tv Inside Washington PBS July 7, 2013 3:00pm-3:31pm PDT
>> production assistance was provided by albritton communications and politico, reporting on the political arena. ♪ >> not one more thing where we're trying to protect america and it looks like we are spying on america. >> this week on "inside washington," how free is the land of the free? >> you keep up what you are doing, we needed from my point of view. >> how much are we willing to sacrifice in the name of security? >> does the fbi used drones for surveillance on u.s. soil? >> yes. in a memo -- a minimal way and very seldom. >> the heart and soul of america
is a free country. >> just over a month ago we devoted a program to a discussion of the modern presidency. the response to the program was overwhelmingly positive so we're going to try something similar this week which will also enable us to take the week off to celebrate the fourth of july. this time i want to focus on civil liberties. >> the jobs of power are always open to devour and her arm is a we stretched out to destroy the freedom of thinking, speak in, and writing. john adams. >> he sounds like arch campbell. about two and a half years ago
the bill of rights institute conducted an online survey of knowledge of the constitution and the other founding documents. 42% you could find a phrase from each according to his ability, his needs, in those founding documents. unfortunately that came from karl marx. [laughter] 60% could not identify the principle that the government derives its powers from us from the american people. in that survey, 20% of adults correctly pick the 10th amendment as the amendment that reserves power to the states and the people. you are a journalist and a professor. how did we become so disinterested in this material? >> because it worked so well. the reason people do not know was because the system works beautifully. people assume they have rights. they will be protected. the state can't come get them. young men with guns can't come
get them. it is the most beautiful creation ever, the ability, that proves how well it works. >> newsweek asked 1000 americans to take the official test required of people aspiring to become americans. 44% could not define the bill of rights. >> you wonder if the next generation, evan is right, all of us, the generation here today, we were imbued with this. there was a lot of civics and understanding the principles -- >> they do not teach civics anymore. >> in the absence, it could be that it is so much in the air we breathe you do not have to know it but i think it would help. and we teach no history. if you ask what century was the civil war, they are not going to get it right. it is not only to know where the principles are from but also what the sacrifice involved in defending it.
the absence of that is also extremely disturbing. >> i think the points made are good and persuasive. what i find most interesting about the nsa in the widespread cap thing, whatever you call it, the quietest and reaction of the american people. there has not been a public uproar and outrage. i was talking to a pollster about this. in part i think it is because the areas we had expected the greatest resistance in privacy were the areas that were hit on 9/11. we would expect that from washington and new york and i think they were the most chastened and perhaps more willing to except a trade off. >> i think there is something to that. and the longer, the farther we
get from 9/11, the more people will be unhappy about this. the truth is this is a very tough balancing act. in the world we live in today, i -- the one part of this that i think we should expect is that whatever programs we come up with, that they have built into them some serious oversight, from congress, yes, but from the courts. the bush administration actually circumvented that kind of thing for a few years. i would forgive anybody for the first year after 9/11 but until that people stood up and said you can't do this anymore. >> i do not take quite the dire look as we are as a country.
people have a sense of what the government can and can't to do, should and should not do. we debate that the time in washington. we debate it on the basis of these founding documents. it is obstructed by the way people return to the bill of rights and debate on capitol hill. they still catch their arguments in casted touche in terms. -- couched in constitution terms. we had this, they can chime the -- site the chapter and verse but there is a sense there are limits to government and what government can do and i think that is the beauty of this. >> george orwell, the author of "1984," says liberty means the
right to tell the people what they do not want to hear. how many of our politicians are willing to do that? >> the beauty of our system is it does not depend on the virtue of the citizen or even of the people in power. it is a crazy construction which you pick the power centers against each other as the protection against. me -- against tyranny. how improbable is it that of all of the countries on earth and all of history, this small colony produces a generation of geniuses who conduct from nothing, without any experience, this whole constitutional system that has worked for any republican the history of the species? and it works even today. >> but with full knowledge of the terrible conflicts in europe and the mistakes and
governing that took place in europe for centuries. >> we should be more aware of that. we take it for granted we have these individual rights. people do not even think about it. they should take a look at world history where the history of the world is mostly about individuals getting power and abusing it and hurting other people and the poor. that is the history of the world. the fact we have been relatively free of that is the greatest miracle of any age. >> that is why people are concerned about the nsa. they are concerned that one institution will have outsized power that will be able to control people's lives. i do not think that is realistic but i think that is a fear. >> all right, let's tackle the first amendment of the constitution specifically. >> if freedom of speech is taken away, dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the
slaughter. george washington. >> are the gritty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost. -- our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost. thomas jefferson. >> we think of the first amendment, most americans go to freedom most beach or press but the first 16 words deal with remote religion. and the american catholic bishops feel that has been challenged by the affordable care act. do they have a case? >> of course they have a case. that is one of the great strengths of our country. religion is neither the servant or the master of our free society. it can be our conscience. i think that is what is
important. i wanted to respond quickly to a question you asked, our leaders tell us things we do not want to hear. i can think of two in the past 45 years who did. robert kennedy in 1968, when they asked to is going to pay for this, he said to the doctors and waiting, you are. and went to college campuses and said i want to draft you. something young people that age did not want to hear. hollings went to senior citizens groups and said i want to -- you care about your children's well-being and debt burdens. neither one of them became president. i think we are used to president telling us what we want to hear. >> i am thinking walter mondale telling us he is going to raise taxes.
edward snowden, wanted because he spilled the beans on what the nsa is doing, does the first amendment protect him? >> know because the first amendment does not say that every individual has a right to decide which laws he will obey and which ones he will not. if he wants to disobey, we have a historic and heroic example of the civil rights movement, which came up with the idea of civil this obedience. if he had stayed in the country and made his case, he went to hong kong, he is in moscow, who the hell knows. these are not the friends of liberty. i am not sure he is speaking on behalf of the first amendment or anything. i'm not sure what he is speaking on behalf of that i can assure you as he carried in hong kong, everything in his computers were scooped up by the secret services of the chinese and russians. im not sure that is a friend of liberty.
>> there are limits to the first amendment. >> it is not a suicide pact. you can't go out and tell the nation's secrets to our enemies and do it willfully. but it is amazing how much you can do. there are some limits but there is a lot of freedom. we are constantly testing the boundaries. >> what about people in our business? do we cross the line? >> we do cross the line. in the age we live in with instant communication and anybody can say anything and put it out to millions, it is magnified. let's remember that there were plenty of people like that at the time of the signing of the republican published these incredible rags. now it is just a matter of degree. people then read newspapers and now they don't. >> it is is becoming one person, one irresponsible person can do
a lot of damage. it is changing the game. >> i like the phrase, who is watching city hall. in the district of columbia, you are. i read your column. >> for many years, trying to protect classified information. now i am a journalist. i'm trying to get my hands on any kind of information i want. where do i cross the line? i cross both lines. i have no sympathy for this kid who tuned over this information. and disclosed what was going on. that was protected by law. he broke the law. he is not a paragon of liberty. he does not represent freedom as far as i'm concerned. >> let me say this about snowden, i am not sure where he is.
john kerry said he represented a threat to american lives, american security and yet the president said he is not going to scramble jets to get back a 29-year-old hacker. i am not sure, somewhere in between, i guess. >> the second amendment, the right to keep keep and bear arms. >> what changed in sandy hook, they struggle broke the camels back, -- and the straw that broke the camels back, they say this will be a defining issue for me. >> a free people should be armed, firearms are second only to the constitution in importance. george washington. >> second only to the constitution. a well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state. shall not be infringed. do i have a right to have an ak- 47?
>> apparently. they keep broadening, the interpretation when we were younger that it was for militias. as it says in the amendment. it was not for anybody to keep an ak-47 but recently the courts have been expansively interpreting the amendment to give your right to have weapons, congress can limit it, but they choose not to. >> you heard what george washington said. had there not been arms in the hands of the minutemen, we would be speaking with british accents. >> we needed one in 1776. i am not sure we need one now. >> evan is right. we were a colony. we did not have control of our government. right now we have a democracy and you can influence it by going to the ballot box or doing a whole host of things. it is a big difference.
i think that clip you showed of the vice president where he said it was the straw that broke the camel's back, the camel is standing because there was no action. what is a very strange about this, the death by firearms has declined by half since 1980. this is the solution in search of a problem. and the problem is these weird, crazy outbursts where a nut kills a lot of folks. but that is such a complicated and the bizarre problem, with many elements, mental health, that it is not easily solved. if the law had passed, it would have had no impact on new town. >> do not want to have a fight about firearms legislation. we have a notion, he had a
conversation about what people actually know about because to touche and. and people -- about the constitution. people think it means no government. government can't do anything effective. the constitution actually provides for government to work. it even provided for the taking of private property. provided for patents. all kinds of things to make the government work. >>@the second to none duration, i talked to a man from australia who brought his family to see this experiment -- the second inauguration, i talked to a man from a study who brought his family. he said i do not understand guns at all. >> it is part about culture. as a child growing up, i had heroes who shot people. they were cowboys. and they were cops and they were detect its.
i had pistols and i had bb guns. this was a common thing in my neck of the woods. guns are part of our culture. now we see the need to do regulation but we are not going to get rid of the idea of people getting guns. >> west virginia, you go to people about that. they need them to -- >> you are right. let me put something in perspective, since martin luther king's assassination, more americans have died from gunfire than in all of the wars this country has fought from the revolutionary war forward. and in the last, in that same time, 3000 americans have died from terrorist attacks. i am not minimizing that death
but you talk about the approach we take to one and the other, we have revamped our laws, changed our society because of 3000 dead but at the same time, on guns, we accept the fact we are going to lose a half a million people. >> most of them are suicides. >> what about the fourth amendment, the right to be secure in their persons? >> when the people fear the government, there is tyranny, when government fears the people, there is democracy. >> no more national security letters to supply on -- spy on citizens not suspected of a crime. >> that was senator obama in 2007. he had learned the government was collecting millions of phone records of american citizens. funny how things change when you are in the oval office. >> who was that fellow? >> there has been laws passed
since then. >> yes, he dispensed with the letter. he does it with no authorization at all. >> and he is applauded by the right for so doing. >> and the left has risen up against him. >> one might expect criticism of such a change of position but i would say it has been missing in action. >> what doou do when the head of the nsa says, because of what we did, we stop these acts of terrorism. >> i say prove it. i can't, because it is classified. >> then we turned toward legislature and we deputized members of congress to have access to that information and make that judgment. whether it is legitimate or not.
i do not see any way to get around it. >> from my understanding, there are two bank things operating at the same time in the last four years. that is an expanded capacity to amass information at the same time they have tried to make rules to govern it in a serious way. of course they do not make public the opinions and what they are doing. it is hard for us to know. >> they are able to amass unbelievable amounts of information, not just for national security but for your polling habits, your buying habits. this is going to come to a bad end. somebody's going to abuse this. it is not clear exactly how. >> i would ask my colleagues to look at the fbi reports, which have been forced to be made public. the show laughing -- "laugh-in"
was seen as a security risk he could they criticize direct of hoover -- director hoover. >> it is going to come to a bad end. the supreme court ruled they can use the dna against us after the fact. they are investigating us for one crime and say, by the way, 12 years ago, you were down in memphis. >> you have been arrested. the supreme court said once you are arrested, we can take a mouth swab and send it through the national databank and see whether you pop out as having been involved in a previous crime. >> you may consider it minimally invasive, but a lot of people think it is not. >> there are so many arrests that do not hold up. people are never charged.
if the arrest is the basis, they could arrest me when i step outside and say, we made a mistake. that they have my dna. >> they are not allowed to keep it under the statute. they are allowed to put it through the databank. it is a very limited part. >> this week it is limited. what about next week? >> that is is the problem. we're talking about technology that was unimaginable. you get all kinds of predictions but you are right, the one thing is the idea of the internet. that kobe -- colby would purchase a machine that would allow the tracking of everywhere he is, what he says, all of us have done this and it is a fantastic asset but the intrusiveness, if you look at orwell, he imagined a system
where a tv looks at you and you look at it. he could not have imagined the idea, and what scares me is the technology is increasing so rapidly, it is the power of the nsa that worries me. i do not think it is abusing things. where will we be in 15 years? >> the commercial world has this information. they have no accountability. >> it worries me with the police department having that kind of power. >> the commercial world knows that i bought ben & jerry's when i shouldn't. and probably my wife found out about it. but they can't indict me or arrest me. they can't go after my taxes, which the government can with that information. >> i think government is going to find ways to get into databases. obama is collecting information about the way we vote.
what happens if somehow that information goes into the government? i do not think that it's impossible. they're going to share this. >> i went into a polling place and the guy behind the desk discussed my voter registration and your voter registration. i complain to the person running the place. i said i do not think i have to pass a test. but imagine, and take that to an extreme. as it happens in other societies. >> one other danger, one day if we slip up on terrorism, and the terrorism is not -- is a nuclear bomb. what is going to happen in the free society when there is a bomb that destroys a city? i think the ultimate danger is we are going to decide we're going to choose safety after one million people perished in a day over our liberties.
that is what is worrisome. that is why i would bend a little bit today on nsa and prevention because i do not want to see that day. i give them some leeway now because of the nature of the threat, which is unique. none past, you could destroy a village, you could massacre a bunch of people but you could not wipe out a city with a small gang of people without any effort. that is now possible. >> on that happy note, have a good holiday and enjoy independence day. see you next week.
from washington the mclaughlin group, the american original for over three decades, the sharpest minds, best sources, hardest talk. issue 1 nuclear independence. >> july 4th america again celebrates its independence, the 237th time that it has done so. for more than a century britain had imposed on the u.s. a monarch cal rule. since then the u.s. has emerged as the world ears leading superpower. that superpower status rests on our economy, arguably the best in the world and our military strength including our arsenal of nuclear weaponry. this was addressed by president obama on his late june trip to germany. as the leader of the free world, mr. obama renewed