that acs covers, which i care passionately about -- it is the issues i care about so much. the people i met working at acs
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has really transferred. these are all people who were part of the acs family before, so i feel like it is just continuing. i feel very lucky to be able to do that. i think that ours are worse in this job. i will say that. guantanamo -- i think the president, as everyone here knows, cares very deeply about closing guantanamo, about ending torture. when you think of what he did when he came into office in terms of the early executive orders on saying no torture, closing guantanamo, looking at each of the detainees and figure out who could be transferred in released. what he has said very clearly is where practicable, he wants to try people in article 3 courts. that presumption on its own is a
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big change, and is working with the justice department very hard. there's a task force evaluating each detainee at guantanamo and determining who can be tried in an article 3 court, who can be transferred to another country, who can be released and transferred. there's a huge amount thought going into this. military commissions, he feels there is a place, and narrow place for them, but a legitimate role for military commissions in a time of war, but he has also made very clear that they need to be improved upon. there are a number of administrative changes that he has ordered that involve no introduction of evidence of statements that were obtained by use of torture. they have greater choice of counsel. the burden of proof on hearsay evidence is now on the government if they want to
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introduce the hearsay evidence instead of all the detainee. he wants to work with congress in making even more changes, so another change is engaging in working with congress on a number of these very difficult issues. specifically on military commissions, this is an area where we are in the middle figuring out exactly what the changes are we would like to see and working with congress on that. it has become more political issue with capitol hill. it is not always easy when your time to resolve some of these issues. it is an ongoing conversation about bringing people into this country to be tried. i think we have just done that with the one who was transferred to the southern district of new york to be tried. the conversation will up -- with the hill will be an ongoing one.
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having worked with vice president gore, when he gave a speech for a c s several years ago, a number of people from the prior administration came together and talked about a lot of national security issues. people are not an extreme different positions. there are certain fundamental differences over things like what constitutes torture, but on a lot of the issues, everybody is trying to do the right thing. on the military commissions in guantanamo, the there is a desire to have the rule of law applied. everybody's trying to figure out how to do this as best they can. >>noel -- i am having trouble with my mike. i think they are bringing them up and down. you serve as legal counsel at a time that has general -- that has generated great controversy.
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and number of opinions of the office were withdrawn by the bush administration before they left office. there is a review now some of what went on at that time. i will ask you to follow up on what lisa said. as you look at the way president obama has handled these cases in particular, what have you agree and disagree with? what surprised you about the approach in the administration is taking on this basket cases on torture at guantanamo and how to prosecute the people who are being held? >> i would like to start out with something i completely agree with lease on. regardless of which administrations lawyers you are looking at, these lawyers are always trying to do the right thing, struggling with very, very difficult legal questions. take the torture issue.
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there was no lawyer in the united states government that was roving around the world trying to push on others various practices. rather, when you are a lawyer in the office of legal counsel, a question is brought to you. the question is, can i do this or can i not do this, whether it comes to stress positions, are putting eight caterpillar in a box with a man and letting him think it is poisonous, or when it comes to waterboarding. a lawyer is faced with a horrible decision, that has horrible consequences. if you come to the conclusion is not torture, or that it is torture, you are potentially preventing the government from finding out information that could thwart another terrorist attack. you come to the conclusion that it is torture, you are authorizing government officials to do what i think everybody
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rightly cringes at, pretty bad things. either way, it is a bad decision. but these lawyers are forced to make this decision because it is their job. they have to decide it one way or the other. that is what the lawyers in our administration did, and i hope you all never have to confront those decisions, but there may be questions that you have to face. when it comes to how the president has addressed a lot of these issues, and in particular the military commissions in guantanamo bay, the president is confronting an issue that president bush confronted as well. i think most people and most members of the administration eventually came to the conclusion that we would be better off without guantanamo bay. the problem is, health, practically, can you shutdown guantanamo bay? you have a bunch of very bad people. there may be a subset of them that can be criminally prosecuted, but i can guarantee that there is also a subset of
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them that cannot be criminally prosecuted. the evidence you have against them would be completely admissible in an ordinary criminal proceeding, or perhaps that actually did not commit a crime. when you hold somebody was engaged in war, they did not necessarily commit a crime. they are engaged in combat against a country, and traditionally prisoners of war in a traditional war were not criminals. they were warriors. as warriors, you had the right to hold them but not criminally try them, because they did not necessarily violate a law. what do you do with that class of people that you cannot criminally try? you can have military commissions for the ones that you think committed crimes, because it is an alternative forum for trying someone for committing a crime, but what about the ones that you do not have any admissible evidence against, or the ones you think did not commit crimes, but our people that if you release them
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they would pick up arms against you again? there is not a good answer to that question. guantanamo bay was the best thing we could come up with, for better or worse. what we are all struggling with is what is the best thing you can come up with, and it is not that easy. i think what the president and his administration are confronting many of the issues. all these people are struggling in good faith with very difficult questions. i wish them the best. >> we are confronting a lot of these same issues, but we also are coming out in different places on some of this. [applause] >> ron, you worked for two vice presidents. the constitution gives the vice
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president virtually no duties of power, but you have worked for two people who obviously had tremendous power in the context of a new administration, and in between we had another vice- president to is an activist in the role of vice president. maybe we could take this conversation to the question from where you sit, how do you make the by presidency relevance and accountable? are there lessons that reflecting back through three administrations that you bring to bear on the set of problems? >> we did get rid of the man sized safe.


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