60 Minutes followed up on the
stellar kneepad work it did for the National Security Agency
last week with an interview with National Security Advisor Susan
Rice that touched on spying issues. This time, though, even the
media’s flaccid 300, holding the hot public relations gate on
behalf of every stupid and intrusive policy the administration can
conjure, seemed to have a tough time swallowing Rice’s absolutist
stance against whistleblower Edward Snowden, and her defense of
surveillance policies that
creep out people around the world, offend
America’s allies, and drive
billions of dollars of business away from U.S.
Lesley Stahl: Edward Snowden. You know, Snowden is believed to
have a million and a half more documents that have never been
released. Given that, would you, would the president, consider
granting him amnesty in exchange for him never releasing any more
Susan Rice: Well, Lesley, we don’t think that Snowden deserves
amnesty. We believe he should come back, he should be sent back,
and he should have his day in court.
Lesley Stahl: But if what he’s released so far has been so
damaging and he has a million and a half more documents, how
important is it that he not release those? And what would we offer
Susan Rice: Lesley, you know I’m not going to get into a
negotiation with you on camera about something that sensitive–
So Edward Snowden is still absolutely a bad guy, and never mind
that he’s revealed a vast and chilling surveillance state so that
we can finally debate its (lack of) merits. The National Security
Advisor sticks to the
White House party line that Snowden deserves no consideration
as a whistleblower with broad, popular support. Even Lesley Stahl
seems to find Rice a tad…rigid and unrealistic. Maybe it was the
federal court ruling that NSA spying is
very likely unconstitutional that turned the tide. Or maybe it
was the review board’s recommendations—however
tepid—that the NSA be reined-in just a bit.
This past week, a federal judge ruled that the NSA’s bulk
collection of American phone records, revealed in Snowden’s leaks,
“almost certainly” violates the Constitution, while a panel of
intelligence and legal experts urged the president to impose new
restrictions on the NSA.
Lesley Stahl: According to an article in the New Yorker, every
time there’s been a question about putting restraints on the NSA up
to now, the president has sided with the intelligence
Susan Rice: What the NSA and our intelligence community does as
a whole is designed to protect Americans and our allies. And they
do a heck of a good job at it.
Lesley Stahl: Officials in the intelligence community have
actually been untruthful both to the American public in hearings in
Congress and to the FISA Court.
Susan Rice: There have been cases where they have inadvertently
made false representations. And they themselves have discovered it
and corrected it.
Lesley Stahl: But when you have so many phone records being
held, emails, heads of state’s phone conversations being listened
in to, has it been worth our allies being upset? Has it been worth
all the tech companies being upset? Has it been worth Americans
feeling that their privacy has been invaded?
Susan Rice: Lesley, it’s been worth what we’ve done to protect
the United States. And the fact that we have not had a successful
attack on our homeland since 9/11 should not be diminished. But
that does not mean that everything we’re doing as of the present
ought to be done the same way in the future.
Rice could be adhering to that old saying about how being in
government means never having to say you’re sorry. Or maybe she’s
looking forward to a
John Bolton-ish career of appearing on news shows just to call for
the execution of enemies of the state.
from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/12/23/on-nsa-spying-national-security-advisor