Skip to main content

tv   American Artifacts  CSPAN  February 28, 2016 9:30pm-10:01pm EST

9:30 pm
track the government as it happens. >> it is a great way to stay informed. >> there are a lot of c-span fans on the hill. >> there is so much more that c-span does to make sure that people outside the beltway know what is going on inside it. each week, american artifacts takes viewers into archives, museums, and historic sites around the country. next, historian emeritus don ritchie takes us inside the dirksen building. we learn about its place in history and its namesake, dirksen. and -- rick century, the9 demands of the government were smaller than today. as demands grew, as government more lettersp, started coming in.
9:31 pm
more staff had to be hired. eventually, three office buildings were constructed. the richard russell building, the everett dirksen building, and the philip hart building. building,the dirksen the multipurpose hearing room. it has various layers of history to it. the first senate office building opened in 1909, now known as the richard russell building. this was in the progressive era. there were more services coming in. as those senators and staff were , the smallbuilding community of senators and staff that existed in that building steadily, the demands of the government increased. social security became an issue.
9:32 pm
so many federal issues directly affected citizens. the road to their centers. the senators hired more staff. at one point, the russell building was absolutely crammed. they had people working in the attic. bathrooms were converted into offices. hallways were set up with desks. people were squeezed in just about everywhere. it became clear by the end of the 1930's, that they were going to need another building. especially because they needed more space is for committees to meet. committees were partly in the capital building, partly in the russell building. they were in large rooms, but without a dais. they were at large tables. the witnesses and staff would sit around the table. very limited space for the public to attend the hearings.
9:33 pm
they were certainly not set up for televising. there is a lot of reason the dirksen building was built. and took a long time to be built. the initial plan was started in 1941. then world war ii intervened. they did not build the building when they needed it. they waited until the 1950's. in the 1950's, there was a lot of argument. it was going to be very costly. they were going to have to buy houses on the street across from the capital building. there were a number of members who thought it was extravagant. and they delayed this. constantly during the 1950's, the building was delayed. obvious it became so they needed more space. more were going to be four senators. there was not space for more
9:34 pm
offices. they finally gave the go-ahead. this building was constructed. it was opened in 1958. it is not anywhere near as elaborate as the richard russell building across the street. it is a much more functional building. classicalt of a neo- building. and fancyer columns decorations. it is a pretty straightforward building. it is not as comfortable as the russell building. it is not a building that appeals to the senators the way the russell building did, but it serves its purpose. its chief purpose was to be a place for committees to hold hearings that could be televised. this was 1958. television was in its prime. there was a lot of interest to televised proceedings of congress. they could not go on the floor.
9:35 pm
there was no c-span on the floor of the chambers in those days. the hearings of the senate were being televised. they needed better situations. better equipment. had direct building current at this time, rather than alternating current. the capital building had been wired for electricity by thomas edison. sometimes, if you are ahead of the curve in terms of technology , you become obsolete faster than everyone else. until 1960, the capital had direct current, which meant you could not plug anything into the wall. as a result, the radio-tv gallery where radio and television reporters operated petitioned the senate to have a role in the construction of the new building. there were television correspondents and representatives of the television networks serving on
9:36 pm
the board to help design the building. as a result, you have large committee rooms with paneled walls. part of the panel could be lifted up. there is a section in the back where television cameras and lights can be set in and not interfere with hearings or people trying to attend hearings. design of the committees were set up differently. the table they used to sit around was replaced with a dais like this one in which the senators would sit at the dais, the witnesses would sit at a table facing them. it made more interesting televising. this is what we are used to seeing whenever they are covered. this building opened in 1958. 14 of the committees were established here. they planned to have the chairperson of each committee
9:37 pm
occupy the office immediately next to the committee room. it all looked great on paper except the chairs of the committees were some of the most senior members of the senate. they had operated in the russell building across the street. most of them did not want to move across the street. some of them who did move did not care for the space as much as the russell building. very soon, the practice of having committee chairs occupied the space next to the committee immediately disappeared. some chairs next to be the committee they spend most of their time with. most of the other chairmen find it fine to work out of some other space. building provided a lot of its services for the senate as part of a growth of the institution. the basement level had two very
9:38 pm
large cafeterias and an underground parking garage. there was a large area for a telephone switchboard because of the communications demand growing on the senate that operated in this building. because senators were sending home to their local tv networks their interviews and statements, there was a recording studio built into the building in a rooment, with a windowless with a phony capital dome behind it. the senator looked as if they were speaking from their office. suppose the only time we never had a public debt was when andrew jackson was president of the united states. other than that, i have no recollection that we have been
9:39 pm
a debt.it de -- without don: when the first computer was installed, it was installed in this building. it was designed to prepare lett ers to constituents. so many people continued to write into senators not only asking for something, but giving their opinion. senators always wanted to respond to anybody who wrote to them. the first computer was acquired in the 1960's and installed in this building to be able to send mass mailings back to constituents. this is probably the most functional, in many ways, of the buildings. even though it has a small number of senators occupying the building. is sort of the central section because of the committee activity.
9:40 pm
those of the things you are familiar with from watching televised hearings. >> i have reviewed, in detail, my 1973 work product. outdoor recreation. a legacy for america. it continues to represent my philosophy and my commitment to , andation, to preservation to multiple use of the resources of america. initially, televising was not gavel to gavel. before c-span, major networks would come to film. they were only going to show a minute or two for an evening newscast. they do not want to spend a lot of time and effort and money on film. they would only film the highlights of the hearing. certain senators spoke, the lights would come on.
9:41 pm
when they stopped speaking, the lights would go off. 1972, i attended a hearing in the russell building in which senator kennedy walked in the door. as soon as he came in and sat down, the television lights came on. left, even though another senator was speaking, the lights went off. it must have offended the senator speaking at the time, but that was the reality. today, we use gavel to gavel coverage. a lot more highlights have become available at hearings. often take hearings place in the senate caucus room, which is in the russell building. considerhe hearings we that led up to the blockbuster
9:42 pm
buildings took place in the dirksen building. vietnam war the took place in the senate relations committee. you see that sort of played over and over. quite often, the staff of these investigations are here in the dirksen building even though the debate hearings were in the russell building. one of the most important hearings the senate conducted in the 20th century was the investigation into watergate and the presidential campaign of 1972. while those hearings famously took place in the russell hereing, the staff worked in a series of rooms in a back corridor in the dirksen building. it was there that one of the pivotal moments of the watergate
9:43 pm
hearings took place. republican and democratic staff members were interrogating white house staff. one of the people they were interrogating was alexander butterfield, the committee determined visited the white house chief of staff on a regular basis. almost every day, he would see the chief of staff. the question is, what was he doing while he was there? there was some question about whether or not anyone had recorded any of these meetings. it was the republican staff member of the committee who asked alexander butterfield if there had been any recording. the question was asked broadly enough that, to be honest about answering it, butterfield had to admit the white house had an elaborate system of tape recordings. anytime the president spoke in the oval office or on the phone, tape recordings were being made. this was a bombshell.
9:44 pm
it changed the nature of the watergate investigation. much of the effort became to try to open up the tapes to make them available for the committee. and triedent dug in not to make those tapes available. eventually, the supreme court ordered he had to turn over the tapes to the special prosecutor. it was the revelations on the investigators to impeachment hearings and the president to resign. all that started in a nondescript windowless room, when staff was doing preliminary interviews of witnesses before they go before the public. of all the types of hearings that are held in this building, and there are hundreds being held all the time, in fact, in the mornings, when i would come to work, i would see long lines
9:45 pm
of people standing against the wall, trying to get space in the hearing room. the hearings that get the most attention our nomination hearings. particularly a supreme court hearing. a supreme court appointment is a lifetime appointment. it is going to affect things for decades to come. there is a huge amount of public attention on the supreme court nominations. of the current nine members, only one had his hearing in this building, antonin scalia a in the 1980's in one of the large hearing rooms in this building. >> do you have an opening statement you would like to make? senator, except to express my honor at being nominated and the fact that i am happy to be here and answer the
9:46 pm
committee's questions. don: this building opened in 1958. it was meant to be billed as inexpensively as possible at the time. built, it waswas inadequate for its purposes. they discovered right away there were not enough elevators. that may seem like a relatively that whene except senators have to vote, they have 15 minutes to get from here to the capital building across the street. they can be shuttled back and forth underground, but if they are in their office on the fifth floor, they have to get to the elevator to the basement. there were problems early on when the senators could not get over to the capital fast enough to cast a vote. they actually had to add in extra elevator banks.
9:47 pm
is still relatively slow and difficult to move around in. in the basement are absolutely plain windowless offices. it is like operating out of a tunnel. that is where brand-newly elected senators spend their first four or five months in office. the senators they are replacing are probably much more senior and have much nicer offices. senators are not entitled to move into those offices. the guys who have been here are waiting their turn to move in. when those offices have been cleaned out and painted, another senator moves in. that office has to be cleaned and painted.
9:48 pm
ofenator who takes oath office in january does not get to move upstairs until april, may, or june of that year. after winning an election to the united states senate and feeling like you are on top of the world, you are immediately escorted to the basement. when hillary clinton was elected senator from new york, she was still living in the white house. or husband had a couple months left in his term. she would leave the white house in the morning to go down to the basement office with no windows. everybody starts out the same. there are numerous committee rooms in this building. now, the roomight that was designed for the most was originally an auditorium.
9:49 pm
sloped down with a stage behind it. this is where people would come to make announcements, where conferences would be health, where large meetings would take place. the 1970's, senator frank church began to investigate problems with the cia and fbi. this was the first congressional investigation into united states intelligence operations. the material they were collecting was so secret they had to be in an absolutely secure place. this auditorium was converted for that purpose. offices ford into the church committee investigating the cia and fbi. they had armed guards standing at each of the doors to make sure no one came in.
9:50 pm
reporters found it interesting the church committee was trying to break through secrecy but the secrets were staying in here. is fact of the matter congress had to promise they could maintain secrets. so this room became a hub for that commission. when the church committee led to the creation of a permanent committee on intelligence, which is still operating, this room became the intelligence committee in the late 1970's and early 1980's until the hart building was opened in 1983 and the intelligence community moved over there. at this time, it was turned back into a hearing room. now, it is an all-purpose multimedia room, designed for the latest technology, special events, special hearings.
9:51 pm
there are all sorts of conferences and events that take place in this space. it has carried on with the nature of the building being an all-purpose building. had room is a room that has thoughts of political events. but it has also had lots of social entertaining. most of them are very pleasant and forgettable occasions. one stands out in particular. birthday of 100th strom thurmond. he is the only united states senator to live to the age of 100 while serving in the senate. the senate wanted to pay special tribute to him. there was a large birthday festivities in here, which, in itself, is a nice occasion. trent lott came to pay homage to senator thurmond. , he praisedks
9:52 pm
senator thurmond's career in the senate and recalled in 1948, senator thurmond ran for president against harry truman. >> i want to say this about my state. when strom thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. we are proud of him. [applause] if the rest of our country had followed our lead, we would not have all these problems. don: which seems a relatively mild statement except that senator lott forgot senator thurmond ran as the segregationist candidate in 1948 , who wanted to integrate the armed services. as a result, there was a huge amount of pressure within for him tot's party
9:53 pm
step down as the leader of his party. asntually, he did resign majority leader of the senate as a result of this one statement made in this one room. just aboutinder that everything a politician says is probably going to be recorded and everything they say is going to be analyzed. just about everything they say will be held against them at some time or another, even such an occasion as a 100th birthday party. >> happy birthday. [applause] don: i should mention why it is building. dirksen when the first senate office building opened, it was known as
9:54 pm
the senate office building. when this building opened up, that building became the old s.o.b. this building became the new s.o.b. senators thought they should have a more formal title. senator russell was known as the senator's senator. he had respect for his colleagues regardless of their ideology. that building was named for richard russell, a democrat. for some balance, this building was named for senator everett dirksen, the republican leader 1969 and was quite a popular figure in the united states at the time. r in theic orato old-school style. record herammy for a
9:55 pm
did, just reading sheet music patriotic speeches with music in the background. quite a popular piece of the time. >> down through the years, there brave, gallant men who have died that others might be free. ♪ dirksen, just as a popular who also represented a great spirit of bipartisanship, because he was by my -- the minority leader in the senate. 35 senators on his side of the aisle, which is a small minority. his boats were critical in the days when it took 2/3 to avoid a filibuster.
9:56 pm
if they were going to stop a filibuster, they needed everett dirksen's support. act, the rights dirksen treaty, once agreed to whatever the compromise was, enough votes would come on board for the majority to prevail. everett dirksen was extremely important at his time. it seemed fitting to name the building after him. liked to say he was a man of principle. one of his greatest principles was to maintain flexibility at all times. that made him a very agile senator and a man who understood that you have to compromise to build consensus. state senate, compromise is essential for passing any kind of legislation.
9:57 pm
rarely does the majority party have sufficient votes to pass something entirely by itself. always, majority leaders have to persuade members of the minority to come on board. that is one of the reasons why the u.s. senate wanted to commemorate senator dirksen by naming the second building after him. watch this or other american artifacts programs at any time by visiting our website, www.c-span.org/history. ♪ our goal here with aarp is to get where the candidates are standing on social security and how they plan on saving it. if they are, what are they going to do to save it? >> i am participating in the selection because it is
9:58 pm
important to get out and vote. it is the only way we can voice our opinions. ♪ >> during campaign 2016, c-span takes you on the road to the white house, as we follow the candidates on c-span, c-span radio, and c-span.org. this is the hardest problem i have seen in government because gift forates america's innovation, privacy, the rule of law, public safety. we have to talk about it and understand, how do we optimize all these things we care about? privacy and safety. how do we do that? it is not easy. communicators,e
9:59 pm
general counsel counsel for the fbi agents association and vice president for policy at the center for democracy and technology discuss the conflict between fbi and apple and whether apple should help the fbi get into the phone of the suspected san bernardino terrorist. they also discuss what this could mean for tech companies and law enforcement. they are joined by reporter dustin gold. >> it was intentionally designed to be impenetrable. we believe it threatens the way our search and seizure laws operate, where reasonable searches can obtain access to evidence. we view it as a real threat with a fulcrum at the balance of privacy and security. >> apple is concerned and we are all concerned about privacy of information on the device. we are worried that building any tool that allows you to break
10:00 pm
security on the device is one that will come back and bite users around the world. >> announcer: each week, american history tv's american artifacts takes you to museums and historic places. coming up next, we visit whitney plantation in wallace, louisiana, to learn about the history of slavery in america. ashley: i am the director of museum operations at the whitney plantation. we are beginning our tour today in an historic church, which was built circa 1870 by people who lived on the opposite side of the river in louisiana. the structure was donated about 10 years ago by the descendents of that congregation. they bought the land in 1870, two parcels of land, for the

7 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on