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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  April 14, 2012 8:30pm-10:00pm EDT

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's been now former congresswoman argues former president george w. bush and dick cheney broke several laws and international treaties during their tenure in office and should be held accountable. the author contends the bush and administration lie to the
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american public in the lead-up to the war in iraq and from practices in opposition to international agreement. this is a little over an hour. [inaudible] [inaudible]
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[no audio] [no audio]
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[no audio] [no audio] by thinking first president jeremy travis for the invitation to come here, to professor king
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for her hard work and reading my book and you'll be questioning me later, interrogating me, enhanced interrogation. and to dan feltman, professor dan feltman who has been a dear friend and a wonderful scholar and distinguished public servant and of course the indefatigable moran's travis who made this wonderful event possible this evening. thanks to all of you for coming to talk about a subject that is not really a pleasant subject and most people don't want to hear about but that is really vital to our democracy. that is the subject of accountability for everyone, for the high and the mighty as well as the low and the vulnerable, the poor and the powerless.
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we just heard the president of the united states respond to the concern that the bank stirs weren't being held criminally responsible for the depredations that they caused to our economy, and he created a stepped up and beefed-up investigative team and investigative unit. accountability has not been had for the action of the bush administration and for the serious abuses and misconduct that took place. i want to start by saying that i got hung up on the idea of accountabili
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it was essential to our functioning as a democracy, not only that there would be checks and balances, not only that the highest and the mightiest, namely the president and the vice president of the top administration officials could be held accountable through impeachment or other processes, but that the criminal law would function as well, that as a democracy, no one was above the law and it was an important lesson that the country learned at that time too. i know many of you might not have even been born in 1973 and
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four when it took place but richard nixon won in one of the biggest landslides of the history of the united states which meant most americans who voted in that election voted for him. yet when facts came out digesting that laws were violated, the american people including the overwhelming majority who had supported richard nixon said congress, you have to investigate and you have to have a special prosecutor. the laws have to be enforced no matter what. in the end when the house judiciary committee acted on a bipartisan basis to vote for the impeachment of
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regardless how they voted a year and a half before that. people put behind them their own partisan views and said what is good for the country and the rule of law and one standard of law was critical, so i said you know, that is a really important principle and i believed in it t. and then we got the bush years. the accountability principles pretty much work. i won't say they were perfect, hardly. government doesn't operate in a perfect world and itself is imperfect but then we got to the bush years and things changed.
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and so i and my co-author cynthia cooper wrote a book and i was not an expert on it. that is the very nature expertise in this country. but we saw and we wrote a book and we saw however that there was no accountability through the impeachment process. so then we said well let's look at what else can be done because we need the framers of the constitution to be understood and it's clear that once the president leaves office, he and someday maybe she, sunday can be prosecuted. there was nothing in the framers debates that said you had been president? you get a forever free from jail card. nonsense. the framers understood that presidents could do very bad things. i mean they were human.
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they created checks and balances and because they understood the president could do bad things and they also understood congress could do bad things. they were not idealistic about people. they were very practical and they were very pragmatic. so we said okay, okay, let's do this book about what kind of accountability can exist and to our surprise as we began to look at what the criminal statutes were, what we saw was not just the possibility of accountability, but that the bush team was excruciatingly sensitive to the possibility of prosecution and had tried to erect barriers in a variety of ways, including slicing and dicing and rewriting criminal
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laws to protect themselves from accountability and to protect themselves specifically from criminal liability. so the book deals with not only the idea of accountability and the importance of accountability and the possibility of accountability but it also describes how they tried -- one was the area of the deception that led to the war in iraq, the very tragic war in
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iraq. we examined in the book three potentials that shoots. we find that one is applicable in terms of potentially offering the possibility of prosecution. we looked at the area of illegal wiretapping. wiretapping is a federal crime, and we looked at the area of the treatment of detainees. let me just briefly tell you what we found in the area of the deceptions. it is a federal crime to conspire, to defraud the united states. i don't think there is too much doubt that president bush and his team were involved in making statements that not only turned out not to be true, but evidence suggests they knew was not true when they said them. and effort both to defraud the
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congress and the american people at the same time. conspiracy to defraud the united states is a federal crime. were not talking about international law here. we are talking about u.s. crimes and i don't want to say -- i was a former prosecutor so i don't want to see defense counsel in this room. i would never say just because what is on the face of it that there is a statute and its been violated because someone has committed a crime. you need to have a serious, fair prosecutor examine the existing statute and examine the evidence and make a determination. but on the face of it, you have some very startling evidence. not all the facts are out of that even to this day about exactly what president bush knew and when he knew it, exactly
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what the objectives were in the iraq war but as i cite eyesight in the book, chapter and verse, by him and president cheney, to the effect that there is no doubt that iraq had weapons of mass destruction and also the claim and we of course know that is not through, of course the claim that saddam hussein was in cahoots with al qaeda and they knew better. so, these are some of the points that are -- could be used by a prosecutor in determining whether to prosecute. i will give you some time and questions because i want to focus more on some of the areas. the other area of course was wiretapping and let me give you a little background to this.
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during the nixon impeachment proceeding, one of the grounds for impeachment was that president nixon engaged in illegal wiretapping. he decided he was going to wiretap his staff. some of that wiretapping was done for political purposes and also journalists. as a result, and that was one of the grounds for impeachment, illegal wiretapping. as a result of the findings about president nixon and the result of the findings about other agencies illegalities in wiretapping, 1978 congress passed a law in response to these illegalities and said it is a federal crime to wiretap, and this applies to anybody, without a court order in cases involving the security.
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foreign intelligence. that is the law. very clear. president bush admitted. it's not some professor making a deduction. president bush acknowledged that more than 40 tons -- times he authorize wiretapping without obtaining a court order. on the face of it, a violation of the federal court. now his answer as to what he why he did this is what we call the nixon defense. if i do it and i am president, it can't be illegal. but that argument is the essence of the military, the military dictatorship is the essence of -- because the president is not bound to obey the law and he couldn't commit any crimes that he wants. and that is exactly what the
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framers never intended to have happen. so, on the face of it, we have violations of the federal criminal statute with regard to wiretapping. this also should be investigated the third area that we look at is the area of torture, and this is an area in which, as i mentioned earlier, the president was exquisitely sensitive to the possibility of prosecution, and how do we know this? because there was a memo that was sent to the president by his then counsel alberto gonzalez who became attorney general of the united states. the memo said to the president, in reference to a federal statute called the war crimes
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act, he reminds me a little bit of when i was d.a. and looking into wiretaps of organized crime figures. boss, we have to worry about this. there something that can happen to us and basically the memo said as we discuss -- as we discussed the war crimes act created the potential and i'm paraphrasing, for prosecution. and so, let me step back, the war crimes act was enacted by congress to carry out the geneva convention. the geneva conventions require the same treatment as everyone in the existence of a war during word during wartime. the civilian population as well as people who are armed and combatants.
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that statute, that treaty, which re-ratified in 195400 president eisenhower, who led the american troops in world war ii and the allied troops in world war ii was adopted because eisenhower understood the importance of the geneva convention, not just as a moral principle, but as a way to protect american soldiers fighting in the war. and so, the geneva conventions were adopted in response to this terrible, horrible act that occurred in world war ii, primarily the mistreatment of american p.o.w.s by the japanese and p.o.w.s by others. that was the background of the geneva convention under the geneva convention every country has to enact a statute that makes it a crime in that country
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to violate those geneva conventions. so it took a little while, 40 years, but in 1996 a republican congress person from north carolina propose the war crimes act which made it a u.s. crime to violate the geneva convention. and international crime. not a matter of international law, but a matter of you as law, u.s. criminal law, to violate the geneva convention. in his memo to president bush, alberto gonzalez said, if we opt out of the geneva convention, we reduce the possibility of prosecution under the war crimes act. this is their
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that is an astonishing memorandum, and it says, as we discussed, so it wasn't just a memo going to the president. they had a conversation about it and of course president bush opted out of the geneva convention. in response to this memo. and what is very interesting is that they went merrily along, thinking that there would be no liability under the war crimes act, and why were they so worried about the war crimes act? the war crimes act not only made torture a breach of the geneva convention and therefore a federal crime if you engage in torture, but cruel and inhuman treatment. that is pretty broad, and indignities upon people.
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pretty broad. they knew what they were doing violated prohibitions against cruel and inhuman treatment and against fostering indignities on people. at one point the supreme court had to rule on whether geneva conventions applied to the people who were detained and the supreme court said, the geneva convention applies. well, panic struck in the white house because it the geneva convention applied, under their theory the war crimes act applied and that meant they were liable for every person who was treated in the cruel and inhuman way. very serious.
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federal criminal penalties, a felony, a crime. it carries the death penalty if death results. we know by the way, that president bush was personally involved because he has admitted it, just like with the wiretapping. he has admitted that he authorized waterboarding of people, and other enhanced interrogation techniques. so, this is very serious. what were they going to do? they were facing prosecution and as they put it in a memo as gonzalez put it in the memo, the problem wasn't only the justice department during their tenure, but what about the justice department and the next administration or the administration after that? they couldn't control the justice department forever. they were worried.
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panic struck the white house. what are we going to do with the war crimes act? we can all go to
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the anti-torture act. that act was adopted in 1994 to carry out the convention against torture signatory to the convention against torture. that was adopted under president ronald reagan. and, the anti-torture act makes it a crime, a federal crime. we are not talking international crime here, we are talking about u.s. crime. it makes it a u.s. crime, and a u.s. felony to engage in torture outside the united states. this also created a problem, because a lot of people have thought in the past for example that waterboarding was torture,
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including the united states which prosecuted when it took place at and i believe it was arizona, by a sheriff against american citizens. under the anti-torture act but other statutes. and they said well, how are we going to get around the anti-torture act? that was easier than the war crimes act because if of you could define torture really narrowly so that nothing was torture, home free. so they got a willing lawyer to redefine the word torture. now the torture statute, the anti-torture statute says it is a federal crime to torture somebody and torture is defined as causing severe mental pain, physical or mental pain or suffering. okay, well the first thing they did was they were very worried
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about waterboarding because everybody thinks waterboarding is torture, so they said, waterboarding is not supposed to actually cause pain, but it does cause suffering. said they said you know, pain and suffering, that is like a phrase. those words mean exactly the same thing so we will just say suffering doesn't mean anything other than pain, right? it could mean pain but it doesn't have to mean pain. so they just deleted, took an eraser and even though the statute says physical or mental pain or suffering, they just erased the word suffering. this is a lawyer who went to harvard law school and clerked for justice thomas and teaches law. he just said well, suffering, we are just going to ignore it. it's like love and marriage is a phrase that goes together, the same thing. pain and suffering, that's the same thing so we don't have to pay attention to suffering.
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then they decided to define the word, the phrase severe pain. how do you define the word severe pain so that almost nothing qualifies? well, they had a brilliant idea. i give them credit for this. they said, severe pain means the pain that is equivalent to the pain of death. if you just look at it, your eyes read over the term pain and death, wow that is really, really serious and severe pain. what could be worse than the pain of death? if you think about it for two seconds, you realize, what is the pain of death? shakespeare once said and it's actually in hamlet, death is the
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country from whom is bourne no traveler returns. how does anybody know what the pain of death is, right? when the guy who wrote this memo to the president was asked by the justice department in a leader in corry, what did you mean by the pain of death? what does that term mean? he said, it's a quote. i don't know. i think it must be very severe, but i don't know. so what am i telling you? this is a cooked up, fake definition. it's a meaningless definition. ..
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rely on his or her advice, but to some extent, in terms of normal human behavior we are expected to understand normal human events and what severe pain is, and we don't believe that is applicable, and we certainly don't believe the defense applicable and the president engaged and authorized the intense interrogation before he got a written opinion from his lawyer. when you pick a lawyer that you know is going to be the definition, when the definition on the face of it makes no sense, and when another justice department lawyer upon reading the memo says this is in san so
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we think there is no real reliance in good faith by a president or his team on the advice they got from this lawyer who they chose in the very interesting way to prepare their, quote on quote defense. and he to really describe this in detail, the book goes into detail about these three areas and the criminal statutes that apply but we have had any effort at criminal accountability, and the question we may ask is is there ever going to be criminal accountability? my answer to that is you can't give up hope because of this president can commit acts than on the safe of it appeared to be crime i'm not saying that they are that appear to be without
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ever having a serious investigation, then what's to stop the next president or the president after that or the president after that from engaging in other high crime and crimes are not necessarily abroad with your home part of the reason you have a criminal law and enforce the law is not just to punish for bad acts but to send a very clear signal to the would-be repeaters you can't get away with it. we are not going to let you get away with it and it's also a statement by society that these are acts we find reprehensible. now, accountability for heads of state not always easy. we haven't always seen it by countries willing to look internally and say our leaders did something bad. we have to hold them to account. we did that in watergate and we seem to have lost the guidance
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and the center that watergate taught us about as a country, and that focused on accountability. so the failure to bring about justice in these cases trivializes the acts of the apparent violation of law and sends a clear message to presidents in the future don't worry, ellen, no one is critical of you responsible. but i look at other places even in the united states to say there will be accountability. now in the future in augusto pan o'shea a dictator of chile and he would then bring to the 20 years to bring him to justice but a justice started primarily because it was triggered by a very fine spanish judge in
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addition to spain with the tradition of spain to be prosecuted for mistreatment of spanish nationals in chile. we've also seen in the united states an effort to bring matters to adjust results with the civil rights movement in the south and in the 50's and 60's and 70's when there was a series reluctance to hold people accountable for the murder of civil rights work, but people didn't give up and we don't believe in the statutes of limitation, starting in the 90's these cases were reopened and many people who were able to escape justice and enjoy impunity were prosecuted and
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convicted in the deep south and. i was involved myself in an effort to bring the nazi war criminals who've come to the united states and were able to live here in peace and security for 40 or 40 years to justice. so justice can be delayed and can be deterred by don't believe it can be stopped but it is an issue that goes to the heart of our democracy. is there going to be a single standard of law with powerful and the week or powerful people in our society able to say we can get away with it? what ever that is even if it is a violation of federal law. i hope that that won't happen, and i hope that you will be part of an effort to demand accountability and justice dodd-frank thanks you very much. [applause]
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>> thank you so much for that strength presentation. i really want to encourage students come if you haven't read the book, please do so especially those of you interested in law school. the way that the bush administration's team was able to engage in creative legal interpretations is incredibly well documented. i think you will learn a lot about federal law when it comes to accountability and the way that international law has been to the domestic laws from this book so i think it will be really good operation to learn a lot of things for law school. i only have a couple of questions about to ask because we are running out of time and i think the questions of students are probably going to be more interesting than any questions i might have. i think you've done a great job of documenting how important it will be told of the bush and administration responsible for
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the many criminal activities that they engage in and i think that it's the political argument about how important it is to maintain accountability in american democracy very well taken. but one of the questions that i have listening to use the gas well as reading a book is the contrast between the reaction of the american people when it came to watergate versus the george w. bush administration. so, why do you suppose there is such a marked difference in the demand for accountability? is it because when it came to the bush administration there were issues of national security at play, was it possible because and the clinton administration i guess the accountability by the republicans in the 90's but a sour taste in people's mouth i was wondering if you have any thoughts about this distinction.
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>> that is a question about why the difference in i think fewer and he and national security issues -- ortiz working? can you your me now? can you hear me now? okay. i think the year and national security were important factors. we knew in watergate, for example, president nixon used national security dozens of times to try to justify what was happening with the break and of national security tilsit the cia stay away, the fbi stay away, you can personally tell them that he tells the cia to tell the fbi stay away from tel watergate burglary, don't investigate it because it involves national security. she claimed national security, but it was an ordinary braking, and in the end, the process went
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forward. the difference in watergate was the there was a special prosecutor and we have no special prosecutors they were a special prosecutor by elliot richardson and it was total happenstance and once you have a prosecutor their like patrick fitzgerald, he had a mandate, she had independence, and he was told to uncover the truth and the evidence without fear or favor and he did. he was ultimately instructed in his efforts to get at the truth, but i think most americans think he did a very professional job. he had special prosecutors as a result of watergate and the call for it in my book in terms of what we can do we create in congress a statute for special prosecutor. that statute unfortunately was
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so abused by kenneth starr that congress said let's get rid of it, let's let it expire, and as a result, we have no mechanism to create special prosecutor which means that there's no hope of accountability and as a president says affirmatively this has to be investigated and i'm going to have a special prosecutor appointed or attorney general so that's one difference also that bush did an extraordinary job of securing the american people, they were scared by the constant emphasis on the mushroom cloud to do most americans thought they were in imminent danger from saddam hussein that we were going to have a nuclear force with and go off if he himself wasn't going to hand off she was going to hand off to some terrorist group
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and the cia said this is an unlikely scenario that the american people believed he was scared if you go through the documentation we have some of it in our books, you'll see that there was harding and harding and harping only by the president but like condoleezza rice and others in the administration about a mushroom cloud and people were scared. why it's happening is a very abstract point and how you feel it, how is your liberty affected. most people don't know if. first of a never going to we're taught me to remind law abiding citizen so why do i have to worry? it's them some for before the terrorists, not me, so nobody really stopped to think about how illegal wiretapping can show our liberties. the framers of the constitution understood it.
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the understood. that's why in the bill of rights it says people shall be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and no warrant should issue exit and probable cause. why do they say that? because the experience with the british monarchy to be digging down doors and went into people's homes, and the rest of them, based on all kinds of ridiculous evidence. they understood the danger and we should understand the danger of what happens when people think they are being wiretapped. but it's too abstract for many people, and the torture was just repellant to many americans, but it wasn't our own people who were being tortured, it was then, the other, you can humanize the other. it's not the first time in history that seven or the first time in the united states that we have dehumanized the other. so i think those are some factors. but it will -- but, the was
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factors on believe can be overcome, i hope they can be overcome because it's a terrible thing to think that we ourselves can hold our own administration our highest level people accountable. let's put it this way. if you don't think they should be prosecuted for a crime less changeable all and say when a president violates the law, he or she can do it without being prosecuted. okay but we don't have that and most americans wouldn't agree to that. i think it's very tough, very tough time, the post 9/11 era, president bush took advantage of this year of the american people come and americans trusted him and hadn't remembered in watergate. the president's slide to the
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american people, so they said our presidents will tell the truth, and they were wrong. >> we only have a little bit of time left, so one short question then i would like to open up to the floor call for action and urged the students here to remain hopeful for accountability. i was wondering if you could maybe get some concrete suggestions about actions for some of the students here that might want to pursue this further. >> welcome i'm going to say first, read the book so you can be armed with facts. second, i would go and see your representatives in congress and say why aren't things happening, why can't we have accountability? i would join together with other groups and try to keep myself informed. some groups are doing a lot of work and not necessarily on the government accountability, but trying to deal with issues of torture, mistreatment and detainees and so forth.
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i think we talk about changing some of calls to netflix about enacting a special prosecutor law that led make it possible for special prosecutors to commence investigation. particularly the crimes related to defrauding the congress about the war, the crime of illegal wiretapping, these are crimes the statute of limitation will run out on and in fact some of the torture crime will become subject to a statute of limitations in the not too distant future to abolish the statute of limitations for certain kinds of tortured that create a risk of serious bodily injury or death and since waterboarding according to the
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cia itself i do believe there is no statute of limitation with respect to waterboarding iker camano dhaka, may be subject to a statute of limitation. so we have to be alert and i think to go on the president's right to the president fokker, call your to ask whether they doing about accountability and why not those are things i would urge the you do. thank you very much. >> we still torture this administration there would be no torture but i don't know that we know everything that's going on
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in prisons around the world. >> my question, people were aware of the interior interrogations' and speaker policy hapeville quinby the litmus test for the criminal investigations for somebody that knew or participated, what would be the test? >> well, you have to ask what the statute required could they have stopped, with a conspiring for example those are the kind of defined standards in the criminal law probably be in a situation which could not have stopped it and you didn't authorize it off here what, i'm
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talking -- we didn't look at anybody of a dim the president and the vice president and the people closest to them. we were not trying to base liability on we just focus on them we didn't expand. i'm sure there could be a variety of people that could be included but we really focused on the main people who admitted that they authorized. i don't want to get into the situation with their this disputed that fact. nancy pelosi said she did x and other people said she did why. that is a factual dispute we want to focus on the situation there is no factual dispute and there is a factual dispute. president obama himself said damn right when they asked me if i was going off allies waterboarding of khalid sheikh mohammed. there's no question of that. now the question is since he admitted what we do about it?
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so the point is interesting that we didn't focus on the book. >> we want to do so much for this book and for these provocative words. the center for constitutional rights and many of the guantanamo cases have a big session on what is going on, and the kind of failure to only close guantanamo of failure to release the folks in guantanamo who everybody agrees shouldn't be released with a place to go. that shows torture is it still going on? of course it is. and then there are these super maximum prisons where folks are in isolation, and for me things are happening so quickly the passage in the signing of the nussle defense authorization act.
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what does that do? and given who voted for it, our own senators, good satyrs to veto senators voted for, barbara mikulski, what does this new law do? >> those are very important questions. i'm not talking about whether people should pass slowly come shouldn't pass block if his half time talking about the laws store on the books and fees have been on the books, the antitorture that, the wire tapping law and converse and is used in the prosecution of people in watergate, the top aide to nixon, and it was used in connection with the iran and contra in prosecution. i'm not talking about should have passed this act, should they not have passed this act. we don't even have to go there. i'm just talking about the laws
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data on the books right now, and why aren't they being enforced when it comes to the president of the united states? there are always on the books right now about bank fraud and they were not being enforced, and the american people were upset about the we don't have to go there. we aren't saying they shouldn't go there we are just talking about messages sent in the future if the laws we have that prohibit torture, that prohibit illegal wiretapping that prohibit a president from defrauding the converse going into the war what does it say to another president what is the next war we are going to go into the faces of fraud, or the next mass of wiretapping or the next torture, and maybe the torture won't be of them, maybe it will
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be of less the next time. you know, they said that it's a very famous statement about how, you know, in germany some of the pastors said first they came for the labor union, talking about the nazis, first they can from the labour union leaders and i didn't say anything and then they came from the religious people, religious ministers nobody said anything and then they came for the catholics and nobody said anything. then the king for the jews and nobody said anything and then they came for me. so, are we all going to be the means of the next president or the president on the road? that is what is at stake here and to those are very important questions that you ask, professor, but they are a different point which is we have laws on the books right now that are not being enforced because we are talking about enforcing them against the president of the united states. and if we want to create
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exemptions for the president from our law, are we going down the road to tyranny and dictatorship, how can we preserve our results to the democracy if a president can say i don't have to obey the law. i president in the nixon doctrine. where does that line and, where do you draw that line, and so that is the great, great danger. and also, i think it is a failure to look at this and to prosecute torture is also a way of condemning it in the future. people don't really understand. you talked about the -- you know, what is the torture, people don't understand what happened to the people who were given enhanced interrogation. if you read the cia manual about this, they took somebody and
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they did repeatedly, they took somebody, they smashed into the wall, the took his clothes off, they opposed him down with water and kept him in freezing temperatures, they didn't see him, they kept him in stretched position. he was in a diaper. the rustam after about a half an hour or 40 minutes, then they would do it all over again, they would douse him with cold water. i mean, this is no joke what happened and it's pretty terrific. and so some of these people are no longer the same as a result, long-term mental damage as a result of the waterboarding. one of the people said he had 200 seizures if. i don't know, it's really -- i think the american people have to be educated to be that is one of the important things that happened. i think this is a good answer also to how we can change the
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minds with the understanding of the american people. watergate was a critical learning experience for the american people. it was a way of getting back in touch. as with the constitution says, and about a single standard of law and about holding the president accountable and about abuse of power and how we can correct it. everybody called the teachable moment. if there has been no teachable moments about the eight years of the bush abuses and the effort to further its persecution, or even a truth commission would bring out to the american people and educate them about the dangers of this, the amazing thing is just delete clause restrictive trade commission that is another way is accountability come it's not a satisfactory as in my view as having someone look to determine whether the crimes are committed
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but in england they have a commission that is sitting right now on determining what happened in terms of going into the iraq war. they called it tony blair to testify, the cult of the top figures to testify, they had public hearings, and they're going to issue a report to get in holland, they appointed a former supreme court justice who issued a report by the way to get part of it is in english, you can access it on line. and he found that the war was illegal under the international law. and he also found by the way that the dutch prime minister received the dutch parliament while in the same here. we've to other countries have done and it's just inexcusable, we've done this in our own past. why are we stopping now and it
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is very dangerous to continue going forward without accountability. >> good evening it. i was just wondering if justice is served as the administration is prosecuted under domestic or international law we like which carries more weight? >> that's also an interesting question. there are some efforts to hold american officials accountable. in italy there was a prosecution of some 23, 21 cia officials. there were found guilty. there are investigations now going on in spain under the spanish law, and there's an investigation that's not clear of what's going on the start of in poland where there was a secret prison and people were tortured. my view is those countries are entitled to act, but it's a shameful thing if other
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countries have to watch our limits, if other countries have to hold our people accountable, if other countries are the ones who tell the truth and if we can't do it we are not big enough, not strong enough, don't have the courage, we will have the commitment to the rules lot to do ourselves. to me it would be very shameful to the united states. yes, it would bring some more interest to light and a good show people that claims have been committed, but we need to do with our souls. not to say they can't, they shouldn't, but we need to do it ourselves. >> where is the american exceptional was in. we've always set the standards, and i would say over the last 20 or so years we are not as we used to be, so given the
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historical reluctance to follow others i'm just wondering if you can think of any or we can be more reflective and acknowledge our own problems and still feel that we count for something in the world. there are these cultural tensions, and i think they create this vacuum in which the bush administration is able to act to ensure america is strong and we can do what we want and it's been a disaster, but there's a deep confidence going on in the changes and the enforcement to go along very difficult and i agree with you we do look as if we are not doing well and even level of information we have about what is going on there seems to be a retreat from the law that you were talking about it's not working. >> i think we saw -- america
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felt strong during the nixon time and it's true we lost the war in vietnam, but maybe it was the lining of the vietnam war matt could anchor the public at about that, that made people feel that the year had to be accountability and they were not going to let anybody be accountable. i am really studied enough of that history, but i don't know that it's a question of feeling strong with other countries. i think it's our own view in the rules law here and i think it's a very terrifying thing to think and to expect to obey the law abroad but it's nonsense burton doesn't seem to be concerned about that in terms of their inquiry, and we shouldn't be there. how can we be afraid of the truth, how can we be afraid of
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justice? what are we? that's a very sad sign. our moral standing in the world will depend on our ability to deal with the abuses of power and criminal conduct by the leaders and the failure to deal with it will have a very bad impact. the fact that there has been no accountability for torture hasn't helped us in the eyes of the world. and that enhanced our power, diminished our power, so i don't know that that is what people are responsible.
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>> i hope, and this is a question, do you think this will bring -- will this attract having this book out there to bring justice is going to attract -- will that attract harmony for the rest of the will or will it attract the divisiveness. >> i don't see how the accountability done the right way in a fare professional way creates divisiveness. i go back to watergate and i hate to harp on it but it's a very concrete experience, and people said when we start on the impeachment process the country could never stand it and that would divide us and destroy us because we learn from the process that we as americans are committed to the rules law. the was the most important thing
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that strengthened us as a country and as a people. we took tremendous pride, even though the president did a very bad things pure and we took tremendous pride in the institutions that were able to respond to those bad things. the affair and effective prosecutions people have confidence in the institutions. instead of the lack of confidence in institutions, and that is a really critical factor. our institution is working for the biased to protect the rich and powerful, politically powerful, politically rich, actually rich because the american people's confidence
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>> i will be available to sign any books if you want and then questions. triet estimates there seems to be in a for a moment in american history, and we don't seem to be that concerned about it. i know the kind of talked about you referred to this before, but i need not affect the that there are these people here it seems there should be hundreds of people here listening to this. i was bothered by it personally and didn't do anything about it. what is it about our american society right now, about where we are really out the campaign that's going on now and the enormous hatred that seems to be within the parties between parties. americans are very distressed economically now and many are concerned with their own survival keeping a job if they have one, getting a job if they
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don't. this is a depressed time for this country, and maybe people think that in for simbel law is a luxury when it is essential to get a credit prez dirty that we enjoy that until very recently because we have a relapse lots functioned it didn't function always but it's against minorities and particularly african-american women. overall we were getting better. we were making progress, and without the democracy what's going to happen to the economic growth in the society is going to happen to our society itself. so i would say probably now most people are worried, turning inward because it's very worried about their economic circumstance but that doesn't mean we can't be terribly
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worried about our democracy. and the president address to that. why would people care about prosecuting bankers? because they don't want a country in which the rich and powerful piece get justice even though they are hurting the still believe in the idea of justice. we need to have an idea of justice for people who did what president bush and vice president cheney did. if you look at the war in iraq they took us into on the basis of the lives and deceit and apparent criminal conduct. there's a recent estimate $3 trillion, 3 trillion. can you imagine what we would do with $3 trillion, not to mention the tens of thousands of americans injured. not to mention the hundreds of thousands of iraqis killed and
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not to mention the upheaval and chaos and other issues that arose in iraq as a result of our conduct. as a, a terrible consequence of this, and if people understood that, and almost more people more aware they have the power to make a difference about, then i think we could see things change to get i mean, they did have the power maybe it was occupied wall street that created the feeling that something had to be done about the banks or maybe we need a equivalent to give the american much by wall street or people the sense that we have to have in the top political decisions to engage in trouble, but -- in criminal conduct. that idea has to be put out of it and maybe all of us in this room if we go forth from here contact elected officials, talk to our friends, write letters to
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the editor, do stuff on the internet maybe we can begin to make a difference. anyway, if we don't do anything, surely we won't. thank you. [applause] specs before. >> it gives people a readable story of the constitution. not just that. i went by it and it broke it down so that students of the constitution, whether they are in california or mean or hawaii or washington, d.c. or across the country would know what it meant to read the constitution and with the founding generation said the constitution meant.
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but was motivated to write the book because the charge in the constitution itself. the generation left the constitution to their prosperity and that is often the word we don't use. we have a sacred trust to know what the constitution means and to understand and to read it and to digested. by doing this, again, i hope the american people could do that if they were students of the constitution. oftentimes you hear different ideas about the constitution. some will say the constitution is an elastic document. you can read into it. it's stressful. it has words, and if you can read these words, but we have to go beyond that, because that's what this supreme court judge or
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this constitutional scholarships is of me. then you have those that say it is a limiting the document. the constitution is what it says you can't go beyond that. and you should interpret the constitution literally. people get confused by this, what is it? is if loosely interpreted, and the elastic document or is it in limiting the document. so i fought to cut through all of them to a really didn't care what they said the constitution to be honest with you i didn't care what the supreme court of the constitution i cared what the founding fathers set up the constitution so my journey began there and in fact when i originally conceptualize this book and finished it to begin with those who don't know the publishing you often have an idea and are told yes or no you're told to go from there to
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really focus on the opponents of the constitution and these terms in a minute and what they thought about the constitution the publisher came back and said no, no, that wouldn't be good because it might turn out to look like an anticonstitution but. okay, well we brainstorm a little bit and write a constitution on a book based on of the founding generation said of the constitution about the constitution and for the constitution. if not read a lot of the material about this. as i started digging through the mountains of research that are out there on the subject i realized that only scratched the surface and much of what i knew was going to be changed or of least in some ways what i thought i knew about it was only going to be more involved. because as i got into the material i said my gosh, this is deeper than i felt and what of the constitution is there if
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it's even more complex than what i said about the constitution in my first book. and of course when you are looking at this document, and i say the founding fathers got in the constitution because that's what it is, and it's not just the founding father that you are familiar with, and i will talk about them in a minute, but it's all of the founding generation for the american generation. it's not just one people and what they said. i looked at what everyone said about and public documents because again this had to be sold to people, and i will talk about that in the second. as the founding fathers were important because they wrote it. so i thought about going to the people that wrote the document itself and had presented 13 zipf sometimes hostile ratifying conventions and tell people this is what it means and they have to go to the press and say this is what you might be saying to the constitution will do x, y
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and z but no, be sure it's not going to do that this is what it means. that is what we should be looking at that is the founding fathers constitution to read it is ratified and that concept is very important. again, the whole ratification process, the constitution meant nothing until the states decided to ratify. so that's the overall subject of the book and i am going to read you a quote in a few minutes from the founding father of north carolina, and i will refer back to that. but oftentimes you'll get this statement the founding fathers were just a, but it occurred as people. they didn't agree on anything. what founders are you talking about? we all know some of the big names or maybe you know some of the big names. when you've probably heard on alexander hamilton, you probably heard of james madison and john jay. they are the authors of the
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federalist papers, the defense of the constitution. so most people that read the constitution and think they understand the constitution with the documents and then maybe the good of a robust papers and say that's it. but it's deeper than that. and in fact it goes much deeper than that. i would argue in the book, and i say this the federalist papers are not as important as you think. they were written in new york and they didn't have much of an impact on new york itself because the state of new york will be ratified the constitution by three votes, so, these 85 essays that people say are the definitive source of the constitution didn't have much impact at the time, but there were others and there are other members of the generation who perhaps are even more important than people like james madison. of course james madison is often called the father of the constitution and that is a misnomer to come up around to
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that she did present the virginia plan or wrote it and of course it was presented at the virginia delegation of the philadelphia convention but the constitution we have is not his. it is over and over in this little chia convention and modified over and over again by a number of important people. some of the people you've probably never heard of before like john dickinson of delaware. you're probably saying who the heck is john dickinson, she was called of the revolution, she was one of the most important men of the founding generation boreman and when he went to the philadelphia convention he looked at this constitution james madison had written and she said no, we are not having bought. that's not going to work in the united states. you have someone like roger sherman of connecticut, a man that thomas jefferson once said never said, and i'm paraphrasing, members of the stupid thing in his life.
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this was also his constitution because again, he was a conservative moderating influence. when he got to the philadelphia convention and all james madison, he said no, we are not having these in the united states, it's not going to work. people at connecticut will never agree to this. or john at south carolina, another very important founding father, john rutledge of course what leaders are on the supreme court. in south carolina from the satellite governor, so very important individual. and he set no the constitution that you've written mr. matheson is not going to work in south carolina. we need to modify this thing. so that's what happens in philadelphia. in fact one is called american and philadelphia because of only have we been sure that it's going to get all the philadelphia to begin with the were so many different ideas and opinions floating around in philadelphia that it appeared the constitution was going to die before the middle of the summer of 1787.
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and the story that you often hear about the constitution is simple, it's the large states against the small states, the people in dickinson and rutledge came from small states. madison of course is from a very large state. but that's not the real issue. the issue is what kind of government are we going to have? was it going to be a national government or a federal government? and so today we have this story and we have a federal government. in the founding generation, they didn't call it that. they didn't call it that coming out of philadelphia. the people like dickinson and sherman and rutledge said we don't want a national government, we want a total government. james madison want it a federal government. there's a difference. federal government was a general government meaning that it only had a general purposes in mind, and that basically everything else was left to the states themselves and that's what the majority of the founding generation argued for to but not
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a national government which basically put all power in the central authority. they were not going to have that. so, when you start talking about general rose's subtle or delete the these are important terms and in fact they haven't gone away. you still hear the term the united states as a nation to face of that term is still thrown around. the founding generation would be for general purposes. and i will talk about that in the preamble for a couple minutes. >> when the constitution cannot philadelphia in september of '77, no one was even sure that it would get ratified. they had written it and talked about it and they poured their hearts out in it in some cases but no one was sure if this would even make it out of them on states which is labour requiring to ratify the document. >> so then it had to be sold, and that job is actually what i talk about more in the book than anything else.
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i do bring of the philadelphia convention because sometimes you can't understand the constitution and the language without understanding what they said it meant in philadelphia. but oftentimes you can't understand the constitution and what they said it went without understanding what they said in the state ratifying conventions of throughout the united states. in fact, james madison agreed this is what she said. she said the constitution was only brought to life and only found its meaning because of the state conventions which gave it all of of levity and authority that it possessed. in other words, what we presented in philadelphia means nothing. what the state ratifying convention said it means everything to it and we don't often hear about these things. so perhaps the most famous supreme court justice ever, john marshall was a member of the generation never on time referenced the state ratifying
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conventions and they are never witnessed the the state ratifying convention is where everything was discussed and hammered out and the state's many of them wavering in support were sold the constitution and sold a bill of goods in essence on the basis of the constitution meant at the time. and that is where i say i'm going to write a book based on the opponents of the constitution and what by bring those opponents, so let me talk about those terms, proponents and opponents of the document. you hear that there are two groups, the federalist and antifederalist. those terms are wrong gary of massachusetts said it best the world federalist and antifederalist, they were antiraffs. which is pretty funny. so, you have these federalists in reality what you're talking
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about are nationalists they believe in a strong central authority and a lot more power should be in the central government or the general government and then you have the federalists go off and called antifederalists and they believe in the federal government where there's a general government and the states have much of the authority. this is the date. how much is the central government going to have and how much for the state government's going to have and that is what we get of the process and you hear it over and over again and again that is the main point of the book to go through these different opinions but what i found shocking are expected to write a book and say there were a lot of different opinions so you kind of have to bring this out and which one was right but i found is this over and over again they said the government was when to do x, y and z. dever told by the proponents those that supported it that no, they are actually are doing on the
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same positions in the same way into the general consensus was there there isn't a funding fathers interpretation. and essentially and it's a general concern, that's it. and i talked about how that worked in a few minutes and why they thought was important when we get to for a simple discussion of the bill of rights but wasn't we to be a national government and it isn't going to abolish the states which some people feared. so, as i dug through these declarations, public declarations and speeches and pamphlets and all these things, there is now a multitude of volumes on this stuff and the general consensus began to appear and i put it as i could in the book because i wanted people to see that coming into the other thing that i often heard of this but over time is that i use of quotations and sometimes that can make it a little drawing but i didn't want it to be, i wanted to be the
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founding fathers constitution, so i put as much of them as i could and so they are better at saying with a note and i am and it's not hard to understand. so the quotes were important to me and i wanted to put as many as i could read and in fact there are the two appendices in the back of the book for nothing but quote the generation. that is what i thought was great but i couldn't put it in the book somewhere because i didn't have space. i actually think those sections of the book are the most fun. >> the heartland institute here at the conservative political action committee, jim likely is the commission structure for the institute. first of all, what is the heartland institute? >> it's a free market libertarian think tank based in chicago illinois, and recover just domestic policy and our
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mission is to discover, promote and send out to the public free-market solutions to the social and economic problems, and we've been doing that for 28 years. >> who founded you? >> the late dave h. patton in the cato institute and a giant in the free-market movement and president of the harvard institute since 1984. >> you also publish the books and i want to ask you about a couple of them. let's begin with this one by herbert will work from school choice findings. some of the issues of the harlem institute is first for decades now the idea of school choice having a devotee follow the parents the student achievement does rise, so with our senior fellows and board members of the institute was interested in this topic and knowledgeable on the topic and is also a fellow at the hoover institution and has written two books on school choice to get the public and politicians the fact about why
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and how school choice works for parents and for students. >> the of the book he's written about is called and dancing student achievement. and in this book where does this one go? >> as the title would suggest it goes beyond just what school choice can do in the general sense to raise achievement, and more detail about how the structure you need in place to make sure students can achieve more. it's more of a fall long and detailed to the first school choice findings. islamic another one of your fellows is peter ferraro, the obamacare disaster. >> this is a policy paper that he's written for us that was long enough for a book treatment. he is aware senior fellow for the budget entitlement was yet the institute and he was very prolific and able to turn quickly as one of the most popular ones and explains the title was suggest why obamacare is a disaster of economics and for personal freedom
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>> what are the benefits of being headquartered in the midwest and what are the downside? >> the downside is that we are not in washington, d.c. where everybody gets a lot of attention and they are able to get on to c-span. but we do come quite often. we actually have an office here in washington, d.c. but our headquarters are in chicago and the advantage of that is that it kind of takes us away from the kind of hurricane of policy here in washington, d.c.. we were founded as to concentrate on the state legislatures and state issues. we were the first national state based think tank on the state legislators about all the issues that we care about but we also do national school at the obamacare disaster folks would suggest we do look at the national issues and we also look at the state by state issues and that is a unique niche for us as a think tank. still another book to tell us
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what heartland institute, the patriots toolbox. estimate the patriots deluxe has been popular. we distribute i think 50,000 to 70,000 copies of this book and it's really popular among the tea party groups all across the country today it is a compilation of a series called the ten principal series of booklets that talk of the free market principles to improve a certain policy area like tax policy or health care policy or energy policy, and for the tea party movement, they like to offer some intellectual support for the tea party moved across the country. they love freedom, they are against big government, they want free markets but they might not have because they are scholars like we have they don't have all the details of why they believe what they believe. that is a ten principal series is about it a little box became jury popular three estimate a new book out by the heartland institute, choristers of the apocalypse. estimate one of my favorite titles the last couple of years
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i must tell you. roosters of the apocalypse has suggested is about environmental policy, and it's kind of the chicken little syndrome when it comes to global warming alarmism. and then there are the people that examine the science and understand the force is changing but it's probably not catastrophic and man's impact is not as bad as a lot of people think. this is why isaac and it's her first book with us and we are very happy about it and that is brand new and there will be coming out. >> jim is the communications director of the heartland institute. the website? >> heartland.org. ..

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