tv Face the Nation CBS December 22, 2013 8:30am-9:01am PST
>> schieffer: today on "face the nation" has the national security agency electronic snooping gone beyond protecting to us invading our privacy? we'll talk to the former deputy director of the cia michael morell who was part of advisory flannel told the white house that time has come to do controls on the spy agency. then we'll continue a 65-year cbs news tradition,. >> we have brought in five cbs correspondents, men of great experience. >> the correspondent roundtable. >> i'm not doubting you experts. >> schieffer: today the correspondents are different, but conversation is about many of the same things. and on this last weekend before christmas we'll take a look at the year's best books and have a conversation with best selling
authors terry mcmillan her new one is "who asked you "mystery masser mikely connelly plus george saunders, author of 10th of december and pulitzer prize winning rick atkinson whose latest on world war ii is "the guns at last light" good books and the news, good and bad because this is "face the nation." captioning sponsored by cbs from cbs news in washington, "face the nation" with bob schieffer. >> schieffer: and good morning again on this last weekend before christmas. well as the controversy over whether the national security agency has gone too far and invaded privacy in its efforts to protect us from terrorist attacks, a panel of experts appointed by the president to study the nsa's programs made 46
recommendations including some that would rein in the agency. the former number two man at the cia, michael morell is on that panel he joins us this morning. mr. morell i must say a lot of official washington was surprised when, number one, that the recommendations were unanimous and that you, as a long time user of information collected by the nsa said, yes, may be time to change a few things. tell us about your thinking. >> good morning, bob, thank you for inviting me. i think there's some very important context here that the american people need to understand. and there's two pieces to that context, i think. one is that there has not been a successful terrorist attack in the united states since 9/11. and there are a lot of reasons for that, there are a lot of organizations and lot of people who are responsible for that. the national security agency is one of those agencies. because of that those officers
who work there are patriots we're going to continue to need them to do the work they do, because the threat continues to exist and quite frankly it's possible the threat could grow again, that's one very important piece of context that americans need to understand. the other is that there is this view out there that somehow the national security agency was out there on its own doing all of these things. not the case. it was doing exactly what its government asked it to do. it was operating under strict rules, provided by executive branch and judicial branch and it was overseen extensively by the intelligence committees on congress. there was no abuse here. they were doing exactly what they were told to do. i think that's important context that people should know. >> schieffer: well, you say there was no abuse because they were doing what they were told to do. but are there instances, mr. morell, where they have invaded america's privacy or is it that they just have the
capability to do that? >> the key program here that we're talking about is the 215 program, which is the ability of nsa to go in to that database and make sure that terrorists overseas aren't in contact with anybody in the united states. >> schieffer: you're talking about this collection of telephone numbers basically that the nsa has assembled. >> it's telephone numbers, which number calls whom, when that occurred the duration of the call, that's it. no names attached to it. no content attached to it. so that's the program. i think one of the misperceptions out there at the moment is that the review group did not see value in this program, what the review group said, look, the program to date has not played a significant role in stopping terrorist attacks in the united states. but the group noted that going
forward it is important. >> schieffer: let me interrupt you, they have said if i understand it, that, yes, indeed there have been numerous instances where they have prevented terrorist attacks. did you find evidence that that's true or do you have questions about that? >> what we found when we looked at the data is out of couple hundred times a year that nsa queries the database. that there are a dozen, 15 times a year where they have tipped information to the fbi. where they have said, look, this is something we think you need to look at. that's important. i think best way to describe this, bob, if you have a terrorist overseas who is being monitoredded by a foreign government and if that terrorist says, i want to conduct attacking the united states. or he is undertaking some sort of attack and you don't know where that attack is going to be. it is very important for our
government to be able to look in to that database to see whether that terrorist is talking to anybody in the united states. >> schieffer: is what the panel recommending that they stop collecting this data? >> what we're recommending is that because of this program and its importance, perhaps not as important as some have said, but because it remains important it's important for the government to continue to be able to query this data. what the panel is saying, in order to better protect privacy, which is important concern here, we believe two things. we believe that the government should not hold this data any longer. that we say the government shouldn't hold this data, somebody else should. second thing we say is that nsa should have to get a court order for every individual time they want to query this data.
not operate under a blanket court record. we think that better protects privacy and civil liberties while at the same time allowing the government to do what it needs to do to protect the country. >> schieffer: what you're saying, if i understand what the people at the agency are saying, that could take a lot of time if you had to do this individually go in and get these court orders one at a time as it were. >> schieffer: that's an important issue. in terms of what would have to happen under our recommendations, nsa would have to prepare justification to go to the court, they would have to review that justification and say, yes or no. that's probably a two, three, four-day process, right? if the government decides that the communications company should hold this data probably talking about couple more days as government goes to each one individually. my preference to rerate some sort of private consortia that
holds this data once you have that court order you can go to that private company and get an answer very, very quickly, that's my preference. i think you're adding two, three, four days at most. we also said that there should be emergency exception, so if you have to move quickly you can do so without a court order, perhaps you need the attorney general's approval get that court order later. we don't think we have significantly undermined the government's ability to protect the country. while at the same time we think we've enhanced privacy and civil liberties. >> schieffer: let me ask you two questions. number one, i think i asked you this before. has the nsa violated any one's privacy? >> no. >> schieffer: you do not believe so. >> i do not believe that. the nsa is not spying on americans. i think that is a perception that some have out there. it is not focused on any single
american. it is not reading the content of your phone calls or my phone calls or anybody else's phone calls. it is focused on metadata for one purpose only that is to make sure that foreign terrorists aren't in contact with anybody in the united states. >> schieffer: this question. this whole conversation taking place because of these disclosures by snowden, who defect to russia. some suggestion that perhaps he should be given some sort of amnesty in order to bring him back here and maybe stop the leaks, do you think the president should give him some sort of amnesty? >> no, i do not. and i feel strongly about that. he violated the trust put in him by the united states government. he has committed a crime in my view. a whistle blower doesn't run.
a whistle blower does not disclose information that has nothing to do with what he says his cause is. the privacy and civil liberties of americans. if i could talk to mr. snow den myself what i would say is, edward, you say you are a patriot, you say you want to protect the privacy and civil liberties of americans, you say that you wanted americans to have a debate about this and make up their mind about what to do about this. if you really believe that, if you really believe that americans should be the judge of this program then you should also believe that the americans should be the judge of your behavior in this regard. so if you are the patriot that you say you are, you should come home and be judged. >> schieffer: mike morell, thank you very much. wish you the best of the season. thank you for joining us. we'll be back in one minute with our annual cbs news correspondents year-end round
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go national. go like a pro. >> schieffer: joining us now as we continue our 65-year tradition here at cbs news bringing correspondents in at the end of the year to talk about the news of the year. david martin, you were at the first one. [ laughter ] >> easy joke. >> schieffer: margaret brennan covers the state department and congressional correspondent nancy cortiz and major garrett round out our group. let's start right in you pressed the president pretty hard at his news conference friday about this idea of somehow giving amnesty to edward snowden, did you think that the president is actually considering something like that? >> not presently. those around him are, it's a live topic, i think going to
become more lively as this year goes on. it's hard to look at the panel's recommendation to the president or justice leon's decision who u.s. district court not look at the disclosures as something that has silt in motion not only a political debate but constitutional debate about the scope of u.s. surveillance, everything that is done in current terrorism in the name of preventing terrorism that has touched upon average american lives in ways that maybe in fact be legitimate from a counter terrorism point of view but not viewed entirely by americans once they were disclosed. that's an ongoing topic that will be part of the legislative debate. president in mid january will announce his own changes that he can carry out by himself to this surveillance program. but i think as the year goes on edward snowden his fate whether there's a three deal will become a political topic. >> schieffer: that would be the understatement of the year to become a political topic.
capitol hill would explode if the president decided to give amnesty. i mean, can you imagine, every single democrat running for re-election would have to be answer the question, do you think the president is right to give amnesty to edward snowden i think it would create a political situation that would simply be untenable. >> not to mention the red meat give to republicans as they go in to this election year. it's been fascinating to watch the evolution of capitol hill over the course of the year. very beginning, when these revelations first came out from snowden he overwhelming reaction, how dare he. bring him back. he's a traitor a lot of people feel that way. as they started to hear from their constituents about what they felt was intrusion in to their privacy saw more and more members join the few who had been out there in the beginning, the rand paul, we think that this program needs to be reined in we're not comfortable with
it. when these new recommendations came out this week about the nsa they were sort of like, yeah, that's what we thought. there are a lot of members who are glad that this is being tackled. >> schieffer: david? >> the president said this is a conversation we needed to have. raise your hand if you think we would have had this conversation without edward snowden. >> impossible. >> it's hard to know what to think about the guy. is he a traitor or whistle blower who did the american public a service. and you can preach that around. i find it inconceivable that he will be granted blanket amnesty. but ally bargain to a lesser sentence i could see. >> schieffer: i think the president will have to be very, very careful about this because after all, what would this say to the next person who thinks maybe it would be a good idea to dump a bunch of information out there when he would say, oh, okay, well i can go out do this. in the end they will forgive me
or something. i don't think that will happen. what do you think, margaret? >> i think there are two bigger take-aways from this entire incident which is, one, add to the list of things that russia can say has helped make it player of consequence once again on the world stage. taking edward snowden was one. second more profoundly in terms of long term implication will be damage to alliance manage the. one of the key foreign policy tools of this administration, that means just getting everyone on board at the same time. whether it's about iran or any of the other challenges out there. and this really stressed the lines of our european partners and others around the world. >> one of the things that was learned this week, that the american public can digest on its own, judge leon's ruling where he said it was likely unconstitutional, this blanket holding and collection of data said the government given many opportunities could not cite a single instance when this
surveillance stopped or thwarted an emerging attack. also said we have not found conclusively whether this stopped a terrorist attack from happening. that's not information the american public had before. that's going to increase the intensity of this debate, the utility of this particular kind of surveillance and what role edward snowden played. >> mike morell will tell you that if this metadata program had been in effect on september 10th, 2001, it would have stopped or had very good chance of stopping 9/11. so even though there is no case where this one program was the difference between a successful and unsuccessful attack, there is evidence out there that it is useful. >> schieffer: let's talk about the year in washington. i must say i find -- i can't think of a worse year that washington has gone through, with the possible exception of watergate, of course are which
is off by itself. what is going to happen on obamacare now, nancy? is this program going to finally happen? is it going to -- are people going to be enrolled or are there still problems? >> january 1 when people have their new insurance programs that they go to the hospital, if they go to their doctor or going to be able to get reimbursed, going to be ail to see the doctor that they want to see. it's still an open question. this is really a challenge in particular as understatement for democrats who are really in a bind. they have supported this, they have taken this for four years now. they can't turn their backs on it. their main accomplishment, on the other hand they do need to show that the program needs to be fixed. and going in to an election year, every single one of them at some point in the past few years has said, if you like your doctor, you can keep him. if you like your plan, you can keep it. you have to know that every
republican has found them saying that they got the tape and they're going to turn that in this fall. >> schieffer: other big story of the year was the shut down of the government. i guess we're not going to see another of those for awhile. >> no. we have two years of budget peace that is reflex of the politics of exhaustion. the white house exhausted by the obama care roll out fiasco, republicans were exhausted by the shut down getting nothing out of it. the speaker, john boehner, told his members we're not going to get anything out of this. mr. speaker, run in -- he did one last time then as we saw to create this two years of budget peace said, never again. now am i going to say never again call out critics who want me to run in to a buzz saw again. those politics, over. this was a down year as far as production, but it ended in a way that offers some degree of optimism for the white house and capitol hill. the national defense authorization act was passed, give the pentagon some certainty for awhile.
two years of budget peace also allows shut down scenario to be completely wiped off the boards. one last remaining element do we have default crisis, every political indicator at the white house and the hill suggests we won't. though it was a dreadful year, productively ended in a way that gives both sides some sense that a mid term year will be there. >> schieffer: david, what will be the big stories on your beats this year? >> i think syria is going to be a huge story. particularly if these chemical weapons are destroyed as planned. because all along the absolute worst case scenario in syria has been those chemical weapons falling in to the hands of radical islamists. if you take those chemical weapons off the table, that opens up a lot of actions that the u.s. could take to change the balance of power without having the dire consequence of
those weapons falling in to the wrong hands. because right now they just are afraid of syria imploding, but you get those chemical weapons out of there the consequences aren't as dire. however, i don't think they're going to do anything in the administration until all of the chemical weapons are out, until the peace conference scheduled for january in geneva has run its course. >> i would agree with david, syria will be a story. it's going to be the story for the next decade or more to come. because of the consequences for the region. i think david's prediction there in terms of lack of action may be right. there is opportunity, there have been numerous opportunities over almost three years of conflict now. but we do know january 22, something will happen in switzerland with theism's talks. but the question is still, who is going to show up to the table. assad has not shown him to be the statesman that people thought he might be able to be
with the russians pushing him towards the table. u.s. still doesn't want iran at the negotiating table but their influence has increased in sear california the u.s. has decided instead of picking a side let's make sure they win pick a side, give them moderate support and see how though do. the consequences of that, the rebels fracturing. >> schieffer: couple of sentences what is your prediction for the new year? >> administration will prove the pipeline. will use power in the white house to create executive orders. environmental regulation and economics that will -- >> immigration, it has already passed in the senate look very different in the house. but members want to be able to show their constituents they have accomplished something going in to the mid term election they're not going to be able to tackle something like. >> schieffer: david? >> u.s. will sign a security agreement with afghanistan and decide to keep about 5,000
troops there past 2014. >> john kerry has to become a closer. be karzai's therapist, get something done by april with the israelis and palestinians. and got six months to go with iran here. >> schieffer: all right. i predict that the president will not give amnesty to edward snowden, bark in a minute with some personal thoughts. ♪ [ male announcer ] if we could see energy... what would we see? ♪ the billions of gallons of fuel that get us to work. ♪ we'd see all the electricity flowing through the devices that connect us and teach us. ♪ we'd see that almost 100% of medical plastics are made from oil and natural gas.
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an appropriate note, a long and loud debate over the rules. democratic leader harry reid was hospitalized for exhaustion, he's fine now. but as the brief bipartisanship generated by the budget will evaporate, this this is kumaya i hey to see dysfunctional. maybe they will have some better ideas, too, after some sleep and sun. surveying the mess that washington left behind, the wall street journal's peg knee noonan said the word was year was "botched" i thought it was servile. which reminds me the news wasn't all bad. anthony wiener's political come back went no where. and at last report, the social media seemed to be trending against using cell phones to talk on airplanes. now that is news to make us feel down right warm and fuzzy. back in a minute. protein in jel,
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it doesn't usually work that way with health care. but with unitedhealthcare, i get information on quality rated doctors, treatment options and estimates for how much i'll pay. that helps me, and my guys, make better decisions. i don't like guesses with my business, and definitely not with our health. innovations that work for you. that's health in numbers. unitedhealthcare. >> schieffer: some of our stations are leaving us now. but we'll be right back. ,,,,,,,,,,
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