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tv   Oversight Hearing Focuses on Government Overclassification  CSPAN  December 11, 2016 3:03am-5:15am EST

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to communicate and connect with his ascendancy. those skills made barack obama a terrific senator and they have greatly benefited our country over the past eight years. in just a few weeks, barack obama will finish his term as the 44th president of our great country. i leave before he does, but we are living together. i can't think of a better person with whom tillie public service than barack obama. it's been an honor and in effort a pleasure. what this man accomplished, -- despite president unprecedented obstruction from republicans is incredible. i hope the presiding officer
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this won't get her in trouble, but it is because of her and two other republican senators that his first congressional session was remarkably historic. he wanted to do more. this good woman presiding over the senate said no. enough is enough. and we had to retract some of the things we wanted to do. it was hard. but i do say this. it would not have happened but for the presiding officer. president saved the country from economic collapse, ushering in a new era of growth. in 2010, the economic recovery has added more than 16 million private sector jobs. median housetold incomes have risen.
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and in some states, like the state of nevada, more than 14%. president obama brought to the auto manufacturing companies that from collapse with unique programs, cash for conquerors. more than 800,000 new manufacturing jobs since 2010. the auto industry has added more 2000700,000 jobs since nine. domestic production of automobiles and doubled from below 6 million units per year before, 12the year million. president obama brought health care to tens of millions of americans through the a formal care act. and every day, we have learned how important this bill has been. we heard from a very conservative american hospital association today that doing it away with obamacare would bankrupt hospital industry. we would lose over the next few billion.ost $200
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the affordable care act, 21 more million american destiny one million more americans now have a formal health care. 92% of americans now have coverage. insurance companies cannot deny coverage or charge more to cover people with pre-existing conditions. and how many of us have gone out to our home states and seen people with tears in their eyes saying, debbie has been a six-year-old girl with diabetes. after the first time in her life, she can have insurance, health insurance. insurance companies can't discriminate anymore against anyone because of their gender. all women were discriminated against before. every american with insurance has access to preventive care without cost-sharing. that means no co-pays for , cancertions screenings, contraceptive coverage for women, diabetes cholesterolnd
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tests. his administration established a new watchdog to protect consumers from unfair financial practices. thatgned legislation law homeowners from mortgage fraud. president obama took more action [indiscernible] with some native alaskans. it was scary to talk to this woman, a native alaskan, her town of 800 having trouble getting in and out of town. she told me the animals are confused because the seasons are changing. the caribou have traveled for 20,000 years.
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3000 miles, they migrate every year. they walk in single file, not a large herds jammed together. she said they are having such difficulty. these to be of able to walk over the ice. they can't. there is no ice. they have to try to swim. largestt obama made the investment ever in renewable energy, tripled when the power, increased solar power by 30 times, creating more than 200,000 jobs in solar alone. with hundreds of thousand more jobs the next few years. created morema than 260 acres of public lands and waters. that includes, madam president, more than 700,000 acres in nevada with one order that he signed called the basin basin arrangement national monument.
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and, madam president, hopefully, someday you and every senator can go to this magnificent thing in the middle of the desert that has taken 40 years to build. one man has done it. famous artist by the name of michael heiser called the city stunning. and when i talk about 40 years, it was not that he worked on weekends. weekends, over time, large contingencies of people he directed to this magnificent thing in the middle of the desert is now protected forever. president obama and the first our michelle obama made nation show than a top priority. in 2010, president obama signed a bill into law to fight child hunger and improve school meals, ensures school children receive food for healthy, successful futures. our nations high school graduate
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rate is the highest in the history of our country. he reformed the federal student loans program, made student loan repayment more affordable and expanded loan for greater than publiciveness for service. nearly 800,000 young people out of the shadows. president obama made our country more inclusive. he signed the repeal of don't ask don't tell. he signed orders to protect algae bt workers. americans are now -- lgbt workers. americans are now able to marry the person they love. what a record. it is a legacy of which he should be satisfied. america is better because of this good man eight years in the white house.
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i'm more impressed by who use as a person than who he is as president. he is a man of honesty integrity and honesty. i've never heard barack obama denigrate anyone ever. there been times when he could have. negative thought a should have been said and i suggested that to him. but he would never take it. he wouldn't do that. that's barack obama. and above all, i admire the attention he has given his family. he may be president of the united states, nothing gets in the way of his family. he arrives home for dinner with his family virtually every night he is in washington. he goes to their plays and games here and president or not, he is a husband and a father. his devotion extends to his staff as well. he has had a terrific staff working for him. i can't mention all of them, but i will mention dennis mcdonough.
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the have a close relationship. close relationships come with a .ot of difficulties sometimes it's been tough what we try to work through together. some of the nicest people i have ever known. staff as senator and chief advisor when he was in the white house. rahm emanuel, now mayor of illinois, former chief of staff, current mayor of chicago, a man known for his bluntness and his productivity as a member of congress and as chief of staff. monaco, the video. i hope i had something to do with the romance that wound up her marrying my chief of staff. they are all wonderful people.
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and then there is president obama's cabinet, a cabinet of quality. friend'sudes my secretary of interior ken salazar come a wonderful man and a terrific public servant, a man of substance. for eight years leading our country, president obama is leaving office at a high point. when he first talk -- when he first of office, our country was hemorrhaging jobs. now comes the longest streak of private-sector job growth ever. we have the lowest unemployment rate in a decade. are on a sustainable path to fight climate change and grow renewable energy. and more respect around the world. we reached international agreements to stop, change. and on a path of minimizing -- normalizing relations with our neighbor cuba.
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there's no doubt that the united states is better now than we were eight years ago and we have barack obama to thank for that. take you, president obama, for being the person that you are. >> on newsmakers, john yarmouth, the incoming ranking member of the budget committee talks about the future of the federal budget under a republican congress and a republican president and efforts to dismantle the affordable care act. clockkers today attend a a.m. and 6:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. at 10:00kers today a.m. and six apart p.m. eastern on c-span. >> when you work on a project, you look is you achieved your efforts. politics aside, morality aside, what happens after the party is over? what are the aftereffects of war? and what are the human and financial costs on both sides?
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>> sunday night on q and a, brian gruber discusses his latest book "war, the after party, a global walkabout through a half century of u.s. military intervention. it chronicles his travel experiences to countries impacted by u.s.-involved conflicts. >> i went to all of these places with an open mind come again, trying not to much to understand what a partisan point of view might be or be validated, but to look at was the mission accomplished and what were the costs on both ends of the gunbarrel? >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a. now, the cato industry to discussion on the future of freedom of speech and the freedom of the press in politics. this is one hour and a half.
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kat: hello. good evening everyone. thanks for coming out to the cato institute in washington, d.c. my name is kat murti. i'm cato digital out reach manager. you are at cato digital. an ongoing series on the -- hashtag for tonight is as always #catodigital. to use ityou all liberally on twitter and instagram and share your
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thoughts, reflections, favorite the panel those of you who are watching on c-span or one of our online channels can also use it to feed in questions, which i will be looking for on my found throughout the panel. the freedom of speech and the freedom of press are at the core of a free society. unfortunately, we are increasingly discovering that far too many people might say that they support them, when a they don'ten safeguard any of the above. on the campaign trail, we saw both from hillary clinton and donald trump calls to close sections of the internet in order to combat isis and support for bans on flag, a constitutionally protected right. last week even, donald trump dislike ofn on his flag burners with an incendiary
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tweet calling for all americans who would burn the flag to lose their citizenship. for toughercalled libel laws that would crack down on media companies that publish embarrassing or unflattering information about individuals and has said that the freedom of the press gets in the way of the war on terror. meanwhile, on the campaign trail, we saw students calling the police to report hate speech because of seeing trump 2016 written in chalk on their campuses. we saw employees of facebook zuckerberg tork ban donald trump. post 2016 elections, pundits on both the left and the right blame social media for the
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increasing polarization of the voting public and both google and facebook have announced initiatives to crack down on fake news on their websites, despite controversy over what that fake news actually is. our guests tonight are two fight for freee speech and the freedom of the press and we are lucky to have them here tonight. the 2016 winner of the milton friedman award for advancing liberty. he is also an avid scholar here at the cato institute. and he is the author of "the tyranny of silence." is now in paperback. those of you who are here in the audience will get an opportunity to have a copy signed after this presentation. most of you probably know nick gillespie. he is editor and chief of
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fleming, your life changed german medical he in 2005. can you tell us why? fleming: it was the day that the -- of the prophet muhammad were published. nothing happened right away on the day of the publication. call from one phone the newspaper for someone who had been at the mosque and complained and said he would not sell the newspaper anymore. you get those calls every now and then. it took a while until i understood that this may change
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my life. kat: why did you publish those cartoons? fleming: the cartoons did not come out of the blue. it was published as part of a debate about censorship and violence regarding islam in denmark and europe. cases one several self-censorship. a dutch filmmaker was being kill in amsterdam in 2004. there were other cases. there was this debate, is there self-censorship or not? or is it based in the imagination of those who sensor themselves. to find out, i invited cartoonists in den mark to draw
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the prophet as they see them. i received some from 25 active members of the association of -- -- of cartoonists. kat: some of those people did express they would want to publish anonymously. fleming: well, yes. one of the reasons why we published was that it always started with a children's book about the life of the prophet and the illustrate or who did those illustrations insisted on anonymity which is a form of your own name under fears for the consequences. nick: it's the case that mo hammad, a dominant train of thought that you should not figure the prophet, correct? famous: there is a very artican scholar of islamic
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who unfortunately passed away a few years ago. he said afterwards that there is no basis in the current tasks -- texts for banning images of the prophet. you had images of the prophet. but recently that's true it's been banned. but you have throughout islamic history, you have -- you see them in copenhagen where you in fact have a 13th century image of the prophet. so it's not true that, you know, that it's an eternal taboo. , if you go into a mosque if you go to a church, you will not see images.
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nick: this is a good reason to avoid both, right? keep your weekends free. kat: there was a violent reaction after these cartoons came out. multiple embassies around the world were set on fire. i think over 139 people were killed in protests. do you regret publishing the cartoons? fleming: no, i don't regret publishing these cartoons. i mean, they were in line with my fundamental approach to journalism. it says that if there is -- if you hear about a story, if you hear about an issue, you want to find out if it's true or not. right? that's what you do as a journalist. we just chose an untraditionalal way. instead of just asking people, we invited people working with images as their medium to show in practice what -- how they view this issue.
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but of course i don't believe that a cartoon is worth a single human life. the challenge for any editor and journalist is what do you do when there are people out there who believe that it's okay to kill because of a cartoon. kat: but you yourself would put on al qaeda's hit list alongside the now late editor, and your own newspaper, despite supporting you publicly, did give you very restrictive list of rules on how you were allowed to engage zblchlt quite. flemming: quite late in the game in 2011 after i published this book in denmark in 2010. it was in a situation of emergency i would say. i mean, there were between five and ten foiled attacks or plans to attack the newspaper. so it was a very unusual situation.
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that's why i accepted, you know, this in 2011. but a year later when i was told this will be in effect as long as you're employed by this company. i was not allowed to speak and write about religious issues. i was not allowed to speak and write about the cartoon crisis. i was not allowed to speak and write about the organization of islamic conference or collaboration, international organization. i said, you know, i disagree strongly and i will take the consequences if i am not able to live with this at some point. kat: it was emblem attic of the -- it was emblematic of the same chilling of speech. flemming: it was a huge victory for the jihadists. i'm not on speaking terms with, you know, colleagues and friends whom i've known for 25 years. the top management at the newspaper, they tried to silence me.
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in the end, i broke with them and i left the newspaper. we don't talk anymore. simon, friendships were ruined. fundamental journalistic principles were violated. that's a huge victory for the jihadist the toe or the historian a few years ago. kat: nick, in 2015, you faced similar pressure to value security over liberty. nivkz >> -- : yeah. let me just thank you for having me and it's a real honor and a privilege for me to be on a stage with somebody like flemming who is -- and i hope you all appreciate both what he said when he said no cartoon is worth a human life. as somebody who reads editorial cartoons almost everybody day and even publishes them on a weekly basis, i agree with him completely and also the
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principles for which he really made a bold statement is really just fantastic. i would like to give him a round of applause for standing up for that. [applause] as cat was saying, as a bed rock principle of a free society of an open society, of a truly liberal society, free speech, free expression, i think free assembly as well, these are all inter intertwined. they are really at the core. i say that as a bit of a precedent -- preface to say i feel bad to be on the same stage as somebody who's in the name of a foundational civilizational value, i publish a bunch of cartoons and then inseason insane then jihadists who purport the group they represent, tried to kill me and people around the globe and caused all kinds of mayhem. my contribution to free speech is much smaller.
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it may be more common for more of you. essentially last year, if all of you know or have heard of the silk road website, which was a dark web or deep website, where people could buy and sell anything they wanted basically using bit coin. they were anonymous users. it was used to traffic in a lot of drugs. the person who is ultimately convicted of founding and running the site, he went on a long trial. he essentially got a life sentence which he's appealing now from a judge in new york. kat: with no chance of parole. nick: that's right. he's, you know, he's going to be locked up for the rest of his life almost certainly. he is appealing it. but when the -- he -- when the judge handed down her sentence, katherine forest, the judge in the southern district of the federal court of new york, she himt a long time haranguing about his libertarian believes
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and who did he think he was that people should be able to come and freely trade whatever they wanted, what kind of bastard are you? i'm exaggerating a little bit. i wrote up a post about the outcome outcome of the trial which i think was wrong and the judge went off on a tangent. she wasn't talking about the law. she was mad that this guy would have done this. and then in response to that a couple of our commenters, we have an unmoderated comment section. it's increasingly rare to have any comments on websites for reasons that i think will become clear over the conversation tonight. but a couple of them made literally six people made comments that were making fun of the judge, a couple made jokes that were threats based on fargo, the movie fargo. there's a scene where a guy gets fed into a wood chipper. they made references to that.
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they made references when the revolution comes and they round up judges, they should put one behind another so you save bullets, things like this. a week or so after that, we got a subpoena asking for all of the information that we had on our commenters, which was not all that much because we don't actually -- we ask people if they want to comment, they need to supply a valid e-mail address and then there's a variety of other information they mayor may or may not give. because the federal prosecutor was -- had standing grand jury that was related to this silk road trial and they said that these were threats against the life of a federal judge, a very serious charge and they wanted that and we were faced with the question of whether or not we go public with that subpoena or not. do we tell the people or do we just comply with the subpoena.
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and we ended up doing based on legal counsel, we let the people who were the subject of the subpoena, the six comment ers, we got in touch with them and find out if they were going to try to quash the subpoena. then we got a gag order the day after because our lawyer said to the federal prosecutor who had gotten in touch with us, well, we told the people, you know, who were named in the subpoena about this and we're waiting to see if they're going to quash it. they said you can't do that, you're under a gag order which means you can't even say to people if they ask you are you under a gag order, you just got to be like, you know, i mean, you're not allowed to say anything. the federal prosecutor had fucke fucked up and then they issued a gag order. one of the commenters leaked the subpoena to kim white who is a
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criminal defense attorney in california. runs a great legal blog. he wrote a story about that th -- about this and then he called me up for a comment to ask whether or not we were in fact under a gag order. i was like i really have no comment, which is effectively the same as saying yeah, we're under a gag order. and so that was a chilling effect on our speech. we ended up protesting. we spent thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars and of man hours dealing with this. and that's, you know, in a way it's interesting you called it the assassins veto. it's certainly that. we had a chilling effect from the federal government essentially saying you have a right to free speech but we're going to make you work for it and pay for it. plus, the chilling effect on the commenters. the happiening in that story was because of what ken white's great coverage, and this just fantastic piece of article, look it up on the blog, we generated a huge amount of sympathy from
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different groups. it turns out the federal government has tens of thousands of requests. there's no way of really kind of cataloguing and calculating how many they asked for information from places like youtube, from places like facebook, twitter, tens of thousands, other press organizations for information on readers and commenters. and often times with the gag order so nobody really knows how many times this is happening and how often. kat: and you were in a unique position here. you were the writer of the original piece that the commenters had commented on. but you were also the editor in chief of a very libertarian publication. do you think you that could have expected another media source to respond in the same way? nick: yeah, that's a good question. the way that most media sources, and this goes to it's a more
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subtle erosion of the i deal of free speech and free exexpression and open and unfettered exchange of ideas. what most sites have done, many publications have done, there's two responses generally. one is that they will use a service like disqus, which is a commenting plug in for a variety of website content management systems so that the comments are actually technically published by a wholly different organization than the site that they're on. and it gives you a certain amount of distance from that. or you just get rid of comments all together which is more and more common where people just don't have comment section anymore. and the internet and the world wide web, which i guess is just call the web now, excuse me for being old, but in the early 1990's, one of the utopian
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dreams -- and it's delivered on a lot of this, not completely, was wow, we could have real conversations that it wasn't just waiting a couple of weeks for "the new york times" to public 100-word letter from somebody bitching and mooning about something. but you could have real discussions. the public square could be everywhere and always and always had more room for comments to something where things have really become shut down in many significant ways. kat: so nick, you defended essentially the freedom of speech of people who were making death threats, although there's a lot of question of how serious those. flemming, you actually received death threats for supporting freedom of speech. what is the difference there? should the people making those death threats get freedom of speech as well? flemming: i think if you look at the american situation, and the first amendment, death threats in order to be illegal need to be followed by more or less immediate action.
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in europe, it's a little bit more complicated. in europe, people may be convicted for speech like this. but i'm more in favor of the american approach, that there need to be a clear and present danger. even though you may not think it's funny for the judge. but -- someone making fargo jokes is a bit different than someone who's just murdered someone for saying something. flemming: of course. nick: you reference the murder of theo van gogh in the streets of amsterdam. he had a knife stabbed into his body who had written the scenario for the movie that he had directed for which he was killed. that's a wildly different situation than what reason faced.
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there's a concept of true threat where if you just say, you know, you're blowing off steam and you're saying oh, i could kill this person or i want to kill this person. it's not a true threat because there isn't any proximity. there any necessarily any real follow through. one of the things that was hilarious and it was in the subpoena, and this was to a grand jury and we had no way of stopping this because grand juries are given latitude to get whatever information they want. there's very few limits on that which itself is a problem. but somewhat separate from the speech issue. but they were saying these people are making credible threats, real threats, true threats against the federal judge and can you getd back to the us within something like 72 hours or a week with the information about them. so it's like they were so terrified that these people were -- these commenters were going to come and kill a federal judge that they gave us a week to comply to get the information.
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much of which was available and like in our profiles, one of people had a google plus page listed as their contact. so the federal government was so upset by this. but they didn't know where to turn. so they asked us to get us information in a week. it's just ridiculous on the face. that is a real distinction. if it's a clear and present danger, if it's a call to immediate serious action, it's one thing. but otherwise, come on, speech is speech. kat: right. so on that note, to get the elephant out of the room, is flag burning free speech? nick: yeah, i think so. unless a person's wearing it, and then it's an assault. [laughter] kat: so as journalists -- nick: i'm sorry, i don't know if there's any trump supporters out there. the really novel thing about the trump comments on that wasn't simply a flag burning. hillary clinton is against flag burning. all of these idiots and large majority of people in congress i think are against flag burning.
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he actually said that you should not only go to jail but you should be stripped of our citizenship which is truly kind of stunning. that is a particularly interesting kind of meme or idea that goes through a lot of trump talk. some people are citizens. some people can't be citizens. or you could be a citizen but we're going to get rid of you. as a matter of law, there's no possibility of that happening. it's disturbing to see him constantly reach in that direction. kat: so as journalists, do you think that president trump will be a credible threat to free speech? why are why not? flemming: we'll have to wait and see. i mean, i'm not an expert on u.s. elections. i wrote a book while the election was going so i didn't follow it so closely. i notice the other way that floyd abrams, a great first amendment lawyer in the u.s.,
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said to "the hollywood reporter" that donald trump represents the greatest threat to the first amendment since the alien sedition act from 1798. and he contemplated that the u.s. media organization may consider suing trump for libel to fight him, you know, with his own weapons. kat: the weapon he wants to weaponize more. flemming: so to teach him a lesson. i think it was more like a creative input. he just said we have to think about how to manage this situation. i mean, i think the, coming back to what you said about citizenship, that on the one hand, trump is politically incorrect, yeah? he says things that usually would be socially -- maybe
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-- socially marginalized and maybe that's one of the reasons why he has so much support. but at the same time, he's very thin skinned when people criticize him. and i see him as a pop lift. -- i see him as a populist. we also have these populists in europe. a key notion of populism is this lack of pluralism. that we represent the people, we are against the leads or the foreigners those who do not belong. i think that is a key challenge in this current debate about free speech. be it donald trump. be it islamists. be it rising populists in europe. be it left-wing do-gooders. it's all about the lack of the ability to manage diversity or manage or cope with ideas and speech that they dislike. and that has been reinforced by the digital revolution, by migration.
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every society is getting more and more diverse in terms of religion. -- ethnicity, religion, and culture. i think that is a staying challenge independent of trump or not. and it's a big issue in europe and i think it will also be a big issue here and other parts of the world as we move forward. the world is not going to grow less diverse. we have more and more people living in cities. the difference between cities and country side, you have virtual and physical neighbors that you didn't used to live next door to and it raises what i believe is the key question here, the question of tolerance. and the distorted understanding of tolerance that is being moved around.
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to me, tolerance is basically a judicial political frame for managing disagreement. you don't try to ban and you don't try to use violence to silence things that you hate. to many people it means either, you know, turn the other cheek, that you are intolerant if you say something outrageous. so in order to manage this new diversity, we have to get back and reinvent the notion of tolerance. kat: what is means to be tolerant. flemming: yeah. in a diverse society. because trump has trouble managing diversity. angela merkel has trouble managing diversity. political parties have troubles on college campuses they're not able to manage diversity. so we have to get back to these key building bricks of the show
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enlightenment to be able to find a way to live in peace together in this new era without compromising fundamental liberties like freedom of expression or freedom of religion and freedom of a assembly. nick: freedom of movement. one of the things you touchdown -- you touched on is you're talking about an enlightenment i deal, it needs to be redefended. the enlightenment has become a dirty word in academic circles. the dark enlightenment. if you follow the frankfort school or other scholars, it ends in the mass order in -- the mass murder in auschwitz. it's not about factory farming. it's about factory murder. we need to defend the enlightenment and the idea of cosmopolitan, of globalism. trump says and the people who support him, hillary was a globalist. obama is a globalist.
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somebody who deported more american -- not more americans, but more illegal immigrants than anybody else is a globalist somehow? but i think we need to take a stand for globalization in a positive way and make it a positive ideal and it's based on this idea of freedom of movement, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience. this is where a dynamic economy, dynamic world, fairer world, a a more innovative world, a better world, more prosperous world comes from. it is better that we trade with china than that we fight with china or we isolate china. it is better that we trade with mexico and that the nafta agreement created a free trade zone in north america where there are effectively no tariffs anywhere. that's a good thing. we need to go back and kind of defend that. to go to the question of trump and free speech really quickly, he has his own idea. if he could, he would shut down everybody and every news organization and every, you know, random person. and i do recommend you follow
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his twitter account. at one point he said he was in the green room at fox news, juan williams, one of the liberals at fox news, took some selfies with him and he tweeted something along the lines of juan williams took selfies with me, then slammed me on tv. what a bad man. and this is a guy who is going to be the president of the united states. he's that pissy about every interaction. we need to hold him accountable and make fun of him. if he had his way, he would be terrible. flemming: cartoons. nick: yes, let's use cartoons. have donald trump with a bomb in his hair rather than his beard. but he also as a matter of policy, for instance, donald trump, and this just shows what politicians want, remember, it's all unintended consequences. we believe we know the law of inintended consequences. it's true for politicians as l.
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-- as well. we might want to shtut down "the new york times," but he's also going to probably appoint an fcc that will get rid of stupid new net neutrality laws that hillary clinton was in favor of that would totally discriminate and change kind of the jurndunderlying framework and internet speech and internet data get sent around. he might end up having a more positive effect and opening up the very framework by which we are more free to speak in more different context that we might not even be able to imagine yet. flemming: just one follow-up on diversity. i basically agree with you, but i think we need to acknowledge that diversity is very difficult and can be very painful. for many years, it's because it's been very popular to celebrate diversity, kind of not
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correct to acknowledge that it is -- it's not easy. it's painful. it's difficult. it creates confrontation. you have confrontations. and i think one shouldn't celebrate diversity as a virtue evaluated by itself. it's just the fact that you have to cope with it. it's not that the more diverse it is the better it is. that's two different types of sizes. and we have to be honest that it's not easy. and we see that all around the world right now. kat: i want to go off thf ideaof this idea of diversity. we were discussing earlier before we started this discussion here, the early internet or the early social internet when people first started engaging to give people an opportunity to find so many more sub cultures and groups and ideas that they didn't really have access to previously.
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in those ways it had become much more diverse. it had this diversifying impact previously we didn't have that. post 2016 election in particular, we're having a lot of people blaming the polarization of the voting public on the fact that we have things like algo rhythms that -- algorithms that serve us the content that it knows we're going to like. the fact that people push to unfollow anyone who says things that they think are uncomfortable and friend them. if you say something a certain way, i'm not going to -- i'm going to block you, i'm going to do that. then they turn around and say how could donald trump have won, no one i know supports them. what's the play here? are the people the problem? do the people need to be trying to -- nick: i think the children are the problem. we keep looking to them as the solution, but they're really the problem.
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[laughter] that's how we know the schools are no good because they're not learning anything. it's their problem. i would argue -- i agree that there's no question that social media, new media or however we want to talk about it, the internet is being blamed for polarization. the fact of the matter is i am enamored of a political scientist who is now associated with the hoover institution who has talked about this going back at least 15 or 20 years about polarization in american politics. the real problem isn't that americans aren't polarized. you can find basically 60% of americans easily think that illegal immigrants should be given a pathway to citizenship. 60% or more of americans think that abortion laws should kind of stay where they are now and have been since roe versus wade. 60% believe that pot should be legalized. there is massive majorities.
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marriageres about gay anymore. this used to be a hot button issue. and there's more. there's massive majorities on many issues that divide us. the real problem is in politics, in partisan politics, we can't express those opinions because the nominating processes by which candidates are selected are governed by extremists in both the republican and democratic party. you can see this where there are no centrist republicans anymore. there are no centrist democrats in a market they are all kind of extreme. it predates the rise of the web. it's the political system that's the problem. it's also helps explain, and i'm actually bullish on this election, because again and again, and this is something matt welch, and we talked about this in our book, going back to 1970, fewer and fewer people identify as republican and democratic. fewer and fewer identify as liberal or conservatives.
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they are modernists or they are libertarians. dated those -- david bos using gallop survey to show that actually libertarians are the single largest kind of ideological block, socially liberal and fiscally conservative. we can pick bones with that type of stuff. but it's basically the political system we have does not allow us to express our agreement on many important issues. and we are vacating that political system. fewer people want to be republican. fewer people want to be democratic. kat: we saw that with the election. nick: it's kind of a great outcome. one candidate who is historically disliked. one won the popular vote. neither of them could get 50%. they suck and we know it. we're leaving that behind. we're migrating somewhere else. hopefully, it's a world beyond politics. we need to keep an eye on
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politics and keep it small in our lives. this is progress that we have an election where nobody won clearly and nobody got 50%. and i'm hoping in 2020, especially if joe biden runs, we might be seeing major parties pulling in the single digits. if somebody knows where gary johnson is hiding out, i think the third time i be the charm for him. [laughter] flemming: on social media and what you said about -- kat: diversity of ideas. flemming: exactly. i think that is a huge challenge. because we have this ten -- we have this tendency to look for material and stuff which we agree and that does not challenge us.
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so you have these echo chambers and communities that don't know what's going on in other communities. i don't think that polarization by itself is a problem. sometimes it's great to have polarization and good things come out of it. because you have a heated argument. but i think in terms of knowledge production, i think it's very -- it's very beneficial to be exposed to point of views with which we should disagree or even hate or dislike. when it comes to moderation, you have the social psychology test that shows if you put people of the same opinion in the room and talk about the issue in which they agree when they come out, they would be more radicals. and the same with people of the opposite point of view. but if you put people from both groups in the same room, they will tend to, you know, to moderate the opinions. and also from knowledge production, i think it's healthy
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to talk to people with whom show you disagree. or to figure out what you what you disagree about and you can refine your argument and not just torture people with whom you agree on everything. i think social media reinforces, unfortunately, that -- that trend. nick: i'm not fully convinced that we're more polarized than ever in our daily lives or we're sorting as much as some people say, so that you know, that everybody just lives around people who are exactly like them or think like them. but taking -- there is no question that that kind of self selection or confirmation is problematic. to go back to the enlightenment question, i love the phrase, knowledge production, it's really key. that is what universities, i think, should be for. they're not for teaching students they're for knowledge and debate, i think societies produce a lot of knowledge do better.
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going back to the even -- to the enlightenment question. what are the institutions that we need, do you think that we need to build up so that we take that seriously and that we're teaching our children, okay, look mommy and daddy have all the answers and we have to force it down the throat of the people that don't agree with us. how do -- what are the institutions that would build up that kind of enlightenment belief, in tolerance, pluralism and conflict, and emotionally as opposed to violently. flemming: i think the school. i mean, the schools, where you bring up kids and you teach them the benefit of being exposed to things that makes you uncomfortable because in stinctive reaction will be i don't like this. and i mean, i have a grandson who is very am bill lant in playing soccer and i take him to
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soccer every saturday morning. nick: so you want it to be a soccer star, but you never were able to, so now you are -- nick: that's true. but so he is ambivalent. after a long period of time he starts to enjoy it and so i think we have to teach our kids this knowledge production process and tolerance that, it's okay that you don't like what, you know, the other guy says, but it may be beneficial to you to listen and engage in a conversation and -- but the trend is that we have to protect our children. nick: right. flemming: because there are so
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many bad things out there so we don't expose them to things that makes them uncomfortable. kat: flemming including in the . flemming: and this brings me back to the concept of tolerance. so you have to -- you have to teach tolerance this way, that it's good to be exposed to things that you dislike. kat: on the same track of exposing people to ideas, prior to the election here in the u.s., there's big controversy that had conservatives up in arms saying that facebook was sensoring them based upon the trending news stories mechanism and how stories were being selected for that. now, after the election, we're hearing a lot about fake news and why isn't facebook doing more in order to figure -- in order to make sure that certain stories are being told and other ones aren't. is this a partisan divide we're seeing or is there something else at play here? nick: well, i think in the fake news story, the one thing that
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clinton supporters -- not even necessarily i think hillary clinton supporters, but people who preferred her to win over donald trump, and particularly the more died in the wool in the democratic party -- or members are, they are, i think the less they're likely to say, okay, she lost not because of voter suppression, she lost because -- you know, they don't want to blame her for the loss, because that doesn't compute to them. but she just did not bring out the people she needed to bring out to vote. people were talking about she was going to have a more diverse coalition of different interest groups than obama. she didn't. as a matter of fact, she ended up basically polling, you know, what polls expected her to, she -- you know was within a couple points of beating trump but she didn't pull people out. it was her fault that she lost. but people are searching, her partisans are searching for reasons to explain her inexplicable loss, which is kind
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of understandable when you look at the number of votes that were cast and the lack of enthusiasm that had dogged her through the entire process to a point where bernie sanders is a joke, i mean, he is a joke as a candidate, and he had no good ideas. i mean this is a guy who is the final -- the danish model. the final season, the bonus season of "that 70s show," this is a guy who hasn't had a new thought in 40 years, and trump barely won. i'm not saying it's a legitimate win, it's a totally legitimate win. but the fact that because a lot of his people are like foaming at the mouth and you know, if you ever go on twitter and make a joke -- you can't even make a joke at democratics' expense with donald trump in it because the other day donald trump was in cincinnati and during all the cable shows were showing the
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people in the stadium he was at, it was a totally white audience and i tweeted, i haven't seen an audience this white since prairie home companion came to cincinnati. so it was a joke at the expense of garrison keillor and the white mob at npr. i'm getting tweets saying why are you bringing race into everything. they're a thin-skinned bunch. there aren't that many of them actually. there were enough to get him in the white house, good for them, wonderful. we can work with that. as libertarians because we're coming at -- we have a future oriented philosophy, we're interested in technology, we're interested in true diverse it, -- true diversity, diversity of different people's, of different of different genders, different ideas. i mean, we're the future. this is going to be a very good time for us as long as we don't get caught up in trying to be,
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you know, republicans or democrats in any kind of dunderheaded way. >> one additional point. -- one additional point. you know, every time you have a discussion about fairness of fake reporting or impolite speech or whatever it is, the usual suspect is always free speech. let's ban something, then everything will get better. it's the easy way out for politicians and for you know, group with a specific agenda. it doesn't help. that's not the way to do it. and i think in this old discussion about facebook and social media, we shouldn't forget, even though i'm not a socialist, we shouldn't forget they have businesses, they are here to make money and not to create knowledge production or challenge people. they have to make them comfortable.
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so we shouldn't fool ourselves about you know, what facebook and google are doing. nick: and if i can just to follow up on that, we had been talking about this a bit before, that is something else, you know, that i think trump is really bringing to the fore. he is not a milton freedman capitalist, not like john macky of whole foods, who are committed libertarians, they're committed businessmen as well and that is important, but google and facebook have already shown that they're more than willing to accommodate autocratic regimes, authoritarian regimes, that's their right and everything, but we should not fool ourselves that you know, they will respond to what the market demands, ultimately, and at this point, the market in politics can be pretty close. we need to create, i guess, you know, to go back to that question of building up this market for enlightenment ideas,
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the plurallism, diversity of lifestyle, we need to make that clear choice, so google can say we want more discussion, more diversity, more conflict that is mediated in a positive thoughtful way, rather than speech codes -- you were saying that you know, because facebook and google aren't getting on their knees fast enough, the eu is saying we'll follow up with legislation, which will be a thousand times worse. but you know, this is a fight that will be fought until we die. kat: right. nickflemming: so what he is talg about is a conduct that was signed by facebook, google, twitter and youtube earlier this year with the european
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commission in order to fight hate speech. the problem in that code of conduct is there is no clear definition of what hate speech is, and they are obliged to remove hate speech content within 24 hours. kat: yes. and the european commission so far is quite dissatisfied and they've threatened companies to pass laws so it is not just a code of conduct if they don't move faster on these notifications, i think they received 600 notifications within six months or -- kat: right. and certainly twitter and facebook have both cracked down significantly in their own and their manager yal practices on what they will allow you to say or do or what they'll do if you are an individual who is managing a page, for instance. you have to delete those comments or else your page will get punished for it. nick: on twitter a month or two ago deleted a bunch of alt-right
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accounts. again, twitter, it's a private enterprise, it's their sand box, they can kick anybody out they want. but it's fundamentally stupid. because you know, the way that i think you manage that kind of issue is by -- i mean, they kick these people out even as they were expanding the tools by which you could block or suppress people you don't want to hear from. which again is both great and there are problems there. i mean, we need to be critical in nuance in our understanding of that. but you know, this -- you know, again, we need to be in favor of more speech is always better than less speech even if it's really stupid speech. and we can ignore it or engage it. but you know, there are problems. the upside of that is that twitter, as a media has been flat, it -- instagram and snapchat actually have more daily users, nobody wants to buy twitter.
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kat: that's actually, twitter is interesting, because we were talking about this market mechanism and they have all this legal represent percussions, they're being looing at the stock price tanking at at time when people were saying they're the platform for white supremacists. nick: it's also partly because they're getting antsy about cutting more people off who are white supremacists or alt-righters or whatever, and they suspended the account of glen reynolds, the pundit who is a legal blogger, one of the main guys on the internet really, like, that was nuts. i think the -- to the extent that the platform is flattening and the stock market price is tanking it's more because they're seen as being more too pc, not that they're pc enough or suddenly a hot bed for some kind of tribute band or
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something. kat: right. so on that note, what is the line when we're talking about government restrictions versus private company restrictions on free expression, you know, we're libertarians, we tend to believe that private companies should be able to run their businesses they want to, it's freedom of association, but the same time we're talking about how closely intertwined all of this is. flemming: i think you have to make that distinction and if you don't like the restrictions that a private company imposes, then you can leave and don't work there and don't buy the product or whatever it is. but i think -- i think media, if they insist that they are, you know -- is the fourth estate that has a right and obligation to control you know, the judiciary, the executive and legal powers, then they need to
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be transparent and you know, self critical and look inward to an extent that other businesses don't necessarily have to. they can just make decisions because they are here to make money and that's fine. but if you insist on that kind of semi power status, then i think it goes with certain obligations as well, also when it comes to free speech. nick: the united states is odd and you know, and unique and maybe exceptional in the language of the first amendment. which took a while, you know, to get -- to come into being. but congress should make no law, we know that -- it's not at all opaque. government doesn't have any role in regulating speech. private businesses -- and this is an interesting question about
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transparency, because part of the argument about facebook question were they using algorithm i ams to kind of trash or keep conservative news down in the election, it's unclear. and i don't even think they know necessarily fully what was going on. kat: a lot is done by little robots. nick: it's not clear what any of that means. it's also like a lot of the news stories, sorry but is a powerful importanceforce in -- is a powerful force in media. it's not a news site, as an opinion site and there is nothing wrong with that. it's not news, it shouldn't be treated the same way and an algorithm is something else. by the same token, i agree completely, you should recognize, i don't have any control over facebook, that is different than say a publication like reason. we're transparent in what we publish and why we publish it. when we control it completely and we should, readers can read it or not.
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they can comment or not, as long as the federal government isn't on our ass about it. facebook pretend ds to be this platform, it's a little different. it's not a publication and they need to be more transparent, they have a right to do whatever they want, but then they will either reap the rewards or suffer the consequences, if their wauld garden, every flower looks the same in the walled garden, they're trying to keep people in facebook so you never want to leave or you never have to leave. if it starts looking like a really dull subdivision or you know, fake cityscape. kat: they're already facing this problem, they're not getting the attrition and they have -- nick: so they're going to have to be more diverse and have to put in the west world vision of this, they're going to have to put in that sam a rye module, so people can check out that part of the park and not just the wild west.
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kat: so i'm sure everyone in the audience has a lot of questions, we'll get to those. but before, i have one more for you. based upon the fact that both hillary clinton and donald trump had called for closing down parts of the web, we talked about the silk -- nick: within 24 hours of each other, by the way. kat: precisely. nick: every time you are no there is a difference between the republican and democrat party, something like that happens. kat: little reminder. we talked about, you know, your article was about the silk road which was on the web accessible -- and other things like that. is there ever a justification for the government to shut down parts of the internet such as the deep web or particular websites or message boards or things like that, if so, what would be it? flemming: it's going on in europe everyday right now when
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it comes to jihadists and denmark's parliament just passed a law where it becomes a criminal offense to share extremist content. so if you are a scholar and you study isis and you want to share the topic, which is the magazine of isis, you may end up in prison. i think that is very, very problematic. kat: we've had -- people get punished here as well, for instance, the dallas police department after the shooting that happened earlier this year , arrested several people who had tweeted saying that it was good that cops died in dallas. nick: that's very offensive, but i don't think it's a criminal offense. you should react, you should, you know, yell at these people and denounce them, but i don't
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think you should criminal lies that kind of speech. nick: there are web sites that are criminal enterprises, there are fraudulent web sites that rip people off. i think something like child pornography, the child pornography, the production of it, is the -- it's kind of evidence of a crime, taking place. so the production of it, web sites that produce it, yeah, they could be shut down. among consenting adults, no, but the justice department actually does that. from time to time. which i think is stupid. so i think there are clear cases that are extremely rare and limited and kind of self evident in a way. yeah, where the government can shut down certain web sites. i don't think the government can shut down parts of the internet. they can make it more difficult to operate. they can make it a tax in terms of your time or in terms of the possible outcome. but they really don't have that. and that one was of the things that was strange about donald
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trump, i hope will be a successful president. he says things about the regulation, he mentioned the f.c.c., so far he is good on school choice, give more people school choice, i'm for that. he also, you know, he doesn't grasp a lot of the details. and when he talked about shutting down that internet, he said i'm going to talk to bill gates and it's kind of like, you are already -- bill gates had his lunch eaten by the internet. that was microsoft's downfall of migrating to the internet. i'm not expecting a lot of visionary leadership on his part. but to the strength of this, he can't shut it down and most governments can't. kat: you cut off one head it comes up somewhere else. do we have any questions from the audience? i ask you keep them short and i will keep them back so the folks on the live stream can hear them.
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>> carl -- kat: we have a mike coming down, actually, so -- >> thank you. hi. carl donovan. i was a 9/11 responder as a special agent of the u.s. custom agent office of internal affairs, i went to november of that year to ground zero and helped sift through the rubble, the third building that collapsed that day. there is a tyranny of silence in the media about that. nick: are you a truth about building 7. >> i'm a criminal investigator who went through the rubble. nick: the world trade center, the collapse that was an inside job? >> i -- the term inside job is foolish language. i believe in -- kat: what was your question? >> i was interrupted, pardon me. this fall i hand-delivered to every member of congress a 48
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page document by the organization ae it is a scientific evidence in all three world trade center towers. kat: what is the question? >> president trump has indicated there will be a reinvestigation of 9/11. he acknowledged that two airplanes can't cause three skyscrapers to collapse within the space of 8 hours. so what do you think, are we going to actually -- i have copies for each of you -- nick: i will say for myself, i won't speak for you. the airplanes that flew into the world trade center, twin towers are what caused that to collapse. when you have that kind of event happening other parts of the world trade center are likely to collapse as well. so i don't -- yeah, yeah, yeah. i'm deep on whether or not jet fuel can burn structural steel, thanks. kat: i'm not sure that is a free speech question. nick: i like that trump said we issue can boeing's contract for air force one that is over due and overbudget, this i think would be a waste of taxpayer
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money. kat: question back there. >> i'm a citizen journalist and most of my stuff is free which a lot of people don't like because i'm competing with them. my basic question is this, the terror threat, the jihady terror threat we've been hearing particularly from isis seems to be trying to make ordinary civilians in western countries in the united states into targets as if they were combatants, as if they were on the hook for anything we do. in other words, create a state of war in the united states. does that justify more sensorship or more control of the internet or emergency show powers, that could be particularly relevant in the way i operate. it's something i'm very concerned about.
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kat: okay. >> could that really be used as justification, because individual citizens are being made target which is unprecedented. kat: if we're in a state of war, a perpetual state of war, should currents made online be treated as if they're being made during war powers. nick: this is an argument against per pet tall states of wars, wars that don't have clear objectives or end point where we don't even know if we won, those are bad wars to wage, whether to pot, poverty or radical jihad. i would leave it more to the person who is the actual object both of governmental sensorship , corporate censorship, and personal attacks to -- i don't know. flemming: i didn't understand the question. kat: so i think he is asking if we -- if there are constantly
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wars going... overreact and you saw that on 9/11. turning: it's very easy to up the heat on free speech and censorship. it's very difficult to reverse it. thatnk experience tells us governments do react. because in a state of war, you want to identify enemies. speech isance of [indiscernible] quite often afterwards, when people look at that, people say why didn't you been that kind of speech? it's a natural reaction, but
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i think you have to be on guard because people tend to overreact. we saw it on 9/11. if you saw it, look at the kind of laws that were passed and the kind of powers that were given to the executive, how that happened in a liberal democracy? we are all citizens, journalists. there is a constant push on a kind of professional class that say we need to certify who is a .eal journalist and who isn't do bloggers get the same constitutional project best protections as someone at "the new york times"? yes. there is no distinction to be drawn in that.
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we have to make sure where journalism shoot laws, where you get to hide your sources, these are phony baloney ways of licensing and regulating the press. one of the great things about america is that we dealt with colonial -- the colonial era. and we shouldn't go back down that road. kat: definitely. i would like to ask this question from julia, is the production of knowledge under on social media? flemming: we will have to see. it is kind of guilt into the business model of facebook and other social media. but i don't think you have -- you know, you control that as a clear-cut conclusion. we'll have to work on it. [laughter] nick: one of the things, too,
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that i think is good about -- yeah, knowledge production is something we should always be guarding, you know, in favor, like we should be making it easier. i think a lot about the libertarian leaning republican congressman from michigan, he talked about when he was at university michigan law school, which by the way is a well regarded law school of a terrible football school, but he was told by somebody, he always thought of himself as a conservative republican, because that's the family he grew up in and somebody said no you are a libertarian and he went home and googled libertarian and he recognized who he was. so in that sense, i think social media, i think the internet more broadly, i think this whole idea of social media is more a marketing term than a lived reality, necessarily. but it's definitely true, you can live in a better, more well furnished bubble than ever before but you can also find more weird -- all over the place than ever before.
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and we were talking about this, if you are in my age, i'm in my early 50s and i wanted to get reason magazine or a publication, i would mail away and it would take months and they wouldn't get it right or it wouldn't show up. it was hard. it's so much easier as a millennial to get more information at your fingertips about something, you are watching history channel and you are -- you have your laptop or tablet out and you are wikipediaing stuff as the show is on, it's a much richer environment for that kind of interesting. kat: more access. i can see it for myself, too. i discovered the cato institution as a teenager, and i found out i was a libertarian and started reading about it. nick: there you go. flemming: to follow a point on knowledge production and the threat to knowledge production. i think the problem the value the culture in society put in emotions, if you feel something,
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it's right. and it's very difficult to argue with somebody who insists you know, that is what i feel. and i think social media will, you know, liking and sharing instead of making more elaborate arguments for one position or another also feeds this status of emotions. and i think that is undermining knowledge production. because you can -- i mean that is what is going on on campuses, if you say i'm offended. it's a way of saying, please -- it's a way of saying please shut up. and it's a very powerful argument and it feels very intimidate, because you don't want to offend other people, you want to be nice. nick: the difference between denmark and my home state of new
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jersey, nobody wants to be nice in new jersey, but i think you are -- the emphasis on feelings and on emotional responses is strong. i think it's always been that way. i say this to somebody who edited the print magazine and works for an organization called reason, i wanted -- when i became editor i said can i change the name to limits to reason, that is more in keeping with my sense of things. but i agree, it's hard, but it's also -- you know, again, we have more platforms by which to host debates and conversations and being persuasive. if i can put on my classical movement hat, one of the things we need to think about, especially in an era where the old dogmas are dying, young people are looking, young people, old people are looking for something new. we also need to think about being persuasive, not simply expressive and saying the perfect libertarian solution and
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private sidewalks and private air, if you come on my property i will shoot you whatever, but we're also trying to persuade people by endenied erring the imagining aering or world where people are living because it's prosperous and fair and moral. that is something i know i slip into every once in a while, especially you know, the small wee hour twitter moments, you know. you want to be persuasive, not simply expressive. kat: on that note, i have another question here from twitter. asking how can we differ shat free speech from public in decency is it dangerous to let judges make this distinction? flemming: just a short point. i think -- i think we shouldn't -- we should leave as little as possible up to judges. and you know, there is an
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inclination. nick: you will not say they should be put into wood chippers or anything, right, if so i'm under a court order to kind of pretend i can't hear. flemming: no. i think too many politicians and the public, every time you are confronted with a new problem or with a challenge, you know, let's pass a law to fight this problem, and i think we need to be more you know, moderate about that. but one man's hate speech is another man's poetry and it's the same with decency and obscenity. i mean, you used certain word talking here, you don't think it's, you know, indecent, but there may be people out in
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public -- nick: sometime sure there are and i will hear from them. flemming: that's a man of taste and -- nick: it's been my life's dream to work blue on c span so i may have accomplished that. object sen ti by the way is a made up fake category. there is no such thing as object obscenity as a legal, constitutional principle. thankfully, we're moving away from that. if you don't like somebody's speech, block them, move out of ear shot, don't turn to that channel, don't read that book, don't read that website. and i think it's, you know, a real positive evolution that most of you probably don't even have never heard the phrase banned in boston, you know, which was a thing, because boston would ban all sorts of stuff and it's like, it's really hard to do that. and i think that is good. public in decency is a little bit different because in public spaces there is a lower you know, you have the more public of spaces, meaning that it's in full view and that you can infringe on other people's equal rights, there is a lower
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standard of self expression. kat: isn't the internet very public, if there is a public space. nick: other than the porn adds that fill my web box or browser without me ever going there once. i don't know many web sites i'm forced to go to. i mean it's really all a poll mechanism. i'm firing up my browser, the browser isn't firing me up, you know. >> fred from the daily ripple. today, we watched the president-elect money i -- today, we watch the president-elect manipulate the stock of a major corporation with a tree. is there a -- some sort of freedom of speech that eliminates the president from using that to profit from that. if he knows, look, i don't like this company, i'm going to buy short on them and then i'm going
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to say a tweet on it, and manipulate the stocks, i mean, he has robert merser, hedge fund manager behind him and all these other bankers that would be able to benefit from that. is there an infringement of speech by telling the president he is -- can't do that legally? nick: that's -- i -- i don't know. you know, one thing i will say, i'm much more troubled by the president-elect's actions towards carrier and a couple of other companies supposedly he is going to bail out or make stay in the united states in indiana, . there is a ball bearing company whose name i am for getting right now. with boeing, you know, on a certain level, and this is an unprince belled answer. they have gotten enough sub did i dees in a wide variety of -- boeing has gotten enough subsidies in a wide birdie of
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state, local and -- they can -- for a plane that they're overbudget on delivering. i do think you know, what we're seeing here actually with a president who is as kind of unbounded as trump, we're going to see some interesting kind of situations that we really couldn't have thought about before. and so i don't have a clear answer to that. but you know, boeing stock price is a small order issue for me compared to kind of national protectionist economic policy more broadly. that i think is going to have more problems for us in the future. kat: all right. i think we have room for one final question from the audience. >> bill with future 500, i teach at a business school i noticed over the last year that i think and i think you would probably agree that there is tremendously more support on campus by students for free and open speech and even uncomfortable speech than there is for bans or
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restrictions or safe spaces and so on and yet we do as faculty have some guidelines that have been provided to us to you know limit to that kind of speech. given that the combative forces are always going to attract more media attention and seem to have more dominant support than they actually do, what are folks in the free market community doing to really actively take advantage of this opportunity on campuses and bring more people into this movement right now when they are really ready, a lot of students see the problem, they see it everyday, they want to be organized, but it's not going to -- it's not going to just happen through, sorry to say, free media coverage. it's just not sexy. what is -- what are people who care about this issue doing to attract people who don't
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necessarily find themselves in that box on the quiz to join and begin to learn what freedom and free markets and speech are all about? flemming: i don't know, i don't have an answer. facebook and twitter. i don't know. nick: i think that there is a number of things that are being done and you know, an outfit like kay doe and some of the groups that have come out of indicate toe, including students for liberty which was founded by cato intern who first worked at reason by the way i just want to
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put that out there, young americans for liberty, there are a growing number of campus groups that bring people to campuses that actually stage events and lectures and panels and what not, at universities, which i think is a good place to start. when you look at something like the foundation for economic foundation fee which i think lays claim to being the oldest libertarian organization, they're rejuvenated, they're reaching more students in high school probably than ever before . reason is talking to millennials and younger people in terms of both the way that we talk about the future, the way that we talk about topics that relate to things like privacy, security, free speech, gender, like acceptance of more than a binary choice in jend genders as we shouldn't accept a binary politics, i think that is one way to do it. and i think this -- to go to that question of knowledge production, we need to be producing the public intellectuals, libertarians need to be producing public intellectuals who are writing work that engages a multiage generational public with the ideas of freedom and liberty and showing the positive outcomes of giving people freedom.
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>> i fully agree. and i think the language that we're using is the language of this group. nick: i think there is some truth to that. >> you need to go to the 21st century. the word liberty is now bound with presumptions and republicanism, i think it turns students off or closes the door before it gets there. i agree and that's an ongoing issue. a couple years ago, reason did this big poll of millennials and it was done by overseen by -- working at the cato institute. one of the things we found in that it was something like 42% of people 18-29 had positive views of socialism, it's like holy cow this is a lost generation. then we followed up -- the follow up question is what does socialism mean and they had no idea. so we were letting language that
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was imprecise get in the way. then we asked in a parallel question, do you think -- is it better to have a government managed economy or should free markets govern the economy and evening was in favor of free market. so it's a constant search to find what is that language that unlocks the next generation. and polls those of us who are older who remember the cold war fleming and i were talking about this, you know, we, in america, we have a foreign policy that is still stuck in a cold war mentality, and we're fighting, you know, radical islam as if it's the soviet union circa 1960. the cold war wasn't as clear-cut as we thought it was and trying to transpose that matrix, decision matrix onto something today is totally wrong and the same thing happens with our movement. we need to constantly be refreshing our terms, our understanding, what is important to people today is not what was important to barry goldwater in 1964 and we need to understand
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that and act on that for sure. kat: and the terms people use are completely different. nick: yeah. flemming: i would say if liberty is a republican word then -- i mean i spoke about tolerance. to most people, tolerance is in fact a positive word. it has positive connotation, so i mean, that is a way to start. the connection between free speech and tolerance is, you know, if you break that, you don't have neither tolerance nor free speech. so -- kat: so with that, i would like to ask both of you, in just one or two sentences, what do you really want people to get out of this discussion today, what is the most important thing that they can go home with? flemming: i think i'm going to
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repeat myself. i think the world is getting you know, increasingly more diverse. and in order to be able to live together in this increasingly diverse world, tolerance is in fact a key concept. not in the way it's being taught and talked about in everyday life, it means you should shut off and not say offensive things, but the ability to live with things that you hate without banning them or using intimidation, threats or violence to shut them up. i think this will just move further and further up the agenda, more and more people are living in cities they'll be confronted with this every day. and unfortunately too many politicians believe that you know, the more diversity we have in terms of culture and religion, the less we need in terms of speech.
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i think it's counterintuitive. it goes with the territory, if you will more diversity of culture, you also need to welcome more diversity of speech in order to provide space to every individual in a society and that implies of course, that now one has a right not to be offended. that is also one of the things that we have to teach our children, coming back to my grandson and his soccer position. what position does he play? flemming: he is only 4 years old so. nick: i'm looking in preparation for this, i printed out a -- i write for the "daily beast" a year ago i read a piece for them that was titled or they titled how the feds asked me to rat out come mentors.
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that happened under the obama regime. it's going to happen as frequently if not more frequently under a trump regime. we need to fight that always and everywhere and it's going to happen, you know, on facebook. it's going to happen in the corporate space, cultural space , the religious space and the cultural space. the other thing i will say as kind of an add on is that if we all broadly believe in classical liberal goals of enlightenment goals, libertarian goals, really think about being persuasive rather than being right in every conversation. i'm the worst offender at this. what we're trying to do is build a world that is better than the one we inherited. i think it is getting better and the way we will make it better still is by getting more people to want to hang out with us, not by saying oh, yeah you are you know -- your culture is so great, it's like as good as mine where we let people decide who they want to be, it's not being that kind of tolerant, that kind
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of mindless celebration of diversity. it's actually saying, look, you know, we can go to -- i don't know how many are of you are in d.c., we can live in a world that is like the sociallist safeway on 17th street where -- it's much better than ten years ago, we can live in a crappy supermarket world like that or go to whole foods, which world do you want to be in. one is inviting, vibrant, one is different, one is constantly changing and mor -- we can go someplay where there is only one kind of eggplant and we need to be persuasive, not simply right in every conversation when we talk about freedom and liberty.
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kat: we want to live in a world with many types of eggplants. nick: i realized i signaled my alqaeda masters, now in a land of emojis, that means something different and i apologize cspan. kat: thank all of you for coming out. and those who tuned in on cspan or one of our online channels. i hope you all enjoyed this discussion today and will continue it out in the winter garden for our reception. flemming rose has gratuitously offered to be signing copies of his books, if you would like a copy feel free to pick up. it's just come out in paper back, very recently. so it's very convenient. and please feel free to sign up for the mailing list to get here about future cato digitals. thank you. [ applause ] ♪ >> c-span's washington journal, live every day with news and
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policy issues that impact you. coming up this morning, heritage foundation lieutenant general thomas ford on president-elect trump's national security team and criticism that his cabinet has too many generals. he will also talk about the heritage foundation's 2017 index of military strength, which measures america's military readiness. also american federation of teachers burn you are in the trump administration's education policy and what effect the nomination of race they divorce as education secretary will have on the department. discusses whaton "trumppresident-elect impact -- conversation with the president of taiwan will have. join the discussion.
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>> today, on american history tv, one clock p.m. eastern, a symposium on spies and codebreakers. an american family that aided the resistance and not see-occupied paris. and she had husband a 15-year-old son. avenueding to use 11th for a place where the resistance , she was risking not only her life, but her husband and her son's life. saccothe 1920's, nicola and another were tried, convicted and executed for robbery and murder in massachusetts, despite the lack of supporting evidence. locke professor brad schneider discusses the controversy inside the case with introductions by
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ruth gator bins -- by ruth bader ginsburg. >> seco and men's that he were transferred to the death house. the governor, after reading the committee report, declared they had a fair trial. theboston press declared case closed. >> at 8:00 on the presidency, george nash talks about herbert hoover's humanitarian efforts during world war i into. the sixe course of versions, working voluntarily and without pay, became an international hero, the embodiment of a new force in global politics. formcan benevolence in the of humanitarian and aid programs. >> for a full schedule, go to oversight and government reform committee held a hearing review the process for
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classifying national security and intelligence documents. this is two hours and 10 minutes. [ room noise ] good morning. the committee on oversight and
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government reform legislation to order. without objection the chair is authorized to declare a recess at any time. we have an important hearing this morning, examining the cost of overclassification on transparency and security. sunlight is said to be the best disinfectant. without knowing what our government is doing, we can't ensure it is operating efficiently and effectively. it's also important to remember that the american people pay for the federal government. the federal government works for the american people. it's not the other way around. and so it is, you would think, logical to make sure that we are as open and transparent and accessible as possible. but this is always a running battle. we always have to find the proper balance between safety and security and openness and transparency. but we can't give up all of our liberties in the name of security. and so we have this hearing today with four experts, people who have poured their time,
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effort, talent, their careers, really, into this topic. there is a wealth of information they're going to share with us. that's what we're excited to hear about today. without knowing what our government is doing, we can't ensure it's operating efficiently and effectively, as i said. transparency is the basis ultimately for accountability. at the same time, transparency into certain government activities can create opportunity for those who wish to do us harm. so congress gives some agencies the authority to withhold certain information from public disclosure. this authority to classify information and create secrets is needed to protect our national security. i don't think anybody doubts that there should be a degree of this. the question is what degree of this. when you give the authority to classify certain information, congress has a whole to play in making sure that authority is being properly exercised. overclassification of information has become a concern. estimates range from 50 to 90% of classified material is not
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properly labeled. in the 1990s, congress established the commission on protecting and reducing government secrecy to study those issues and develop recommendations. in 1997, the commission issued a final report including 16 recommendations. three of those recommendations were implemented. seven were partially implemented. and six remain open today. the chairman of the commission, the late senator patrick moynihan, wrote, and i quote, if the present report is to serve any large purpose, it is to introduce the public to the thought that secrecy is a mode of regulation and truth is the ultimate mode for the citizen does not even know that he or she is being regulated, end quote. patrick moynihan, hats off to him and his leadership in understanding and really helping to champion this effort to move forward and really examine the degree of which secrecy is needed in our nation.
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here, we don't even know what can hurt us. as the tendency to overclassify information goes, so does the lack of accountability to both congress and the american taxpayer. the commission also warned about the dangers of restricting information from those who actually do need it. looking back, that point seems also prophetic in light of the events that unfolded on september 11th, 2001. after conducting an exhaustive study of the attacks, the 9/11 commission issued its own report that suggested we need to move forward to a culture of need to share rather than need to know. it can lead to second-guessing what might have been if we were only able to get the information in the right hands at the right time. according to a report by the information security oversight office at the national archives, in the last ten years the federal government has spent more than $100 billion on
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security classification activities. in fact i ask unanimous consent to enter that report into the record. without objection, so ordered. last year alone, classification is stimulated to have cost $16 billion. it's unclear what exactly the taxpayers got in return for this expense. there was presumably some level of greater security as a result of restricting access to certain information. again, no doubt that there needs to be classification that needs to be implicated, but at what level? this leads us to a number of basic questions. does the billions of dollars spent to classify make us safer? how much money did we spend on security clearances for folks who probably didn't need them in the first place? earlier this week "the washington post" reported the department of defense found $125 billion in savings over five years by simply streamlining bureaucracy. $125 billion. to give you an idea, the entire
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state of utah, everything we do in utah, a smaller state, granted, but everything we do, from education to the national guard to roads and paying teachers, is about $14 billion. and here at the department of defense, five years' savings, $125 billion by simply streamlining bureaucracy. the department of defense was sufficiently embarrassed by this, as they should be, and decided to bury this study. trust me, we are going to look into this. according to the article, quote, the pentagon imposed secrecy restrictions on the data which ensured that no one could replicate the findings, end quote. no what we should be doing as a nation. it's a prime example of why we're holding this hearing today. when agencies have a tool to keep information from the public, congress must ensure those tools aren't used for nefarious reasons. i look forward to discussing these issues with the witnesses today. i thank the panel of experts for coming before the committee to help us better understand some
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of the complexities of the government secrecy. i think you'll find that congress, in particular this committee, has a keen interest on this. the committee has been a leader and a champion of the freedom of information act, it's one of the tools that is important for the american public to understand what their government, their government is supposed to be working for them, is actually doing. so i look forward to this discussion. somebody i knew who holds an equal passion for this is my colleague, elijah cummings, ranking member from maryland. i would like to recognize him for his opening statement. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you very much for holding this hearing. government transparency is a bipartisan issue. over multiple sessions of congress, our committee has made significant progress in making the federal government more open and accountable.
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we do this best when we work together. during this congress, we worked together to strengthen the freedom of information act. and those amendments were signed into law by president obama in june. just this past monday, we sent another bill to the white house to strengthen protections for employees working for contractors and grantees, who blow the whistle on waste, fraud, and abuse. we now have the opportunity to work together to address the flaws in our classification systems. over the past several years, our committee has conducted multiple investigations, including our review of secretary clinton's e-mails that exposed serious flaws in our classification system. we've even agencies disagree with each other on whether an
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e-mail was classified. we've seen information that began unclassified later being retroactively classified. we've seen documents that were not properly marked as classified. as we have seen documents that were classified after they had already been publicly released. and first and foremost, i believe that we in congress should exercise our authority to improve the classification system and make government information more transparent. we can conduct oversight such as these hearings. and we can investigate specific allegations of security breaches and unwarranted government secrecy. congress can also legislate. we can pass reforms that actually address the problems we
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will wihear about today. 20 years ago, the moynihan provision provided a roadmap improving the classification system. too little has been done since that report was issued. for example, the commission recommended that congress enact a statute establishing the principles of classification. the congress still has not taken that step. the fundamental purpose underlying all of our efforts today is to provide the american people with more information, especially when it impacts our national security. our operating premise is that a better informed electorate leads to a better functioning government on behalf of all of
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the american people. mr. chairman, i thank you for calling today's critical hearing. but there is another national security area that i believe the american people should have much more information about from their government. on november 17th, 2016, i wrote a letter to the chairman requesting that our committee conduct a bipartisan investigation into russia's role into interfering with and influencing the 2016 presidential election. i specifically requested that we receive a classified briefing from the intelligence community. today, nearly three weeks have now gone by. i have received no response, and the committee has taken no action. now, mr. chairman, i know you have said that you do not want to do any oversight relating to president-elect donald trump until he is sworn into office, and i can understand that. but these attacks on our country
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have already happened. they already happened. this is not something of a future threat. this has already been done. and unless we act, it may very well happen again. for these reasons, yesterday i joined democratic whip steny hoyer and ranked members of the committee on armed services, homeland security, intelligence, judiciary, and foreign affairs. and we did ourselves what this committee did not. we sent a letter to the president requesting that all members, that all of us, all members of congress, democrats and republicans, be provided the opportunity to receive a classified briefing by the intelligence community with the most up to date information on this issue. this is not a partisan issue.
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and it should not be. republican senator lindsey graham has called for this type of investigation in the senate. essentially saying that republicans should not sit on the sidelines and let allegations about foreign governments interfering in our election go unanswered just because it may have been beneficial to them in this instance. republican senator marco rubio put it even more bluntly, saying, quote, today it is the democrats. tomorrow, it could be us, end of quote. the bottom line is that this is not a democratic issue and it is not a republican issue. this is an american issue. elections are a core american value and are central to our democracy. and when any foreign interference with our elections
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should be of the greatest concern to every single member of this congress. the american people deserve as much information as possible about these threats and the actions their government is taking to address them. as i say to my constituents over and over again in the last election and during these times, this is bigger than hillary clinton. this is bigger than donald trump. this is about a struggle for the soul of our democracy. so it is our job to ensure that we get this kind of information, since it is our duty to make sure that our democracy stand strong and that our children's children can have a democracy just as strong as the one that we have experienced. with that, i yield back. >> i thank the gentleman.
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we'll hold the record for five legislative days for any members who would like to submit a written statement. we will now recognize our panel of witnesses. mr. j. william leonard, former director of the security oversight office. mr. steven aftergood, director of the project on government secrecy at the federation of american scientists. mr. tom blanton, director of the national security archive at the george washington university. and mr. scott -- is it amey? i want to make sure i pronounce that properly. mr. scott amey, general counsel on the project for government oversight. we welcome you and thank you for being here. pursuant to committee rules, all witnesses are to be sworn before they testify. if you will please rise and raise your right hand. do you solemnly swear or affirm that the testimony you are about to give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? thank you. you may be seated. let the record reflect all witnesses answered in the
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affirmative. in order to allow time for discussion we would appreciate you limiting your verbal comments to no greater than five minutes to members have ample time to ask questions. your entire written statement and extraneous materials will be entered into the record. mr. leonard, you're now recognized for five minutes. the microphones in this committee, you have to straighten 'em up and put 'em right up uncomfortably close. thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman, mr. cummings, members of the committee, i appreciate the opportunity to attend this meeting this morning. the ability and authority to classify national security information is a tool for the federal government and its leaders to protect our nation and its citizen sense however when negligently or recklessly applied, it can undermine the integrity of the classification system and create needless impediments to transparency that can undermine our government. i've got to the conclusion that on its own the executive branch
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is both incapable and unwilling to achieve true reform in this area. incapable and that absent external pressure from the legislative and judiciary branches of our government, true reform in the executive branch involving multiple agency can only be achieved with the direct leadership emanating directly from the white house inform in the past 40 years we've seen only one white house lead an attempted classification reform, and that was in the 1990s. the responses were typical, delay and foot drag, because agency officials know sooner or later every administration eventually goes away, providing opportunities for rollback. with respect to the executive branch's unwillingness to implement real classification reform, i believe it's reasonable to expect it to do so, primarily since the unconstrained ability to classify information is such an attractive tool for any administration to facilitate implementation of its national security agenda. in this regard, especially in the years since 9/11, we've seen
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successive administrations to claim new authorities and wrap these claims in classification. ed this this can amount to unchecked power. the limits of the president's authority to act unilaterally are defined by the willingness and the ability of congress and the courts to constrain it. of course, before the congress or the courts can constrain presidential claims to inherent unilateral powers, they must first be aware of those claims. yet a long-recognized power of presidents to declassify in the interests of national security to include access by congress or the courts. the combination of these two powers, that is, when the president lays claim to inherent powers to act unilaterally but does so in secret, can equate to the very open-ended, noncircumscribed executive authority that the constitution's framers sought to
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avoid in constructing a system of checks and balances. thus absent ongoing congressional oversight or judicial review of executive assertions of classification, no one should ever be surprised that the authority to classify information is routinely abused in matters big and small. i've attached to my formal statement specific examples of classification use relating to criminal cases in which the prosecution ultimately did not prevail in large part due to government overreach in claims that certain information was classified. in each of these cases, the government abused the classification system and used it for other than its intended purpose. i believe that there are steps that congress can take in order to address this matter. the first deals with enforcing accountability. over the past several decades, a significant number of individuals have rightly been held accountable for improperly handling classified information. to my knowledge, during the same period, no one has ever been held accountable and subjected to sanctions for abusing the
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system. despite the fact that the president's executive order governing this authority treats unauthorized disclosures of classified information and inappropriate classification of information as equal violations of the order subjecting perpetrators to comparable sanctions. absent real accountability, it's no surprise that overclassification occurs with impunity. a second area worthy of possible legislative attention is that of providing a mechanism for routine, independent expert review of agency classification decisions, especially as a tool to be made available to the executive's two co-equal branches of government when exercising congressional oversight or judicial action in which they could come to their own independent judgment as to the appropriateness of executive assertions of classification. traditionally congress and the courts are understandably
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differe deferential to such assertions. it is not only possible but entirely appropriate to conduct a standards-based review of classification decisions. i've attached to my formal statement one potential methodology for such reviews. i applaud this committee for focusing on this critical topic to our nation's wellbeing and i thank you for inviting me here today, mr. chairman. i'll be happy to answer any questions. >> thank you. there's a model for ending right at the five-minute mark. mr. aftergood, i challenge you to come within one second of that mark as well, but you're now recognized for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and ranking member cummings. as you know, and as you really expressed very well, overclassification presents many kinds of problems. it makes your oversight job more difficult. it incurs substantial financial and operational costs. and it often leaves the public in the dark about national
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security matters of urgent importance that they should be aware of. why do we even have overclassification? i think there are many reasons. for one thing, it's easier for officials to restrict access to information without carefully weighing the pros and cons of what should be disclosed. overclassification many times is simply the path of least resistance. unchecked classification can also serve the political interests the classifiers. it's a way to manage public perceptions, to advance an agenda, to limit oversight or simply to gain a form of political advantage. so what is the solution to overclassification? i don't think there is a single solution. i discuss several partial solutions in my written statement. many of those solutions depend on congress to assert itself and to affirm its own institutional
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interests. congress is not a spectator and it should not be a victim when it comes to overclassification. it is a co-equal branch of government. in the executive branch, there are lots of fine and conscientious people who are involved in classification policy, fortunately. but we should not have to rely on their integrity. we rely instead on congress to exercise checks and balances in performing its routine oversight duties. finally, i would like to say that we are in a peculiar moment in our history that makes this issue particularly urgent. everything i've just said about overclassification could have been said ten years ago or 20 years ago. this is a stubborn and persistent problem. but there is something different today. we are living in a period of
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unusual political instability that i believe requires even greater transparency. almost every day, we see increased expression of hostility against religious and ethnic minorities. so-called fake news has lately resulted in actual acts of violence here in washington, dc in the past week. and it seems that our political institutions are under a subtle form of attack by foreign actors, as the ranking member discussed. this is not a normal situation. and it's not the way that things have always been. what complicates things further is that the incoming administration, at least during the election cycle, has indicated policy preferences that depart significantly from existing law and policy in areas such as foreign policy,
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questions of whether or not to engage in torture, questions involving freedom of religion. in some cases these raise basic constitutional issues. so the bottom line is that we are entering a turbulent time. reducing overclassification and increasing transparency will not solve our problems. but if we fail to reduce overclassification, we are going to make those problems worse and harder to solve. thank you again for holding this hearing and for the essential work of oversight that you do. i would be glad to answer any questions you may have. >> thank you. mr. blanton, you're now recognized for five minutes. >> i'm certainly not going to match those timings. he did five minutes, he did four minutes. it was outstanding. thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you, ranking member cummings, and thank you, other
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distinguished members of the committee for having me here today. i'm here to make three points. one of is a thank you for the freedom of information act amendments that you all mentioned because it's a model of what you can do on classification. second is to reinforce the message of that moynihan commission report. it was actually moynihan, comebest, jesse helms, john podesta commission. you can tell when it's unanimous bipartisan, it's something to pay attention to. the number one recommendation was to pass a law, to govern and fix the system. the third thing i'm here to tell you is that when security officials tell you something is classified, don't believe 'em. most of the time, they're wrong. 50 to 90% of the time, as the chairman commented, they're wrong. so don't believe 'em. i'm going to back that up with a few examples. but first, the freedom of information act amendments and why that's a model. you've already had an impact. y'all, this committee, was the leaders in this house of representatives to get those amendments passed.


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