Friday News Roundup - Domestic

Transcript for: 
Friday News Roundup - Domestic

MS. DIANE REHM

10:06:56
Thanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. The Obama administration defends its secret collection of millions of Verizon phone records and data from Internet companies, saying it's necessary to prevent terrorism. Top military leaders testify before a Senate committee on sexual assault in the armed forces, and the U.S. economy has 175,000 jobs in May. Here with me for the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup: Susan Page of USA Today, Major Garrett of CBS News, Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post.

MS. DIANE REHM

10:07:40
Do join us with your phone calls to 800-433-8850. Send us an email to drshow@wamu.org. Follow us on Facebook or send us a tweet. Good morning, everybody. Happy Friday.

MS. KAREN TUMULTY

10:07:59
Good morning, Diane.

MS. SUSAN PAGE

10:08:00
Good morning.

MR. MAJOR GARRETT

10:08:01
Good morning, Diane.

REHM

10:08:01
Good to see you all. Karen Tumulty, we've had 24 hours of dramatic disclosures starting with The Guardian and then The Washington Post picked it up.

TUMULTY

10:08:17
Yeah. This is the story, the extent of surveillance, that is, it's a real paradox because in some ways, it's shocking and some ways, it's totally unsurprising. You know, we have known that in the post-9/11 world that the government had been given a lot more authority to go after what is private information about people. We saw a couple of controversies in 2006, first over domestic warrantless eavesdropping, and then secondly, over the same thing which is getting phone -- people's phone records.

TUMULTY

10:08:57
But a couple of -- first of all, what is surprising about this story is the extent to which the Obama administration is doing this, and I do think that with -- particularly with the Internet, with the, you know, Google, Facebook, Apple being part of this, we now see the government is also looking not just at patterns of contacts, which is what they say they were doing with the phone records, but they are actually searching through the actual material. They are looking at emails. They are looking at, you know, Skype chats. They are looking at actual content.

REHM

10:09:35
And, Major, what are they looking for?

GARRETT

10:09:38
They're looking for what counterterrorism experts describe as data that bumps into each other and suggest patterns that might be reflective of an emerging or an ongoing terrorist plot. The expert I spent time talking to the last two days about this say much of this data that is analytically sifted falls out, doesn't raise flags, doesn't go anywhere. To be clear, in the case of the phone tracking, it is not the listening-into-phone conversations that is going on.

GARRETT

10:10:13
The names attached to the numbers are not recorded, the numbers are. The location of the calls and the duration of the calls are collected. In the case of Internet traffic, its blogs, videos, chats, emails, all these sorts of things, much that data falls away. But the data that is flagged is then put through algorithms to see if it does bump ever closer to known, let us say, URLs, known email addresses, drop boxes that have been previously flagged as related to or held by terrorist suspects.

GARRETT

10:10:48
And in some cases, they've allowed the United States government to thwart terrorist attacks planned here in the United States, all done through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, authorities created in the Patriot Act after 9/11, reauthorized in 2006 with different and more precise civil liberties, protections and guidelines which the Obama administration, which would have preferred all this to remain secret, says are being followed.

REHM

10:11:12
Susan.

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10:11:12
Well, we should make it clear that there are two separate programs here. There's the PRISM program that involves email, Skype, those -- that's a program that targets foreigners. Now, it does, they say inadvertently or incidentally, pick up information about Americans, but that's really targeting foreign interest. The one that I think is more controversial, was gonna raise more eyebrows among Americans is this telephone surveillance.

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10:11:38
This massive database of what sounds like almost every phone call you make in the United States is -- becomes part of a big government database that can be searched after the fact. If there's -- if you have a Boston bombing and you identify a suspect and he's got a phone, it enables them to go back and look at who he called, who called him, one step back from that, who called or was called by people with contact with him, second degree of separation.

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10:12:04
And that is, I think, a level of surveillance of Americans who have done nothing wrong, who are suspected of no wrongdoing that raises concerns, both among civil libertarians, kind of traditional liberals and also among conservative -- libertarians conservatives.

REHM

10:12:22
So how much of a change is this in this so-called sweeping surveillance law?

TUMULTY

10:12:30
Well, people like Dianne Feinstein, yesterday, were saying with the reports about the Verizon records, you know, look, this is an extension of the actual policy that has been going on for quite a while. And I am not yet sure what kind of political resonance this is gonna have. On the one hand, again, it feels intrusive. On the other hand, however, I think people want a greater level of surveillance after 9/11.

TUMULTY

10:12:57
And also there is a degree to which we have all just been accustomed to the idea that corporations, I mean, their -- that's part of their business model is selling private information of us. And let's face it, you know, Amazon knows everything I read, and iTunes knows everything I listen to, and, you know, Safeway, in return for a discount card, knows everything I eat.

GARRETT

10:13:18
There is a distinction, and I think it's importantly raised by civil libertarians and those who are maybe new to the idea of civil liberties in this context, which is in commercial transactions, you are, generally speaking, aware of what you give and receive in a commercial transaction. In a post 9/11 world, Americans would like to know the depth and scope of surveillance designed to protect them. And there are times when it can and should be publicly debated.

GARRETT

10:13:43
And disclosures like this forces this into the public square in a way that those who are administering these programs -- now, in 48 hours, we've gone from a phone tracking system that was not widely known. And believe me, it doesn't just involve Verizon. Every major telecommunications company is involved, and this is on an ongoing, rolling basis. What we saw this week was one court order for April to July, but I guarantee you, there are court orders for the months before and the months after.

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10:14:09
And so the American public would like to see more told to them about it, and we've now had some elements of that declassified, which were classified just 72 hours ago.

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10:14:20
And here's another difference: Amazon can't put you in jail. And Safeway can't audit your taxes. But the government can. And one reason this raises such concern is a more general concern that conservatives have raised about the size and the power of government. And it goes -- that -- I think that's one reason this is an especially problematic controversy for President Obama because that's been a line of attack against him on the Affordable Care Act and the auto bailout and on much he's done as president. This fits right in to that train of thought.

REHM

10:14:50
Do...

TUMULTY

10:14:50
And liberals as well have raised a lot of these concerns. And this is sort of a moment in which a lot of people who used to be dismissed as paranoids, the, you know, black helicopter crowd or, you know...

REHM

10:15:00
Sure.

TUMULTY

10:15:00
...as John McCain when he said the, you know, the cuckoo birds. Now, this is their moment to say, I told you so.

REHM

10:15:07
And we are going to devote a full hour to this subject on Monday. But what I'd like to know from all of you is if the administration has indicated that some plots have been foiled because of this kind of surveillance. Susan.

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10:15:29
Yes. Congressman Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said that a specific pot -- plot was foiled because of information from this program, and we believe that that was the plot to put explosive backpacks in the New York City subway system. So -- and certainly, last night we got this -- I tell you, among the unusual emails we got last night was on the record statements from the director of National Intelligence, Mr. Clapper, confirming the programs and defending them as things that were important to the security of Americans.

GARRETT

10:16:00
And the administration has not said specifically that this plot or that plot was thwarted.

REHM

10:16:05
Right.

GARRETT

10:16:06
Other members of Congress have come much closer to that. Dianne Feinstein, Democrat -- so this is bipartisan -- chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said after a briefing on Capitol Hill about this yesterday afternoon several plots have been thwarted because of this information.

REHM

10:16:19
We have a tweet picking up on what you just said, Susan. "Nobody really cares about privacy anymore, but abuse of power is a different story. The NSA timing near the IRS scandal gives it salience."

REHM

10:16:38
So that tweeter needs to have his own column -- his or her own column because I think those are really powerful points to make.

TUMULTY

10:16:44
And not just the IRS scandal but the whole, you know, the stuff involving the Associated Press and James Rosen -- I mean, there is a through line to all of these things whether you want to call them scandals or not.

GARRETT

10:16:54
And I would just say this, Diane, there are a couple of members of the Senate who have been persistent in their questioning of NSA and related agencies. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Mark Udall of Colorado have been sending letters, probing, probing, pushing to find out more information. They're not solely responsible for this, but there have been members of Congress before these disclosures raising questions asking for the scope, the reach, the depth, the breadth of this surveillance to try to find out what's going on.

GARRETT

10:17:20
They now know a lot more. Congress knows a lot more. And in the case of prism, it's important to point out, it was briefed and discussed with key and very selective members of Congress. But they were sworn to secrecy about their knowledge of it.

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10:17:31
Well, in fact, in March, Sen. Wyden, in a public hearing, asked Clapper if there was any massive data sweep for U.S. citizens, and Clapper said no. And that is a question he's gonna be, I predict, called back and forced to explain to Congress about why that wasn't lying.

GARRETT

10:17:48
And semantic interpretations will be abounding.

REHM

10:17:51
And, of course, all of this comes as Susan Rice is named director of national security, and you have Samantha Power who must go through confirmation as the appointment for her to become U.N. ambassador. We're gonna talk more about that as the hour continues. Of course, we'll take your calls. I see many of you are concerned about this issue. And we'll try to work in as many of your comments as possible. Susan Page, Major Garrett, Karen Tumulty, they're all here for you.

REHM

10:20:04
And we're back with the domestic hour of the Friday News Roundup this week with Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post, Major Garrett of CBS News, Susan Page of USA Today. Major, what about these national security appointments? Tom Donilon decided to step down as NSA adviser, and you've got Susan Rice who's going to step into that program. She has been under a lot of scrutiny over the past year because of Benghazi. She does not need Senate confirmation on this. How is all this gonna change foreign policy for the Obama administration?

GARRETT

10:20:58
Well, it's an excellent question, and I'm not sure I can give you a conclusive answer about how it's gonna change foreign policy. Certainly, you'll have a different personality within the National Security Council, organizing and coordinating all of the agency input to the president on foreign policy and military policy matters, and that's an enormously important role the national security adviser plays. And Tom Donilon played it. It was quiet. Some would say ruthless power and bureaucratic efficiency.

GARRETT

10:21:22
He was very, very good at the inside game. He was often the last voice that President Obama heard before making a very big decision in military or foreign policy. He was not someone who spend a lot of time on television. He did most of his authoritative work inside the West Wing and managed the process, which can be at times unwieldy between the Pentagon, State Department, CIA, Homeland Security very well. This will be an organizational challenge for Susan Rice.

GARRETT

10:21:45
But I can tell you this: Susan Rice has wanted this job for a long time. I think she's been grooming herself for this job for a long time, hope to get in 2009 when Gen. James Jones got it, the first national security adviser of the president. Then Tom Donilon got it, and she continued to wait her time at the U.N. Then, when there was the idea that she might be nominated for secretary of state, clearly a confirmation battle in the Senate was not something the White House either wanted to wage or thought it could win.

GARRETT

10:22:08
So again, she had to wait. And it was made clear to me at the White House for months that Tom Donilon would probably leave sometime this summer on his own time schedule and that Susan Rice would be the successor. So she knows and has known for some time she would be stepping into this role. She is a bit of a sharp-elbowed person at times. That has won her the favor of President Obama because of the U.N. on issues like Iran sanctions in North Korea. She's been tough, aggressive and successful, and the president likes that and wants her close at hand.

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10:22:36
Here's one concern I've heard, though, that these are both appointments of people who are personally really close to Obama, have been with him for a long time. They're not people who will differ with him or -- they may well challenge him. I mean, both of them, I think, have very strong personalities. But there's a, you know, there's a value to the whole team of rivals approach for a president who tends to be -- any president tends to operate in a bubble.

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10:22:59
So the loss of someone like Hillary Clinton, who had her own independent standing, who didn't, you know, wasn't there -- thanks to Barack Obama -- was there, really, because of her own achievements and her, you know, her almost successful presidential campaign. I wonder if there's a kind of loss there for President Obama and just being able to hear divergent voices within his inner circle.

REHM

10:23:22
Hmm. And what about that, Karen?

TUMULTY

10:23:24
Well, I agree. And it's not just in these national security appointments, it's up and down the line starting with the Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. He did not -- I mean, he picked somebody essentially from within the family. In terms of how it's gonna change the president's world view, I think not much because even though, you know, Susan Rice's world view is really shaped, I think, by what she saw in Rwanda during the Clinton years.

TUMULTY

10:23:50
I do think Obama's pretty well set now. It's very much of a realist world view. And I don't think, you know, that the sort of America is indispensible nation that these two women represent, the interventionist streak that they have is gonna hold sway over where the president himself is.

REHM

10:24:06
How is Samantha Power going to be at the U.N.?

TUMULTY

10:24:12
Well, I think she is going to be pretty high profile. I think, you know, we a long history of combative U.N. representatives on the left and the right -- the ambassadors, rather. And I think, you know, I would be surprised if she doesn't fit into that mold. I think she's gonna be a very strong voice there.

REHM

10:24:31
Will she have a tough time getting confirmed, Major?

GARRETT

10:24:35
So far, the indications are that she will not. I've heard some general reservations among Republicans, can she be tough enough? Can she step into that role immediately? But those are low-level concerns. She's already has the support of John McCain. I talked to Lindsey Graham this week. He said he has no problem with her, would vote for her confirmation. It does not appear to be a problematic issue.

REHM

10:24:53
Interesting that Keith Urbahn, the former chief of staff to Donald Rumsfeld of the Pentagon, tweeted yesterday morning, "Jeanne Kirkpatrick is turning in her grave right now. I don't know about you, but it might be helpful to have someone representing America at the U.N. who doesn't think we are the source of all the world's ills."

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10:25:21
Well, I think there will -- she may get confirmed. I don't think it's gonna be a totally smooth sailing. I think she'll be challenged among -- by Republicans who are concerned, kind of about, exactly that point about what is her world view. Where does she stand in terms of -- what does she think about the U.S. role in the world and what the U.S. role has been in the world in the past? So I agree the John McCain endorsement this week was a powerful one 'cause he's so respected in this area.

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10:25:50
But we've seen the secretary of -- the proposed secretary of labor go no nowhere. The proposed head of the EPA go nowhere. I think the confirmation in a second term can be tough and especially when a president is battling a series of other controversies. You know, this surveillance controversy we talked about at the beginning of the show, it makes every other single thing President Obama wants to do a little bit harder.

REHM

10:26:14
Harder or...

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10:26:14
Harder to get...

REHM

10:26:16
...almost impossible.

PAGE

10:26:18
Well, I don't wanna predict she won't get confirmed. I'm just -- I just predict there's gonna be something of a fight.

REHM

10:26:22
Yeah. Yeah.

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10:26:23
And that tweet from someone who is a respected figure in that part of the Republican Party, I think, is a sign of that.

REHM

10:26:29
And...

GARRETT

10:26:30
But I would also say there are times in politics where you make fights and there are times when you have too many fights to make. And I think this might be where one where the Republicans have so many places where they can hold grievances against the administration. Samantha Power might be someone who finds her way to a slightly more simplified confirmation process just because there's so many at the battlefronts Republicans might find more useful.

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10:26:51
Here's a Machiavellian thought, which is they would really like to fight against Susan Rice, right, because on Benghazi.

GARRETT

10:26:57
But they can't.

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10:26:58
And they can't 'cause it's not a confirmable post. So do they choose to wage more of a battle on Samantha Powers than they might have otherwise done so.

GARRETT

10:27:05
And if there were ever more evidence that the president considers Republican grievances about Susan Rice's role in the Benghazi talking points to be utterly meaningless, it is this promotion.

REHM

10:27:14
What about Samantha Powers, Susan Rice and apparently, Hillary Clinton, who all wanted the U.S. to go into Libya? Is that going to come up here?

TUMULTY

10:27:28
Well, the question is how this affects now that debates over Syria. But at this, you know, the president had his view, they had their view and the president prevailed. I suspect that is gonna be the case once again. But they -- I mean, you could see -- and I'm not the foreign policy expert here, but you could see them arguing for a more interventionist stance in Syria than this country has -- and this administration has been willing to do so far.

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10:27:55
But previously, President Obama overruled all his entire national security team, including Leon Panetta, the defense secretary, and David Petraeus of the CIA on the issue of how much to do for Syria. So I don't know that these new voices may have that same view. But as Karen said previously, that doesn't meant the president's gonna change his mind.

REHM

10:28:14
Let's talk about the generals who appeared on the front page of The Washington Post yesterday hearing these or presenting information to the Congress on sexual assault in the military. There was one female figure in that lineup. I thought that was sort of a curious way to come before the Congress on this issue. Susan.

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10:28:43
It made kind of a point, didn't it?

REHM

10:28:44
It sure did.

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10:28:45
These are Joint Chiefs who are handling these issues of sexual abuse in the military and, by their own admission, not handling them very well. That was the -- I don't -- I read in one news account, this the first time in modern history that the full panoply of the Joint Chiefs were at one hearing at one time to talk about one topic.

REHM

10:29:04
And that topic is whether or not they should continue this line of command in regard to sexual assault.

GARRETT

10:29:15
Right. Does the military have its wherewithal to continue in this political environment? The current situation, which is if you have a grievance, you have to bring it to your most closely-ranking superior officer. And then they have a lot of latitude about what happens to that complaint and its adjudication. And Congress is a very much of mind to change that and change that in very significant ways.

GARRETT

10:29:36
And the military, looking at the statistics, doesn't have much of an argument to say that the current system is working or that they have been sufficiently sensitized to the issue or -- and the military does have a history of training its way out of some problems it doesn't address historically. And given the opportunity, it has trained its way out of some problems. But it's been dealing with this issue for some time, and it's very hard to assert to members of Congress, we're training our way out of this one.

REHM

10:29:59
Especially if your commander is the person who's been involved in sexual assault.

TUMULTY

10:30:07
But that witness table looked exactly the way it would have looked five years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago. What looked different was the other side of the dais and the number of women who are sitting on that Senate Armed Services Committee. So whereas you had somebody like Saxby Chambliss suggest that, you know, somehow hormones are partly responsible for this problem in the military, you had Claire McCaskill, a former prosecutor, saying, look, this is not about sex.

TUMULTY

10:30:35
This is about power, and it's about violence. And she was backed up on that point by a Republican woman, Deb Fischer, of Nebraska, and that is what is different about it this time.

REHM

10:30:45
But you wrote a piece this week saying that Republicans have not learned their lessons from the 2012 election on this issue.

TUMULTY

10:30:57
Well, I was struck because at the exact same day that this happened, we had a conference at The Washington Post where the governor of Mississippi, when asked why it is that the -- that -- Gov. Phil Bryant of Mississippi was asked, why is it that this country is so mediocre with education? And he blamed it on women going into the workforce, which, you know, the -- if you look at the data, there are a lot of countries in this world where -- they rank a lot higher, their school kids do than ours do on any standardized test you wanna give them, and yet they have a higher proportion of mothers in the workforce.

TUMULTY

10:31:35
So, again, it -- it's -- I don't know if it's that they don't know how to talk about these issues yet, or whether it's the actual mindset that needs to be changed.

GARRETT

10:31:43
And back to the point at hand with the military and the way it's currently structured. A commander can completely vacate a conviction.

REHM

10:31:51
And has done so three times.

GARRETT

10:31:52
And done it. I mean, vacate a conviction. So -- and think about it this way. If you are in the military and you're a woman who has been harassed or abused, you have a sort of a couple of step process you have to go through mentally with your -- within the confines of your own career. Do you bring this up? Do you invite the abuse that may come your way just because you've raised a complaint?

GARRETT

10:32:13
And then you know the commander could vacate the sentence even if you're successful. Does it create a climate of either predatory behavior -- and it's not all throughout the military. It's worth pointing that out. And does it also create an atmosphere where those who have been abused don't want to come forth because they're afraid the system will work against them? Even if successful, things can be overturned. And that's what Congress is looking at most closely.

REHM

10:32:37
And let's talk about the IRS. They gave an apology this week for videos of those conferences that took place three years ago.

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10:32:50
That's true, and that's an important point, that clearly there were abuses and a lot of misjudgment, millions of dollars spent in ways that look quite inappropriate. But they were in 2011, and those -- that kind of spending has been drastically curtailed since then. However, easy to criticize the IRS. The IRS makes it pretty easy to criticize, I have to say.

REHM

10:33:12
You bet. And...

GARRETT

10:33:15
Yeah. I think we can safely say none of the participants are prime time players.

REHM

10:33:19
And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." Here's another tweet: "If the government wants to know who I'm talking to, more power to them it -- if it keeps the country safe." And that's precisely the point, Susan.

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10:33:38
That's true. And when you ask about issues like drones, you find real public support for it because it's a way to, Americans think, attack terrorists without putting Americans at risk. But that doesn't mean this won't be a controversy. I mean, Karen made the point that this may not be -- you go out and talk to Americans about what they care about. They care about jobs, the jobs numbers that came out today.

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10:34:00
Is the health care plan gonna work the way it's supposed to? Over issues like surveillance of phone records. But that doesn't make this an insignificant issue. I do think this is gonna be a big problem.

TUMULTY

10:34:09
They also -- Americans also worry about why didn't they catch those guys in Boston?

REHM

10:34:13
Exactly. All right. Let's look at the economy, which created more jobs than expected this time.

GARRETT

10:34:23
175,000 in the month, non-farm payroll increase, but the unemployment rate ticked up from 7.5 to 7.6 percent. People say, how does that...

REHM

10:34:29
I don't ever understand that.

GARRETT

10:34:31
Well, what happens is, in this month, is a classic illustration of it. When more people look for jobs, the larger the labor force because participation is counted twice -- in two ways, rather, not twice, but in two ways. Do you have a job, and are you looking for a job? And more people are now looking for a job, which economists will tell you is, generally speaking, a healthy sign...

REHM

10:34:50
A good sign.

GARRETT

10:34:51
...that people think there is better -- a better prospect for them to find employment. So what you have is a continuous, month-by-month, not spectacular. We haven't had a spectacular month of job growth for quite a while. But we have persistent and within expectable or predictable patterns of job growth. And that's what the White House said about this morning, not great, but good and solid upward trajectory.

REHM

10:35:15
Karen.

TUMULTY

10:35:16
It does. It just -- right -- more and more, it seems like every month it's bringing us more statistics to suggest that the economy has now picked a direction, and it's not as fast as people would like, but that it's set and that the recovery is, in fact, here.

REHM

10:35:31
But...

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10:35:31
It also shows us that some of the cuts in spending from the sequestration have not had the catastrophic effect that some people worried it would. And, you know, we lost some tax breaks on Jan. 1. There was concern that might slow down the recovery. The recovery seems to be, as you say, kind of modest, but steady.

GARRETT

10:35:48
One thing I would say about sequestration cuts, there is some sense in the White House certainly, and even among some Republicans on Capitol Hill, that by September or October, and if the sequestration cuts continue into the next year, the bite will begin to become larger, be more economically noticeable. And I don't think we've heard the last about the economic impacts of this spending cut.

REHM

10:36:07
Yeah. What about manufacturing? That has not gone anywhere.

GARRETT

10:36:13
Well, it hasn't leapt forward.

REHM

10:36:16
Right.

GARRETT

10:36:16
The auto industry is showing signs of consistent gains. There is some export growth in the economy, not nearly as much as the president and his economic team would like to see. And you see it in pockets of the country where their manufacturing incentives are being created by the state governments. But in the main, it is still a lagging element of the U.S. economy.

TUMULTY

10:36:36
But there was one good bit in the factory orders numbers this week that -- you know, they were pretty unimpressive generally, except for the fact that the orders for durable goods were up by 3.5 percent. And people watch that very closely because they see it as an indicator of how confident businesses are feeling and as they look beyond what's in front of them right now for their long-term planning.

REHM

10:37:02
And, of course, you had President Obama going to North Carolina yesterday, talking about his plans to produce or increase interconnectivity.

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10:37:17
That's right. To have more Wi-Fi, more broadband, Internet service at schools. It's something he's been talking about for months. I have to say it's something that doesn't seem to be going anywhere, but he does continue to talk about it.

REHM

10:37:28
Susan Page of USA Today, Major Garrett of CBS News and Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post. Short break. Your calls when we come back.

REHM

10:40:04
And a number of people would like to remind us that the surveillance we are hearing about, reading about, seems Orwellian in nature. His novel -- George Orwell's novel "Nineteen Eighty-Four" was published 60 years ago, the exact date, June 8, 1949. So let's go to the phones here, to Little Rock, Ark., and Ericson, you're on the air.

ERICSON

10:40:40
Yes, ma'am. This is my first time calling in. How are you?

REHM

10:40:43
Fine. Thanks. Go right ahead.

ERICSON

10:40:45
Well, I had a question about misusing rights. And I remember one of your guests saying earlier that perhaps the Republicans have a problem with someone being at the U.N. who doesn't see the United States as some sort of number one country, gift-from-God type of thing. I quite think that would be possibly a good thing for the country to have and maybe a different direction for us to start leaning.

REHM

10:41:14
What do you think, Susan?

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10:41:16
Well, I think he's -- our caller is illustrating some of the debate that we may hear as this nomination goes forward.

REHM

10:41:22
Absolutely. To Hyattsville, Md., Samuel, you're on the air.

SAMUEL

10:41:28
Good morning, Ms. Diane.

REHM

10:41:29
Good morning, sir.

SAMUEL

10:41:32
My thing is -- about the surveillance is that I feel like if you don't have anything to hide and you got something to say, or you're not involved in any illegal activity, my opinion is, what is the problem if the government is looking at your phone records or who you talk to? I don't know why people are paranoid about stuff like that.

REHM

10:41:48
What do you think, Karen?

TUMULTY

10:41:50
Well, I think there are a lot of people who feel that way.

GARRETT

10:41:53
Yeah, and...

PAGE

10:41:55
I don't feel that way.

GARRETT

10:41:55
Paranoia is a...

REHM

10:41:56
You don't feel that way?

PAGE

10:41:57
I don't feel that way.

GARRETT

10:41:58
Paranoia is a separate issue, really, because all of these things must happen with the consent of the people. The government is doing things on behalf of public safety, and the public has a right to scrutinize the scope, the depth, the breadth of what is being done in their name for their safety. And the sticky wicket here is, if you talk to experts, they say look, all right, as Susan indicated, this backpack bombing scheme in New York.

GARRETT

10:42:24
It was foiled by the system. How was it foiled? Well, there was, as I indicated earlier, an email drop box that was related to a known terrorist suspect. It was flagged in a data collection. The dots were connected. It went to Colorado. It went to New York. It went back all through this analog process, all right? Now, disclosure of that process, showing how we did that teaches those who want to do us harm things we'd rather not have them learned, OK?

GARRETT

10:42:51
And so, that's where this problem arises in the public's genuine and, I think, legitimate thirst for knowledge about what's being done in its name for public safety, and those who are carrying out these programs revealing things that maybe instructed to all of us but similarly instructed for people who want to do us harm.

REHM

10:43:11
Susan.

PAGE

10:43:11
But just back to the caller, we have a constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure. It doesn't mean you have a constitutional protection as long as you're not doing anything wrong. The standard in the past has been, traditionally, that you have to go to a judge and show there's some reasonable cause.

GARRETT

10:43:29
Right.

PAGE

10:43:29
To think there's a reason to look at what you're doing.

GARRETT

10:43:32
True.

PAGE

10:43:32
Now, in an age of terrorism and an age of high technology, some of those rules have changed and being redefined.

REHM

10:43:38
Big time.

PAGE

10:43:39
But I don't think it's -- I disagree with those who say, if you're not doing anything wrong, you don't need to worry about the surveillance.

REHM

10:43:44
OK, what about Supreme Court's decision regarding taking a DNA swab from the inside of your cheek if you are arrested for any reason at all?

PAGE

10:43:57
And, of course, the court decided that you could do that, but the dissents were pretty scathing.

REHM

10:44:04
That's right.

PAGE

10:44:04
And to my mind, it goes to the same thing. Obviously, it's not all one way or the other. There's a balance to be struck, and the debate that we're gonna hear is about where should that line be drawn.

GARRETT

10:44:15
And quickly, Diane, on the search and seizure, absolutely, you have a constitutional protection against that. Those who would advocate on this data sifting would say it is not about searching and seizure. It's about a collection of data. And if there is something that is legitimately flagged for investigative processes, then you have to go to court and obtain that second warrant to conduct a search or seizure type of activity under an investigative mandate.

REHM

10:44:38
However, we know that that court has been bypassed on some occasions.

TUMULTY

10:44:45
And the other criticism of the court is that it has been a rubber stamp for the administration. That the court, in recent years, has never denied a request by the administration.

REHM

10:44:54
All right. To Johnny in Columbus, Ohio. You're on the air.

JOHNNY

10:44:59
Hi, Diane. How are you doing?

REHM

10:45:00
Hi.

JOHNNY

10:45:01
There are some good topics brought up, and one of them is that, right now, a lot of people are worried about, you know, jobs and other things that don't deal with privacy. And I think -- but if this phone scandal comes to life is that, what is the government doing while we're not paying attention to them? And one of the things I noted that they do -- I used to work for a credit bureau that the Department of Homeland Security put a tap on to. They have direct access into the databases. And, you know, it's like who controls, when they're allowed to tap in there and what goes on with that.

REHM

10:45:31
Karen.

TUMULTY

10:45:31
Yeah. The story we haven't talked about today is the The Wall Street Journal's report this morning that the government has access to a lot of other data, including your credit card purchases.

GARRETT

10:45:41
And how is that switch flicked in this case of this caller? How, you know, it's on. We're receiving data. Oh, now it's off. We're not. Who flicks it and why? What are the procedures? And what is the ongoing scope of all of that? And how comfortable are people with that general sense of the government, on a basis that they're not fully aware of, collecting housing and keeping data on their private lives?

TUMULTY

10:46:06
I do think it is incumbent, and I don't think there is a security -- a national security problem. It is incumbent on the government to explain better why they are doing this and what they are getting out of it. But again, very often, I think that administrations, Democrat and Republican, claim national security when they just don't want to have that conversation.

REHM

10:46:28
How much more is there going to be about this over the weekend, more disclosure, more information, more widespread collection of data that we don't yet know about?

PAGE

10:46:46
Well, 48 hours ago, we didn't know about all of this so...

REHM

10:46:48
Exactly.

PAGE

10:46:49
...who knows what we'll find out the next 48 hours.

REHM

10:46:50
Exactly. All right.

GARRETT

10:46:51
And Congress will be asking questions about this. There will be hearings and there will be testimony.

REHM

10:46:54
I would certainly hope so. Let's go to Detroit, Mich. Good morning, Chuck.

CHUCK

10:47:00
Hi. I have a question about the Affordable Care Act. A friend of mine has multiple medical issues, and she said that she's afraid that the government is gonna have a lot of control over what she can -- how she can be treated, what were -- what will be acceptable and what wouldn't.

REHM

10:47:22
There's an awful lot of questioning out there as to what's gonna happen, how it's gonna happen, how much you're gonna pay. Go ahead, Karen.

TUMULTY

10:47:32
Well, there's a lot in the new law that encourages science and the government and everybody to discover which treatments actually work, which are really worth the money that we are spending on them. But, at this point at least, the law prohibits, for instance, Medicare from making actual reimbursements decisions based on that, which is sort of a lapse in logic here. But that sort of is where the law stands at this point.

REHM

10:48:00
OK. And I want to ask you all about Frank Lautenberg, the oldest U.S. senator. He died this week. He was buried this morning. You had a story about him, did you not?

PAGE

10:48:17
Oh. I think it was the other long-serving lawmaker that...

REHM

10:48:19
OK. Well, I have a story about Sen. Lautenberg. At my 30th anniversary gala at the Mellon Auditorium, I got there a few minutes late because of traffic, and Sen. Lautenberg was waiting for me as was the Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. But Sen. Lautenberg stayed there and talked to me about how important he felt this program was, and I was so touched. He was not black tie as everybody else was. He had come direct from Capitol Hill. And I shall miss him.

GARRETT

10:49:06
Well...

TUMULTY

10:49:06
I must say, my favorite Frank Lautenberg quote is that if one party is shameless, the other party cannot afford to be spineless.

REHM

10:49:13
Ah.

GARRETT

10:49:14
And one thing I would point out, if you're trying to catalogue Frank Lautenberg's importance in the legislative life of this country in the late 20th century, and you're pleased that you don't encounter smokers on commercial aircraft...

REHM

10:49:26
Exactly.

GARRETT

10:49:27
...you have one person and one person only to thank. Well, principally not only because many people were involved in that legislation. But he was the quintessentially important driving force behind doing something which, when he first proposed it, was thought impossible, banning cigarette smoking on commercial aircraft. And he did it. And American Aviation has been forever changed since, and as a nonsmoker, I would say for the better.

REHM

10:49:49
And what do we learn about Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and the politician he has chosen to sit in temporarily for Frank Lautenberg?

PAGE

10:50:04
He's appointed his attorney general, his former colleague at a law firm, Jeff Chiesa. I hope I'm saying that name right. I've never heard of him before. And we may not have to pay attention to him long because he's not running for election to the seat he's been named to fill. This was such an interesting maneuver by Gov. Christie. He pursued the opening in the Senate seat in a way that helps him but does not help his fellow Republicans win that seat.

REHM

10:50:31
Because Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, is going to run.

TUMULTY

10:50:36
Newark.

GARRETT

10:50:36
Newark.

PAGE

10:50:39
He is going to run. There are some other Democrats who are gonna run too. But the fact that this primary comes up pretty quick in the special elections in October probably helps Cory Booker win that seat. There are some Republicans who were thinking about running. But the failure to get a consensus Republican name to that seat as an interim position, it doesn't give the Republican candidate to kind of launching pad that he or she might have had.

GARRETT

10:51:02
But it does give Gov. Christie, in his re-election bid, a clean wide-open field where he can run up a large, likely, likely victory margin, which I no doubt predict, I can predict with certainty, if he runs for president, it will be amplified as a way to suggest he runs strongly in a blue state, and Republicans ought to take a serious look.

REHM

10:51:23
And now, I want to welcome Congressman John Dingell to the program. Good morning to you, sir.

REP. JOHN DINGELL

10:51:32
Hello, Diane. Good morning to you, and thank you for what you do.

REHM

10:51:35
Well, thank you for having now become the longest-serving member of Congress in this country's history. How does that make you feel this morning?

DINGELL

10:51:49
Well, it feels good. But remember that just serving in the Congress is a great privilege. We're the highest directly elected representatives of the people. And on top of that, it is the people's house. But more importantly, it is not how long, my dear friend, you served but it is how well.

REHM

10:52:09
And indeed that is the case. However, there an awful lot of people out there right now who do not think that Congress is working very well. What would you say to them?

DINGELL

10:52:24
I'll just say thank you for your friendship, thank you for your help because a lot of them has helped me to get here, and a lot of them has helped me stay. It's something that you remember because they're helping me to retain, I think, perhaps the finest and most important job and power in the hands of the American people.

REHM

10:52:46
I think Karen Tumulty has a story about you.

TUMULTY

10:52:50
Yes. Congressman Dingell, this is Karen Tumulty. And I must say one of the most interesting and enjoyable interviews I have ever done in my entire time in Washington, which you may not even remember, was back in 1993. I talked to you about your father and how his service in Congress really shaped your view of what you were here to accomplish.

DINGELL

10:53:15
Well, I gotta tell you in all truth, Dad was one of the great influences in my life. And I remember the interview, and I appreciate your friendship. And I happen to know how good you do it. I thank you.

REHM

10:53:29
And, Major Garrett.

GARRETT

10:53:31
Well, just one thing, Congressman. As you mentioned, it's one thing to serve a long time. You now have a untouchable place in American history. But I would also just point out to the audience who's listening, John Dingell was powerful before he had power conveyed onto him simply by seniority. He was a strong voice for a number of legislative issues. He knew the process incredibly well.

GARRETT

10:53:52
Matter of a fact, if I can quote you, Congressman, you would often tell adversaries, you know, you work on the politics, I'll take care of the process, and I'll beat you every time. And frequently you won important battles. And there is a legislative history that you are a part of that I guaranty historians will look at and admire for generations to come.

DINGELL

10:54:11
Well, you're very kind. The process -- the fairness of the process is of exquisite importance. And knowing how to make it work is something. You can't be an effective legislator if you don't understand how this is -- how this place works and how the rules function.

REHM

10:54:31
And, Susan Page.

PAGE

10:54:33
I just like to say congratulations, Congressman, and all best wishes ahead.

DINGELL

10:54:38
Well, God bless you and thank you all. You're most precious and kind. And it feels good. Now, we're gonna go back to work.

REHM

10:54:45
All right, sir. Thanks so much for joining us, and congratulations to you. Our love to your beautiful wife Debbie as well.

DINGELL

10:54:56
She is -- Debbie is the greatest thing that ever happened to me.

REHM

10:54:59
I understand.

DINGELL

10:55:00
She is smart as a whip. She is loyal as a dog. She is beautiful as the spring. She is incredibly able. And she is very wise.

REHM

10:55:10
A good combination. Thanks again and congratulations. John Dingell, he has now become the longest serving member of Congress in our country's history. Quite an achievement. I've got a couple of callers here. I'm going to go to Newton, Mass. Good morning, Craig.

CRAIG

10:55:38
Good morning. Thank you for taking my call.

REHM

10:55:40
Sure.

CRAIG

10:55:41
I have just a quick question, sort of -- a bit -- I guess a pushback or just a challenging question about the idea of the mass monitoring of emails and phone records. One of your guests suggested that, well, if we show our cards to, you know, potential terrorist, then the terrorist will know how to get around those ways of being monitored.

CRAIG

10:56:05
But I was gonna argue the flipside, and I just want to see what you guys thought of this, that maybe -- it's like -- in the urban centers, crime is down. And one of the reasons that I like the analyst who said that crime is down is because that everyone is aware of how much more surveillance is happening.

REHM

10:56:25
Indeed.

GARRETT

10:56:26
Right. And what I was saying was representing the voice of those in the counterterrorism community who do have sensitivities about this. I was kind of speaking on their behalf. And I think there is ample room for conversation about this. And the classification of successful plots doesn't necessarily mean we're gonna hand over the keys to our surveillance practices going forward. Every surveillance practice changes. Every security practice changes.

GARRETT

10:56:49
And I think the country, based on reaction to these two stories, is hungry for more data, would like to know more about it, and the counterterrorism committee, I think, is gonna have to change its attitude about this particular point.

REHM

10:56:59
But just think about the Boston bombers. We would not have caught them so quickly if it hadn't been for those surveillances.

GARRETT

10:57:10
Public and private surveillance.

REHM

10:57:11
Indeed. All right. Major Garrett, Karen Tumulty, Susan Page, have a great weekend.

GARRETT

10:57:18
Thank you.

PAGE

10:57:19
You too.

TUMULTY

10:57:19
You too.

REHM

10:57:20
And thanks for listening all. I'm Diane Rehm.
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