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tv   Book Discussion on The Last of the Presidents Men  CSPAN  November 22, 2015 10:00pm-11:16pm EST

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throughout his career he has tended to be skeptical about economics of any sort. he tends, one of the interesting things they address is the oil shop which most scholars think he underestimated but so he was suggesting that i was a material girl? is that what you are saying? it's odd for a man who was a secretary of state and national security advisor to use the word american in that way. it was that argument he makes
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that lawyers play much too big a part in policymaking and it was a dreadful word strategy because they do everything on a case-by-case basis. i think there is a distant, a physical distance between what he was viewing as the american skeptic schism. >> how thin-skinned is he? period. :
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>> to commit more crimes with glee and relishes every death this caricature monster figure is something you can get past and the way to do that i thought was for all of humanity including the teenage jinxed that was part of the story to give them the motivation and that is the story of a relentless drive to be involved in the policy-making process.
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as part of the evil genius the machiavellian he frequently blunders but he makes a whole series of mistakes. but with this demonic doctor evil figure. >> host: the final question. you have access to reams of documents, letters riyals though interviewed kissinger extensively. >> guest: there are quite a few reports from the interviews but relative to
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those documents with that total source material so that was an important background to me so a lot of that material in fact, it appeared after 1968. >> host: was the gnashing his teeth? >>. >> guest: and the young life that is rendered with maximum accuracy of the page can be a little taken aback for things that turns up in a hands of the historians and from that he is probably quite normal for my first 46
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years. >> so your title for the next book? >> i have not made up my mind. so will i tell the story? part of fauna of the theory is you want to be proved wrong. so it was first writing a book proposal so you are constantly surprised it in that sense i have no clue
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what the subtitle of the volume will be. >> host: thank you. >> as a former staffer myself it is a treat to introduce bob woodward. i first met him when i entered at the post in the summer of 1974 so of course, when president nixon resigned and it is really quite remarkable to look back for decades to see that
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as the onetime head for bob but the takeoff point which has turned out to be one of the most phenomenal careers in the history of journalism. "the last of the president's men" en his latest book is number 18 and just like the previous 17 is a national best seller. i think he holds the record for the most number one nonfiction bestsellers of any author. his ability to get people to talk than reveal things never before disclosed is legendary. as someone who has on occasion reported in his wake i have heard again and again from sources who were interviewed by bob how extensively he prepares and how hard he pushes and probes. like a number of other
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colleagues, i have benefited from his guidance and and found inspiration in his perseverance with his investigative talents he to be truly generous with his time and vice many of us were quite appreciative that the post that he remained on the staff contributing to the paper when he could have chosen a number of other career paths. it is also especially fitting we should be holding this event here where bob has come to know well through his daughter diana who graduated from here last spring bob and his wife to have been big supporters of the school and we are honored as commencement speakers last june. so i will move over to that chair to spend some time talking to bob about his book then he will take some questions.
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>> gordon liddy would know how to do this. [laughter] how many people know who that is? [laughter] inexperienced crowd. >> it's been 41 years since you and bernstein, now with all the president's men that chronicled though watergate scandal and your new book "the last of the president's men" take should back to
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that period but this time it goes through the eyes of alexander butterfield who served as a deputy chief of staff during the first years of the nixon administration. my first question is after it was acknowledged a decade ago to do you think you're done reporting on watergate? [laughter] >> guest: release this is not on watergate but it is on nixon and he is the central character in there has been so many books written on him to decode him that yes, i thought i was done but then i ran into a alexander butterfield who is now 89 and has a better
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memory than you and i. it is astonishing. i ran into him for years ago encumbrance and said nixon you are in washington and let's get together so he called a and we went off for a day and it sounded like he had a few interesting stories. "the washington post" gives me a limited time quite frankly so when i was in california i said i will stop by. do you have any documents? he said i have a few. i went into his a .1 dash apartment and there are 20 boxes most people leave the white house and i have a theory there is a box in the
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attic but not 20. it was a data treasure trove and there were originals we did not know about. and my sister went out to start looking and there went for more interviews that i said to my wife let's go to california for a fun weekend to la jolla. [laughter] to look at documents. what butterfield had he was in the white house 50 months and kept a chronological filed each month on onionskin paper and we would sit there and thumb through them and elsa more methodically danite and she
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said this is not just a newspaper story it is a small book and this is the result. >> host: was it legal for him to remove all those documents? is there a statute of limitations? >> guest: my lawyer would say don't answer that question of. [laughter] but i will. i have done this for so many decades you want to be careful with documents that our sensitive a lot of these were codeword top-secret documents but if they really tell you something new and you check with the authorities will this do real harm to national security, which you always did, right? there is a tradition of
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checking and if they are sensitive to show to the extent that nixon and kissinger launder their memoirs you could say there is a document quoted from january 22nd to end as some of the same quotes in the documents that i have the look at the things that they left out. it pushes me to that question of how good it is history? and the more you dig into where he realizes it is not as good as it should be and if the historical facts are not correct than the historical and just the ending is reduced the nixon
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and kissinger were up to a lot of things and a full portrait of nixon emerges. >> host: you say it in your book in a better feel papers that there is a failure to tellable whole story of when vietnam and maybe it is time for a fresh examination of the entire record in light of the substantial efforts to distort the record. is sounds like good job for bob. [laughter] >> guest: there are so many documents i called the library of congress while during this research because there is of particular memo that we should talk about to see if they had it because kissinger's documents are in the library of congress and
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i said kidd newtonian, a kia and you tell me? he said there 1 million documents. he said can you imagine? >> hopefully someone has been given access. >> as the first volume from 1968 called the idealist. >> this is the mad magazine edition. [laughter] >> host: back to butterfield you tried all the working on watergate to reach butterfield you tried
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knocking on his door. >> and there was up peak from the drapes in the living room. >> host: ben did you forget about him? >> guest: i did not try it again and i should be faulted for that then nixon's council made the allegations against nixon in the senate watergate committee was trying to find out if there was something to verify or to review to ayatollah people on the staff that you ought to talk to butterfield because the knicks in committee treasurer said that butterfield was in charge of internal security with the
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work that was used for wiretapping so they called him and to it is a psychodrama of powell butterfield did not want to come forward as a volunteer but if they ask a direct question he would say yes there was a secret taping system. >> host: he gives you credit actually. >> guest: naturally she said you figured me. [laughter] >> host: day you agree with that? >> perhaps not.
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>> host: the time butterfield thought he would tell his own story in the nineties he had a contract with the publisher and the project did not go anywhere. >> he had hundreds of pages but it didn't get into the nixon white house until chapter seven and somehow like all people thought his life was interesting until he got to that moment at the white house so the publisher said no. >> host: so why now? >> guest: i'm not sure he did. so going through documents there was never a signed agreement and i'm 72 not 89
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i think if you're 89 you realize that these documents should be told so he is seated do you tell my story story, he didn't read the book to tell the was published in print and relinquished control. i said i cannot do this that this is my research and the context of other information >> host: you spent more than 40 hours. what is he like other than amazing memory? >> guest: he looks younger
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than i do. he is an honest witness because soon as book he talked-about his own failings where nixon says put him in the secret service detail of teddy kennedy. nixon ordered this and butterfield said yes, sir. and did it he was parked of the internal security job. with the secret service headquarters who had been in the secret service and to
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put him in their innate spy and then said i will do anything for you and butterfield to this day feels remorse because he knows he could have been indicted for clear abuse of government. >> host: that shows up on the tape. he feels conflicted in number of ways. >> guest: the best witness that has said good memory has written a memoir that is a published with thousands of documents. >> anybody else out there? >> you said earlier like taking a risk it is the last
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of the president's men. >> we had formal interviews on tape with anybody wants restaurant recommendations i can give them to you. [laughter] the particularly to the do not go to west. >> host: but to the portrait of the president of someone who was quite strange and abscessed to make it duplicitous and scheming tough if but it is
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the picture of the white house tapes that butterfield adds even more. >> to have it is on page 116 in the book it is routine to vietnam and kissinger in his own handwriting said we had tenures of control in vietnam and cambodia and what is the result?
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p = id selection. total failure and into weeks there is no evidence. but the memo is an itself turns history on its head for three years says the bombing is military the night before a nationally televised interview is to say it was very effective
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and then to have removal of more combat troops from vietnam. with the commander-in-chief the other strategy so what you do when 1972? of those 1.1 million tons to kill thousands of people than you connect the dots with the other documents and tapes as nixon and kissinger talked about how popular the bombing was.
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you see where it gets most intense when he said some of the most intense bombing but tsa won the election not the war. but the war was lots. to free but to get back to
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the pows some to put this together by making sure the democrats nominated the weakest candidate of george mcgovern then that we will get peace with honor. to find that kind of
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revolution between the military and commander in chief. you do your job i'll do mine. i thought there was cynicism to achieve zilch except killing a lot of people. >> host: pass toward -- fast forward to the present day are there other lessons to be taken?
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with that word 1968 there is something weird about next in -- nixon to see if you could find out more and to put can it -- butterfield with each of the candidates. >> did you see the charlie rose interview with putin?
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charlie rose said as putin sits there treading into new territory to say you were in the kgb what it is in kgb is always in the kgb and putin says that a single stage of our live passes without leaving a trace. a and this guy is well prepared. and it is true. as single stager phased.
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their rage he expresses these were not on tape from the york and is almost to the element that nobody asked me to the prom. it he is just on fire about it. i think it is true. do you? not one stage of our lives publishes without leaving a trace. >> it is a challenge no one should go into the voting booth next year to say that
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journalism did not provide the basics the best that you can. the of the internet culture that we have to go the other way. >> host: to other questions then we go to the audience. with regard to their fields disclosure so what motivated him and after all these years with his feelings d.c. any lessons in his experience that might find themselves severally challenged to reveal
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important secrets? >> guest: my e-mail is. [laughter] it is hard in the white house particularly like nixon. and there is the moral dimension and people of all levels that is this right? if nixon had one lawyer with credibility to say you're
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president of the united states you cannot do these things but no one did in my knowledge. but also their behavior and the performance is subsets the but the government calls the test of the front page of the "washington post". >> dedicating this book to ben bradlee who passed away one year ago.
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>> and then would have said i will go with you. [laughter] with the secrets of the '80s and to be maybe published today to set want to meet this guy. and for how many years? >> and it is very much of a presence when i started.
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and essentially the direction to make it emerge faster. get the story. >> why not four years ago? [laughter] that is good because somebody who always had a sense to have said the u.s. the question and i intentionally kept it as short as i could.
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what i heard there from butterfield to know that this is of little extreme and wishing to betty mary christmas merry christmas. and he noticed there were a number of staffers said he calls and butterfield and he
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is in a rage that it was infestation to get the victors of kennedy all. people should be loyal and then hold a man writes a memo of to say so what about this woman? who wish she and where did she come from? because the president asked.
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and to have pictures and butterfield writes a memo and the subject is sanders is asian liked it is day disinfectant and then describes his efforts to get all of the kennedy pictures out and he checked on the activities committee there
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longer than anyone and that butterfield without on a limb to say i think she is a work of -- a loyal american and. >> host: now we have time for audience questions. >>. >> where will the documents go? >> heavy ever try to go
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through 20 boxes of documents. >> [inaudible] [laughter]
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[inaudible] >> you don't want to get me in trouble, do you? >> you have no idea. [laughter] it is sincere disappointment
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[laughter] [inaudible] >> what actor would portray you now? >> battle think that what happened. [laughter] speesix so just take one. donald trump. [laughter] , a people want the next president to be somebody who is totally out of touch with reality? to deport "the last of the president's men" million people? does anybody have any chance
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if that is feasible and how many people in your neighborhood but that is a very concrete come -- proposal. >> host: but butterfield does have of you anecdotes' with a more compassionate side with the overwhelming image of nixon.
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what did you have to say. >> is there and it's sending setter positive no question. we can have somebody manipulating a war for political purposes. it is a sacred trust. [applause] when nixon resigned 74 and what caused the nixon resignation was the republican and barry
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goldwater of arizona often called the conscience of the republican party had his diary to explain what happened into turned against nixon in the republican leadership that the house republican leader and goldwater and nixon asked according to new goldwater diary situated by hugh scott
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said i will be impeached in the house so how many votes do i have of the senate? twenty? that goldwater said mr. president you only have four and one of them is not mine. nixon announced it is resignation the next day. every member of the house judiciary committee said they will vote to impeach nixon was 40 or 42 people. so he crossed a couple little constitutional and
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moral line to reject him. so are they good things? sure but the republican party of democratic party and the citizens of this country said we cannot have this criminal president. >> [inaudible] >> across the potomac in the in fact, did they tear it down?
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of what the city put up to say this is where the meetings took place. [inaudible] >> and colleagues that wanted to expose that in those that wanted to interview him extensively. i don't think there are questions that have not necessarily ben asked. there is a big debate going on about the significance of
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all of this. id get served the purpose to say if you have the eye from? to do you thank you have any privacy? [laughter] any? nine. zero privacy. even hillary clinton is discovering that. [laughter] >> [inaudible] [laughter] >> really? there is a security camera on the plaque? ic. good. [inaudible]
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>> it started the book that we did all the president's men married and both divorced and i love reporting and i had been a post nine months covering the police when end of burglary occurred in june 1972.
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i would work the police beat then come in and do stories during the day. with the authorities and the liberation to find a good story. and the truth is emerging to slowly. and without watergate burglary who would be dumb enough to come into work this morning? and my name came up to the top of the list. [laughter] so they called me. that was just kind of being the guy run the office i
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dunno if you agree with as -- and this but reporters have the best job in this country because we get to make momentary entries into people's lives when they are interesting. and when they cease to be. if you are a lawyer or run a bookstore you have to deal with the routine. but did you ever come into the newsroom and have the editors say go find something boring? no. that is the impact in people's lives that is a great job.
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>> that is a fair point. >> [inaudible] >> that's a good question but nixon was a lonely man. because butterfield had a front-row seat right next to the oval office. with a door right into the oval office to have total access and then to walk over
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to make sure there are no kennedy pictures. [laughter] to put the feet up on this tool and cookie and a dinner maybe have some wine or scotch that was often petty stuff.
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but i think it is really important to listen to people with that early stage dinner to say who is the guest list tonight? those of the only people that i want to talk to. it was our old paul r. -- arnold palmer's and i cannot use the language here when
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nixon called and said only five. but i want to talk to. butterfield and nixon is in black tie. to be in the air force colonels to be called the social age with junior officers who said now your job is to spot arnold palmer's you had seen him on television right? but the president wants to do talk to him in and 70 has the other four people then they build of the wall with
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the chief military to give the elbow to the other people but of course, no one knew this the next day of how the dinner had gone that i will with that dinner do you know, how long it took the waiters? ten minutes. too long. and butterfield said i am not doing my job. i can't get out the salad. [laughter] so the minuet was by people
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and said check the path of the first lady of the account and then goes out there with this dinner eating she might want to do the effort -- the same thing. you must be kidding. if you want to. no. >> [inaudible]
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>> great question. no. i don't. i thank you always have doubts to c3 i thank you always have doubts to circle back. >> [inaudible]
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>> i have talked to him he feels he had a lot of people call him up to say why didn't you tell me? [laughter] and i was up earlier in the week at harvard to do the forum like this with david to worked for nixon the one who had a question session and a student came up the first person in line said i.m. butterfield grandson perc craft.
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>> and wishing you there were 20 boxes. that would have been a great paper. [laughter] and is convinced he did the right thing that part of the story to look to those multiple motives to say can i interview your ex-wife? now that goes into dangerous territory and he said yes. but what you think about the tapes? she said i know he wanted to
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tell and to better field credit he said i will let it stand. and she said he did not like nixon and was mad at him and was bringing back home. this is one of the of pivot points of history if that was not disclosed then there is gm. one of the initial investigators with the subcommittee in 1972 and could never tell us anything by the way.
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[laughter] but you follow all of this with debbie a nixon resignation? >> this is why lawyers are paid by the hour. [laughter] >>. >> but for the tapes he probably would not have been forced to leave office but the mechanism by which he was mainly the saturday night massacre because of lawyers.
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the dog that doesn't bargain the nixon case which i think is really important, to my
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knowledge he never says what would be right for the country? what does the country need? what would be good for the people. it was always about nixon. it was always about using the presidency is in instrument of personal revenge and reward. that is the corruption and the criminality, and now this portrait, and particularly in vietnam. how many people -- yesterday i was at the army war college in carlisle pennsylvania speaking to 400 speaking with colonels were there at the school and one of the custom questions i asked them, and this is the best in
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the u.s. army who are going to be general someday -- i said how many of you think the vietnam war made sense? there there were six hands that went up. they will never make general. [laughter] but, six hands. vietnam, in our history and culture it is in agony in this country. to discover that the commander-in-chief was bombing the crap out of a country and people and continued this war is
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something that i -- like i said i was in the navy in the 60s, this was unthinkable. it is not as bad as watergate because nothing is going to be as bad as watergate. it is a moral failing that is really significant to understand because we get into wars and we have seen presidents and wars recently who, i did four books on george w. bush's wars and the politics enters and why did we have that war, do we get out of it, can we get out of it? when i did a book on obama and i went to see him and interview him, i asked him about war and gave him a quote from a book
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that rick atkins had done and just as war corrupts everyone in stains every heart. obama says if you -- read my nobel prize acceptance speech. while i had seen seen it, i had read it. i if you have ever seen something and read something and not understood it, that's me. and i went back and read it and there it is he says were sometimes necessary but it is always an expression of manifestation in human following. we have had a lot of wars -- anyway, as you can see i think this is something that we have to understand and face up to and that whoever's commander-in-chief next needs to really comprehend and understand
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that history and have some experience with it in some form. >> i'm sure he will we could continue to talk but we are out of time. i want to ask one last question about -- i know you don't like to talk about what you are up to next, we did not find out even the title of this book until a few weeks before it came out. can you at least say whether you will continue writing books? >> yes, i suspect so. as i was saying it is a wonderful life. there are lots of things that we just don't know enough about, i am swimming against the internet culture of give me a summary, so
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there are plenty of things to do you ask people and you hear people, what should we worry about? wars, the economy, we were talking about any quality earlier, you and i. healthcare, global warming, and if we had a board and would say that let's put them all it would go on and on. my answer to that question is, the thing we should worry about more the most is secret government. all of of the other things are giant problems. but we can tackle them. if government gets more and more secret and more and more inaccessible to citizens, the
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judge who said it got it right, democracy has died in darkness. if you look at history that is true. you think of libya, saddam hussein, iraq, assad, the ayatollahs, or pollutant, in the 1980s i went to libya, the foreign minister who i got to know had arranged for me to interview qaddafi. i had written about the reagan administration, plan to covertly overthrow him, so i went to libya and the security people kept me waiting in some god awful hotel for a couple of days. i thought, i'm not doing this. i alluded the handlers and security and went down into
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tripoli about the university and just asked people, what is going on here? they said zero you should've been here friday. qaddafi sent security forces into the main square of the university and erected gallows, 11 gallows to hang to the death 11 students. their alleged crime, knowing about or participating in the writing of anti- qaddafi slogans on the wall. that is pretty dire and ugly. things turned. if we don't have a free press and if we are


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