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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  April 11, 2015 5:00am-7:01am EDT

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kennedy. he will be answering your calls and tweets until 3:00 p.m. eastern. >> host: we have author ron kessler with desperate is the system broken? >> guest: not necessarily with the agents come of age and have been very dedicated and they would take a bullet for the president. but there is a retaliation against those who point out problems or threats, punishing agents who question really anything and on the other hand promoting management who goes
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along to pretend that the secret service is not vulnerable. so it is a corrupt culture and you saw an example of that when julia pierson, the director claims after this that he was stopped at the door that he was not armed, that was a total lie. how could any agency put out a lie like that and think that they could get away with it. and when it came out that that was not true, the new director joseph clancy, he was asked about that adhering and whether anyone would be held accountable for issuing that information and that was just an error. and they said how do you know it is an error, and they said i don't know how this happened and number one to be the director and number two, how can anyone on the lower level trust someone
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like that, how could they trust him stop this very corrupt culture how could you trust them with any information at the secret service today. >> host: out of the culture developed? >> guest: it started around 2003 when the department of homeland security took over the secret service. previously it had been the treasury department. it made it a little bit more political. they had the fight over but it's more and you will see they will leave the door of the white house open they need to have good alarm systems, and then in addition, the leadership was part of the culture. and they talked about the
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intrusion the crashes at the state dinner the prostitution scandal, and every time that this happened president obama would say that the confidence in the leadership and competence in a great service -- we should have replaced mark sullivan long-ago with someone from outside the agency who would not be but holden to interest within the agency who would change the culture, that is what you do in any organization when it is in trouble. you bring in someone from the outside. and i am afraid that president obama has guaranteed with the selection of clancy that the secret service will continue from one to another. >> host: is it helpful or hurtful that the president basically has a say over who is going to be the director? >> guest: well, the president should have a say. but at the same time the director should be confirmed by the senate, the same as the fbi
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director, the same as hundreds of obscure officials that you have never heard of. for example, the u.s. marshals and the 62 different districts in the country, is one of the recommendations in my book the first family detail. i'm quite sure that if that were in place and by the way some house members on both sides of the aisle have since introduced legislation to require confirmation of secret service directors. they would not have mr. clancy in charge, we would have an outside director, ideally someone who had been a high-ranking fbi official because the fbi has really done a spectacular job since 9/11 and keeping us safe from a foreign terrorist attack. they would never stand for this cover-up culture that you see today in the rest of the secret service. >> host: ron kessler, the secret service agents have to sign nondisclosure agreements?
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>> guest: it was always understood that you never see what is going on behind the scenes but after the prostitution scandal came out they never wanted to have that out in the first place the secret service didn't choir confidentiality agreements so they were not allowed to speak to the press and they do so on parallel with losing your job. >> host: james bamford, when you had written about the secret service originally wrote in "the washington post" what is truly dangerous is the kind of national inquirer gossett from the book the president secret service, without trust and confidence, presidents will want to keep them at a distance out at a safety range when split seconds may counts.
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>> guest: in one hand there's no gossett in this book, there's a firsthand account, about half are on the record. it is simply investigative reporting. because it so happens that this book begins with bill clinton's mistress it goes into hillary clinton's abuse of agents, the fact that she is like this that agents consider her part of foreign punishment, on and on to dick cheney's daughter who tried to get her agency friends to open restaurants, they refused as they should have, but she threw a fit and got her detail removed over that. not to mention the fact that the reason that ronald reagan was shot by hinckley is that his own white house staff let spectators within 15 feet of him if he came out of the washington hilton.
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onscreen, and that is why he was able to shoot him. it never came out that it was the fault of the white house. and so these are major disclosures that we need to know about. especially that we need to know about with what the readers have to say behind the scenes. >> host: you write about the first family detail. make sure that everyone who comes to visit the president is logged in except that there is one that you do not log into in the book. >> guest: this is what secret service agents were assigned to one it was in regards to the president and you know it's a very small example of corner cutting that takes place that could jeopardize the security of the president and on a larger
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scale when bradley cooper, the actor a went to a white house correspondents dinner, president obama was about to speak and a high-ranking secret service official in new york instructed agents at the hotel to let bradley cooper and his suv into the secure space in front of the hotel were only secret service vehicles were allowed. even then they had to screen for explosives because anyone could strap some explosive under a vehicle. and so it was just a favor to the pretty people the agents were horrified. you know, here they are, risking their lives to protect the president and they are being told that we don't care if there is an explosive, let him in that is the kind of culture that i'm talking about, which actually jeopardizes the life of the president. another example is that on a regular basis, the agents were told by management to let people into events without metal detection screenings.
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this is like letting passengers into an airplane without detection screening and again, the secret service is so spineless that they will bow to pressure whether it is from the white house or bush and the obama white house or from campaign to let people in and they had an attitude providing us. so they can say that you know we don't want these people outside the event, we want them to be in. and sure enough the secret service let them in because we had different aids coming and taking the president or vice president. that is something that still hasn't hit the press. dozens of examples of corner cutting and, you know other malfeasance in the book they
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still haven't come out. >> host: is to take your latest book, "the first family detail: secret service agents reveal the hidden lives of the presidents", what are some of the revelations that you found that did not make quite a splash they thought that they would to . >> guest: one is vice president biden. when he goes to wilmington back at his home, which he does several times a week he will instruct agents to keep his military like a nuclear football. which launches a counterattack on a country like russia or china or north korea. at least a mile behind a motorcade, along with his medical doctor. because he wants to have this image and he doesn't want a big long motorcade, so he says, stay back a mile behind. of course if obama were taken out, there would not be time for
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them to get divided so that they could launch a counter attack. when you look at this what could be more irresponsible and reckless, yet that has not been talked about. in addition he goes back several times a week and it's one thing to go back a few times a year. but the costs to taxpayers has been a million dollars since he took office and some liberal writer question whether or not any of this was true and what could be more official than the actual details provided by the air force. the only thing that was picked up by the press the fact that he
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likes to talk about this war on women. everybody borders on harassment when he does this going around naked in front of female agents. >> host: of joe biden is inconsiderate with secret service agents, hillary clinton can make richard nixon look like mahatma gandhi. when in fact he acts graciously but as soon as the cameras are gone, the angry personality and nastiness and imperiousness becomes evident. >> i love revealing secrets that are important that have meaning. in this case what this means is that we need to look at the character of candidates because the character ultimately influences how they carry out their presidency.
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take a look at before he was involved in this issue that led to the speech and sure enough that was watergate. that we need to look at character, the same things that we look at whenever we choose an employee or a friend, anyone in our lives. when it comes to the presidency somehow people just forget about this thing and then focus on this. in the case of hillary she treats the little people that she claims she is going to help if she is president, she treats him with contempt, she is abusive, nasty lying and to temper tantrums over nothing even this on the record quote from secret service agent who would drive her. and so what kind of a personality is that, it's an
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unbalanced personality of someone who is certainly a hypocrite and that she can't bear to treat those same people with decency. and another detail is the reason that james foster committed suicide is that on one hand he was always depressed, but his suicide was triggered according to fbi agents who investigated the death, by the fact that a week before the suicide hillary had a big meeting in the white house with foster and other aides and colleagues. and they had a disagreement over some legal issue and hillary called him a small-town hick lawyer and you will never make it in the big-time, she humiliated the guy and after that things immediately when downhill according to the people that were fbi agents, family
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members, aides, and according to two fbi agents on the record, that episode triggered suicide a week later and again, the press has ignored that. >> host: we will get into your other books as we go through things today. but does your material need to be vetted by anyone? >> generally we have talked about rival issues through rival lawyer, but i had to way back in 1972 when i was at "the washington post", president nixon is a good friend, a fellow with a contribution of both sides and it cost millions of dollars paid to williams and calmly and then a second one over these books.
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and so i'm very careful and i do think of myself as a lawyer and also one thing that i do is when i trust someone, even if i don't trust that person, i will present a draft of what i plan to write we need corrections comments and one of my books with the president secret service, i revealed that the treasury secretary under president bush mr. snow he had a mistress that he would go see every weekend and secret service would have to go down there. one time the agents saw him kissing this mistress and the
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mistress' husband was about to come back to try to alert mr. snow. i presented a draft of what i tried to write to him and he had a very high-powered lawyer, a very good lawyer richard cohen the former attorney general call me and sure enough he invited me to lunch at morton's and we sort of negotiated some items and he pointed out one or two errors and at his request i put this comment a little bit higher and change the wording here and there. but the story was there. and sure enough i could sleep at night not worrying about other things. >> host: how do you get secret service agents and other agents
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to talk to you? >> i don't really know the answer to that except to say that i know that i'm very interested in what they do. for example i did the first story on fbi criminal profiling in "the washington post" and i was fascinated about this. you know i really appreciated their work. and on the one hand, one of my books led to the dismissal of william sessions over his abusers so i am very comfortable talking about the abuses, the prostitution scandal as i mentioned, on the other hand when an agent era person
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does well, i they that and this is very unusual in today's world. and as i said i have made the point that the fbi has been very successful at blowing up a lot since 9/11 the whole culture was changed under those that emphasize prevention and emphasize this as opposed to putting people in jail. of course they always want to stop and put people in jail, but it is a matter of emphasis and i go through that in my book the secrets of the fbi. so that is another reason that i think the people who cooperate with me and they say that okay she has a lot of knowledge and he has a lot of sources. >> host: can you explain the bureau? >> guest: it's a complete mystery going back and because
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of this i was able to interview mark in california, he was the house breaking official during watergate and i went to his house, which was owned by his daughter and he was living with her and when i went to the door she said, you know this guy was out here about a euro bill in she didn't really know who he was, she knew he was a reporter and she said and he came in a white limousine and he had this 10 blocks away and he walked to my house. so this was what was being felt there was no way that he would do this. so the post picked up the story and that was the first really
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credible evidence that we had. so i sat next to "washington post" and bob woodward came over and they would write their stories over the typewriter because bernstein was a good writer, but woodward was not. they would argue about things and i recently said you know, we actually are talking about this. and so there was a real discussion of the sources, they were not making up sources there was a conspiracy theory a combination of different people, i don't know why they are bad or what the point of that was in an
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embarrassing footnote to my life, a week or two after watergate started they propose to ask you think twice replace him on this and he was abusing his expense account and a month later they would get a bill for the rental car that was left in some garage somewhere and they really wanted to push him aside. and i love to do and original investigated reporting and i was talking about how i possibly would not have gone along with woodward who is also at the post, although he was the best man. but in the end i am happy with my life. >> host: from your book "the first family detail: secret service agents reveal the hidden lives of the presidents", secret service agents like barack and michelle obama, treat them with
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respect. >> again i think that this is a very important clue for the character, one of the reasons they like obama even if they may not like his policies sometimes is that people do have this sense that she is not a very likable person. and so this is an example of the fact that my books are political, they tell it like it is, reviewing the previous book in saying that it presents flattering and unflattering stories about presidents of both political parties. >> host: what goes into the president's annual trip to hawaii. what kind of planning by the secret service? >> guest: i think two weeks before they do in advance and they will interview local law enforcement to see if there are
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any threats out there, they go to the whole territory, they plan out everything, right down to the most minute detail of the motorcade route. one-time one george h. w. bush was going to give a speech in oklahoma when he was campaigning for reelection he advanced and people went out there, they talk to local law enforcement and law enforcement said no, there is this psychic in town who has been incredibly reliable in the past and let us to a body of the murder victims and she said that she had a vision that bush would be assassinated by sniper at an overpass. the secret service agents were embarrassed to take this seriously, but nonetheless they interviewed the psychic and after if she knew anything more about this alleged plot and she said i know that the motorcade
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vehicles are out at the air force base. they said can you show us where and they went there and there were five hangars and she pointed correctly to the hangar where the motorcade vehicles were. this was from one of the agents who is actually in charge and asked her a few other questions and she said this is going to come out of air force one wearing a sport jacket and sport coat, and i thought, that is absurd, but sure enough the next morning he came out wearing a sports jacket and a sports suit. so they went to an alternate route that did not go under any overpass and of course bush was safe and he was not told at the time but he knows about it now, and i'm always asked did they go to look at there is any sniper at an overpass, no, they didn't, but the secret service agents
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are very impressive and the fbi agents admire them more than any other law enforcement. when they interview the suspects if they can find them and put them into three categories category number three is the most serious where they believe that if they would carry out the plot, in most cases when the president goes the secret service will actually show up at the home of one of the individuals and warn them to stay away from the president, that they will be watched all the way through and [inaudible] they interview everyone involved and he probably will not be prosecuted.
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>> host: what is crown? >> guest: that is the secret service codename for the white house. often generated by a computer, although an individual presented protection can veto a particular codename. for example george w. bush was going to be called [inaudible] and he didn't like that. it reminded him of his drinking days and so he became trailblazer and dick cheney was angry because he likes to fish. and so these names, they are helpful because in a crowd of secret service agents on his radio someone who is under protection other people don't know who he is talking about and then it also clarifies the name
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because some names may sound the same. [inaudible] so when you say the codename for michelle or barack obama, not everyone understands what they are talking about. >> host: from your book "inside the cia: revealing the secrets of the world's most powerful spy agency", you write that today the cia is a different agents the from the one that created sensational headlines in the early 70s about drug testing and domestic surveillance. >> guest: this is how i present what i think is beyond the story. the cia back in those days before there was any oversight by congress whatsoever they were engaging in foolish practices and they had a plot and that this would somehow mean
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that people would respect them anymore in the country and it was insane and often illegal. it often goes with these unfocused efforts and my good friend john martin he was in charge of prosecuting for 25 years, he prosecuted 76 spies. john walker james, all of the big names only one prosecution resulted in a not guilty plea. he gave me very good framework for looking at these things. legal framework, if you will. and that is when hoover would go after antiwar protesters exercising the first amendment rights. he was not only violating the rights but also was confusing
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real criminal activities with rights that people have a right to exercise. the result is because because of a lack of focus that he did not do a very good job of casting spies. which isn't to say that he didn't do a lot of good things. and so he came to the cia on the one hand in the old days and on the other hand today just like the fbi, they are as possible for the fact that they have not had a successful attack. and yet always in the press is the cia the fbi the immunization. and not one of these has ever been part of this, meaning something illegal and they have very good reasons for the collection of data that the nsa is engaged in. that is how they stop the plot.
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and of course knowing these people, seeing how they work, going out to the secret service training facility learning how they train agents. [inaudible] filling in any mistakes. the fact is that there is years since the hoover days and i think that's very important to keep in mind. we have many saying that the cia has an asset in yemen, people who are onto bomb plot, bombs that have been put on planes, even though there is no abuse, they are doing their job as they should be and yet you must weigh like that optimizing the source could result in death.
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it could result in an attack on the country and so this is a standard form of journalism that i just don't get that i did not see existing when i was part of "the washington post." i remember bob woodward wanted to do a story about the fact that the nsa had penetrated the soviet communication lines. even though it turned out that they knew that the nsa had done that and they were introducing this, they would not run the story. there was no abuse they were doing their job, why would you compromise security by running us. and yet you see the press lining up behind the ap supporting with a dead.
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i just don't get it and i think it is outrageous. >> host: did j. edgar hoover abuse his directorship? >> guest: i think what he did, about half of it was very good. he established a great law enforcement agency that is acknowledged throughout the world and he established a system. he would not countenance brutality and i was very much a part of this he was a stickler for facts. at the same time he abused his position partly to keep his job. above all he wanted her main director forever and he almost did. he was a director for almost 50 years until he died in office. and one key to doing that is that he would keep files on
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members of congress and of course they would all give him the budget they would want the bureau to document how one particular chief of staff was potentially blackmailed sending an agent over to tell him that he knew that he was having an affair even though he was married and they expected him to talk about it. this guy said well, i hope that you have photographs or it so that was the end of that. but that is documented on the record as to how he was. and he would let john kennedy noted he knew about his affair with judith exner. and so of course, he was never
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going to fire hoover and it is incredible. you look back at what happened in those days. >> host: the afternoon and welcome to booktv booktv on c-span2. this is our monthly program and we have one author on to talk about his or her book. this month it is best-selling author ron kessler, the author of 20 books and we will be talking about some of the things that you have heard in the past half-hour, we will put the numbers on the screen because we want your input as well. (202)748-8400 if you live in eastern or central time zones if you can't get through on the phone, if you want to make a comment via social media at c-span booktv is our twitter handle, you can make a comment there or a comment on her facebook page facebook.com/ facebook.com/booktv. finally you can send an e-mail to booktv at c-span.ord.
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so how did you get into this business? >> well i got involved in a high school newspaper and i interviewed all the clergymen and sure enough they almost all thought that there was a need for that. well, we were giving our best to try do talk about what to do. but i really got into journalism when i was in the class and i did a survey of discrimination against blacks and i would say that i'm a student is this still available, they would say yes and i would say my roommate
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is coming, is that a problem. and so they use this against the discrimination which actually complains about some of those that we name in the story is having said yes. [inaudible] so that waited my appetite for investigative journalism. >> host: "washington post." when we there? >> guest: i was there from 1970 through 1985 and i previously telegram the fact that i do that story. i was running the boston herald for three years and then "the washington post" for 15 years as an investigative reporter. >> host: why did you leave? >> guest: i left to right books. my second book i was still on
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leave from the post, he was the world's preeminent and we talked about this back and forth and eventually he invited me to a birthday party in spain along with brooke shields and sean connery and i thought hey, this is really fun. there is also a party and this was used. but give us an opportunity to go in depth and my wife who is also at "the washington post", she had been assistant as we know, the one that came up with this term, she not only supported my idea of this but actually encouraged it and that was just tremendous because it
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was so big to leave a steady job and go out into the free enterprise world where you never know how a book is going to do. i have done 20 books now and i have never looked back. [inaudible question] >> guest: it is a conservative website that i was therefore chief washington correspondent and what i did was go interview everyone from george bush and romney to deborah norval, it jim cramer your friend brian lamb, and it was just fun and in the process i exposed this talk of spousal abuse and there was a
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story on that. also the reason that david petraeus had to resign the was that there was an fbi investigation going on in the involvement with his mistress and so i practiced real journalism while i was there. >> host: ron kessler is the author of 20 books. here's the most recent one in 2002 "the bureau: the secret history of the fbi; a matter of character: inside the white house of george w. bush" came out. "inside the cia: revealing the secrets of the world's most powerful spy agency" came out in 2003. "a matter of character inside the white house of george w. bush" came out. and then the terrorist watch came out in 2007 and the president secret service behind the scenes and the secrets of the fbi, and the most recent is the "the first family detail: secret service agents reveal the
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hidden lives of the presidents", revealing the hidden lives of the presidents. why two books on essentially the same topic? >> the second book focuses on new revelations and focuses more on first families the spouses, and so i have almost a dozen bullet points in the press release with new revelations about the secret service. and i mention the fact that he was shot because of his own white house that and that the bite in episode and a number of other new items. also we went much more into the corner cutting culture with many more examples.
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and you would think that he would wise up and do something about it. and he doesn't. it's a real concern because agents tell me that it's almost a miracle given all the corner cutting and covering up. >> host: why in the world did you do these of george w. bush? >> guest: after 9/11 i became much more attuned to the fact that the press was misrepresenting counterterrorism measures "the washington post" would routinely do stories proclaiming that they are spying on us they are doing terrible things. they are doing something that shows that the whole story was bogus or in fact would never show up at all. so i cited examples of this in
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my book and i have to say that right now the post is very fair and balanced and there is a description that really is a part of this and of course it results in credibility. so even "the washington post" says so-and-so is siding with the conservative person were pointing out something that conservatives like. but the fact is that day in and day out they are doing a magnificent job of telling folks that. and so what was the question again? >> host: why the biographies on laura bush and others. >> guest: i felt with bush that
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he was actually crucial in changing that culture in the fbi to make it more oriented towards prevention. a few days he was being briefed on the investigation with prosecutions into 9/11 and bush said wait a minute i want to know what you are doing to stop this next plot. so there was a supposedly interesting situation at cleared a new infrastructure that made it safe, not to mention the no child left behind act which is very dear to me because i could not read in the fourth grade. i had been taught with a bogus method which was not fun at, it was called whole language, some people say it makes you guess the words, when my mother remarried, i was in the fourth
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grade and i couldn't read. and sure enough they put me into phonics and i learned how to read and that is one thing that george bush pushed. so i admired that. and that is one reason i did the book on him. >> host: in your book it you quote the overall thing is a strengthening of the communication. and it says that his intelligence reform, greater intelligence, the transformation of the fbi and the technical tools at the nsa terrorism surveillance program and the financial program, some of these changes are greater than the parts and now the u.s. is on the offense. >> another example is that bush
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created a national counterterrorism center where the fbi shares information that was totally different from what happened before 9/11 when they had the so-called wall either between the fbi and the cia or within the same situation. so all of these changes have been responsible for the fact that we have not had a successful attack and people do not understand that. they don't even think about it. but they don't connect the dots to why that happens. and there is this new approach with measures one is that the fbi has what they call a tripwire, making explosives to
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report any suspicious situations and as a result that a plan to blow up the home of george w. bush was ported. another important part our tactical operations teams to plant bugging devices. they are using almost every important case espionage political corruption, and it's unbelievable what they do. so unbelievable that they gave us approval a week or two before the break-in, or even agents will watch and see who goes in and who goes out and that on the night of the break-in they will have agents make sure that they
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don't go back to the premises and serve these agents. if they do try to go back, the agents will disrupt them and divert them. they will give them a traffic ticket or they will open this in the area. and they will also take a photo of any dog that could be on the premises monday show that to a veterinarian that is on contact and he prescribes a trickle as a dog with a dart gun. so here she is knocked out during the break-in and at the end of the break-in they will wake him up with some other drug because the only dogs could tip off that the fbi was there. so they may want to break into an office suite they learn how
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to take over an elevator, they go into the office building during the day, they take over one of the elevators and then in the middle of the night they go in and get back on the elevator, come out and nobody is the wiser. [inaudible] and they drape over the front of the house this chart and enable go behind it so that nobody who is walking by can see them and they will defeat the alarms and the break-in. one time they were putting books into a mafia front there was actually a mafia front and this store overlooked a bar, they
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didn't want to go in the back because it could be booby-trapped, but they could see them breaking in. so what did they do? they borrowed a city bus they drove in front of the electronics store, they got out they made it look like the place had broken down, they win in they broke through the locks, the bus went around the corner until they put the bugs then, but it went by the bus stop. and they were furious that the busted nonstop for them. so as soon as they open the doors of bella tonics stories the two of them ran in and the agents didn't know that they were from these secret teams. but then some of the agents started taking off their
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walkie-talkies and things like that. and the agent that was driving says hey, stop bothering me, i'm having a trouble driving the bus. and then another got up and he had a shotgun on his shoulder and these guys when wild. so finally the agent understood what was going on they went running down the street and no one ever heard from them again. and the fbi showed me a real bug, i couldn't believe that this was happening. and it was a size of a postage stamp, a little bit thicker, recording or transmitting as you wish, and that is the key to solving many of the guy cases. >> host: at year book "the terrorist watch", spying on americans. increase surveillance of americans and the war on terror.
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>> guest: you know the fbi conducts investigations to spying if you will under court order. you know, if they go after you you're going to be dead and they do a very thorough and honest job. and so the spying business is something that critics invented and journalist invented and believe me, if there was a real case of spying for no good reason, that person would be prosecuted. >> host: what about the nsa a gathering of phone calls that people are making? >> guest: the nsa has been gathering phone calls because the phone companies is to keep the records for years and years and then they decided that it's
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too costly and they started discarding them after a few months. well in one case the fbi knew of one of the hijackers in san diego and they knew that he had been making calls to terrorist operations overseas. but looking back they could not find out who this person was because the records had been destroyed. so all they wanted to know was the identity of the guy and they just wanted to know who he was and they couldn't. and instead of this program had been in effect at that time they would have found out who he was. they would have done surveillance. he would have stopped the plot and there's no lesson about it to that effect and you can see that it's obvious that they would have been able to do this and that is all the program was about keeping these records in case they need to go back and
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then they started the investigation or maybe they perceive to get court orders to conduct surveillance in a legal manner and stop millions of people from being killed. because it would be so easy for someone from isis as an example, to unleash a chemical or a biological attack on our country. and somehow people think about this. that is not the real threat. the real threat is what could really change our whole existence. >> host: what is your connection to the senate intelligence report? >> guest: it is a totally nonpartisan the republican
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staff does not allow this state. and they are enhancing this to find out about the program. and it said i was essentially the talking about this along with this deal because the cia gives interviews with ice in which they claim that this enhanced interrogation program has led to actual plots, and only three were water boarded we now have more journalists water boarded than those three individuals because journalists have been explaining how this thing works, thousands have been water boarded an dictionary
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definition of torture does not involve the infliction in pain but it can involve scaring people and it's certainly not anything that we are looking forward to having. but essentially they said what turns out to be the truth according to president obama, the cia director who said that in fact these techniques led to including uncovering where he was leading up to his dad. so it's an interesting story it which only mentioned this and by the way i compared the information at the time with the fbi, which agreed in essence that the information was
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correct. and obviously as they mention in "the new york times" report showing that we were not such fools after all. >> host: do you consider yourself a political conservative? >> guest: you know, it's funny. if you're someone from the mainstream media, you're going to assume that that person is probably on the side and he wouldn't be interested in his or her political beliefs or think that they were questionable. but after 9/11 i became very concerned for our own safety and concerned that democrats were undercutting some of these efforts that we need in order to keep us safe and the republicans were strong on national
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security. more recently we have dean a lot of walking on the conservative side, you see they are constantly going after the patriot act which is a very simple measure which helps to protect us. but the result is that i started to change my views but they do not affect my books, as i mentioned, totally nonpartisan many examples and the secret service book of very critical information about republicans ranging from bush to newt gingrich, to rand paul, ted cruz and on and on. so i like to tell an honest story, i feel very accountable being honest, and that is what i really enjoy.
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>> host: ron kessler is our guest, we spent the last hour getting to know him a little bit. cost >> host: call us at the phone numbers listed below according to your time zone. jim right here in fairfax county, virginia, in the suburbs, you are first with author ron kessler. >> that afternoon as we enjoy this discussion so far, but there's something i must ask you because i forget what book it was then, when i read it i was laughing to hard i about fell out of my chair. he reported in one of your books that are former vice president spiro agnew had had an affair, can you explain that he meant i can't believe it. >> there is this guy talking about this in more ways than one. he preached family values and that was this whole thing and
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yet he was having an affair with one of his very shapely aids and also with a few other women, i described how secret service agents would take him to a hotel in washington in order to have an affair with these women. and i'm not saying that because jfk had affairs all the time they're for news about president, but certainly it was a clue to the character and something that i think is important. and so that is one reason why these stories are relevant. >> host: spiro agnew mr. and mrs. nixon. okay. this was from in the book "in
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the president's secret service: behind the scenes with agents in the line of fire and the presidents they protect." this question is from dave at in florida. >> good afternoon. we have met i have been talking about your book a matter of character. and we are talking about a discrepancy [inaudible] joe kennedy in your biography. completely exonerated joe kennedy from having been a bootlegger i would say everyone here to for including you including him in that and there is a picture of him in cuba with a bunch of bootleggers that is
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hanging in ernest hemingway's house in key west florida. and so i think that the discrepancy should be discussed. >> host: "the sins of the father" came out in 1996. >> guest: yes, it went into how he created this whole dynasty. the information about him being involved in the mafia was quoted but it was certainly not the most important revelation in the book, the book when an to his admiration for hitler, his anti-semitism and some other things that are well known about him as well. and it also revealed that rosemary kennedy, one of his daughters who supposedly was retired was actually mentally ill, and that is why she had her
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lobotomized. and it turned her into mush. and so on the record with the actual age and who performed this lobotomy. the only interview in which he said that she was mentally ill he described the symptoms and said we never would have performed a lamotta beyond someone who was. in addition rosemary had a fourth grader with the tech that she did. someone who is mentally could not possibly do such combo kit ed mountain division. joe kennedy simply did not want what he thought was an embarrassment. because he wanted one of his sons to be president. and so it was more palatable if rosemary was hidden away being
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mentally ill. there was also joe kennedy's secretary in hyannisport and also his mistress for nine years, three times longer than joe kennedy's affair with gloria swanson. but i know that ted kennedy's people put out the word to the media that they better stay away from this book and it didn't get much pickup. one more anecdote, my mother was going to the party for that book and she got out the plane and said he must be going to my sons party. and he was very gracious and he did get invited after that was he didn't go. something he said about my mother she got everything revolved around me. she also had a crusading spirit and she was a concert pianist
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and musician and at the same time [inaudible] she said i would pay for this but today other online retailers have proven her right. [inaudible] also when donald trump gave a book party for my book inside palm beach and america's bridges, call it a midlife crisis more parties and more champagne with my wife mother chatted with her in palm beach and later my wife asked my mother what do you think of donald and as control, he's doing a lot of great things for himself and i'm thinking that that was her whole life was music. and so pam comes up with a lot
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of my book titles for example as additional ideas about things to pursue as well and in the case of this kennedy had the state they are and we had a bottle of chardonnay at a restaurant, and i said wouldn't it be great to do a book on palm beach and she said that is the only book i would collaborate with you on. and that is why i did the book because i probably would not have seriously considered a book subject like that so different from my other books unless she had said that. and so a lot of her influence shows up in my book. and i would like to redo a very
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short passage because he contributes her vivid descriptions to the book and so for example she talked about the spying and who among other things would be involved in orgies and other things. [inaudible] but she wrote in the book in mid july she described the bar and nightclub in palm beach and she said that in mid-july a blonde is complete dressed woman came prancing past and stopped. the palm beach strut, all women have it straightening up and sticking out their chests and walking past the bar.
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and they are on display and they know how to work it. they wear short skirts and simple expensive clothing. low-cut dresses are everywhere and [inaudible] >> okay great. pam kessler. the next call is from pompano beach, florida. >> caller: hello, i had two questions one was the hillary jerrett affair and whether jack anderson got his justice out of that. the other one was a brief report on a makeshift agent who is in charge of twin towers security and how does premonition of the towers being attacked. and it seems to be an undercovered story in which i'm interested in hearing anything
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else about that. >> host: can you explain more about the valerie jarrett and jack anderson connection. >> caller: i hope i got the names right. my understanding is that jack anderson is the alleged leak that was involved in that story. >> host: i think that he had passed away before. >> guest: okay, i'm sorry, the wife of the statesmen of the cia agent. >> host: okay, let's hear from ron kessler. >> guest: that whole thing was very overblown.
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somehow when i came out the press wasn't interested but was actually a person that out of her and not purposely but just gossiping and at the time she was not actually undercover and there was no real problem involved in revealing her identity. and the other item is about the fbi and of course we all have dreams about all kinds of things and there were so many things, that is what we tried to do with the real information and it depends on the sensitivity of information, how much with some minor details.
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one night a couple said that they felt like having twinkies and asked the waiter if he would get them twinkies. so he actually went out to the local supermarket and got them twinkies with whipped cream and raspberry and the couple gave the waiter $500, the typical palm beach kind of activity. someone like that is on the record, i don't need any additional collaboration, and i do try to get quite a bit of collaboration. >> host: he said the were very affected by 9/11, what were you doing on that date to . >> guest: i was driving to interview an fbi agent and i
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heard about the attack in new york and i saw black smoke billowing and i decided to turn around and go home. i called the fbi guy and he did not know about it. this is the way things were, they did not have any alarms as to notify anyone of something like this but i later interview that person after things calmed down. >> host: we often get calls on a programmer from people who think that 9/11 was an inside job. >> guest: looking at video, you have people that say this, you know, it goes back to the jfk assassination when there are all these claims that the moffatt
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did it that the kgb did it and there's all this supposition. but it doesn't mean that they did it. and if you look at the one commission report they show in their opinion very conclusively that one person killed jfk and they just can't fathom this how someone could be taken out by some nut which is often the case and assassins tend to be narcissistic, looking for attention and often mentally ill or borderline mentally ill. and that is how this occurs and
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there is no grand conspiracy in those cases. >> host: you are on with author ron kessler. >> caller: good afternoon and happy easter. >> guest: happy easter. >> caller: i read the bureau, i was roaming around the bookstore and looking for something to read that caught my eye and i wound up reading inside the cia and white house and your books are great, i can attest to this fact, those are the only ones that i have read. but you certainly are very much are just the facts and very apolitical. you know i was trying to think of a question and i really just wanted to call up and say that i enjoy your work or it may be the
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only thing i can think of is how did they do on the west wing with secret service, they pop up with the big assassination attempts are out the seven years that was on. so thanks again for all of your work. i had no idea you sat next to carl bernstein. >> guest: yes, thank you, i appear in the movie the presidents men. >> host: not a character, but you yourself. ..
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i am reading your book, "the first family detail." having spent a year in law enforcement, here's what i don't get: with plenty of jobs in law enforcement, i really can't underthe mindset that allows an agent to talk the abuse ignorance and depravity of some
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of those you have not only to protect, but willing to die for. those like the hateful hillary clinton, jimmy carter and the rest of that ilk. >> guest: by the way on jimmy carter, he would pretend to be this jolly peanut farmer, this populist but he actually told agents he didn't want them to say hello to them in the morning on the way to the oval office, it was just too much bother to say hello back. he would pretend to carry his own luggage in front of the cameras, but it was empty, or he would give it to aides to carry, he would come in at five in the morning to the oval office and tell the press that he was working hard for the american people, but then he would fall asleep on the sofa. how those agents took it, is beyond me. it's just a testimony to the patriotism that they will even take a bullet for hillary who treats them with such contempt,
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if necessary, to save her life. at the same time, they have to put up with this management culture that punishes them for reporting something such as the shots at the white house in 2011 this culture naturally leads to all the problems that we've seen including the most recent one where two very high ranking agents in management had been drinking at a party, retirement party went into the white house, impeded the investigation, bumped into a barrier and then uniformed officers of the secret service wanted to arrest them for drinking and driving, and to give them sobriety tests, but their supervisor overruled them. that's obstruction of justice. and then you saw mr. clancy, a not even knowing about it until five days later, and then
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putting these two high ranking agents on desk jobs claiming that he needs to do that because there is an inspector general investigation, but at the same time low ranking agents were involved in a prostitution scandal and other behavior and there was an investigation by the inspector general those people were put on administrative leave, their guns badges, credentials were taken away. so it's a double standard between management and the agents that mr. clancy, the current director continues to uphold. >> host: can't get through on the phone lines and want to make a comment e-mail us, booktv@c-span.org. james in bellevue washington, you're on with ron kessler. >> caller: mr. kessler, i'll try to make this as quickly as possible. you touched on what i was talking about -- what i want to talk about a little while ago that every american ought to be
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concerned about especially in light with what's going on in switzerland now and a country that is working to create intercontinental missiles in addition to atomic weapons. my congressman is adam smith who's ranking member of the armed services committee. he had a town meeting here in bellevue, washington, a little while ago, and i asked him, i said forget isis except individually. what i'm concerned about is some terrorist getting ahold of an atomic weapon and wiping out a million people in seattle or new york or los angeles. how secure -- and i want to pick your brain with your contacts in the cia and the nsa and maybe you don't know. but i asked mr. smith how secure are these nuclear weapons in pakistan? now, he gave me a generic
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answer, but have you ever asked that question of anyone that knows? >> host: that's james in bellevue washington. >> guest: i know that the cia makes it a very important point to try to get access to weapons of that sort and to be able to, one way or another, neutralize them either through some of the people who may be in charge or possibly with cyber attacks. so i don't think we're falling asleep at the job when it comes to issues like that. but, yeah my attitude is look what happened during world war ii where we saw countries where we did nothing the isolationistses like joe kennedy -- isolationistses like joe kennedy actually admired
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hitler didn't want to have any intervention. you know, we have a defense budget of a trillion dollars a year. what are we doing with that if it isn't to wipe out threats in the nuclear age? it could really be the end of our country. >> host: this is a tweet from mpili or something like that. how much did carl bernstein's parents' communist background contribute to his anti-nixon animus? >> you know, i don't believe that bernstein or woodward had an animus like that. they were just on to a very good story, and they loved it, and they put up with tremendous threats and abuse. they were in fear a lot of times that they were being followed. the attorney general, mitchell threatened katherine graham that her tape would wind up
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somewhere. and in addition to that, i don't think we all mirror our parents' political views so i don't think the family is relevant. those two reporters were up until midnight night after night knocking on or -- knocking on doors. now there's sort of a counternarrative you see in some right-wing circles that they really didn't uncover watergate, that they were just political people going after nixon. that's, you know, i was there. i was there every single day. i was there every night when they were doing their work and i admire what they did because really richard nixon, i think, might well have disbanded our entire system, our constitution if he had been allowed to proceed, to pursue what he wanted to do which was to cover up watergate, to pay off people. it was a horrible time in our
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history. >> host: judith roberts, e-mail. why don't women work for the secret service? >> guest: well, that's not true. you know, about 10-15% of the agents are women ask they certainly try to recruit women, they try to recruit minorities, so that's that's one knock that i would not ascribe to the secret service. >> host: you do have a story, though, in the first family detail about a woman, a female supervisor who is out of shape and couldn't protect the president if she had to. >> guest: yeah. this applies to men and women. the secret service has these physical fitness requirements and firearms requirements, and yet they dishonestly ask agent ises to fill out -- agents to fill out their own test scores, so of course they all pass or the same with firearms qualification. it's outrageous. and just to have dishonesty like that in a law enforcement agency is outrageous.
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one other thing that the secret service will do is they'll put on these scenarios at a training center in laurel which as i mentioned, i visited and they will have congressmen out there to impress them. and they'll claim that these scenarios are spontaneous, the agents, you know found the explosives, they didn't know where they were. in fact those scenarios in the case of the congressmen are rehearsed beforehand. so the answers are essentially, given to the agents. again, dishonest. i mean, how can you expect an agency to perform its functions at all properly if this dishonesty is actually condoned? >> host: what's the relationship between the secret service, the cia, the fbi? >> guest: the cia develops intelligence overseas the fbi develops intelligence within the u.s. as well as going after criminals who violate federal laws whether it's espionage,
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mafia, organized crime terrorism. and the secret service protects our leaders, protects some 47 individuals, also visiting heads of state also when the pope visits, they will protect them, and they also do investigations into financial crimes. atm fraud phishing, they've been expanding their jurisdiction. and in that area they're very good. they're very highly respected when it comes to those investigations. >> host: do they get along? >> guest: the secret service tends -- >> host: cooperate, i should say. >> guest: yeah. secret service is territorial. the four-person panel that is appointed by the homeland security secretary, jeh johnson, to look into secret service reforms found -- it was not in the report, it was in a section that i was told about that was not made public -- that, in fact the secret service is not
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only insular, but does not cooperate well with the be fbi. so that's another problem. and you can imagine why. you see this arrogance, you see this willingness to issue lies about gonzalez's penetration of the white house. why would they want to cooperate with another agency that might second guess what they're doing? >> host: greg is in batavia, illinois. hi greg. >> caller: getting back to hillary and her abusive language and actions against other agents, you know i'm much more concerned about her treatment of the american public, especially with this e-mail scandal. you know she deliberately destroyed evidence in the benghazi attack then she has the gal when it was discovered -- gall when it was
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discovered that this was on a private server to say it was guarded by secret service agents. is this hacking to require secret service protection? i mean she takes the more than public for a bunch of dumb -- american public for a bunch of dumb, you know morons to say something like that. i guess that really offends me the most about. by the way, i think my best secret agent is mitch iran, but anyway -- >> host: who's mitch rapp? >> guest: he's a fictional character in -- >> caller: he's a fictional character in flynn's novel, you know? >> host: all right, thank you. >> guest: yeah. that's the central message of my secret service books, and that is the importance of character and choosing a candidate to b president. you know? look at president johnson. he, according to one agent, if john pson were not -- johnson were not president, he would be
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in a mental hospital. for example he would hold press conferences at his ranch in texas, and in front of male and female reporters urinate in front of them. he would sit on the toilet and defecate in front of aides. one time he was going when he was vice president from the capitol to the white house, secret service was driving him. it was about 5:00. it was rush hour. he was late for an appointment with jfk, and so he said drive on the sidewalk, drive up on the sidewalk, get there faster: and of course, the agent said, no, i'm not going to do it. johnson took a newspaper, hit him on the head and said "you're fired." he was not fired and this was the sort of thing that went on ever single day. yet we entrusted this guy to prosecute the vietnam war which was full of lies as to it effectiveness. that's how character applies
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with policies. you saw that very well with one of my favorite books which is by david mccullough on truman. the fact that truman was such a forthright guy a bold guy, called it like it is and at the same time was able to take action decisively as president to stop world war ii by bombing japan, to create a whole structure for dealing with the cold war and containing the soviet union. this is so basic that, of course, we should look at character. and yet, again, we, when we are engaged in elections when the media talks about who's ahead, who's behind, character is pretty much ignored. another example with hillary is there was this discussion when her book came out last june is she disconnected from real people because she's well? well, that's a ridiculous
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proposition to begin with, you know? is bill gates disconnected from people because he's wealthy? was andrew carnegie disconnected from people, didn't care about people because he was wealthy in of course not. it's a non sequitur. but what is important is how she actually treats people, and that is that she treats them like dirt. >> host: ron kessler's our guest this month on "in depth." we're about halfway through the program, and as we like to do, we always ask the author in advance what his or her influences are, some of the books they're reading, etc. we want to show you that now as we continue our live program. ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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♪ ♪the near future on book -- in the near future on booktv. >> host: and we are back with our author, ron kiss already. mr. kessler, one of the books that you listed -- and, of course, i've lost my sheet now that i brought that a up -- "all
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the president's men was one" that -- men," was one and we've talked about your former coworkers, bernstein and woodward, but another one of your influences that i wanted to ask you about itch colluded -- included joe aboody, the owner of the el morocco. >> guest: that was a lebanese restaurant in worcester mass, where i went to clark university, and after editing the school paper -- and, by the way, i spent almost all my time on the school paper rather than going to classes -- way past midnight i would go to the el morocco and get a sandwich, stuffed cabbage or grape leaves and i became friends with the co-owner. and he when he learned that i was a scholar, took an interest in me and started sort of promoting me, introducing me to the first journalist i'd ever
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met, a columnist on the worcester telegram. and it was such a thrill to meet a real professional journalist. about that time i'd done the story in the scarlet on the discrimination against blacks in rental housing, almost half said they would not rent to blacks, and that give me a little more prominence. but, you know, back then i i had no idea what i was going to do, whether i would ever be a success in life and joe would introduce me to these people and really made a huge difference to me that he would believe in me that he took an interest in me. and, of course, later i went back to el morocco with my two kids, my son and my daughter, greg kessler is an artist in new york, does shows there and teaches art. my daughter, rachel kessler, who is in public relations she has her own independent business, gets hits for ceos on tv.
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my stepson was not there, but he is a guitarist in fred rick, maryland -- frederick maryland, and performs there. and i was able to very proudly tell them the story of joe aboody, and when he died in 2001, i cried. i had not realized how important he was in my life until then and i wrote to his sister grace, about what a wonderful heart he had. >> host: two books that you are currently reading one by peter baker of "the new york times," and leon panetta. what do you think of those two books? >> guest: well, panetta i haven't -- i'm just starting. but with the peter baker book, it's absolutely the definitive, authoritative work on the bush administration. it's totally fair, totally factual, and, you know, it's very unfortunate that bush did not consent to an interview. he mistrusted someone from "the new york times", but he should not have because baker, you
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know, i think performed a great public service by telling the truth about the administration. both the problems as well as the successes. >> host: reports that the obama administration has been one of the most secretive or off-camera administrations. >> guest: you know, in some ways i admire what they're doing because i thought that the bush people, you know, could have done a better job of manipulating the press. you know i've covered beats as a reporter, and i know what it's all about. or and it's about, you know, trading favors and access and that sort of thing. and colorly the obama people -- clearly, the obama people do give access to the people that they favor, and they find people on their side who are telling them. they're probably smart. that doesn't mean they should cover up things or, you know, prevent disclosure of material
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in the freedom of information act. but i don't really get too upset about that. >> host: from "inside the cia," the cia for most of its existence has treated the american press as an add adversary a target that was to be manipulated at times but never confided in, nor trusted. >> guest: way back in the old days when richard helms was director, they had a so-called pr guy, and he told me his job was just to say no comment and that was the extent of his job. things have changed. they have wised up. as i mentioned, they let me interview them about the enhanced interrogation as well as a broad range of other issues within the cia. but, of course, they're still secretive, as they should be, about many operations. you know very frequently people the press especially
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just assumes that we know everything and they're not doing anything, and in most cases the cia is much more successful and knows much more than is publicly known. >> host: "inside congress" came out in 1999. this is a quote by raymond carson former capitol police lieutenant. house speaker carl albert was always drunk. >> guest: well, in those days, almost everyone was drunk including the reporters at washington post. we would go out and have bloodily marys -- bloody marys for lunch which is how i met my wife pam. i don't think i had bloody maryss, she did, but i would have something else. maybe whiskey sours. that was par for the course. but, no albert was, you know, falling down drunk. and, of course, that was all covered up. you know, the fact that johnson
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would urinate in front of reporters was never reported. certainly jfk's affairs were never reported. the first time the press actually reported anything of that sort was when gary hart was running for president, and "the new york times" revealed that he was having this affair with donna rice. i reveal in my secret service book "the first family detail," that that was just the tip of the iceberg. warren beatty, hart's friend, arranged to have these gorgeous starlets show up at beatty's home. hart would be there, beatty would not be there. these starlets would jump in the hot tub with beatty outside, take off their tops and their bottoms and stay overnight, and the secret service agents would just be amazed. there's a 10 there's a 9 going by. so that was the real story on gary hart. >> host: gotta a tell you
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"inside congress" leads like a jekyll and suzanne novel. lot of sex, money, drugs. >> guest: well, one theme in the "inside congress" book is the double standard, the arrogance of members of congress who, for example, with ted kennedy would drive drunk. a police officer would stop that person and, of course then never arrest them. in fact, they have a term to this day could unarresting meaning they arrested the person then they realized the person was a member of congress. they unarrest them meaning hay just wipe it out they don't make a report. thatthat is going on to this day. terrible, terrible double standard. these lawmakers are so powerful and so arrogant in many cases and when it comes to their own personal comfort they really dictate exactly what goes on is on capitol hill. >> host: ron kessler, what book are you working on currently? >> guest: i have to keep that a
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secret. no, i wish i knew. i don't have a current subject. it takes a while, especially in this internet age, you know? you simply have got to come up with something that will really be revelatory because there's so much information out there. i do think i'm a little perverse because i love a challenge, i love a secret subject. if it's too easy, i don't want to do it. so i am looking at different summits. i'm also on -- subjectings. i'm also updating the "first family detail" book with an epilogue to the paper barak version along with an update going into all these recent developments and revealing some new information. >> host: do youly write at home? >> guest: i write at home. i have desktop my wife has her desktop. we go out to lunch together and when i'm writing i will sometimes -- i'll frequently wake up at five in the morning four in the morning. i just get very intense.
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i do that after i do the reporting, and then i just have a ball. i love the reporting, i love the writing, i love the promotion. i just love writing bookings. >> host: where you write -- john grisham, we talked to him and he said that he writes on a computer but it's not connected in any way to the internet. >> guest: well, you know, an fbi agent who was in charge of a lot of this told me there's only one way to prevent being hacked, and that is to not use the internet so i think john grisham knows what he's doing. but i do use the internet, you know to get basic facts. it's certainly much easier than in the old days. so i appreciate that. i appreciate computers. i actually had the first ibm pc back in 1985, and it's helped me tremendously. >> host: 202 is the area coarksd 748-8200 in the east and central time zones 748-8201 for those of you in the mountain and
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pacific time zones. we're talking with author and investigate i reporter ron kessler. you can also contact us via social media booktv@c-span.org is our e-mail address, @booktv if you want to make a comment on twitter, and finally a comment on our facebook page, facebook.com/booktv. peter is calling in from burris, louisiana. huh, peter. >> caller: hello, sir. thank you, mr. kessler. i appreciate your audacity and your honesty. i have a challenge for you. how about investigating george soros and his corrupting influence on the democrats? and my question for you is did -- [inaudible] establish the wall between the cia and the fbi in order to protect clinton from the adverse investigations? flush thank you very much. >> guest: yeah, there are so many possible subjects out there, and, in fact almost everyone thinks that they have a book in them. but really is anybody going to
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buy a book on george soros? i don't think so. when it comes to the other issue of -- what about clinton? >> host: jamie goralik? >> guest: oh, yeah. the so-called wall was developed by a low-ranking justice department official who had the bright idea that, you know you couldn't share information that was developed through intelligence sources versus information that might be used in a prosecution. each though there -- even though there had been 76 prosecutions involving this kind of information before under john martin 75 of which resulted in convictions, many of which were upheld on appeal. so there was no question about the legality of doing that. but somehow he developed this theory i actually interviewed him, i asked about the fact that previous cases had been upheld on appeal, he said he wasn't aware of that. well jamie goralik and janet
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reno signed off on that memo and the result was the whole law enforcement community on the federal level was tied up in knots. they couldn't share information, it was nuts. and that also tells you something that's rather embarrassing about those agencies and those individuals. why didn't those people, brave fbi agents who would risk their lives to arrest someone why didn't they speak up? why didn't they challenge that? they didn't. one of the few who did was art cummings who was over counterterrorism and eventually over counterintelligence as well, and he did actually flout those rules and would not follow them. very, very rare that you find someone like that in the bureaucracy who will take a chance on his job or her job by challenging the conventional wisdom. >> host: wade is in florence, south carolina. hi wade, you're on booktv.
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>> caller: hi. i really want to thank c-span for shining a flashlight on the dark kit that is our federal government. dark pit. we need to know what our little devils are up to and i appreciate y'all shining a light on it. and especially if we can't do much about it like in the case of who seems to be above -- in the case of hillary clinton who seems to be above the law. but i'd like to ask mr. can kessler -- and, by the way thank you, mr. kessler for your appearance. i've reallien joyed listening to you. what do you believe is the most serious threat to our way of life and our freedom in the united states? today? >> guest: well, the most serious threat, as i mentioned was -- or is -- the possibility of a weapons of mass destruction attack on our country as well as an electromagnetic pulse of emp attack. with the emp attack, a country
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like iran could detonate a nuclear device 20 miles up in the atmosphere which would fry our electronics and we would have millions of people who die of starvation because everything from our cars to our refrigerators would be inoperable. and these are things that, you know, are just so devastating that people don't want to think about it they're in denial but it would not be that difficult and that is a real threat. and that's why, you know, i think we all have some sense that we're on the verge of possible destruction these days, and that that's really how it could happen. >> host: e-mail woodbridge virginia. mr. kessler spoke of president bush's unheralded responses to 9/11 which i have not heard of before but deserve credit. however, this does not excuse his irresponsible culpability in the war with iraq.
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>> guest: you know from my book "the terrorist watch," i interviewed an fbi agent by the name of george piro. he was born in, i think baghdad. he spoke -- >> host: beirut. >> guest: beirut, thank you. he's still with the fbi. and after saddam was captured he was assigned to try to interview saddam. and he did that to a remarkable degree. he spent nine months with saddam and got quality admissions out of him. and one of them -- and by the way, he manipulated saddam with baby wipes. saddam loved baby wipes so he would give him more baby wipes if he behaved himself. and they developed a real rapport. in fact, when they finally parted and saddam was about to be hung saddam teared up because they were parting. and one thing that saddam admitted is that he purposely manipulated world opinion to
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make enemies, but particularly iran believed he had weapons of mass destruction can. he would, for example, not let weapons inspectors into certain palaces, he would have all these other schemes to make it appear that he did have weapons of mass destruction can. so that's -- and on top of that, he admitted that he was planning on developing a nuclear war, nuclear capability within about a year when he thought that sanctions would be lifted because he was paying off u.n. inspectors or, and then he could develop his own little nuclear weapon. so there were plenty of reasons why the cia and all orr intelligence agencies -- all other intelligence agencies got that wrong. but that was the belief, and you know if faced with that same kind of information, would do the same thing. we simply cannot take a chance in this day and age that we're going to be wiped out by weapons of mass destruction. >> host: and here's the chapter where you talk about george piro saddam's friend it's
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entitled. did you see judith miller's piece yesterday in "the wall street journal"? she's got a new book coming out -- >> guest: yeah, i heard about it. >> host: basically saying that colin powell did not lie president bush did not lie? >> guest: well, that shouldn't be, you know, such a surprise because, obviously, they've been saying that. and as i've said, all intelligence agencies, you know the british, the israelis, they all thought that, of course, saddam had weapons of mass destruction. you know, and to say that they lied why? i mean no one has ever figured out why. it's just this conspiracy theory that woodward and bernstein came up with this conflation of different people to call deep throat. i don't know why. why would they want to go into iraq? some conspiracy theory that they just loved the idea of going into iraq. no, that was not until after 9/11 that we went into iraq.
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and based on that information and, you know obviously the war was not carried out properly at various points, there was not enough thought given to how things would work out after saddam was toppled. so there were many mistakes. but, certainly, the intention of the bush people was to keep us safe. >> host: kent in koppel, texas. please go ahead with your question or comment. >> caller: i want to thank c-span for bringing light on these issues and having interesting people come how on. i want to take issue with a lot of what mr. kessler has said -- [inaudible] >> caller: good and honest person. yeah. but just very naive, to sum it up in one word. you know, to paint hillary with
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a brush of being mean and treating people like dirt, she was under a lot of pressure through center parts of her life. and, you you know, she probably budget that way the first -- wasn't that way the first 50 years of her life and she's probably not that way today. >> guest: if that's what she does when she's under pressure, i would hate to see what she does when she's president. >> caller: really neat to read about. the sales of his book are obviously what he's about. why didn't he report are about those more when he was a reporter, you know? >> host: all right kent, let's get a response. >> guest: do you make a salary by any chance? >> host: kent is now gone. sorry. >> guest: okay. well, i assume that he makes a salary. most of us do make money one way or another, and that's how i make books -- make money by selling books. whether it's called royalty or whether it's called salary, we want to make money we want to do well, we want to get
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promotions, we want to sell so there's anything -- this is sort of a red herring when people say, well he just wants to sell books. the question is are the books credible do they hold up, and i would say they do. so that's my main response to that. >> host: what's the goal with your writing? what's the goal with your books? shine a light? >> guest: um, shine a light on important subjects. even "palm beach" is an important subject because it's a very closed society, it's the richest place in the world. to see what goes on when billionaires are able to be in this playpen, to see the schemes, the scams, to see the anti-semitism which still exists within the old guard through clubs -- few clubs still prevent jews or certainly blacks from being members and to see just
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what the other half lives like i think is certainly interesting. it's certainly fun for me. i love being able to just ask people questions to go into different worlds that i otherwise would not have any access to. i like to go into new subjects you know? if i've already done a book on palm beach i'm not going to do a book on beverly hills, that would be a step down. so that's why the hardest part of my job is coming up with the right subject for the next book. if anybody has any ideas i'm always looking. >> host: ron kessler if you can't get a source on the record or a secondary source will you not report something that you believe to be true? >> guest: absolutely. you know, many many times i've not reported information that i've been given even about hillary, for example. and, you know it's, by the way, important to me that the books
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be truthful, honest, accurate and that's why i'm very careful about the information that i provide. >> host: dr. few man chew tweets in, now that they've been revealed, are the secret prisons in europe still being used? >> guest: i don't believe those so-called secret prisons are being used in europe anymore. certainly not at present. >> host: hugh, ashland virginia please go ahead with your question or comment for ron kessler. >> guest: you're triggering a lot of wonderful memories and is i've had a pretty bizarre life. i just left a voicemail for rachel so you can connect with me for the next few books at least. i'm going to throw out a couple of reporters that were probably when you fist came to washington -- when you fist came to the washington postif you knew jonathan kwitny. he did an article based on information that i gave to him
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that eventually triggered the eventual resignation of jim wright from speaker of the house in shame. i was interviewed after "the wall street journal" article broke by dave montgomery who was a fort worth star bureau chief in -- >> host: so, hugh, tell you what, why don't you tell us why you're listing these things and what your question is. >> caller: just to give a little bit of information that can be looked at, because mr. kessler seems to be an old school type of reporter but reports the truth. and along the lines of the hillary clinton, this is on youtube. google wade mcgovern who was cia and did the presidential briefings for seven presidential administrations. he was at a hillary speech he stood up and turned his back on her, and he was beat up by the people in security there, and he won a lawsuit against it. ..
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>> guest: i would just go back to this information. recently fox radio wanted to interview me about a piece that they were preparing about the fact that vice president biden collects rent from the secret service and. >> host: you report this. >> guest: actually i did
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an issue. support their theme comedy reporter very good reporter is excited about the story. that is a perfectly actionable act by the secret service. why should it be penalized? and received this ranch. okay, i would like to put you on any way. i tried to be honest about these individuals and i believe they are on their right. >> in north carolina hi, william. >> caller: a wanted to pay attention to the author. the difference between the cia and the fbi.

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