(CBS News) Below is a transcript of "Face the Nation" on June 16, 2013, hosted by CBS News' Bob Schieffer. Guests include: White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich. Plus, a panel featuring the Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan, Time Magazine's Rick Stengel, the Washington Post's Barton Gellman, and Mother Jones' David Corn.
SCHIEFFER: Today only on Face the Nation, White House chief of staff, Denis McDonough. As the president's top aide sits down with us this morning, there's no shortage of things to talk about -- the decision to give military aid to the Syrian rebels, the national security leaks, possible scandals brewing in the State Department, and a lot more. We'll get reaction from the chairman of the house intelligence committee, Mike Rogers. Plus, analysis from an all-star panel, including Barton Gellman, who broke the story of those national security leaks in the "Washington Post," the managing editor of "Time" magazine, Rick Stengel, "Wall Street Journal" columnist Peggy Noonan and David Corn of "Mother Jones." It's all ahead because this is Face the Nation.
ANNOUNCER: From CBS News in Washington, Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer.
SCHIEFFER: Good morning, again. And we begin this morning with the White House chief of staff, Denis McDonough. Mr. McDonough, thank you so much. Happy Father's Day's to you. You're a father of...
MCDONOUGH: Three. Thank you very much, Bob. I'm -- it's the best job I'll ever have, as the president said the other day. And it's a great pleasure to be with you. Happy Father's Day to you as well.
SCHIEFFER: Thank you very much. Let's start with the news here. And that is the National Security Agency disclosures about whether Americans' privacy has been invaded. This morning in the "Washington Post," Barton Gellman, who will be along later this morning on this broadcast, has a big front- page story about government officials. And he just underlines that this is something that's been going on for a long time. They've been worried about National Security Agency encroaching on Americans' privacy. Back in 2004, two officials at the time -- the acting attorney general, James Comey, and the FBI Director Mueller threatened to resign because they thought the surveillance was being done -- that they were intruding on privacy. They didn't. But I must say, Mr. McDonough, a lot of what the story underlines seems very much like we're hearing -- what we're hearing about today with these disclosures by Edward Snowden. So let me just ask you to start. Do you have any comment on this story that Bart Gellman has this morning?
MCDONOUGH: I saw the Bart Gellman story. And he has obviously worked on this over the couple of the last couple of weeks pretty aggressively. I will say that much of what he was working on was a draft inspector general report about a program that was suspended now several years ago because of the way we saw its usefulness. That's point one. Point two, you mentioned Jim Comey, who was a deputy attorney general at the time, he's recently been considered among many other people for a lead job by President Obama to include potentially as FBI director. It's precisely because of his views on things like surveillance that I think he's come to the president's attention. Three, let's take a minute and step back. The debate in 2004- 2005 was about a program that did not have any congressional involvement, did not have any judicial oversight and frankly did not have any of the internal administration-based checks and balances that we have today. When President Obama came into office in 2009, after being elected in 2008, he was pretty skeptical about the importance of these programs. So he took a very hard look at them. And as a result, we changed many things about how we oversee those programs. Congress now is much more robustly involved in these programs, you'll hear that from your next guest, not just the intelligence committees, but also the judicial committees and every member of congress has been given an -- a classified white paper to review to take a look at these. So part of what you see reflected in the Bart Gellman story is part of what the president was reacted to when he made fundamental changes in how we oversee these programs.
SCHIEFFER: Well, let me get you on the record here now. Does the president feel that he has violated the privacy of any American?
MCDONOUGH: He does not.
SCHIEFFER: You feel that that has been taken care of? You know, I think back to what Ronald Reagan used to say, "trust but verify." But in this situation, it seems to me the government may be asking us to trust it, but they can't verify why we ought to trust it in some cases.
MCDONOUGH: Well, I think you'll hear the president talk about this in the days ahead, Bob. And you'll hear him say again what he said in his speech earlier this month at the war college, at the National Defense University. You hear what he said when he responded to reporters last week on this question, which is we do have to find the right balance, especially in this new situation where we find ourselves with all of us reliant on internet, on e-mail, on texting. So we find ourselves communicating in different ways, but that means the bad guys are doing that as well. So, we have to find the right balance between protecting our privacy -- which is sacrosanct in the president's view -- and protecting the country from the very real risks we face. So what -- nobody is -- the president is not saying -- and this goes to the heart of the changes he made in 2009 -- the president is not saying, "trust me." The president is saying I want every member of congress on whose authority we are running this program, to understand it, to be briefed about it, and to be comfortable with it, that's why we've done things like we did in 2009 and 2011 by presenting a classified white paper, inviting every member of congress -- 535 members of them -- to see that piece of paper, to study it and to come to us with questions. Congress has authorized these programs now in very robust debates. And those debates are to their credit. But at the end of the day, it was bipartisan majorities that enacted these. And lastly, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, the FISA court, looks at all those programs on a very regular basis to make sure that they comport with the law, that they comport with our standards and our values. And throughout this process, we have independent audits that are conduct bide inspectors general and by the Department of Justice at NSA, to make sure that this is being conducted in a way that stands up to our values. And to be honest with you, I think if Bob Mueller and Jim Comey, who were having that conversation in 2004, could see what would transpire over the subsequent several years they'd be very comfortable with the programs we're running today, And in fact both of them are.
SCHIEFFER: Let me move on to Snowden, the leaker. Do you know where he is? And do you have any indication that he is cooperating with the Chinese or any other foreign power?
MCDONOUGH: I'm sure you'll understand when I tell you I don't want to get involved in any ongoing investigation or any kind of effort that's being undertaken but I can tell you that I don't know where he is right now.
SCHIEFFER: Former Vice President Dick Cheney said this morning quite simply that he is a traitor and that he was engaged and has committed crimes, and he has caused enormous damage. Do you think he's a traitor?
MCDONOUGH: You know, again, I'm not going to frontrun any investigation that's ongoing here. We're going to be very careful about that. I'll tell you what I worry a little bit about. I worry a little bit about some of the hyperbole that now is being thrown around from him and from others involved in this debate that would somehow cast a pall on the intelligence community and the very dedicated and patriotic people who go to work every day in the intelligence community worldwide, many of them putting their lives on the line, to protect Americans.
SCHIEFFER: Are you saying to me this morning that the government's done nothing wrong here?
MCDONOUGH: You know what? I'm not saying that. I'm saying that if there are problems, we're going to get to the bottom of them, as we on any number of these other issues. But we're also recognize that -- the president recognizes more than anybody -- that he has a fundamental obligation to the American people, and that's to keep them safe, but he also swore an oath to uphold the Constitution. He believes that we can do both. He believes that we are doing both. And he's proud of the work that we've been able to undertake to do that.
SCHIEFFER: Some of these claims that Snowden made -- he claimed, for example, that he could listen in on anybody's conversation...
MCDONOUGH: That's incorrect.
SCHIEFFER: ...including the president's if he had the phone number.
SCHIEFFER: Did he overstate his ability to do these things?
MCDONOUGH: It's surely my view that he did.
SCHIEFFER: How else did he overstate?
MCDONOUGH: You know, it's hard for me to go back into each of the puts and takes of his statements, and over the course of time that will get adjudicated, but I can tell you as we take a step back again and look at the programs that we are running, authorized by congress, overseen by congress, briefed aggressively to every member of congress, subjected to regular oversight from the independent courts, what does that tell you? That tells you that all three branches of government, to include aggressive internal checks inside the administration from inspectors general and routine audits, is overseeing how we do these programs. I think that the American people can feel confident that we have those three branches of looking at it. Now, that said, Bob, the existence of these programs, obviously has unnerved many people. And the president...
SCHIEFFER: How much damage did he do?
MCDONOUGH: Well, let me get to the damage in one second. But the president welcomes a public debate on these questions, because he does say -- and he will say again in the days ahead -- that we have to find the right balance. We have to strike the right balance. And we will not keep ourselves on a perpetual war footing, as he said in his speech at the National Defense University. Now, how much damage did he do? The fact is that time will tell, but in effect, by putting these things out there the way he did, rather than having a kind of robust public debate we'd like to have in the manner we'd like to have it, in effect, gives a playbook to those who would like to under-- to get around our techniques and our practices. And, obviously, that's not in our interest in the long haul.
SCHIEFFER: Are you going to prosecute him?
MCDONOUGH: Again, I'm not going to get ahead of the investigators on this.
SCHIEFFER: Big developments overseas. I want to talk about that. Iran elected a new president who is a moderate, but at the same time, the London Independent Newspaper reports today the Iranians plan to send 4,000 troops to Syria to help the Assad. Can tell me anything about that?
MCDONOUGH: I haven't seen the report so I can't comment on that. But I can say that, obviously, not withstanding the very difficult circumstances the Iranian people went to the polls under, lack of press freedom, lack of transparency, harassment in many cases, I think we should all be quite proud of the way that Iranians turned out to vote and to express their democratic views and aspirations.
SCHIEFFER: So you see this as a hopeful sign?
MCDONOUGH: I see it as a potentially hopeful sign. I think the question for us now is if he is interested in, as he has said in his campaign events, mending his relations and Iran's relations with the rest of the world, there's an opportunity to do that. If he lives up to his obligations under the U.N. Security Council Resolution to come clean on this illicit nuclear program, he will find a partner in us. And it will be an opportunity for that. But to get to that point we need for him to live up to the obligations on the nuclear program. And if he does, I think there's a great opportunity for Iran and the people of that storied country to have the kind of future that they would, I think, justifiably, want
SCHIEFFER: The White House announced last week that we now will give some arms help to the Syrian rebels. Just overnight, Egypt's president says Egypt is now ready and wants to see a no-fly zone over Syria. Are you going to now go back and rethink whether you ought to do more now, as you're seeing this kind of reaction from the Arab world, that maybe we should do more than just small arms, or whatever it is we're going to send?
MCDONOUGH: Well, again, I don't think we've gotten into the kind of individual puts and takes. What we have said is that the scope and scale of our assistance, which has been robust heretofore, to the Syrian Opposition Council, as well as to the Syrian Military Council, actually the fighters on the ground. That assistance will expand, the scope and scale of that assistance will expand. Why are we doing that? We're doing that because we want to make sure that Syrians who want to take charge of their own country have the ability to do that. We want to make sure that they have the cohesion and the capabilities to work together with their colleagues to have the kind of future for Syria.
SCHIEFFER: Will we oppose other governments if they want to put heavier weapons in there like say anti-aircraft guns and things that might be turned against American people?
MCDONOUGH: Well, we're obviously -- we're going to make sure that one of the reasons that we're doing the extensive efforts we have done in terms of understanding who the opposition is, is to make sure that we can coordinate with our friends and our allies. And there are many neighbors in that area who, obviously, have significant concerns about what is going on. Here's what we want to do, though, Bob. We have to be very discerning about what's in our interest and what outcome is best for us, and the prices that we're willing to pay to get to that place. We've rushed to war in this region in the past. We're not going to do it here.
SCHIEFFER: One other quick foreign relations question. North Korea asked the United States yesterday for direct -- or said they'd be interested in direct high-level talks. Will we take them up on that?
MCDONOUGH: I saw the statement, and, obviously, we've always been quite clear that dialogue is our preferred outcome here, and in fact we have some ways of talking to them and have exercised that in the past. Here's what I will say, though, those talks have to be real. They have to be based on them living up to their obligations, to include on proliferation, on nuclear weapons, on smuggling and other things. And so we'll judge them by their actions, not by the nice words that we heard yesterday. I will say that the bottom line is they're not going to be able to talk their way out of the very significant sanctions they're under now, sanctions that Russia supported and, very importantly, that China supported.
SCHIEFFER: Let me ask you about this memorandum that came to light over at the State Department where it appeared that top State Department officials were trying to quash investigations into some very serious matters, including some very questionable behavior by the ambassador to Belgium. I know you say you don't like to get into the middle of investigations, but should someone accused of some of the things this Belgian ambassador has been accused of, ditching his security and going off to some -- by some reports soliciting prostitutes and things like that? This happened a couple of years ago. Should that person still be on the job there? Shouldn't he be suspended until you find out what exactly happened there?
MCDONOUGH: Well, let me just say I know that you all want me to say this, but I will say that we have a golden rule here, I'm not going to get into the middle of any ongoing investigations, that's the golden rule in our White House and frankly in White Houses over the course of time. I will say that the president has zero tolerance for abuses of power or malfeasance. And so we'll see what comes out of the investigation, but the president's views on these matters are quite clear.
SCHIEFFER: The Washington Post reported this week the president's trip to Africa may cost between $60 million and $100 million. Is that worth it in a time of sequestration, when we've got people in various government agencies working four days a week, taking a 20 percent cut in pay because of these severe budget cuts are in effect?
MCDONOUGH: The Washington Post story also said that was the range of price tag that they put on that trip as fully consistent with the kinds of prices that we've paid or the costs that we've paid for similar trips in the past for Republican and Democratic administrations. The question to ask yourself is the one that you've just asked, is it worth it? In Africa we see many of the fastest-growing economies in the world. In Africa we see many of the best opportunities for us for a renewed investment in trade. In Africa we also see some of the most robust threats and challenges to the United States. And, you know, it's very important for the president of the United States, as the commander-in-chief and as the representative of this government and of the American people, to be able to travel to carry out our foreign policy. Now, on the question of sequester, is it right that we should just let the sequester sit in place? Absolutely not, Bob. We should not. That's why we have aggressively been reaching out to Republicans and Democrats to underscore the tough choices that you and I talked about the last time I was on your show, that this president is willing to take to try to make long-term investments to return growth and opportunity to the middle class in America. Right now, unfortunately, what we're seeing is too many people in Washington complacent with the status quo. This president is not willing to do that. So if Congress won't work with us on the budget to invest in middle class families, we'll find ways to do it because it's just to too vitally important for us to not make sure that we have the kind of opportunities that middle class families, like the one you grew up in and the one I grew up in, have had over the course time.
SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, Mr. McDonough, we could talk all afternoon because there's a lot of news going on, but I really appreciate you coming by this morning and thank you so much for being here.
MCDONOUGH: I'm happy to be here. Happy Father's Day to you, again, thanks so much.
SCHIEFFER: Same to you. We'll be back in one minute to hear from a key Republican. Stay with us.
SCHIEFFER: And we're back now with the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Mike Rogers. He's in Mackinaw City, Michigan, this morning. Let me just start with the -- you heard Mr. McDonough talking about aid for the Syrian rebels. We don't have any real idea of what aid the administration is planning to send them, other than they're just going to send some. At this point, Mr. Chairman, do you think Congress will go along with the president's request for military aid to the Syrian rebels?
ROGERS: Yes, I think if a request were presented tomorrow morning, I don't think that they would. The administration needs to come up to Congress and make a comprehensive case. What is the plan? Where are we going on Syria? And what do you want to accomplish? Some of the things that they've told us -- told the committee -- the Intelligence Committee in the past doesn't comport with what they're presenting as the direction they want to go. So we've asked them to come up and say, if we're going to move in this direction, you're going to have to come up with a more comprehensive plan. I mean, it seems to me they have a great media strategy. They don't have a great Syrian strategy. And I don't believe any of our members -- and we had both Republicans and Democrats on the committee express concern about where they think we are today and where we think the administration wants to go. They've got a lot of explaining to do to come up and say, here's our comprehensive plan on how we move forward on what is a catastrophic situation that's getting worse every single day in Syria.
SCHIEFFER: Well, you're on the oversight committee for our intelligence activities. You heard Mr. McDonough this morning. What's your takeaway on what he said today about that current situation?
ROGERS: The NSA, I assume you're talking about. And here's one of the problems that we've had, Bob, is you have the Benghazi scandal. You have the criminalization of the reporter at Fox News, and the AP dragnet, and you have IRS that clearly showed some criminal behavior that at least we know was back at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And that pattern of deception when this broke made it almost impossible for those of us who know this program, worked on this program, make sure there were no laws broke own this program, it made it very, very difficult to explain the difference to the American people. So, I hope that the administration comes forward and cooperates fully on all those investigations, that would be great. And then let's separate this one. This was very, very different. It's legal. I think it comports with the constitution. I do believe that. And I think it does protect and save American lives.
SCHIEFFER: So on these -- this so-called NSA snooping, you think at this point, you tend to believe the government's version of events on it it?
ROGERS: Well, I'm a trust but verify guy, Bob. And so I don't believe it if they just say it. It's my job as chairman with my members of my committee to do thorough investigations, to do thorough oversight, to do thorough policy review. From all that we have seen I absolutely believe -- the rhetoric you see is so misguided and it creates such the wrong perception, even on the phone records, where I think most people are upset, we take the business records via court order, and it's just phone numbers -- no names, no addresses, put it in a lock box, and if they get a foreign terrorist overseas that's dialing in to the United States, they take that phone number -- again, that one they know -- they plug it into this big pile, if you will, of just phone numbers-- it's like a phonebook without any names and any addresses in it -- to see if there's a connection, a foreign terrorist connection to the United States. When a number comes out of that lock box, Bob, it's just a phone number, no names, no addresses. And if they think that's relevant to their counter-terrorism investigation, they give that to the FBI, then the FBI has to go out and create all the legal -- meet all the legal standards to even get whose phone number that is. The one case where you can directly draw that to is Zazi, that's -- we stopped a terrorist act in New York City...
SCHIEFFER: Mr. Chairman...
ROGERS: ...in New York City would have killed some estimate thousands of people.
SCHIEFFER: I'm terribly sorry, I'm going to have to ask you to hold that thought for just a minute. We're going to have to take a commercial break. I'll be back with a personal thought and then we hope you will stay around and join us on page two after this.
SCHIEFFER: I like people who are willing to stand up to the government. As a reporter, it's my job to do that from time to time. Some of the people I admire most in the government, men and women who led the civil rights movement -- Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr.-- they are true heroes. I'm not ready to put Edward Snowden in that category. For one thing, I don't remember Martin Luther King Jr. or Rosa Parks running off and hiding in China. The people who led the civil rights movement were willing to break the law and suffer the consequences. That's a little different than putting the nation's security at risk and running away. I know 11 people who died or lost a member of their family on 9/11. My younger daughter lived in Manhattan then. It was six hours before we knew she was safe. I'm not interested in going through that again. I don't know yet if the government is over-reached since 9/11 to reinforce our defenses, and we need to find out. What I do know, though, is that these procedures were put in place and are being overseen by officials we elected and we should hold them accountable. I think what we have in Edward Snowden is just a narcissistic young man who has decided he is smarter than the rest of us. I don't know what he is beyond that, but he is no hero. If he has a valid point -- and I'm not even sure he does -- he would greatly help his cause by voluntarily coming home to face the consequences. Back in a minute.
SCHIEFFER: Some of our stations are leaving us now. For most of you, we'll be right back with more "Face the Nation," more with chairman Mike Rogers and our all-star panel of analysts.
SCHIEFFER: And welcome back to Face the Nation. We want to go back to the house intelligence committee chairman Mike Rogers. We were talking about this big story about has the National Security Agency over-reached? What is your take, Mr. Chairman? Do you think the government's done anything wrong here at this point?
ROGERS: Well, it depends again what you're talking about when you're talking about the IRS scandal or Benghazi, I think there were certainly government misdeeds and maybe even criminal behavior. When you're talking about this NSA issue, the sheer volume of oversight -- and we've gone back and reviewed every bit of it, the fact that the court ordered it, the court reviews it every 10 days, especially on the phone records. It has to reapply for the court order every 90 days, review there. Congress, both Republicans and Democrats. So if you think about people who are saying things if I believe were part of this program I wouldn't support it, that both Republicans and Democrats in the House Intelligence Committee and Senate intelligence committee would have to collude with the NSA who would also have to collude with the FBI, with the Department of Justice, with other parts of the executive branch to violate the law. I think that's improbable. And given this town and being able to keep anything secret, I don't believe that can happen. So they're not listening to Americans' phone calls. They're not reading Americans' e-mails. We have huge privacy protections put on this programs. And it does serve to target foreign persons on foreign soil who are targeting and plotting terrorist plots in the United States. And we can show that there are several dozen or more -- and we believe there are more -- that we've disrupted plots that have saved Americans' lives and also our allies in excess of 20 countries have benefited from information from these programs, again, that are clearly targeted at foreign persons living in foreign countries. And that's what's so frustrating for those of us who know the program best, I think.
SCHIEFFER: I think I just heard you say you think there was criminal activity, I take it, involving the IRS? Are you connecting that to the White House? Have you found a connection there yet?
ROGERS: No. What I'm saying is the White House themselves have admitted that people in the White House knew about this behavior, and I think that investigation is still ongoing. Clearly, when the government in any way, shape, or form uses its power to intimidate citizens who are donating to whatever their political belief -- Republican or Democrat-- that's a criminal activity. And the fact that initially was said it wasn't at the White House, and later said, well, people did know at the White House, so it's clearly gotten to the front steps. And I think the investigation needs to be conducted thoroughly to make sure who knew what when, who provided the orders, what kind of a relationship and what kind of judgment and what kind of instructions were given to the individuals who did visit the White House from the IRS, who also had a connection with the program that specifically targeted people for their political beliefs.
SCHIEFFER: But you're not saying...
ROGERS: That raises the hair on the back of my neck. I hope it raises the hair on the back of your neck as well.
SCHIEFFER: Yeah, but you're not saying in the this point you think this is directed out of the White House?
ROGERS: No. I'm just saying that the White House themselves had said that it was -- they were aware of the program at the White House. That was their own admission. I think that to me, though, the activity of which the IRS engaged in I believe crosses the line into criminal activity. Now we're just going to have to figure out where does that end? Who knows what? Who knew what when? You cannot allow -- and this is an institution that does not have checks and balances like we do in our national security apparatus. They have almost no checks and balances and have unbelievable powers to intrude into your lives, and are you proven guilty before innocent when it comes to taxes. That is very, very, very concerning. And again I think that mistrust that served to erode the public's mistrust in the government and the administration and it got dragged into a national security program. So, I'm hoping that we can separate these and that the administration now stands up and says we're going to fully cooperate in all of those investigations to make sure the American public gets the answers they deserve and if people violating the law they should be prosecuted for violating the law.
SCHIEFFER: All right. Well, Mr. Chairman, we want to thank you very much for joining us this morning. And we want to go now to our all-star panel as we say. They've actually been on the -- Barton Gellman, who is with us. He is the one who broke this story in the "Washington Post" about this so-called snooping by the NSA. He has written about it extensively, including in today's paper. Rick Stengel, managing editor of "Time" magazine, has a fascinating cover story on the leaks this week. He is also just back from Iran. We sure want to talk to him about that. And on the other side, two columnists who have had no shortage of material to analyze and write about. Our friend Peggy Noonan who writes for the "Wall Street Journal," and our friend David Corn who writes for "Mother Jones." Bart, I'm going to -- you're the reporter of the hour here. If I'm sitting there reading this, as-- well, just as me, what should I take away from these revelations that you have brought out this week? What's important here?
BARTON GELLMAN, WASHINGTON POST: There are two really big questions here. One is about secrecy. And one is about the extent to which the government can look in on our lives as well as everybody else's. And what we're seeing here is that we're living behind a one- way mirror in which there is a very powerful surveillance apparatus that is capable of finding out pretty much anything about us. And they tell us "don't worry. We're protecting your privacy." And there are other people here also behind the one-way mirror who are watching us, but we don't get to participate in what the rules should be. When congress authorized this, congress passed a pretty -- a fairly opaque law -- the key parts here about a couple of paragraphs -- which is I'd say equivalent to clicking "yes" on the terms of service when you sign up for Google. You don't know what they're going to do with the information. You don't know what they're collecting in any kind of detail. And then there's a secret interpretation by the executive branch, highly classified. This is what we think this lets us do. And then a secret court, which hears only from the government, issues a secret opinion-- "yes, you may do that." And then the whole program itself is secret. So it's a question of how much we want to trust our government. And we were founded on the idea that you don't want to entrust the government with too much centralized power.
SCHIEFFER: Well, has the government done anything illegal, as it were?
GELLMAN: I have no reason to think that anybody has violated this sequence of secret laws. What we haven't had a chance to do is decide as a society where we want to draw the boundaries, and what the laws should be. Because we don't even know what they are.
PEGGY NOONAN, WALL STREET JOURNAL: I think it's all very concerning. I think we are 12 years into this surveillance state apparatus, if you will. It started up after 9/11. There was a great clamor for everybody, you know, do better at intelligence. Make us safer. It was all understandable. But at the same time in the past 12 years, the ability of technology to get bulk data, metadata, big data all the -- I mean, it's so big it has a million different names and nicknames. Look, I think this is a perfect time to stop and look at what we are erecting here. What good it can do, but also what bad it can do. It's a very delicate thing when you have a big state that can make people, citizens, feel that they are-- just assumed that they are potentially going to be abused because the number of things the government knows about them. So in a way, there's something very good about the moment we're in, which is that we're stopping and looking.
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: This is an issue where there are a lot of nuances that get lost in the demagoguery or excessive rhetoric that goes on and sort of people worrying or people saying everything is fine. You know to me -- Bart and I were talking about this earlier, the whole premise here is that if our government is allowed to do anything secretive -- whether it's snooping or doing convert wars or anything else we have done over the past few decades -- that that can only be done if representative of the people have really good oversight, that means the people we elect to congress. The oversight committees, the intelligence committees, but others as well. But yet, every time one of these stories breaks -- Bart breaks a story -- members on the Hill say, "huh. I didn't really know about this," or "I didn't know as much about it as I should have." So either the government is not -- or the executive branch is not telling them what they should, or they're not paying enough attention. And so when we have members out and say, "well, I want to know how many terrorist investigations this has stopped to know whether it's worthwhile or not," that's something they should know already. And the fact that they don't is one of the major problems here. If you had Democrats and Republicans come out and say, "listen, I disagree with this person on everything else, but I can vouch for you that we have been robust. And we have vetted this. And this is why we're not concerned," that would be great. And if we could get some of those secret protocols out in the public -- and there are groups suing to get them out and we can see how these programs truly run, that would go a long way to letting people be reassured.
GELLMAN: Can I say a word about oversight here? Because I think it's important to get this. Aside from the members of the intelligence committees, there is something near zero members of congress who have a member of their staff who is cleared to know anything about this. And yet, there's a room, there's a locked room on Capitol Hill where any member can go in and spend a week sitting in there reading through unbelievably complicated and voluminous sort of reports about how they're doing, what they're doing. And the number of members who do that is zero.
SCHIEFFER: Let me just bring Rick in here because I want to ask you about this. I mean, what the government would say in response to the argument that you all are making is, look, we can't tell you -- we can't give you the justification of why we're doing things a certain way, because if we do we'll give away something that we don't want the people that are working against us to know about.
I mean, I said this in the interview with McDonough. Ronald Reagan said "trust but verify." I think we're being asked to trust, but they can't give us the things we need to know to verify that. But is that important? And how do you -- how do we resolve that?
STENGEL: Well, you know, Bob, as you said, there's a kind of catch-22 quality to this. The government says we can't tell you this, and the courts say we can't let you know about this, so, therefore, you have to kind of go with us. But I would go back to Bart's point about the point of service contract, right? What we really need as a nation is a point of service contract for what the government relationship is to all of our privacy. What are we willing to sacrifice in terms of our own privacy to guarantee or have the kind of security that we want? And this discussion is the most robust discussion. That's where the overlap between what Bart is reporting is and what Edward Snowden says as well. Is that people need to know where to draw the line. And I think even to go back to what Peggy was saying, the problem with this all now is that technology is eclipsing the way the courts can process this, the way the Congress can process this, and what is private now and what is not private? It's different than it used to be.
SCHIEFFER: But we have surrendered that already in many cases just as Bart said. I mean, people put on Facebook now what my generation wouldn't have discussed in mixed company.
SCHIEFFER: So is it wrong for the -- for a government or an employer or anybody else to look at -- it's just like me going out on the street and saying something. That's pretty much...
STENGEL: In our cover story this week we have a poll. We ask Americans how do people feel about this. And one of the reactions was about 55 percent of people said, we kind of thought this was going on already. There was a little bit of a, you know, Inspector Renault quality. Really, is there gambling going on in Casablanca? I'm shocked, shocked by that. That is kind of the reaction of the American public. They assumed this was going on.
CORN: Well, the notion of privacy is shifting too. It's partly generational. People are growing up living on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and everything else, I think have less a presumption of privacy because they're giving it up voluntarily.
And at the same time, we don't get into this conversation much, but corporations are already doing to a large degree what people are fearing the government is doing.
SCHIEFFER: Let Bart make his point.
GELLMAN: There's something to be said for all this and changing social norms about privacy. But the real issue is not whether we assume that the government is doing something and not whether people generally assume that Facebook is doing something. It's not what you give to Facebook. It's what Facebook is taking from you without your knowledge. No matter how many times I, a fairly informed person on this, read the terms of service, I don't know what's happening, what data is being extracted from me. And the president says he wants a real debate here, and he says, but don't worry, your privacy is being protected, we're not listening, we're just collecting your metadata. Well, if you gave me a choice, because it takes a long time to actually listen to your phone conversations, so let's suppose they're willing to dedicate in extreme cases, you know, three weeks of government time to listen to everything I say and everything I write for those three weeks, I would much rather let them do that than let me have my metadata which can tell who my confidential sources are, where I go, when I go there...
SCHIEFFER: By just tracing the phone numbers.
GELLMAN: Yes. All you need to -- I mean, you can draw this graph of sort of my whole movement through space and time, who I'm talking to, whether I'm going to Alcoholics Anonymous, or which church I go to or whatever.
NOONAN: A few points. One is in terms of the bulk data, there was an NSA whistleblower a while back, William Binney. He said, you know, we have got so much data now we can't even analyze it. A, it's un-analyzable. B, oversight is a problem. Excuse me, we have a Congress that is only working three days a week when it is in session. They're barely there. You know all the things they're going to. They are not taking three hours as a rule to sit down and study what the government is doing in terms of surveillance. As a matter of fact, the other day the government under pressure with the breaking Snowden story, went to senators and said, please come in, we'll have a little top secret meeting with you. Forty-seven of them showed up, only 47 of them. So I sort of think the FISA courts can't deal with the sheer level of material, they have to trust people. Congress, their oversight capability is not so great. Surveillance takes on its own momentum. It will go forward and forward and forward if somebody doesn't stop it. And I don't we have something now that says stop beyond a debate that I hope makes everybody uncomfortable and question everything.
SCHIEFFER: All right.
GELLMAN: I mean, I understand why they want this material. Frankly, as a reporter, I'd like to have this, too. The more omniscient you can be the better you can do your job if your job is to find out what other countries are doing and what plots are coming against you. I don't have any doubt about their motivations. But normally what you want to do is you want to draw boundaries between that and other important things we care about.
SCHIEFFER: Let's take a quick break here now and then we'll be back with more.
SCHIEFFER: We're back with our panel. We talk about how our, you know, whole idea of privacy has changed. Another thing has changed since 9/11, we have two airplanes that knocked over two tall buildings in this country and all of this went into effect to try to see that that didn't happen again. Rick, do you think that our national security has been damaged by these revelations?
STENGEL: You know, I don't know. I mean, one of the things that Snowden himself said was, I tried not to do what Bradley Manning did and release any information that would harm individuals. And, again, it goes back to your point. We don't know what has been gathered, so we don't really know what the harm has been. I do think -- I come back to this idea that we have to make a judgment about what the value is of what's going on. And we have to -- we, as Americans, using the thing that has worked for us for over 200 years, informed consent, that we need more information to give our consent about what is going on here. And we just haven't had that yet.
SCHIEFFER: Let me just make this point to Bart. The Washington Post and you, I think, to your credit, you didn't put in the paper everything that you found out here. You went through a great deal of it and decided some of it should not be put out. How did you come -- how did you make those decisions?
GELLMAN: Well, first of all, if you were to look at any big pile of secrets -- I'll give you an example that's not in here. But suppose you found out that -- suppose the document had this unbelievable recipe for a super lethal bomb that anybody can make in their kitchen, right? Not very many people would say that's a good idea to put that out there. There are -- there are things in the documents which, if you put them out, would enable sort of foreign governments that are hostile to the United States or foreign terrorists to avoid detection by the United States. And I don't think The Washington Post or I want to let them do that.
SCHIEFFER: Let me -- we may come back to this. But Rick just got off an airplane. He has just got back from Iran. And I want to talk to him a little bit about that. So they've elected, quote, "a moderate." The last time we did that was during Iran-Contra when we talked about finding a moderate Iranian, remember? What's the significance of what happened here?
STENGEL: Well, he's only moderate by comparison with the others. I mean, let's stipulate the first thing, that it's a theocracy, right? It's an autocratic society. That the supreme leader, the Ayatollah Khamenei, is -- runs everything, basically, so he allowed this to happen. But within the context of all of that there is some cause of optimism. That basically this vindicates the Green Revolution that happened in 2009 where young people came out in favor of these moderates and then Ahmadinejad was re-elected by a disturbingly large majority. This guy, again, by comparison to the others, seems more liberal, but it does reignite that -- kind of the hopes of young people in Iran. He's much, much more moderate on social policy. He's not going to, you know, put women in prison for showing two inches of hair over their hijab. So all of that, I think, is potentially good.
SCHIEFFER: Peggy, the administration now says we're going to send military aid of some sort. You just heard Mike Rogers say he's not sure the Congress will go along with this at this point. Is it too little too late? Or is it a good idea in the first place?
NOONAN: I don't know. One thing I wanted to say quickly about the news this week, Iran is electing a moderate, and Iran is a theocracy. A democracy called Turkey is exploding in the streets over issues touching on theocratic values and theocratic thinking. So it's a really -- it's funny thing that's going on. I have a feeling Turkey is certainly as big a story as Iran, maybe bigger. Syria, I think the president very obviously must make clear what is the American national interest in what he is doing in Syria if it is arming certain rebels, which groups? What is our overall purpose? I think you cannot leave an argument to the country to a very talented young staffer, who is Ben Rhodes, who told everybody that the Syria policy is changing. The president has to get clear here. He has got to do it. There is, I must tell you in this time of crises and scandals, a sense of the president not being there sufficiently, talking about all these things, including Syria.
CORN: You know, I think the interesting thing about Syria, particularly, is it's quite clear there are no good options. No one likes any of the options. And I think the president felt like he had to make maybe a move of show rather than one of true strategic value on sending some military weapons, though not the ones that the rebels are calling for, while at the same time, the administration, people in Congress as well, have not been able to make clear who the rebels are and why we should be supporting them, good rebels versus bad rebels. In fact, if you read the coverage in the last couple of days, you see people in the administration and other supporters of this idea saying, we really don't want the rebels to have an all-out victory, because then, you know, the institutions of Syria may fall into complete chaos and we could have a tremendous mess there. So when you get into the situation of giving a certain amount but not the right amount to some force that you're not sure about in order to prevent, you know, a victory of either side, it's really, really messy. Which is why you see people like Chairman Rogers and Eric Cantor come out this week and sound like they're being critical of the president without really being able to say what they'd like to do differently, because nobody, except John McCain, wants to own a real war in Syria.
SCHIEFFER: Do you see any kind of connection between this business on the NSA story and, as Chairman Rogers was saying, the questions of credibility for the administration on such things as Benghazi and the IRS scandal?
GELLMAN: Only in the most generic way, which is that whenever the government asks us to trust, you want to see what they're talking about. On the Syria thing, I guess I'd say that when you want to influence events and you can't control events, you get a lot of dilemmas. So, remember that this -- we're at this place right now because the president said, don't you dare use chemical weapons. And you want to deter that and say bad things will happen if you do. And then Assad does use the chemical weapons, and you still don't have any good options.
SCHIEFFER: We have to stop, the clock just struck 12 or whatever it struck. We'll be back in a moment. Thank you all very much.
SCHIEFFER: Well, that's it for us today. I want to wish all the fathers out there a happy Father's Day. Be sure to tune in to "CBS This Morning" tomorrow for more on all of this and there's a lot of news these days. As for us, we'll see you here next week. Bye.
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