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tv   NOW With Alex Wagner  MSNBC  September 6, 2013 9:00am-10:01am PDT

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norms mean something. >> the president did not say whether he would take action in syria without the support of congress, but said he would continue to make the case that it is the right thing to do. >> put this before congress for a reason. i think we will be more effective and stronger if in fact congress authorizes this action. with respect to congress and how they should respond to constituency concerns, i do consider it part of my job to help make the case and to explain to the american people exactly why i think this is the right thing to do. >> to that end, the president said he would address the american people this tuesday. but in making the case for military intervention, president obama is not alone. last night in an interview with msnbc's chris hayes, secretary of state john kerry pressed for action emphasizing over and over again the limited nature of the
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strikes. >> we're not remotely talking about getting america involved directly in between any of those forces. the president it not talking about assuming responsibility for syria's civil war. we are trying to enforce the international norm against that behavior. and that's all that this military strike seeks to do. there will be no american boots on the ground. this is not iraq, this is not afghanistan, this is not even libya. this is a very limited, targeted effort to reduce. there will be no american boots on the ground. we are not sliding through a back door into a war. we're not going to war. >> what exactly does "not going to war" look like? according to today's "new york times," the plan at this point is to hit syrian government targets with air strikes and ship launched tomahawk cruise missiles with the aim of deterring and degrading president assad's ability to use chemical weapons. the times reports that president obama has directed the pentagon
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to develop an expanded list of potential targets in syria. and the "wall street journal" says military planners are now preparing options to include attacks from air force bombers as well. at the press conference this morning, president obama rebuffed these reports and said he had no further comment. joining me today, executive editor of, richard wolf. melissa harris-perry, host of melissa harris-perry on msnbc and "washington post" columnist eugene robinson. joining us from washington is senior fellow for middle eastern studies at the council of foreign relations, steven cook author of "the struggle for egypt." steven, i'd like to go to you first and just talk about the strategy here. it seems like you started out as someone who was in favor of intervention. but in the intervening weeks and days you have come to put it out there that going into syria or intervening in syria as it were
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will only exacerbate the situation. can you tell us more about your views on what the american government should or should not be doing? >> sure. thanks so much, alex. i wrote actually way back in january 2012 that if we were going to take the policy that assad must go seriously, the only way he was going to go was through a military intervention of some sort, that he was likely to kill his way out of the political challenge that what was then an uprising, was providing. in the interim 18 months, the syrian civil war has evolved in a way that suggests to me that if we take the very limited types of military operations that secretary kerry is talking about we're likely to intense fight conflict. i don't think that these types of limited strikes are going to do much in order to damage the assad regime's ability to prosecute the civil war the way in which it has.
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it certainly will do some damage. and it may in fact send a signal and deter assad from using chemical weapons. but what's to prevent him from killing 14 or 1500 people using conventional weapons? he's already killed 100,000 of them and displaced about a tenth of his own population. what essentially we would be doing is engaging in a military operation that then makes the united states a party to a very, very nasty civil war, a divided opposition, certainly al qaeda-linked elements involved in this conflict, and a regional proxy war that pits the iranians, the syrians, hezbollah, against the saad saudis, the turks, the free syrian army and the united states. it strikes me there's a tremendous amount of down side risk and very little in terms of benefits for the united states. >> melissa, the longer this debate goes on -- and it will continue -- i think the more questions arise.
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and i think that moment that we played from the press conference was so reflective of the difficulty the president is sort of -- the things he's wrestling with internally. this is clearly not an easy decision for him to make. it's i think almost hard for him to argue, go it alone, go over the head of congress if that's what he ends up doing and fundamentally get involved in another middle eastern country that. reluctance is borne out by the polling of the american public. i have to say, i think every time the administration begins to try to make its own case, it gets -- the muddled nature of it is so off putting that it almost takes them back a few steps. >> so here's the challenge. we have that initial sort of very strong response by secretary kerry before the president made the decision to await congressional approval. and in that moment i actually think there was probably the single strongest case made by the administration. whether you believed it or supported it or not, the clarity of the case, the reason why it would matter to have military intervention. the problem is that when the president is making what is a
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relatively large case about human rights, about the nature of chemical weapons and the absolute necessity for international action to clarify that this is in fact international law that we will not use chemical weapons, we will not allow it. and then you have you can hear again the strengths of kerry in his conversation with our colleague chris hayes saying we are not putting boots on the ground, not going to war. just doing a little thing. every time they say we are just doing a little thing and the president is saying this is a big thing. it's awfully hard to reconcile those issues. >> there's mission creep. i think we're in a period of dilemma creep, right? >> the dilemmas are multiplying. >> right. but the administration, if the administration allows this to become -- the question to become, can we fix syria, then answer is no, we cannot fix syria. but i do think there's a simple explainable issue here about chemical weapons. >> but in terms of making sort of even in make the case for
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chemical weapons to melissa's point, you then have make the case for red lines, international communities, the responsibility to protect which is underlying i think a lot of this, richard. and two, sort of the outside voices that dissembling this strategy. retired army general robert scales writing in the "washington post" today "serving professionals, meaning armed service professionals, are embarrassed to be associated with the amateurism of the obama administration's attempts to craft a plan that makes strategic sense." >> well, serving professionals at the highest level thought that the action in libya would fail and made no sense, either. so i'm afraid we have civilian control of the military for a good reason. now, i happen to think that this press conference -- >> he is glad. >> i am glad. i've lived in countries where that was unclear. and it's a really bad thing when the military think they're in control. >> no. i do think that the president's press conference today was
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actually embarrassing. it was as muddled and unconvincing. he looked so dog tired he made me tired watching him and listening to him. if you want to take a country to a difficult place which is this authorization for war, you have to be much more clear and convincing about what the rationale is. and the rationale is clearly about chemical weapons. but you're not going to make a case about chemical weapons by talking about treaties and red lines and international law. at the heart of this was the absolute moral outrage of those civilians being gassed in their sleep. that's it. and this administration cannot seem to stick to that line which is how they got into this position in the first place. so what they're saying all the time is, this is a maul thing. it's a small thing. it's really a small thing. but we're asking you to do a big thing which is to vote on it. we're asking you to do something which is extraordinary, even though other cases where we've just lobbed in a few tomahawk missiles we haven't done this. so there is a fundamentally mixed message. they're not saying what the
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powerful case is. i don't know for the life of me why they're not coming back to the moral outrage. >> steven, part of the slipperiness of going back to the moral outrage, it's entirely possible that we launch these limited military strikes and then assad doesn't use chemical weapons and attacks his people all the same and more children die, right? that was one of the surprising things to come out of the senate foreign relations committee resolution, to me is that it ends with this sentence about a democratic syria, which is a pretty huge deliverable if you will. >> it is. >> given the limited nature of what these strikes are supposed to be. >> i think that's right. and i think in terms of the muddled message, certainly i think everybody can agree that using chemical weapons is an egregious violation of international norms. but then when you dig down into the details of what's actually happening in syria, you can see all the traps of the united states getting involved in the country. and you just pointed it out,
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alex. it may very well be that assad gets the message as a result of these air strikes and he will then go on and kill another 100,000 of his own people. what is it that we do then? do we march an army into syria? do we do -- continue rolling air strikes until they gets the message that he can't kill anybody? we would progressively become more involved in the conflict as the conflict intensified. this is an extraordinarily difficult decision. but the problem here is that there is a clearer case on the chemical weapons issue. but the administration's been trying to sell it on this humanitarian issue, which they have no credibility. 100,000 people have been killed. 1 million people have been displaced. where have they been for the last 2 1/2 years? they haven't made that case. >> also, eugene, let's not take the politics out of this. to people like john mccain they must sell this notion of a democratic syria and measurable change on the battle field, whereas to democrats they have to sell a much more narrow. >> it has to be both a big thing and little thing. that was the price of john
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mccain's vote was putting this language in the resolution saying essentially that we were going to tilt the balance of power on the battle field, which i think is completely wrong. look. a punitive strike could have some effect on assad's ability to wage the war. it might make him somewhat less likely to win the war eventually. but i think we can't know that. and i think if we try to know that we are not on the slippery slope, we're halfway down it. because then we are involved in a civil war. and obviously president obama doesn't want to do that. >> melissa, what about the progressives and democrats here? because there is now this sort of thinking that -- it's a question whether nancy pelosi will be able to whip her caucuses into shape as it were but that some democrats though reluctant as they may be in terms of voting for military intervention that could escalate, there is a sense they must stand with their president and they must take this vote, because if they do not it could be disasterous for his agenda
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and the sort of governing democratic agenda in the next four years. >> this moment is the agony that is historical path dependence, right? the reason that so many progressives in this moment are having such a reaction of being appalled to the idea of intervention in syria has much less to do with the syrian moment and much more to do with iraq, right? it just does. it's why kerry, secretary of state kerry is saying, this is not iraq. but the reason that americans in this moment are saying, no, no, no. the reason we are war weary is because we made a decision more than a decade ago to authorize force to go in and to do something which now has all of these redoubling impacts on our public opinion, on our understanding of our position within the world. we have been here before. we were here in the interwar period between world war i and world war ii. it is nearly impossible to assess this particular strategic historic, moral, ethical,
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international moment without a recognition that it is tied to the decade in which we have found ourselves. that's not an argument either for intervention or not, but simply that the very angst that we see from our president, from our press and from our people is related as much to that as to this particular drama. >> i think it forms why the president went to congress, right? now we talk about all the corners the administration has been painted into, he did not really answer the question, will you go over congress's head if they don't approve this resolution. >> i don't believe he can. but let's all be clear. this really isn't iraq. there are huge differences. and like after the post-vietnam period, we have to break out of that. >> well, i don't know we're breaking out of it yet. unfortunately we have to say goodbye to the senior fellow on foreign council relations steven cook. nice to have you back. after the break president obama faces the g 20 dogs by internal conflict. is he a consensus-seeking globalist or reluctant warrior? we will discuss the obama
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when i look out over this crowd today, i know there is no shortage of patriots or patriotism. what i do oppose is a dumb war. >> we have been very clear to the assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. >> i didn't set a red line. the world set a red line.
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my credibility is not on the line. the international community's credibility is on the line. >> that was then, and this is now. president obama's red line comment of last year now has supporters worried that his syria gamble could define his second term and undermine his legacy. despite intense discussion of the topic, president obama left the g 20 summit without garnering broad support for military intervention in syria. at home he finds his credibility very much on the line, derided for his shot across the bow comment and one aide's characterization of a strike just muscular enough not to get mocked. until the last few weeks, an obama doctrine, if such a thing is possible in these times, might have been characterized by pragmatism, reliance on targeted drone strikes, a distaste for international entanglements and desire to wind down those in which america had already been engaged. without question, the story of the obama presidency has been one of evolution. in 2008, the country placed a unilateralist with an internationalist, one who won
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accolades for his willingness to acknowledge that although a global force for good, america wasn't always right. five years later, the questions regarding america's role in the world remain unresolved. obama's faltering reset with russia, a muddled response to events in egypt and the steady drip of leaks regarding american surveillance on both domestic and international audiences have jud mind his leadership and to some degree isolated the president on the world stage. at the end of the day, president obama's syria policy may be confusing but it's all the more so because it seems so unlike the president of the past five years, a man who built his reputation on caution and consensus now seems ready to throw caution to the wind and quite possibly go it alone. joining us now is presidential historian and professor at rice university, douglas brinkley, author of "cronkite." professor, i want to talk about the syria decision in the larger scope of the obama presidency. i think one of the things that is flummoxing to obama watchers
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is how out of character this one seems in its lack of clarity and lack of pragmatism. the strategy itself seems incredibly muddled. it seems the president himself isn't that on board with military intervention. >> we've all known president obama to be the reluctant warrior, but he's coming off now as a reluctant leader, which is a big difference and not a goethe good thing. his presser today he was lucid, analytical, tough. but he's talking about a heavy lifting and you're not feeling the heavy lifting. you're feeling woe is me. i'm exhausted and tired. i didn't ask for this. it might be what abraham lincoln did at the battle of bull run but that was before television and the social media world. he now has to talk about peace with strength, what this means for the middle east. there is a bit of a coalition. he might as well call them the enforcers. turkey, saudi arabia, france and the united states working together to have a change there.
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talk about turkey as a great ally and millions of refugees coming in. talk about what chemical weapons on the israeli border means for a larger peace strategy. he has to talk peace, and instead it's a lot of doom and gloom and woe is me. and he's losing votes in the congress daily right now. so he has a chance to come home and recalibrate. if he doesn't it seems like this is going to be a difficult sell. >> richard, i know you were no fan of that press conference the president just had. and i will go as a sort of comparison tool back to the speech he gave at the national defense university, where there he was laying out sort of controversial programs including our drone program and was very up front about the morality and the sort of lack of morality that some of these drone strikes possess but was unapologetic. and i think that is such a study in contrasts compared to where he is now over the syria question. i will say in his defense i thought bloomberg's clive cook had an interesting point to make when he said "if you're sure you know what's right in this case,
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you haven't thought it through. i don't criticize president barack obama for being perplexed by these complexities as he seems to be. better that than a leader who thinks it's all so simple. i wish he would make decisions faster and pitch a more confident case for the course he has chosen. you can be careful without deathering. but he's not wrong to see this as a difficult choice". >> he's not wrong is not a rallying cry for war. i think everything we've seen over the last week is classic obama. the thinking out loud, the fact that this is nuanced and difficult, and the reasoning through with the american people. this is who he is. the contrast, the thing that was uncharacteristic was the rush to war we had the previous week. so we've got two obamas here. we've got the guy who was rushing to war saying we're going to go do this. i've made my decision. and i don't care if people are with me or not. and then the hauling back and saying, well, actually, no, the
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real me is the one who wants to win people over, get a vote, build a coalition. look, he's got the arab league, other countries involved. he can now make that case. the problem is, last week he didn't need that case. so he is muddled against himself and people are pick up these signals. they're saying -- they're understanding that he thinks this is really complicated and he's not sure quite how to sell it. that's fine as the professor and the constitutional law teacher, that is not fine when you've got to be decisive. and you are trying to send a message, not just to the american people but to assad. there is a red line, so go define it. >> i don't know, eugene. in terms of what is characteristically obama and what isn't, i think the part that is not characteristically obama is that he seems to say, we must do this, and then keeps sort of presenting the argument for why people would think we don't need to do this. >> it's hard to get inside his head. but it seems that he's conflicted about this.
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it seems he's genuinely conflicted about this. i know that he has not wanted to get involved in syria. yet i think he has to believe, as many people believe, that this is a red line, that chemical weapons use is -- it's one of the evil genies that the world has been able to keep in the bottle for a long, long time. letting it out is a huge deal. and you can make i think a very strong compelling argument that any leader who uses chemical weapons in that way should be punished and should be punished immediately, should be tough punishment, and that's that. but he also has to think about, well, what happens the day after. >> yes. that's the thing about war. >> and i think we should be careful. i hope doug will back me up on this. often in sort of the moment as we are thinking about presidential decision making we tend to focus just on that president. and the historians, of course, later will say, we didn't need
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to get into the president's head. what we needed to do was have an awareness of the inside circle. who do we know who's sitting around the president at this moment and what might we imagine are the multiple conversation going on and what history are they reading here. we know we have samantha power sitting there, who is undoubtedly thinking of the bosnian moment, the rwanda moment, who is saying to the president, yes, again i'm making this up. i do not actually know that samantha power said these things. i am not quoting her. but my bet is there is a line of argument coming from many from the clinton administration that would say, they're worried about your legacy turning into the bush legacy. be careful your legacy not turn into a human rights violation that you did not address legacy. >> susan rice said many times that rwanda continues to haunt her. the u.s. inaction on that. doug, in terms of putting this in a broader spectrum of the obama presidency and his circle of advisers, i think melissa is right to point out samantha power and susan rice and their
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sort of posture as humanitarian interventionists. i think we would also say if we look at all the issues on the president's plate right now, i do not think the president imagined he would be the president who would be credited with expanding the surveillance state, with getting potentially america involved in another middle eastern country. these things seem almost antithetical to who he is. >> if you read president obama's nobel prize speech, it was tough and it was ballsy. he spoke as an anti-terror hawk while accepting the nobel peace prize. he's the president who killed osama bin laden, he's been called the drone president. he is very vigilant on trying to make the world a safer place. but i think the moment of him being conflicted has to end. i'm getting calls from reporters doing stories, this the incredibly shrinking president. he does not want people raising that kind of question. he needs to lead us with some certainty now. he has to do an herculean
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historical sales job when he gets back. president obama is a wonderful campaigner. he did an amazing job in '08 and 2012. he has a third campaign right now to convince congress and mainly liberals in the democratic party, including a lot of people you're having on msnbc, he's got to convince them that they've got to vote with him on this. so it's really retail behind the door telephone politics now. and he needs to do a very special address tuesday to the american people to try to win some of -- at least get 50% of the public opinion on his side. >> doug, to put this in historical, in the much larger spectrum or american presidencies, president obama sort of skirted the question of whether he would override congress if they defeated the resolution. we know that in history, truman skirted congress in the korean war, clinton of course skirted congress in kosovo and obama didn't really go to congress in libya. can he get through something like that, given the man he is and the presidency that he's presumed to have established.
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>> i don't think he can do that. i think even if senate goes with it and congress says no, i think he's going to have to rest assured that he raised the specter and that we're all hawk-eyed about chemical weapons now. i don't see that he can just suddenly just say well now i'm going to disregard the will of the american people. for one thing he'll be dealing with impeachment proceedings. the republicans will push that through. doesn't seem worth it to me. the problem i had a little bit today with the presser, people keep talking about kosovo within the 1990s with clinton. we had nato on our side. we have no nato here. >> presidential historian douglas brink lirks thank you as always for your time. coming up, if books were like movies this one would be rated r. or at the very least parental guidance suggested. we will get the cliff notes on rush limbaugh's new children's book. that's next. has it's ups and downs.
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you feninazis, here's the deal. if we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. and i'll tell you what it is. we want you to post the videos online so we can all watch. >> that would be vintage rush limbaugh circa march of last year. now the rushbo is releasing a children's book. this is the actual cover of rush revere and the brave pilgrims, time travel adventures with exceptional americans. the conservative provocateur claims there are no politics in this book. >> "rush revered" is a substitute schoolteacher at a middle school anywhere in america. and he will take a couple of students with him to the first thanksgiving. and they will learn all about it. again, it is a unique way of reaching the target audience here, which is america's young
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people, who are sadly not being taught what is in this book. >> there is quite possibly a very good reason why america's children are not being taught whatever happens to be in the rush jinator's book. the adult eration of little minds begins next month. the "new york times" reveals that the nsa is single-handedly redefining the concept of privacy. we will discuss the program known as bull run and myth of encryption with one of the reporters who broke the story next on "now". [ male announcer ] at hebrew national, we're so choosy about the cuts of beef that meet our higher kosher standards that only a slow-motion bite can capture all that kosher delight. and when your hot dog's kosher, that's a hot dog you can trust. hebrew national. but you had to leave rightce to. now, would you go? world,
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okay, who helps you focus on your recovery? yo, yo, yo. aflac. wow. [ under his breath ] that was horrible. pays you cash when you're sick or hurt? [ japanese accent ] aflac. love it. [ under his breath ] hate it. helps you focus on getting back to normal? [ as a southern belle ] aflac. [ as a cowboy ] aflac. [ sassily ] aflac. uh huh. [ under his breath ] i am so fired. you're on in 5, duck. [ male announcer ] when you're sick or hurt, aflac pays you cash. find out more at it may have been overshadowed by news coming out of the g 20 summit, but this morning the "new york times" is out with stung revelations courtesy of edward snow den.
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the headline "nsa able to foil basic safeguards of privacy on the web." the times reports that beginning in 2000, the spy agency began investing billions of dollars in a highly classified program known as bull run. it allowed the agency to crack americans' most basic privacy protections regarding their web searches, e-mail, internet chats, online commerce transactions and medical records. the times reports the nsa is winning its long-running secret war on encryption, using super computers, technical trickery, court orders and behind the scenes persuasion to undermine the major tools protecting the privacy of everyday communications in the internet age. one 2010 memo bragging about the capabilities is distinctly orwellian. "capabilities are now coming online. vast amounts of encrypted
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internet data which have up till now been discarded are now available". >> part of the problem here is we get these through the press and then i've got to go back and find out what's going on with respect to these particular allegations. i don't subscribe to all these newspapers. although i think the new york sa do -- the nsa does, now at least. >> joining me now reporter for the "new york times," a paper that maybe the president doesn't subscribe to? nicole, a big scoop for you guys. great reporting today. tell us if you will what this practically means for people who are concerned about their privacy. >> what it means is that all communications you thought were private, that you were assured were encrypted online, like your medical records, your g mail, your facebook messages, everything essentially, your online banking transactions, have likely been cracked by the
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nsa. or if they haven't been cracked then nsa has found ways around these really basic encryption technologies that we've all grown to trust over the last two decades. >> mel his say, i know that there is some face book and g mail i think in terms of communication data is one level of secrecy around that, right? >> sure. >> i think to some degree we've ceded our privacy on that in the internet age. but banking records, medical records, the stuff that people want to keep private and keep away from spying eyes, i think the encryption piece of this marks a new low in terms of surveillance and leaks. >> as for me, i continue to have moderate anxiety about the nsa having it and much greater anxiety about global corporations having this information. so let me just play this out real quickly. i get a lot of critique from the left about what must seem to
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some people my shoulder shrug about the nsa. it's not that. it really isn't. but in the accountability of the democratic government that is still understanding itself within the context of the nation state and which still at least presumably is held accountable by free and fair elections on a regular basis, our democratically elected leaders. distressed as i am because they have the power of the state, they have drones and google does not. and yet i continue to wonder why we have more anxiety about our government having this information, even than we do often about our willingness to hand over very similar forms of information or the exact same information to multinational corporations not bound by nation states and certainly not bound in any way by democratic electability and restraint. so in that way, i think we need to think very carefully about even the information that we choose to give out. >> but eugene that, said, melissa is making the point for checks and balances, participatory democracy. the nsa wanted to do something
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similar in the 90s and include a back door encryption piece called the clipper chip and basically had its hands slapped. but they went ahead, as nicole points out, and did it, anyway. i think that's the piece, setting aside whether or not the nsa should have access, they seem to be operating with impunity and on their own. >> here's the flip side to melissa's point of view, which is like google scans our e-mail, right? they scan our g mail to see what to sell to us. and if you ever go online and you actually buy something, you're flooded with ads for that thing, right? and so -- but i know what they want to do with that data. they want to make money off of me. that's what they want to do with it. that's how they use it. >> what if selling it to the enemy of the state would be the thing that krar carried the greatest profit? the assumption that profit would always occur within the context of national security. so i just ask us to be careful.
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>> i understand. but i do get back to the google doesn't have drones part of the argument. the state has powers of arrest, of imprisonment, of confiscation, of whatever. that make me not want it to have all my private information. >> nicole, in terms of the impunity with which the nsa seems to operate, i mean, they just effectively skirted in some ways the fisa court and congress and our elected representatives and developed these programs on their own, is that right? >> yeah. a couple things here, like you said, we had a big debate as a nation 20 years ago when the clinton administration wanted to introduce the clipper chip. and we decided as a society that this was something that was unacceptable to us, that we wanted to have some way to keep some of our secrets secret. and the nsa, like you said, went ahead and did it, anyway. the way that they're going about doing it is introducing
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vulnerabilities into international encryption standards. and they're finding access opportunities into google's encrypted web traffic. and all these technologies that we count on to keep our secrets secret. and by doing so, they fundamentally made those technologies less secure. so maybe the nsa has this giant head start on everyone else, but eventually cryptographers point out at some point people will catch on and nsa's back doors could be china's back doors or russia's back doors or who knows back doors. so i think there's a broader question to be answered here, which is do we really want our own government agency, especially one that's charged with making the u.s. more secure, being responsible for making all these technologies fundamentally less secure. >> and nicole, quickly before we let you go, in terms of edward snowden's access to this, he
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theoretically didn't have clearance to get into bull run. it was not a need to know sort of security clearance basis. it was no need to know. so that sort of then begs a question, to your point, how secure is this program really. >> right. the nsa has shown that they can't keep their own secrets, which gets back to my other point. but yeah, he did not have access to bull run but he was able to access all these documents that make mention of bull run and we were able to dig up some mentions of specific technologies that they had cracked. but yeah, it begs the question. the nsa can't keep their own secrets, how can we trust them to keep all these back doors just to themselves. >> nicole from the "new york times," thank you for your time, nicole. >> thanks for having me. coming up, six months ago colorado passed a pair of landmark gun safety laws. now right flank is rewarding some of the legislators who supported the bills with recall elections. we will talk with one of those lawmakers just ahead. erved my mw your chicken noodle soup but she loved it so much... i told her it was homemade.
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what happens when a state passes common sense gun safety laws? the gun lobby hits back. early voting is now under way in a recall election for two colorado state senators, residents of the home state of the aurora and columbine shootings. their misdeeds? supporting two laws that expanded background checks for gun purchasers and limited high capacity magazines. colorado senate president -- are the first two legislators to be subject to a recall effort in the state's 137-year history. the outcome of the elections could have national implications for the gun safety movement and the gun lobby, and both side know it. joining us now is democratic state senator from colorado's third district, angela heron. senator, thanks for joining the program. >> thanks, alex. it's a privilege to be here. i'm glad you're talking about the issues here. >> snot, i think it's fairly shocking when you hear about the
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amount of money, $2 million that has been spent on this recall effort. to all of us watching on the outside it seems like this will be a bellwether for how other senators, state and otherwise, take up the issue of gun safety laws. how important is it that you win this for the issue itself? >> well, we certainly understand here in pueblo that there's the national ramifications. but for here in pueblo in my district, the issues are really still big. in pueblo it's a working class, we like to have jobs that pay a living wage, and we want our kids to be safe and get a good education. so we're trying to be focused on. but we do understand that the ramifications to this and for legislators to understand that they can do the right thing, represent their communities and common sense legislation. >> richard, it's amazing how the -- well, there was a defeated effort in congress to get gun safety reform passed through. and the states have sort of taken up the mantle. i think that what is happening in colorado, i mean, like what
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happened in wisconsin, will be important in terms of setting the stage for further gun safety action at the national level. we look at how scott walker's choices have rolled back the rights and the power of labor unions. it is no surprise that mayor bloomberg has given $350,000 in support of these senators and that the nra made sure to recall two senators that are in distinctly swing districts in the state. >> this is how the nra exerts its power. we all focus on the national debate, but they really exert their power in the state legislatures on stories we're not paying attention. to that's why it's so good we're having this discussion right now. >> they intimidate people. they bully people. of course they're their targets. but it's the message they're sending to the whole state legislature, don't mess with us. don't even think about it. that's why it's so important that there is actual national attention. they're bringing national attention it's just under the radar. they're drawing $2 million not
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from local funds, national funds they are playing here. that's why it's important that the bloomberg group is pushing back here and why it's important we're having this discussion. because we elect people to represent their constituents. and what the nra is saying is, don't listen to your constituents about something that actually has a direct local impact here. listen to us because otherwise we're coming after you. >> senator, you know your constituents. one of the most interesting things about colorado is what david zerota calls the pragmatic progressivism of the state. the governor has legalized civil unions. allowed children of undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition, legalize marijuana and have anti--fracking legislation. tell us about the people of your district and why you think will be with you on this. >> alex, i cut off on part of your question. but i think to tell about the people in my district, my friends and neighbors that are
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here in pueblo, they certainly are a supporter of civil unions. and i was actually the senate sponsor of the in-state tuition fund documented students. i certainly have the support of constituents. what i think here in pueblo, we're just really common sense, hard-working people. i mean, and i grew up here. i raised my own daughter here. and so i really do represent the values. so it's pretty easy for me to be in the state legislature bringing the values of pueblo right there to the senate floor every day. because that's the values they have. and it is just very common sense, good people. >> senator, one more question before we let you go. do your constituents see through what the nra is trying to do here? i mean, i wonder because so much national money has come into this. it's clear that they're trying to sort of set an example here. and given what you're saying about your constituents, that they are common sense people, that they have embraced the
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ideas of perhaps immigration reform and marriage equality, do they not see what the nra is trying to do in making an example out of you and your fellow state senator? >> alex, i really appreciate you asking that question. because at the beginning of this, they had a really simple message that i was trying to take their guns away. and they got that message out there. and it really took us in the last three months we've been working really hard talking to people at their doors, helping them to understand. and they have really seen through that. and the energy at the beginning of this campaign was really on their side. because again, it was so easy and pretty inaccurate. but what we've been able to do is help people to understand, and they're recognizing the nra's hand in this. and voter suppression at its best. colorado -- and i was the senate sponsor of the voter access and modernization bill. that really was the only state i think in the country that was really trying to have more access for voters.
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and so we're really proud of that. and so what they've been doing, this is like their custer's last stand in making sure that our voters don't get that opportunity to have their voices heard. this is the most expensive election. >> i think many gun safety advocates do indeed hope it is the nra's custer -- version of custer's last stand. democratic state senator from colorado, angela giron. early voting has started. best of luck in the recall effort. we will have more for you when we return right after the break. we have select tvs on rollback. like this samsung 55" smart led. on rollback: you save $100. and this vizio 60" smart led. on rollback: you save 100 bucks! and this samsung 60" led. on rollback, and you save over 150 bucks. get more for your money at walmart's super savings event. going on right now at your local walmart.
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thank you to richard, melissa and eugene. that is all for you. i'll see you back here monday at noon eastern. andrea mitchell is up next with guest host the boat officianado luke russert. time... before he could even think about planning for his daughters' future... mike opened a merrill edge investment account
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and linked it to his bank of america bank account to help free up plenty of time for the here and now. that's the wonder of streamlined connections. that's merrill edge and bank of america.
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