Monday Morning Politics: Chinese President Xi; NSA Leaker Comes Forward

Monday, June 10, 2013

Michael Hirsh, chief correspondent for National Journal, talks about the latest news out of Washington, including President Obama's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The meeting has particular significance given the latest news about government surveillance -- Edward Snowden, the contractor who has come forward as the main source of the NSA leaks, is currently in Hong Kong and seeking asylum from US extradition.

→ Listen: Glenn Greenwald Discusses NSA Leaks on The Brian Lehrer Show

Video: NSA Intelligence Leaker Edward Snowden Talks to The Guardian

Comments [58]

Gosh, is this supposed to be a reasoned news program or sensationalist journalism? Hero or villain are the options you provide callers, the first of whom, although admitting her ignorance, is frantically pulling out a noose, thanks to the program's encouragement, or worse, indulgence. Blah! I expect more intelligent questions from this program, ones that don't indulge reactionaries' black and white thinking.

Jun. 12 2013 09:12 PM

A troublesome aspect of this coverage, is the Media propensity to turn these figures into heroes or villains. Focusing on personalities diverts from the real issues about the use of information technology. For all I know this Snowden may STILL be a CIA operative, after all this information is not damaging, it is merely confirming what many have long reasoned and stated. It's an old tactic. How does this "leak" benefit the CIA? 1)It causes fear and confusion in the wider population, permitting more government clampdown and overreach. 2)It essentially puts a bothersome journalist, Glen Greenwald, in the spotlight, making it virtually impossible for him to get whistle-blowers to come forward in the foreseeable future. 3)It makes foreign adversaries believe the government is currently much stronger than it is - just because these agencies have the capacity to store vast amounts of data, it doesn't mean they can analyse it efficiently...yet.

So there could be many reasons why Snowden did what he did, time will tell.. or not. NONE of them are actually relevant to this discussion. The only thing people need to focus on is the nature of the current "security" apparatus and the ongoing corruption, incompetence and cowardice of Congress and the Media. The rest is banter. Remember the government represents you; if they are a bunch of crooked, willfully ignorant toadies, which they are, what does that say about the populace they are representative of, i.e. us.

Jun. 10 2013 04:47 PM
Congressional Medal of Honor for Snowden from He's an American Here

Mr. Snowden should be given a Congressional Medal of
Honor for protecting the Constitution of the United
States against very dangerous domestic enemies - the
NSA and other secrecy apparachiks who have developed
a dangerous hostility to our fundamental rights as Americans.

Congress should look into this before the "Justice" department
starts to indite him for his valor.

There should be PUBLIC CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS about this
scandal - it makes Watergate look like small potatos.

Did the NSA or any of these other shaddow groups use
their ill-gotten espionage to blackmail or implicitly
threaten Congress or the Judicial branch or even the
President into silence and acquiescence ?

Snowden deserves a Congressional Medal of Honor for
service to America above and beyond the call at
great personal risk.

Jun. 10 2013 03:41 PM

Most people seem to be missing the point. Is surveillance new? No. Is spying new? No. It's the technology stupid. In the past 2 decades we've had a revolution which has effected every single part of our lives and is in every single home, carried in every single pocket/purse. Yet very very few people understand it or what it is capable of. It is an entirely new situation. How many of you or your children are programmers? How many people can conceive the storage capacity of just one of Google or Yahoo's server farms? For goodness sake, most people still can't explain how their TV works. We've become so self-satisfied and complacent in our education system's ability to achieve literacy in basic language, we've overlooked the fact that most people are completely technologically illiterate. To paraphrase Morpheus - you think these are words you are reading?

A very few "privileged" companies have been allowed to dominate the industry, and there has been barely any legislation or discussion on the matter. Politicians have chosen to remain conveniently ignorant and civil servants have become feudal gatekeepers. Our education system is teaching children about computing such that it is barely more than a cool calculator/communicator to them. We only know enough to keep us in the cubicle. Why? Isn't that becoming clear now??? The media/telecomms have totally colluded for obvious reasons, so everyone is happy, right, because TV is better than ever and now you can stream it too, even John Stewart, so we must be alright. And sustainability will always be something for our grandkids to worry about and wars will always be fought abroad...until it stops suiting them.

Jun. 10 2013 03:10 PM

Look, this Snowden guy is no James Bond, he even makes Kim Philby look glamourous - he's a Systems Analyst for crying out loud. Think about it...please, and remember the words of Hannah Arendt. Meanwhile everyone is talking about eavesdropping, but very few, if any, are acknowledging the long and well established tradition within law enforcement and national security of FABRICATING, PLANTING AND DESTROYING EVIDENCE. In our new era of cloud computing, and with every home now functioning with fully accessible cameras and microphones these guys jobs are getting easier by the millisecond, with a little help from your friends at Apple, Microsoft, Adobe and Facebook. The idea that having private security contrators belies the notion of a totalitarian security state, and this general idea that capitalism ensures democracy, ignores the fact that capitalism flourished under Hitler, Mussolini and indeed the current Chinese regime. The point of the new surveillance era is that playing the historical relativism card doesn't wash because the new technological tools are simply incomparable and for many, inconceivable. They can now crash stock markets, they can crash electricity networks, you name it. Just wait til they have access to everyone's medical records at the press of a button. Have you seen the latest Android commercials where HAL is the hero? They're laughing right in our face and we're the butt of the joke and too dumb to realise it.

They have convinced very young men to kill innocent women and children via video monitors in the name of national security they have coerced young hackers to do who knows what or face jail time - so what else do you think these guys are capable of, and what wouldn't they do to you because you went to college with so and so 10 years ago and you could be a useful tool? This is not about paranoia, this is about getting educated, getting up off the couch, taking action and holding people accountable, because it really isn't too late, but it's getting close. Protest, boycott and regulation are not dirty words, they are what your ancestors fought and died by so you can have nice water cooler conversations about Game of Thrones (oh how the media jokes abound at our expense.)

I'm not one of the foil hat brigade. I voluntarily gave up all my data, including iris scans, medical records and finger prints when I chose to become an American under the Bush administration. I willingly immerse myself in technology daily. The problem is that there are very few people who understand in depth both technology and political history and see the ramifications of the current situation, and realise that these are the final days to do something about it. Alternatively, you can just keep on kidding yourself "twas ever thus" and put your head right back in the sand. There are many ways to be a useful tool, just ask Obama.

Jun. 10 2013 03:08 PM
oscar from ny

..and remember ppl, the main boss who is in control is satan and his demons..humans tend to care only about their state their affairss, food, their own, money, their beliefs..there is no one greater than themselves..this program belongs istrictly to satan..he one day will control everyone, even the elites of god if he can..but remember that at the beginning of time when the Lord asked everyone in heaven to prostrate before humans some of them didn't including satan and friends..also these could not differentiate the things god made only for humans to understand..this is were you have power over these much as they know you they can never really know what god has separated only for us..they can guess thats more thing..these devils love art..i think is because they can't do it..even if they do their art is rude and in order to deliver yourself from evil..make your whole life an art master piece..make the devils tremble with astonishingment and fear of what the Lord has given us..

Jun. 10 2013 11:54 AM
Katherine Jackson from LES

As someone who lived through the McCArthy era as a child and saw the utterly pointless damage done to the parents of my friends and schoolmates, and later through the J.Edgar Hoover days, all sorts of people were targeted for no justifiable reasons of national security (Martin Luther King, for example)and saw how many careers were built by cosying up to the security state (Ronald Reagan, for example, became governor of California by encouraging his buddy J. Edgar to go after Clark Kerr, President of the University of CA),I am deeply grateful to Edward Snowden for forcing this latest example of out-of-control government spying on its own citizens. I recently read that the Patriot Act has resulted in a security branch of the US gov't with at least 1,000,000 employes. What does this country stand for, what is our Constitution designed to safeguard against if not the protection of its citizens from precisely this sort of invasive National Security State?

Jun. 10 2013 11:37 AM
Brop from Mahwah, NJ

Jgarbuz, I don't think anyone is trying to "eliminate" income disparity, but we recognize that the extreme disparity currently happening in America is bad for the economy and bad for our future. We need to find way to break up the tight consolidation of wealth at the very top, that is not the same as advocating communism.

Jun. 10 2013 11:01 AM
jmd from Manhattan

This guy is no hero, nor is he a conscientous objector as he has claimed, unless he is willing to "pay the price" for his convictions, not escape the long reach of his Gov. in Hong Kong!
Unfortunately, Obama, like Bush, continues to look the other way when it comes to "contracting": less so with respect to the military; but, this incident illustrates just how pervasive beyond the NSA.

Jun. 10 2013 11:00 AM
John A

Still more concerned with who we kill without judicial consent. And when people are served with letters of silencing from the DHS, there's cause for concern there. Bur in making this program, or making this program public - sure there's potential for abuse, but the baseline program as described is needed - why hide it?

Jun. 10 2013 10:59 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

"Income disparity" is the result of global trade. There is no income disparity in Cuba or North Korea, except for the Party Members who get whatever there is to get. If you want no "income disparity" you have to put in a Communist state. Then only the top 10% of commissars will have it all, and the rest of us will line up just to get toilet paper, as was the case in the USSR before communism finally was brought down.

Jun. 10 2013 10:35 AM
pliny from soho

ask caller Perry
to call again

Jun. 10 2013 10:33 AM
Blacksocialist from BKbaby

that Sharon woman was an idi*t, as are all who think this issue is of no consequence. at a certain point the security state will be have all they need to track all of our movements, and our histories. a minority report if you will. snowden is indeed a hero, but sadly he will be taken down, ala Bradley Manning. and the national journal is, of course, who Lehrer would have on.... what a hack

Jun. 10 2013 10:33 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

It's NOTHING compared to what we had in the 1950s! Absolutely nothing. We executed the Rosenbergs in the 1950s. If anyone even accused you of being a communist, you were branded. The country IDOLIZED J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. And forgeddabout being "gay." To say that the US is at the verge of "1984" is simply ludicrous. We had no internet in the 1950s. We were lucky to have a private phone that wasn't a party-line.

Jun. 10 2013 10:31 AM

Perry the Caller, do you have a blog or other platform somewhere? I made a note to listen again to your passionate, eloquent remarks around the 15-minute? point and following. You are an inspiration to those of us who try to stand up for truth, discernment, and those difficult realities that our present ideologies try to blind us to.

Jun. 10 2013 10:30 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

Dear ALiveinNJ,

Why are you so sure you're alive and awake? Because you're typing BS out like another brain dead monkey.

Jun. 10 2013 10:29 AM
Allen2saint from NYC

"It's like 1984!" "It's like Big Brother!"

Let's see what it actually is, OK?

No one has dug into this guy at all. Ridiculous.

Jun. 10 2013 10:28 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Lincoln curtailed civil liberties during the Civil War, and they were returned afterwards. I remember the 1950s and the Congressional House UnAmerican Activties Committee (HUAC) and the curtailments we have today are NOTHING compared to what we had in the 1950s during the Cold War. Those who did not live in the 1950s have no clue.

Jun. 10 2013 10:28 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

It's not being protected, Jane. All of these databases are vulnerable to exploitation, and we can only blame ourselves when they do get hacked.

Jun. 10 2013 10:27 AM

How did a 29-year old come to have a $220k job in such a sensitive position in the first place? Men and women are putting their lives on the line to protect us every day and are receiving pennies? Further, how can we claim to be "at war" and not consider this anything other than treason! Clearly, we want to be protected and not pay a price anywhere. Wake up, America!

Jun. 10 2013 10:27 AM
Emily from East Village

Snowden is neither hero nor traitor. He is Jerry McGuire! He grew a conscience, spoke out, and will certainly be villainized for doing so. But he must trust in Karma and know that for doing what he believed was right, he'll be rewarded in the end...

Jun. 10 2013 10:26 AM
Sean from Montclair, NJ

These NSA programs represent a huge amount of wasted capital that could have been put toward actually benefiting this nation in the form of education and infrastructure. Monitoring Facebook is not going to defeat Al Quaeda, it could not even catch the Boston bombers, and is monumentally wasteful in addition to being blatantly un-American.

Jun. 10 2013 10:26 AM
Ray from New York, NY

I generally think that Edward Snowden and everyone else need to stop being so naive about the government. Is everyone really surprised that the government is keeping data on us? Facebook and Google do it, at least the government is doing it to protect us instead of just marketing to us.

The same people who are enraged about this are the same people who are enraged when they feel the government didn't do enough to stop acts of terrorism on our soil. I think we should just let the government do their job and not question them at every step of the way.

Jun. 10 2013 10:26 AM
Jane from Brooklyn

How many reports have we heard about China's calculated and skillful cyber-spying of our government? How is our data -- the data our own government is compiling about us and our transactions online -- being protected from cyber-crime?

Jun. 10 2013 10:26 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

It's no surprise why the government is fearful of returning veterans. They are all potential whistle-blowers on the government's illegal activities.

Jun. 10 2013 10:26 AM

Virtual people have no expectation of privacy

Jun. 10 2013 10:26 AM

so NOW Al Qeda gets that the US tracks emails? what a boob you are

Jun. 10 2013 10:26 AM

Whenever the govt claims that this sort of spying leads to greater safety, it usually turns out to be some trumped up entrapment scheme.

The CIA couldn't even manage to stop the underwear bomber after his own FATHER dropped a dime on him.

Jun. 10 2013 10:26 AM

Caller Sharon's feeling that somehow this program makes her safer is laughable. Too much information for trained people and computers to sift & connect makes it more difficult to sort out the data relevant to actually meet security needs.

All this data collection/mining, etc. is a way for security agencies to neglect investigation. It's another form of "Security Theater." And as the caller just mentioned, the NSA corruption/contractor problems haven't had a full airing thanks to the best Congress money has bought.

Jun. 10 2013 10:25 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Defending data mining...spying on news reporters...using the IRS to pursue the opposition.
Only 1319 days and 2 hours until Barry Obama leaves the White House and goes on the big money lecture circuit

Jun. 10 2013 10:24 AM
john from office

How about this, Manning is gay, is this new "hero" also gay. If so, no gay person will ever get top secret clearance. Greenblatt is gay also, the "hero" lawyer. WOW

Jun. 10 2013 10:24 AM
Allen2saint from NYC

Can anyone, anyone provide any substantive evidence of any of this? Does anyone see the connection between the incessant Tea Party race/fear mongering and the RUSH TO JUDGEMENT being made here? We have secret programs. They have existed for a long, long time. Let's learn more first and not fall all over ourselves and play into the hands of the fear mongers.

Jun. 10 2013 10:24 AM
Eric from Medellin

Since 9/11 there has been a broad assault on the Bill of Rights justified constitutionally by the claim that the US is at war with Al Qaeda, a non-state entity, which triggered the President's extraordinary war powers. And thus over the last 11 years, there has been an erosion of the checks and balances on Executive... The questions: is this war against terrorism open ended? When and how will it be declared at an end? And will the extraordinary war powers be returned to a non-war state?

Jun. 10 2013 10:23 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Yes, the public should probably decide. But, seriously, if the public is distracted and unaware, how can we make informed decisions about privacy vs. safety, etc.? Even with facilitation from the great Brian Lehrer, discourse is still too fragmented. We need better means of shared inquiry around current critical, often complex issues.

Jun. 10 2013 10:22 AM

Thank you caller Perry...I agree

Jun. 10 2013 10:22 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

The NSA is rogue. TIme to open the windows and doors and clean that place out.

Jun. 10 2013 10:22 AM
David from Fredericksburg, VA

The caller can't believe the papers were PERMITTED to print the story?! I guess she thinks she lives in the former Soviet Union!

Jun. 10 2013 10:21 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

Snowden took one for the team for the true freedom lovers.

Jun. 10 2013 10:21 AM
RUCB_Alum from Central New Jersey

The nature of these things is a slippery slope. A little spying will one day lead to too much spying.

If we want to take back the 'blank check' authority to spy on the citizens and the world that was the post-9/11 mindset, that is more than fine with me.

But don't politicize it. That's low. Don't pretend that Obama is a bad guy for using the authority granted him by Congress. That's just partisan BS. And if we repeal all the spying permissions so that they become crimes again, don't act to impeach if an attack that would otherwise have been detected succeeds.

My POV is center-left...I didn't want these spying permissions to go in the first place but I am sickened how the President is being boogie-man'd for it. The blame is with us and the degree that we let our fear define what is reasonable.

Jun. 10 2013 10:20 AM
sp from nyc

The patently transparent lie that this revelation endangers national security is laughable: the only people on the planet who trusted the security apparatus were the now-betrayed US public. Certainly none but the very stupidest terrorists would assume they were not being eavesdropped on, which is proven by the idiocy of the ones supposedly caught. Meanwhile, all of us passively avert our gaze as our privacy and civil liberties are flushed down the toilet, along with the constitution. Snowdon is a hero--maybe this is the wake-up call we need to develop a collective spine and take back our country.

Jun. 10 2013 10:19 AM
sp from nyc

The patently transparent lie that this revelation endangers national security is laughable: the only people on the planet who trusted the security apparatus were the now-betrayed US public. Certainly none but the very stupidest terrorists would assume they were not being eavesdropped on, which is proven by the idiocy of the ones supposedly caught. Meanwhile, all of us passively avert our gaze as our privacy and civil liberties are flushed down the toilet, along with the constitution. Snowdon is a hero--maybe this is the wake-up call we need to develop a collective spine and take back our country.

Jun. 10 2013 10:19 AM
Jesiah from Upstate Ny

Safety from what? To the woman who called in...

What do you feel like you are being protected from? Information about ourselves? Your neighbors google searches? I am not understanding the connect between "terrorism" and the NSA snooping on private information from innocent citizens of this country.

I think Snowden is a whistle-blower. Period.

Jun. 10 2013 10:19 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

breaking the law, breaking the law! Yeah!

Jun. 10 2013 10:19 AM
blacksocialist from BKbaby

here come the morons (aka Sharon)..... if you automatically think the gov't is working in your best interests, you are really too dumb to have a rational conversation with.... and the national journal, really? I shouldn't be surprised though, it is Lehrer, and we all know he is a hack

Jun. 10 2013 10:18 AM

anyone that thinks this protects us is misguided...our foreign policies make us unsafe.

Jun. 10 2013 10:18 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

Sharon is 100% correct - she is an ignorant and knee-jerk blah-blah...

Jun. 10 2013 10:18 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

Man up, Sharon. The chances of getting hurt in a terrorist act is spectacularly small. Grow up.

Jun. 10 2013 10:16 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

This caller is a fearful little girl.

Jun. 10 2013 10:15 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Ha. Yes, everyone spies on everyone else, but the point is that the US has a lot more to lose. It has more technology and valuable secrets than China has to hide. The Chinese have a lot more to steal from the US than the other way around. But perhaps, not anymore, since they have already stolen so much. And we have so many "leakers" and others who help the Chinese and others to steal all they want.

Jun. 10 2013 10:15 AM
Robert from NYC

All he did was to inform us of what is going on and how the government is watching us. We should know. Whether or not you agree with what he did, we need to know and this should be up for public debate. Remember, the despots of the world start out with such rationalizations on watching our every move. And if you think our enemies weren't aware of what is going on they you are naive.

Jun. 10 2013 10:14 AM
MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT from manhattan

BRIAN - Why don't you give the same prime coverage to the whistle blowers in the IRS lawlessness of the Thug Obama's crininal administration?
The public sees the NSA link to the abuses by the IRS and Holder's spying on FOX News..... even if YOU don't (or won't).
THAT is why this makes EVERYONE uncomfortable.
Bad timing for Little Barry.

Jun. 10 2013 10:14 AM
Robert from NYC

Hero to me! Yes we need to know. And as an aside I think Diane Feinstein has got to go. She's deteriorated over these many years in office. She's republicanized too much.

Jun. 10 2013 10:10 AM
Bob from Brooklyn

LOL! @ everyone. Everythang's Corrupt.

Jun. 10 2013 10:09 AM
john from office

Here we go again. This criminal will be hailed as a hero by the left and possibly the right, since this comes out under the "evil" Obama adminstration. The republicans will look very funny attacking Obama, when this begain Under Bush,

The world is much more complcated then people know. This activity was bound to happen, security does not equal privacy.

Jun. 10 2013 10:06 AM
Jesiah from Upstate NY

I guess now would be a good time to regret not reading "1984" in my high school English class.

Jun. 10 2013 10:05 AM

I'm sure the Chinese president is chuckling over the irony of the latest political chit that just fell into his lap -- extradition of an American who publicized State Secrets, after having selected Communist China as his hideout.

I wonder what Obama had to take off the table -- Human rights? Internet Privacy Rights in China? America's heroes keep getting dumber and more arrogant.

Jun. 10 2013 10:05 AM
oscar from ny

Ppl of the us...the way the phone and web snooping works is like a computer reads all your text the websites your phone convo.. websites you visited and together they can map an outline of who you are what you like if i zero in on a person and want to hurt him or help him They're are many ways they can do this just by tracking every movement and manipulatung what content you see , hear, feel (live)* ..sort of when you go to google and type something and references come an artist and use to use this same technique a person by what they write, put, pictures would be best because it tells a thousand words and make a personal design just for that person..only that person would be able to understand this "code" design made personally for the individual.
In the future ppl will transmute in order not to get caught..they will do this by having different personalitys thus making the searcher confused on who you really are..
Ps: they already got to me..they made me watch things that i could never find in the web unless i got some help from the great me, these ppl ate out there to seek and destroy.

Jun. 10 2013 09:43 AM
Ed from Larchmont

On the one hand we see (Women Deliver) a continued if not accelerating move toward abortion, same sex marriage, embryonic stem cell research, euthanaia, etc., nationally and internationally (which the U.S. is pushing). On the other hand, it feels like we are on the edge of a great war in the Middle East. I don't think these two trends are unrelated.

Jun. 10 2013 05:56 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.