Transcript for Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Mike Rogers
Let's get a response from the chairs of the committees, dianne feinstein from the senate and republican mike rogers from the house. Senator feinstein, let me begin with you. They believe that the balance between privacy and national security is out of whack with these programs, your response? Well, of course, balance is a difficult thing to actually identify what it is, but I can tell you this, these programs are within the law, the business records section is reviewed by a federal judge every 90 days. It should be noted that the document that was released, that was under seal, which reauthorized the program for another 90 days, came along with a second document that placed and discussed the strictures on the document. That document wasn't released. Here's what happens with that program, that program is essentially walled off within the nsa. There are limited number of people who have access to it. The only thing taken as it has been correctly express is not content of a conversation but the information that is generally on your telephone bill. Which has been held, not to be private personal property by the supreme court. If there is strong suspicion that a terrorist outside of the country is trying to reach someone on the inside of the country, those numbers then can be obtained. If you want to collect content on the american, then a court order is issued. So, the program has been used, two cases have been declassified. One of them is the case of david hedley who went to mumbai to the taj hotel and scoped it out for the terrorist attack. The second, a man who lived in colorado, who made the decision that he was going to blow up a new york subway, who went to a beauty wholesale supply place, bought enough hydrogen peroxide to make bombs, was surveilled by the fbi for six months, traveled to go to new york to meet with a number of other people who were going to carry out this attack with him. And were arrested by the fbi, who has pled guilty and is in federal prison. Here's the point. And this is why this is so difficult. I flew over the world trade center going to senator lautenberg's funeral. In the distance was the statue of liberty. And I thought of those bodies jumping out of that building, hitting the canopy, part of our obligation is keeping americans safe. Human intelligence isn't going to do it, because you can't -- it's a different culture. So, this kinds of strict strictly overseen, it's overseen by the justice department, by inspectors general, by audit, by a 90-day review, by the court, is looked at like a method. I'm very happy if there's a better way. We'll certainly look at that. Let me bring that to congressman rogers. You believe these programs are effective. I do. What about this idea of mark udall that you reopen the patriot act, he said that hasn't helped. That's his suspicion at least. I can tell you, in the case in new york, it's exactly the program that was used. Remember, all of these programs, this is really important, really important. The national security agency is not listening to americans' phone calls and not reading americans' e-mails. None of these programs allow that. Part of that 702 say it's prohibit by law that you can read a wholly surveilled domestic e-mail. You know the inflammatory nature of the program. Let's just talk about the phone records real quickly. What this is, the reason this happened after 9/11 we realized that there was a big hole in our ability to fully identify all of the players in that terrorist plot. And one of it was these business records, the phone big information is destroyed by these companies. They can't expensewise it's difficult for them to hold them. Here's what happened, put all of that information a box and hold that information and when you want to access that information you have to use this very strict court-order approval process. It has to be a foreign person believed to be on a foreign land. Some notion they can see a name that comes out of it, by the way, this is important, no name comes out of that search. Even if they get a number, they don't get a name on it. The number of times it's accessed is a fraction of a fraction, number one. And number two, no one can data mine that information. That's what's so frustrating to those of us who know about this. Both of you know so much more than any other americans. One thing that you heard from senator udall was the desire for more public information. He believes that the administration hasn't been misleading. I want to play an exchange from march. When james clapper was questioned by your colleague senator wyden. Does the nsa collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of americans? No, sir. It does not? Not whittling. There are cases they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect but not wittingly. I have a hard time squaring that answer with what we learned this week. Well, I think this is very hard. There is no more direct or honest person than jim clapper and I think both mike and I know that. You can misunderstand the question. This is one of the dilemmas of talking about it. He could have thought the question had content or something, but it is true that this is a wide collection of phone records. As mike said. No name, no content. But, the number to number, the length of time, the kind of thing that's on the telephone bill, and we have to deal with that. So, what do we do going forward? senator McCain has said, and senator udall as well, that maybe there should be a public hearing on this program that include some surveillance of some data from some americans. Are you open to that? Yeah, I'm open to it. And I have to think about this. We had an intelligence committee meeting on thursday, which i opened up to everybody, and 27 senators came. You know, we informed them that every senator, the material is available. They can come and see it. One of the strictures of highly classified with no staff I think that should be changed. So they could come in with a member and review the material. But we have had lots of hearings on this, and I think senator wyden knows this. And has been respectful of it. And I'm open to doing a hearing every month, if that's necessary, and I'm open doing to doing an opening hearing now. Here's the rub, the instances where this has produced good -- has disrupted plots, prevented terrorist attacks, is all classified. That's what's so hard about this. So that we can't actually go in there, and other than the two that have been released, give the public an actual idea of people that have been saved, attacks that have been prevented, that kind of thing. Chairman rogers? You know, george, one of the things that we're charged with is keeping america safe and keeping our civil liberties and privacy intact. I think we have done both in this particular case. And the problem with this is, if you tell our adversaries and enemies in the counterterrorism fight exactly how we conduct business, they're not going to do business the same way ever again. It makes it difficult. In one case, this was the key piece that allowed us to stop a bombing in the new york subway system. But these programs that are authorized by the court by the way, only focused on nonunited states person overseas, that gets lost in this debate, are pieces of the puzzle. And you have to have all of the pieces of the puzzle to try to That's what we found went wrong in 9/11. We didn't have all of the pieces of the puzzle in the boston bombings, either. So, had we had more pieces of the us. Le you can stop these things before they happen. Finally, we're just about out of time. I want a quick answer from each of you on this. A crimes investigation has been opened. This investigation should be pu pursued and the source if found should be prosecuted? I believe that someone did not have authorized to release this. Why that is so important, george, they didn't have all of the information, I know your reporter that you interviewed, greenwald has it all, he doesn't have a clue how this program worked. Neither does the person who released enough information literally to be dangerous. I argue that there's other methods. They can come to the committees if they have concerns. Taking a very sensitive classified program that targets foreign persons on foreign lands, and putting just enough out there to be dangerous, is dangerous to us, it's dangerous to our national security and violates the oath which that person took. You too senator feinstein? I do. Thank you both for your time this morning. Thank you. Thanks, george.
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