Face the Nation transcripts January 19, 2014: Rogers, Udall, Donilon, Morell
(CBS News) Below is a transcript of "Face the Nation" on January 19, 2014, hosted by CBS News' Bob Schieffer. Guests include: Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., Former Obama National Security Advisor, Tom Donilon, Former Deputy CIA Director and NSA Surveillance Review Group Member Mike Morell, Ruth Marcus, Christi Parsons and David Sanger.
SCHIEFFER: And good morning again. The House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers has been out front from the beginning defending the NSA programs, since they first came under fire.
Mr. Chairman, welcome.
ROGERS: Thank you.
SCHIEFFER: I want to ask you about the president's speech, but the first thing I want to get to is that you have suggested that perhaps Edward Snowden had some help from the Russians -- he, of course, the man who dumped all of this information out on us from the Web and from the American files. Why did you say that?
ROGERS: Well, a couple things. I said that there -- he's likely to have had help. I think there are some interesting questions we have to answer that certainly would lend one to believe that the Russians had at least in some part something to do with, A, either helping his capabilities -- we -- we noticed that a guy that was worried about privacy issues spent a lot of time, and as a recent DIA report revealed, stealing information the vast majority of which had nothing to do with the NSA program and everything to do with our military capabilities, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, number one.
You'd have to go and look for that information. There's some security things that he did get around that were clearly above his capabilities. The way he departed and how he ended up in Moscow -- now, we still have some questions there, but I can guarantee you he's in the loving arms of an FSB agent right today, and that's not good for the United States and it's not good for the information to be shared with nation-states. That actually hinders and will cost us billions of dollars, by the way, Bob, to try to rectify the problems he's caused in the military operations.
SCHIEFFER: You said that some of the things -- some of the things that took place after he left adds to your suspicion. Tell us what you can about that.
ROGERS: Well, sure, there's a couple of things that we worry about. One is there were some, at least some events and some small reflections on everything from how he prepared to leave, his route of departure, his -- and how he quickly ended up in Moscow. All of those things raise questions. And there's -- some of that's still under investigation.
But there's some clear evidence there that something else was going on. This wasn't a random, smash-and-grab, run down the road, end up in China, the bastion of Internet freedom, and then Russia, of course, the bastion of Internet freedom. Something more was going on there.
And because of the nature of the information that was stolen, again, nothing to do with Americans' privacy, a lot to do with our operations overseas. Some of those operations, by the way, from a military perspective, are being turned off today. That's a significant problem. And it gives indications that this is not what it appears to be.
And when you look at the totality of the information he took, the vast majority of it had to do with military, tactical and operational events happening around the world. One particular agency alone estimated, from conversations I've had, up to several billion dollars to try to fix the problem, one military institution.
SCHIEFFER: You know, the fact that you're making these -- that you are revealing this just as our Olympic athletes are getting ready to go to Russia -- are they safe?
ROGERS: Well, I have real concerns about their safety. You know, the Russians have not been fully cooperative on a security front with sharing information that might -- might be helpful in the securing of, both of our athletes and the participants, people who are there to view the games.
I'm concerned. We have got to have better cooperation as we move forward, if we can ensure the absolute safety not only of our athletes but people who are there to watch the Games.
I think they think this was a political embarrassing situation for them they're not going to share. That's really the wrong attitude when you're talking about an international event in a place where we've seen successful and targeted events.
Remember, this wasn't like Atlanta, where some guy stumbles into the park and has -- he's a one-off kind of guy, to pull off an event. This is an organization that is dedicated to violence for its political gain. They have publicly stated they want to target the Games. They have already targeted security in the region. This is a whole different animal. And we need full and absolute cooperation from the Russians on that front if we can make sure that our...
SCHIEFFER: Well, when you say they're not cooperating, not sharing, what do you mean?
ROGERS: Well, they're cooperating to a small degree, but there is information that we think is valuable about organizational activities that we are fairly confident that the Russians track that they're just not sharing with our security forces.
This has been a tug of war. People are pushing and pulling on this. This shouldn't be this difficult. It is in everyone's interest, including the Russians, to share that information with our security forces so that we can make sure that our activities -- our athletes and the participants are safe when they go to the Games.
SCHIEFFER: Are we doing what we should be doing here? Are we taking precautions, extra precautions?
ROGERS: We're doing everything that's possible -- our security services are doing everything they can to try to make sure that we're safe. There is, again, some cooperation with the Russians. We do know that it has an ending point, and, really, in this particular case, shouldn't do it. We need to continue to put pressure on the Russians to fully cooperate so that we can get some of these questions answered.
SCHIEFFER: Let me shift to what I asked you here to talk about this morning, the president's big speech. The changes that he outlined: did he go too far? Did he get it just right? Did he not go far enough?
ROGERS: Well, two things. First, the speech was good in the sense that it said, listen, no abuses, legal program, not a domestic spying operation that you have seen -- and that rhetoric has occurred over the last year. I think he put that to bed. That's important.
This was a program that was overseen by the judicial branch, the congressional -- or the legislative branch and -- and the White House, lots of oversight, not illegal, no abuses. That's important.
Secondly, the disappointing part of the speech was only in Washington, D.C. can you announce the review of the review of the review in 70 days and that be a decisive action taken. It interjected some uncertainty into the business records program that we really do need and count on to keep us safe.
Some of the other issues, I think, are workable. This one had an immediate impact on that program, especially calling for a warrant before access to the phone records. And that's concerning.
SCHIEFFER: Let me -- let me just ask you about this phone records business. One of the things he said needs to be addressed, but he said I don't have an answer for you yet, is what do we do with this vast trove of telephone numbers that the National Security Agency is collecting and has under its control?
Some are saying that ought to be put into private hands rather than government hands. Where do you see that going?
ROGERS: Well, this is -- this is that uncertainty that I talked about. The president outlined -- and I thought well done -- he articulated why he thought the program was important. It closed a gap that we found after 9/11. It provided the closing of the gap of something we missed that could have helped us stop 9/11. Got it.
Then he said, well, I have some concerns about moving it to the private sector. He outlined that very well. Then he said, but I don't think the government can do it, so I'm going -- we're going to conduct another 70-day review, basically, and then review it again. And that's the uncertainty that was not helpful.
SCHIEFFER: Well, do you think the private sector can do this better than the government?
I mean, I look at what happened here at Target, what's happened at Neiman Marcus.
SCHIEFFER: Would you rather keep it under government control or move it to private? ROGERS: Well, think about what you're asking the private sector to change some systems that they have in order to accommodate a government mandate. I don't think that's the right answer.
Think about what we've been able to do. You lock this system away. There has been no disclosure of any of the information. There's no names and addresses in the vault. So imagine if you're at a police station and you have an evidence vault, it is locked and very strictly controlled about who has access. That's really what they have done here is they have taken what could potential be evidence of a crime. And warrants often collect things, even a warrant, that has nothing to do with the crime but you need it to compare it, put it -- lock it away in a vault, no names, no addresses. And then they take an overseas number that they know has been associated with a terrorist to dip into it.
Now, through that, there is a court review of that. There is an I.G. review of that. There is an internal NSA review, a DOJ review, a Senate Intelligence Committee review and a House Intelligence Committee review.
If you move all that to the private sector, you lose all of the review. That goes away. And you open it up to privacy concerns I don't think we talked about -- divorce lawyers are going to have a heyday. Private detectives on any civil matter anywhere in the country are going to have a heyday.
The companies tell us they believe they will be deluged with warrants on these telephone records that the companies can't sustain. And they are there to provide service to their customers, not work for the government.
SCHIEFFER: Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you nor being with us this morning. You really broadened the information that we had about this and also I think underlines just how complex this is. Thank you very much.
We want to go now to Colorado's Democratic Senator Mark Udall. He is in Denver this morning. He has been one of those who has said that we need to rein in the National Security Agency and I guess I would ask you, Senator, how did you come down on what the president said on Friday? Do you think he did the right thing? Did he go too far? Did he not go far enough?
UDALL: Bob, if you'll indulge me for just a minute, we've got a big football game here in Denver today and I just want the country to know that 364 days of the year we're patriots, but today we're Broncos fans. And I anticipate at the end of the day the other patriots, the New England Patriots are going to go home to Boston and the Broncos are going to going to the Super Bowl. So, we'll hope for a great game and thanks for indulging me.
I think the president reached a milestone on Friday, he announced the end of the bulk collection of American's phone records. He showed he was listening to those of us across the political spectrum. I feel like I've been a voice in the wilderness all these years. And we're now in a position to keep faith with the constitution, to also respect American's privacy. And what he basically did was take the recommendations of his own panel. With all due respect to my good friend Chairman Rogers, there have been some abuses, not intentional but there have been some abuses.
SCHIEFFER: Well, let me just interrupt you there, senator, what abuses? What were they?
UDALL: There were enough abuses -- there was enough collect -- yeah, they were -- in 2009 the FISA Court ruled that there were a lot of unintentional abuses that they therefore shut down the program and demanded that the individual warrants be generated or individual court orders be generated to query the database. And the point I want to make is that the phone companies right now are collecting all this data, we're mandating that they provide it to us. It's their business model to collect this data, they're not going to use that data in ways that will break faith with their customers. I found Chairman Rogers' parade of horribles about divorce attorneys and so on a little bit of a reach.
But the point here is that we can protect Americans' privacy as the panel pointed out, and our quality of life while also keeping our country safe. So, the president did the right thing on the bulk data collection program. We'll keep those authorities in place under the so-called 215 provision of the law, but we won't collect every Americans' phone records almost every day in this massive database.
SCHIEFFER: What is the difference, senator, in collecting people's financial information. We all have to tell the government our financial status so we can pay our income tax to make sure everybody gets their taxes paid. What's the difference in that and having somebody's phone number on record?
UDALL: Well, there's the important distinction here, that is the consent of the citizenry. And, Bob, the law that created 215 under the leadership of Jim Sensenbrenner, Congressman Sensenbrenner was designed to be more targeted and narrowly interpreted. Over time, the law has been secretly interpreted to be broader and broader. And the case I've been trying to make is that we ought to limit it, that we can be effective in protecting our country but we don't need to collect every single phone record of every single American on every single day.
If you think about it, although these are just phone numbers and times, after awhile they become a form of content. And you can read, if you will, what people are doing by analyzing those numbers.
And when you combine that with the fact that this program has not provided uniquely valuable intelligence, there's no example of where the 215, bulk data collection program is uniquely valuable intelligence we don't need it. And in so doing, we keep faith with the constitution, we lessen the costs involved and we rebuild trust in the intelligence community. That's really been my mission.
I want to join Chairman Rogers and thank all the men and women who work to keep our country safe. But I want to rebuild support for and trust in the intelligence committee, and that trust has fallen. And it's now time to rebuild it. And the president took a big step forward on Friday.
Now we've got a mission still in front of us. And that is to implement all the changes that he proposed.
SCHIEFFER: Well, what do you think the situation on Capitol Hill is for that, because what I'm hearing is, in the House votes may not even be there to continue the programs that we have.
UDALL: Well, here is what it looms, Bob. Next year, these authorities expire. And I believe without real reform, not a veneer of reform, but the reform that the president's panel proposed in many ways the president proposed on Friday, day these laws will expire. So we have real motivation to get it right and to work together.
And I'm hardened by the fact that the concerns about these programs have been from right, left and center. This has not divided on partisan lines. Americans' privacy is at the heart of our freedoms.
You know, you think about freedom, the freedom to be left alone which is what privacy is, is what really characterizes much of what we as Americans think is important.
SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, Senator, thank you so much for giving your side of this very important discussion that is now going on. And we will be back in one minute.
SCHIEFFER: We're back now with the former national security adviser for President Obama, Tom Donilon welcome to Face the Nation.
I want to go first to what Chairman Rogers was saying about the Russians may have had some sort of a hand in these disclosures by Edward Snowden. And now all of this came just as you were leaving the White House.
Did you have any indication that the Russians might be mixed up in this in some way?
TOM DONILON, FRM. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: I don't want to get in to details of what I know or didn't know when I left the White House about this, but I do think it's fair to say that there needs to be a thorough investigation of exactly how he was able to download and transport it and what exactly happened along the way. I do think that's a fair question that needs to be thoroughly investigated. We've had lot of discussion here about the program and about disclosures that he's made, but it is a fair point to say we need a thorough investigation as to exactly how Snowden came to come possession into this information...
SCHIEFFER: But wouldn't that -- I mean, wouldn't that be almost obvious? Wouldn't you want -- wouldn't there be a thorough investigation?
DONILON: I think there is an investigation underway to point out the -- and this goes over to what Chairman Rogers said, it needs to be thorough, it needs to look into all the angles.
SCHIEFFER: Do you think we are pursuing Snowden himself aggressively enough?
DONILON: I think we did, yes.
You know, he's -- I do think so.
SCHIEFFER: Do you agree with those who say maybe we should offer him some sort of amnesty in order to get him back here?
DONILON: Absolutely not. I don't see any reason if that happens. In a matter of fact, I'd be strongly against that. Snowden has done great damage to the United States across a range of dimensions. He had a lot of options here to raise issues that he might have had about these programs. And in no way would be for amnesty or clemency for...
SCHIEFFER: Would you call him a traitor?
DONILON: I would call him a traitor, yes.
SCHIEFFER: You would call him a traitor?
Let's talk a little bit about what the president proposed and didn't propose in his speech Friday about reforming the NSA. Do you think they should be reined in?
DONILON: Well, reined in, I think -- I'd argue with the premise of your question, the way you phrase the question. The backdrop here is really important. The programs that have been disclosed and were discussed by the president in his speech on Friday were fully authorized by the congress, overseen by the courts and tightly overseen within the executive branch.
This is not example that you and I might remember from the 1970s, for example, where you had illegal and rogue programs that were discovered by the Church committee and where you had really reform after that. That's not this case. These programs were fully visible to the congress.
SCHIEFFER: Let me just ask you this, do you agree with Senator Udall who says there have been abuses, people like Mike Rogers say, there have been no abuses. Again, there were capabilities, but there have been no abuses.
DONILON: I think what this discussion is about is emphatically not about abuses. And indeed the president's review commission found no evidence of abuse of these programs.
But what this is about is the technology, the power of the technology and the future and about how to ensure that these programs operate consistent with our values and in ways to give competence to both people in the United States and around the world that they're being operated in an appropriate way.
So I don't -- I don't think they have -- that's an important context here. We don't have evidence of abuses here.
What we're talking about here is dealing with the capabilities, the potential of these great technologies in ensuring that things get done in a way consistent with our values.
SCHIEFFER: I want to ask you about the report the Senate Intelligence Committee put out last week. It really excoriated the State Department for its role in not providing enough security for the Benghazi consulate, concluded the attack that left four Americans dead could have actually been preventable.
You were the national security adviser at the time.
Do you agree with their conclusion?
DONILON: I think the report is a good report. And it -- I think it's done a real service, Bob, frankly, because it's a bipartisan report signed off by all the members of the committee. They had some additional views that they added to it. But the core of the report is bipartisan report that reviews in a thorough way the events of Benghazi.
It provides a number of very important recommendations, which I think, in the main, are quite sound and need to be pursued.
And really importantly, in addition to looking forward, it also looked backward and I think really dealt with a number of the concerns and conspiracy theories, frankly, that were out there about what happened that night in Benghazi, particularly as to whether or not the government did everything it could to try to save our colleagues there.
SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you about this new book that former Defense secretary, Robert Gates, has written.
SCHIEFFER: He came down pretty hard on you...
SCHIEFFER: -- in various places. He also revealed many private conversations with the president.
What's your overall reaction?
DONILON: Well, my reaction to the book is that basically that a lot of the press reports have actually been not consistent with a thorough reading of the book, number one.
Number two, I would remark that Secretary Gates and I spent hundreds of hours together. And the important thing, I think, that comes out of the book is the substance and the decisions that the president made.
So for example, Secretary Gates talks about the really -- the difficult process we had in working through Afghan policy, but at the end says he agrees with every decision the president made.
SCHIEFFER: Well, he suggested that at some points, the president sent men into battle when he didn't -- really didn't believe in the mission.
Now, that's a pretty tough charge.
DONILON: Well, that -- and that's not true. You know, the president came to office, reviewed Afghan policy, narrowed our goals, stated them clearly, tripled the number of forces in Afghanistan, now has us on our way to completing that mission by the end of this year. That's just not -- that -- I don't think that's fair.
And I think a fair reading of the book really doesn't come to that conclusion.
DONILON: And, indeed, Bob, you know, if you spend time in these discussions it's not unusual for policymakers to ask hard questions, to raise concerns, to surface doubts. And, indeed, you, as a citizen, should want your president and the most senior officials in the government...
DONILON: -- to ask hard questions and to raise debts. And you need space for that.
SCHIEFFER: He accused you of being particularly disrespectful to military leaders, citing your, quote, "suspicious and sometimes condescending and insulting questioning of our military leaders."
DONILON: Yes. Let me raise that -- I'll say three things in response to that.
One is I have the deepest respect for the military and worked with the military very closely over a four-and-a-half year period, as you know.
Number two, Gates says -- and, again, it's important to read the whole book -- says during the course of his relationship with me, it became very strong and a very solid working relationship. And he was talking about one instance there at the outset.
But I want to repeat, though, I think that you and citizens around this country, and, indeed, a fair reading of history, you'd want to have your most senior national security officials asking the hardest questions. And, indeed, if you read recent books that have come out, for example, on President Bush's administration, Peter Baker's fine book, if you read studies of the Vietnam era, you would want to have the tough questions asked.
SCHIEFFER: Tom Donilon, thank you so much.
I hope to see you again.
SCHIEFFER: And we'll be back with some personal thoughts in a second.
SCHIEFFER: As I listened to the president's speech Friday, I kept thinking just how much the world has changed. George Bush won the presidency in 2000, after a campaign in which terrorism and, for that matter, foreign policy got almost no attention. Yet the Bush presidency was defined by 9/11 and America's reaction to it.
Thousands of Americans were sent into harm's way because the intelligence on which decisions were made was simply wrong.
We should not forget that. If warp speed advances in technology have given us the ability to do better, we should embrace that, not diminish it.
The president gave an excellent outline of the new challenges, but left the hard part for later, for one, deciding where the vast trove of data the government is now able to collect should be stored.
To me, a little delay is just as well. These questions are so complex, they must be based on more than emotional reaction to revelations suddenly thrust upon us.
Let's take the time to think this through.
In the meantime, here is my tip to German Chancellor Merkel. The way to keep others from picking up sensitive information on your cell phone is to stop talking on it. As the president said, there is a reason why BlackBerrys and iPhones are not allowed in the White House Situation Room.
Back in a minute.
SCHIEFFER: And we'll be right back.
SCHIEFFER: And welcome back to "Face the Nation," page two.
Joining us now, the former deputy director of the CIA, Michael Morell. He also served on that advisory panel that made the recommendations last month about what changes would be needed at the National Security Agency.
Mr. Morell, thank you for joining us this morning.
MORELL: Good to be here, Bob.
SCHIEFFER: I want to ask you first -- I mean, Chairman Rogers made some interesting disclosures this morning suggesting that there is some reason to believe the Russians may have been helping Edward Snowden and also expressing real concern about safety for the coming Olympics. Just give me your reaction to that.
MORELL: So I share the chairman's concern about what the Russian intelligence services may be doing with Mr. Snowden. I don't have -- I don't have any particular evidence, but one of the things that I point to when I talk about this is that the disclosures that have been coming recently are very sophisticated in their content and sophisticated in their timing, almost too sophisticated for Mr. Snowden to be deciding on his own. And it seems to me he might be getting some help.
SCHIEFFER: And what about the coming Olympics?
Are you concerned about the lack of cooperation that the Russians seem to be giving us on security?
MORELL: So there's a long history of cooperation between nations who are hosting an Olympics and the United States government, and the United States intelligence community in particular. And we did not get that cooperation with the Russians.
So I share the chairman's concern about the safety of the Olympics going forward.
SCHIEFFER: Why do you think that is? Is it just the Russians being the Russians or is there something else here?
MORELL: I think, fundamentally, they don't want to admit that they don't have complete control here and that they might need some help.
SCHIEFFER: Let's talk about the president's speech. You were on the panel that made recommendations. How many did you make, what, forty...
SCHIEFFER: Forty-six recommendations on things that could be done. You heard the president's speech. What do you think the challenge is now for him?
MORELL: I think the president said two very important things. One was that the threats to this nation are significant, that intelligence has never been more important in dealing with those threats, that the men and women of the NSA are patriots, that the 215 program was legal and fully authorized and there wasn't any abuse, and the program needs to continue for the protection of the nation. That was one thing he said. The other thing he said was that there is a potential risk here to privacy and civil liberties that we need to take seriously. And American history has plenty of examples of why we need to take it seriously. And I think the changes that he announced were significant. Some of them will take some time to be implemented, but some of them are in place today, as we speak, right here, and one is the -- one is the requirement to get a court order to query the 215 database.
I think the real challenge going forward, Bob, is that there are many ways to square this circle. There are many ways to accomplish both the national security piece of this and the privacy and civil liberties piece. Some of those ways will put one of those two more at risk than other ways. And I think the challenge here is for the administration and the Congress to find the best approach that minimizes the impact on national security as we work to improve privacy and civil liberties.
SCHIEFFER: Do you -- Chairman Rogers has said, and said again this morning, there have been no abuses. Senator Udall says there has. Do you know of any abuses?
MORELL: So there has been a handful of cases, literally a handful, where NSA employees have looked into the database inappropriately, looked at boyfriends or girlfriends. In every one of those cases, they were dealt with appropriately and I believe, actually, some of them may have been fired.
But that's the limited abuse that has taken place. There has been no systematic abuse. There has been no -- no political abuse. It has been minor, very minor.
SCHIEFFER: Do you -- why did your panel recommend that this great trove of telephone numbers, this giant phone book that the NSA has -- why did you recommend that be put in private hands?
And I ask that in light of the recent messes that have come up with Target and also with Neiman Marcus, where all of this information has been hacked into. Why isn't the government better capable of protecting this stuff than -- than private?
MORELL: The government, in the NSA case, showed it was not capable of protecting classified information. And I happen to know some -- some industries in the private sector who do a phenomenal job of protecting their data, financial institutions, for example. So I think the government actually has some things it can learn from the private sector about how to protect data.
SCHIEFFER: What do you think is the most immediate thing that needs to be done right here? What's the first thing the president needs to do?
MORELL: I think he's done it, which is to require a warrant for NSA to query the database.
SCHIEFFER: And how do you keep that from slowing down this process? There might be some times when you come upon information, you need to act on it right now.
MORELL: Right. And there is an emergency provision so that, if you need to act on it immediately, you can bypass the court and go query the data, have the court look at it later. So there is that emergency provision.
Now, I know that Chairman Feinstein and Chairman Rogers of the intelligence committees have pointed out that, in some cases, it's taken nine days to get things done. That's too long. The court's got to move faster. And that's one of the things that has to be looked at is how do we make sure the court can move as fast is it can move?
SCHIEFFER: I want to get you on record for one thing because there seems to be some disagreement. Some say that, if the government had the capabilities before 9/11 that it has now, it could have prevented 9/11. Do you think that's true?
MORELL: Yes, I do. And, quite frankly, I've been criticized a little bit for saying that. And here is what I meant, Bob, when I said that. If the program were in place before 9/11, I believe it would have prevented 9/11. And by the program, I mean two things. I mean NSA's ability to query the database, which would have allowed NSA to find one of the 9/11 hijackers in California, and the part of the program where NSA shares such information with the FBI.
If both of those pieces had been in place, 9/11 would have been prevented by this program.
SCHIEFFER: How badly do you think our national security has been harmed by the disclosures by Edward Snowden?
MORELL: I believe this is the worst disclosures in the history of the U.S. intelligence community. I agree with Chairman Rogers that it will cost billions and billions of dollars to repair the damage.
SCHIEFFER: And are they repairing the damage? Are there steps going on now? Are they doing things in different ways?
And I guess the other part of that question is, are the other guys doing things in a different way because of these disclosures?
MORELL: So even before I left government in August, we were watching the adversaries change their approach as a result of the disclosures. So they moved very quickly to adjust to the collection that we were doing against them. And I don't know it, but I would imagine my former colleagues are working aggressively to adjust as well.
SCHIEFFER: How has this affected the morale of people who do this kind of work?
MORELL: I think it has affected the morale in a negative way, particularly at NSA. I thought one of the most effective things the president did in the speech was to compliment the work of the men and women of NSA. And I think it was very important for the country to hear that and I think it was very important for the employees of NSA to hear that from their commander in chief.
SCHIEFFER: Mr. Morell, I want to thank you for being with us this morning. And we're going to see a lot more of you starting tomorrow. Mike Morell will be joining CBS News as a contributor to all our broadcasts. So welcome aboard.
And we'll be back...
MORELL: Thank you, Bob.
SCHIEFFER: ... in one minute with our panel.
SCHIEFFER: And back now for some analysis of all of what we've been talking about this morning, David Sanger is the national security correspondent for the "New York Times."
Christi Parsons, we welcome her for her first appearance on "Face The Nation." She covers the White House for the "Los Angeles Times" and all the other tribune newspapers.
And Ruth Marcus, columnist for "The Washington Post."
David, let me start with you.
The president's speech.
DAVID SANGER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I thought it was interesting for what it said and I thought it was interesting for what it didn't say.
He certainly addressed, Bob, the most critical political issue, which was the one of whether or not this bulk collection of telephone numbers that you've been discussing throughout the show should be moved from government hands to private hands. He said yes on that.
Whether or not they should always be a warrant or some kind of court order to query it. He said yes on that.
He said no on something that the FBI had pushed back on hard, was a recommendation from that group that Mr. Morell was on, that said that if there's ever a national security letter issued -- and there are thousands issued by the FBI all the time -- they should also have a judge pass on those. The president rejected that one.
What he didn't talk about, Bob, were the issues that were of most concern, in some ways, to American companies and to the NSA, which was a recommendation that the NSA not regularly weaken the encryption systems that are used to protect all of our data, what goes to Target, our health data and so forth. The NSA has weakened those over time so they could break into them. And, also, a recommendation that the NSA get some additional supervision when they're looking at weaknesses in software so that they could do cyber attacks on other countries.
And on those, the president is still studying it. SCHIEFFER: Christi, you've been covering President Obama for a long time.
Is this a different President Obama or a different Barack Obama than the Obama who came to office talking -- he was pretty critical of some of these agencies?
CHRISTI PARSONS, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": Yes, he was. And that's what people remember when they think about the pres -- you know, the Barack Obama who ran for president, he was critical of the Bush wireless -- warrantless wiretaps, for example. And, you know, there was a line from his 2000 speech about -- 2004 speech about Feds, you know, raiding the libraries and so forth.
But the fact is that when he's been in office, he actually has been more open to programs like this. For example, he voted to reauthorize The Patriot Act. People forget about that. And he's been open to things like the drone program and this kind of surveillance.
You know, the thing that we see time and again is that he really does approach these things like a lawyer. He can get to the point where he's comfortable with programs like this, but he wants to see -- he wants to run it through his process. He wants to see rules and checks and balances. And he wants to do a public explanation.
SCHIEFFER: Ruth, I thought you had a really interesting column when you talked about the two kinds of loyalty, talking about Bob Gates and then talking about this whole issue.
Where did you come down on the president's speech?
RUTH MARCUS, "WASHINGTON POST":
On the president's speech, I came down slightly more positive, I think, in terms of the impact than David did. I would call it significant but incomplete, but with an emphasis on the significant.
I think the biggest change is the pres -- something that Mike Morell mentioned, that the president has now said we will have judges, not bureaucrats, at NSA, no matter how well meaning they are. There's 22 folks at NSA now who have the authority to query this database.
But they have a self-interest. They see things from a particular perspective.
I would rather have federal judges helping oversee and make this decision. That is a huge change. And I think it's a very important one.
SCHIEFFER: And tell me a little bit about that -- what you had to say about Bob Gates in there.
MARCUS: Well, I wrote a little bit about loyalty. And one of my big concerns, and, look, all of us in the news gathering business love inside information. So it's a little churlish of us to be criticizing people who give us inside information. That said, I do think, particularly with Secretary Gates, a Republican brought in to a Democratic administration, not in a sort of sideline position, but in a really critical policy-making job, to then turn around and write his memoirs while the president is still in office really would, if I were president, selecting a candidate in the future, would give me pause about selecting somebody from the opposite party.
Loyalty is an under appreciated virtue in Washington these days.
SCHIEFFER: You know, I'll tell you what I found interesting about it, much of the criticism that Mr. Gates made I happen to agree with. But I thought making the criticism at this point, while the president is still a sitting president, I was very surprised that Bob Gates did that, because either -- you talk about loyalty. I think there's a certain loyalty to the presidency. And I think when you make it harder for a president, while he is still in office, I think I have problems with that.
If he'd have said it after the president left office, but maybe he thought it was important enough that it ought to be said now. And, obviously, he did.
MARCUS: That's his argument. And I was at a breakfast with him on Friday, where he reaffirmed that he didn't feel that he had transgressed issues of loyalty. I just have to respectfully disagree for exactly the reasons that you said, not while you're in office.
SCHIEFFER: David, what about Mike Rogers talking this morning about the Russians may have had a hand in helping Edward Snowden make some of this information public?
And both he and Mike Morell said it goes back to the idea of what kind of information he was releasing.
What was your take on that?
SANGER: Well, there's a lot we don't know yet about whether or not Edward Snowden was operating independently, whether this was his idea, as a protest about what the NSA is doing, or whether or not he was operating on instructions from someone else, or decided later on to cooperate with someone else.
But certainly, there are a lot of issues about whether or not China and Russia obtained the information out of computers he was traveling with when he showed up in Hong Kong and then again in Russia, and then whether he struck any kind of deal for his stay in Russia.
And we don't know.
We also don't know how much information he's actually in possession of now, or how much he may have left others in possession of.
Clearly, everything that we've heard suggests that the intelligence agencies are worried more about what may come than what has already -- already out.
I wrote a little bit this week about some documents that were published in Europe a few weeks ago that showed how the agency uses radio wave technology to get into computers that are completely separated from the Internet. And we published this because the information had already appeared in European papers, as well as the documents.
But certainly, the NSA has got to be worried about how many more of their techniques are out there.
SCHIEFFER: Christi, what are you hearing at the White House?
Is there concern there about the safety of America's athletes going to these Olympics?
PARSONS: You know, I haven't heard people talk about that an awful lot, to tell you the truth. The focus for the last couple of weeks really has -- I mean the White House has been so consumed with containing the fallout from the Snowden revelations, for example. And so much of the focus has been on preparing these reforms that the president talked about on Friday.
I haven't heard them talking about that yet.
SCHIEFFER: What -- they also have Congress back in town. And there's -- they're going to have plenty on their plate there.
What's going to happen, Ruth?
MARCUS: Oh, I think it's a safe bet to say not very much, because, hello, one of the most vivid parts of the Gates book were the string of adjectives he unleashed on the dysfunctional Congress. And it's hard to disagree with that.
Congress only deals with action forcing events. So eventually, the authorities of The Patriot Act, for example, to get to the NSA issue, are going to expire and there is going to have to be a decision about whether to reaffirm those.
But it's going to be very hard to see really substantive change from this Congress, unless there is a deadline bearing down on them, and perhaps not even then.
The next really big deadline we're going to have to deal with is the debt ceiling. And already, you can see the jockeying on that. There, I hope, they've learned their listen and will blink well before the event.
SANGER: It's worth saying that the Patriot Act doesn't expire until 2015.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 2015, yes.
SANGER: -- which takes you past the mid-term elections. But at that moment, it really is going to be fascinating to see, because Congress is going to have to make some decisions on all of these positions the president has taken and several he hasn't taken, because alternative will be that the entire Patriot Act would just expire.
PARSONS: Well, that's why the president's approach to Congress this week, to me, seemed like something we're going to see an awful lot more of, which is he proposes some changes, he describes the situation, makes the case for change and then kind of kicks it over to Congress and says, let's see what you folks can do.
SCHIEFFER: But, you know, here's the problem -- what makes me (INAUDIBLE). You know, when he turned it over to the Congress to write the stimulus package that first time around, that didn't work out very well.
SCHIEFFER: You know, and I'm not sure Congress is capable of doing something like that. And that's, to me, where the concern is.
MARCUS: Absolutely. Our constitutional architecture wants to put a lot of these policy-making decisions in the hands of lawmakers, but they haven't proven themselves capable of doing the policy. That leaves it to the other branches of government, which is not healthy for democracy.
SANGER: On the other hand, in this case, for some of these changes with the NSA, which I think the president feels -- feels beaten upon for all the reasons Mr. Morell said, this is the way of slow-walking some of the changes. He can appear to embrace some big broader changes, but say, look, this requires Congressional action, full in the knowledge that Congress is not exactly going to leap to the task.
MARCUS: Right. But you're undervaluing what he did when he appeared to embrace some changes, because I do think, once again, that the question of judicial involvement in querying these huge databases, which is going to happen with or without Congressional action...
SANGER: Yes, that's...
PARSONS: Well, and they also did set some changes in motion, for example, by requiring the judicial review before querying the database. Congress is -- no one is obligated to continue doing that, except that now it's being done if no great calamity comes as a result of it, you know, that may have actual effect, whether, you know, regardless of how Congress...
SCHIEFFER: You know, the other thing is -- and this is kind of inside baseball, but I think it's very important. The president has really bolstered up his Congressional team. I mean he's put in a new Congressional relations guy, a new White House lobbyist on Capitol Hill.
People outside of Washington, they say, oh, come on, that's not a big deal.
It's a very big deal, because, you know, I had Democrats and Republicans coming up to me last year saying they didn't know who the president's chief lobbyist on Capitol Hill was. I mean they'd never seen a person, and I don't mean this to be disrespectful to the person. But his lobbying effort, his ties to Capitol Hill, were just almost nonexistent.
MARCUS: But, Bob, the president's chief lobbyist on Capitol Hill needs to be the president. And there's really...
SCHIEFFER: Of course it does.
MARCUS: -- a big question about how much effort he wants to put into that, and, at this stage, how big an impact that can have, because relations are frayed, both Repub -- with Republicans and Democrats.
SCHIEFFER: But I think -- you're right. I couldn't agree more on that. But it has to be face-to-face, one-on-one Congressional relations, not just going on television and making a speech and then expecting everybody to fall into line.
PARSONS: Well, it's been interesting to hear the White House talking about Congress being one element of their strategy going forward. Apparently, someone equal with the pen and the phone that the president appears to have acquired or...
MARCUS: Those are the three branches of government.
PARSONS: There they are.
SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, I think we'll stop it right there.
And thank you all very much.
It was fun to talk this morning.
Back in a moment with our FACE THE NATION Flashback.
SCHIEFFER: Out of this world interviews are tough to come by. But 45 years ago this month, FACE THE NATION scored a scoop with three astronauts who had come back from a trip out of this world.
That is our FACE THE NATION Flashback. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have commit. We have -- we have lift off.
SCHIEFFER (voice-over): With cold war attentions running high, the Apollo 8 crew, Bill Anders, Frank Borman and James Lovell, had given Americans the ultimate Christmas gift on December 25th, 1968, when they became the first men to orbit the moon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth.
SCHIEFFER: Less than three weeks later, they were on FACE THE NATION.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A spontaneous unrehearsed news interview with the Apollo 8 astronauts.
SCHIEFFER: And they were already looking ahead to the next big mission.
JAMES LOVELL, CAPTAIN, APOLLO 8: Shortly, we're going to have people who actually land and walk and explore on the lunar surface. And I think these new symbols will far overshadow, perhaps, what we've done.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd like to ask you a kind of a philosophical question, a question of values. This program, man on the moon, Apollo program, is going cost on the order of $24 billion.
Does it trouble you or does it please you that $24 billion is spent for putting a man on the moon?
Let's start with the commander.
COLONEL FRANK BORMAN, APOLLO 8 COMMANDER: I think that -- it doesn't trouble me at all. I think that what we have done in the Apollo program and in the space program is absolutely essential. I look on the Apollo program and the space program as technical life insurance for the future of this country. And I don't think we can afford to neglect it.
(END VIDEO TAPE) SCHIEFFER: At the peak of the Apollo program, NASA funding accounted for 4.5 percent of the federal budget. Now, it's less than .5 of 1 percent.
We can only imagine what the Apollo crew would say about that.
SCHIEFFER: Well that's it for us today.
We'll see you right here next Sunday on FACE THE NATION.
See you then.
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