TV SoundOff: Sunday Talking Heads

Well good morning everyone and welcome to your latest Sunday Morning Liveblog. My name is Jason. I have to say, knowing as I know now that the NSA "can watch your ideas form as you type," I am a little upset that after all those times I've written stuff without knowing what it was I was getting at, no one in the NSA called me up to help me finish my thoughts more effectively. OR DID THEY?

No, they did not, and I'm pretty sure that even if you are paid to stare into a panopticon and Know All Information, even the dedicated snoops in our Permanent Surveillance State draw the line at watching these terrible shows on Sunday, though maybe this Sunday will be different, since it could be all about them? I mean, there is a remote possibility. Alex Pareene wrote at length about how this Sunday, the Sunday shows should for once throw their rolodex of bookable hacks in the garbage and maybe bring on someone, anyone, who knows something, anything. You can pretty much judge this Sunday by how close these shows get to Pareene's suggestions.

ABC's This Week with Whoever, has actually booked Mark Udall, according to my TiVo. As near as I can tell, John McCain is sitting at home today -- though he probably woke up and got into his costume like Tobias Fünke did whilst waiting for the Blue Man Group to call. Hopefully we won't be hearing from Peggy Noonan today, who wouldn't have much to say about this other than she's flattered someone is keylogging her laptop and how special and lucky the NSA dudes are who get to listen in on her phone calls. (This also explains any future headlines that read, "Officials Baffled By Bodies Of Four NSA Analysts With Massive Damage To Their Ear Canals."

Of course, NBC's Meet The Press is doing EXACTLY what they should be doing whenever there is a national need for journalism and analysis: allowing themselves to be pre-empted by tennis. Just laying back and getting the hell out of the way. It's a very responsible move from them. The people at Meet The Press should really do the whole nation a solid by going out and finding more tennis to be pre-empted by, the irony being that this would introduce them to the basic parts of the fact-gathering process that underpins journalism.

At any rate, you know the drill. Welcome and have fun and enjoy each others company in the comments. Feel free to drop me a line if you like. You can follow me on Twitter, or follow me on Rebel Mouse (for fun things to read on Sunday while you wait for my typings), or follow me in my car, or follow my via satellites in the sky, all over the world, at the very same time.


Chris Wallace will talk to Rand Paul about all of this stuff before turning things over to General Michael Hayden. Oh, man, and then we get Senator Ron Johnson, total phony, for some reason. I enjoy it when people learn about what a fake Johnson is -- a bootstrap bragger who wouldn't have amounted to anything in life without his daddy-in-law's help, a bailout baby who somehow became a Tea Party darling, an all around goober who I'm pretty sure that other Republicans are embarrassed to have to hang around. Get to know him if you haven't already.

It's worth pointing out that the last time Ron Johnson and Rand Paul intersected in the news, it was during Paul's long "talking filibuster" over drones. Johnson was one of the people who briefly gave Paul a break by asking a question. While most of the people who got involved in that filibuster stayed on topic, and Paul himself came enormously prepared to discuss drone policy, Johnson was the guy who got up and started blathering, "UHM FARTY FART TEH DEFICITZ ARE REAL BAD I GUESS DURRRR," as everyone watching simultaneously facepalmed.

Johnson is on the Homeland Security Committee, which means we're in real trouble.

Anyway, we start with ol' Rand and his take on the sprawling security state, which you can be sure he isn't very happy about. Though, you know, the guy does have presidential aspirations and all that executive power makes Presidenting pretty easy!

But for the time being, Paul is of the mind that these surveillance programs are affronts to the Constitution and not "modest intrusions" into all your stuff, like the President says, because terrorism! Wallace is all: if the government says this stuff is okay, how is that unconstitutional. Paul says that it is a staggering amount of specific information getting hoovered up under a "general warrant" and that his objection is that the Fourth Amendment requires specificity.

Wallace points out that it was precisely this sort of surveillance that foiled a bomb plot hatched by Najibullah Zazi. Paul says that his suspicion is that Zazi was targeted because there was specific probably cause, and he has no problem with that. That is a specific case with a specific warrant, not "trolling through a billion phone records every day.) Paul says that he will challenge this in the courts, and he suggests that there is a possibility of a class-action lawsuit, which I think is probably not correct.

Rand Paul objecting to the trolling is also probably an objection made in the name of better national security, by the way. Flashback to May 16, 2006, and this piece, "The NSA's Math Problem," in the New York Times:

NEWS that AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth gave customer records to the National Security Agency has set off a heated debate over the intricacies of espionage law. But legal or not, this sort of spying program probably isn't worth infringing our civil liberties for — because it's very unlikely that the type of information one can glean from it will help us win the war on terrorism.

The piece goes on to describe the many ways in which MORE data makes the practice of making connections HARDER.

(Paul also points out that he is at a disadvantage to make much of a case, because the surveillance state can largely operate in secrecy, even in terms of how they participate in the debate.)

Wallace asks about the practicalities, specifically citing Graham's complaint that Rand Paul is essentially saying that we shouldn't defend ourselves against terror. Paul scoffs at Graham (an admittedly easy thing to do) and goes on to make the point that was made in that 2006 Times piece -- more data makes things worse, for security. He suggests that the "more data makes things worse" is what caused authorities to miss the threat posed by Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

Paul insists that the "American people" and "especially the young" are with him, and he would definitely restrict the government from knowing (without a warrant/probable cause) the things he is buying with his credit cards and the magazines he is subscribing to and the stuff he is searching on Google and Yahoo (which he pronounces with the short-a, instead of "Yahhhh-hoo"). "So much of our lives are digitized that we have to take steps to protect it from a snooping government."

Here's where we're about to try to tie this to IRSGhazi, which is either a relief to the incompetent pencil-pushers at the IRS's satellite offices, to be compared to the NSA. Or it's an insult to the super-privacy killers at the NSA, to be compared to a bunch of lazy, middle-managers in Cincinnati.

Does Paul see a pattern, with the PRISM and the IRS and also the chemtrails? Yes, of course, and he says that "this much power in the hands of a President is worrying." But it sounds to me like whatever else you can say about the IRS -- it's objectionable, certainly, to profile organizations based on political beliefs -- it doesn't really look like an impressive display of RAW POLITICAL POWER. Like, "WATCH OUT FEAR THE IRS AND THEIR POWER." It's more like a display of raw bumbling, easy to ferret out, and now there's all kind of disciplinary stuff happening. That is to say, the people who objected to what the IRS was doing are getting immediate results, and now the IRS has to really work their asses off to restore trust. That's not what's happening with this NSA stuff. Those guys could give a crap.

Will Paul use the confirmations of Victoria Nuland and Samantha Power to bang on about Susan RiceGhazi? Yes, he will. He believes "that time Susan Rice didn't get what happened in Benghazi exactly right because there is a period of time after any international incident where it's hard to know all the facts" is actually an "elaborate misdirection campaign." It's totally like Oceans 11, the way they said, "Here's what we know" on one day, and then said, "Okay, we know more about what happened" a few days later. I'd love to FEEL WHAT IT IS LIKE to feel like you've been taken for a ride on the Benghazi stuff, but my brain! It just works too well! (I also feel like the real mystery to penetrate is how much CIA/JSOC stuff we had going on in a country where there was a "no boots on the ground" promise, but everyone would rather rage against something that was said on Meet The Press.)

Anyway, maybe that low hanging fruit is delicious.

Paul will be asking probing questions about Victoria Nuland's relationship to the TALKING POINTS THAT DESTROYED LIBERTY.

Some limp questioning about immigration reform. Paul wants some "reform," but probably not Reform (TM) or "Reform, the new scent from Marco Rubio" or "REFORM: A POWERPOINT PRESENTATION FROM REINCE PRIEBUS."

Paul says he is willing to compromise, though. "I am the conduit," he says. I"m pretty sure "I Am The Conduit" is a Guided By Voices song.

Now we'll have former citizen surveiller turned private-sector "security consultant" General Michael Hayden and walking sack of packing peanuts Senator Ron Johnson, to respond to Rand Paul.

Johnson says he's "every bit as concerned about civil liberties as Paul" and "most Americans" which is largely not true! And to prove how not true it is, at least in the equivalence with Paul, Johnson is like, "Oh this is a line of defense against TEH TERRORIZM WE HAVE TO MAINTAIN A DELICATE BALANCE." Also, the "delicate balance" is something that, to Johnson's mind "shifts," which doesn't sound very delicate to me!

Hayden says that these surveillance programs are super-awesome and effective and that Rand Paul's fears are misallayed and no one is trolling through data, unless they "want" to troll through the data. Wallace says that the NSA is nevertheless obtaining metadata from three billion phone calls a day, and is sort of amazed that they process all of that information on a daily basis. Hayden says thatthe NSA "asks the database a question" and the "question has to be related to terrorism."

"HEY ANY OF YOU PHONE NUMBERS EVER TALK TO THAT PHONE IN WAZIRISTAN?" is an actual question that Hayden suggests gets asked, of a stack of data that includes every single call that you make to every single person, including your Aunt Marjorie who lives in Waziristan, for some reason.

Hayden says that they don't do anything with your records, but keep it, and retain it, so that it can be "studied in the future." And he promises that no one is abusing any of this stuff, which sort of implies that someone, if they wanted to, could.

What has Obama done differently from Bush? Hayden says that there is a "bit more oversight" but there's large been "continuity" between the two programs.


There is about five more minutes about email talking points and inter-agency editing. Hayden says that they were only unusual in that the CIA has a hand in writing them. He goes on to essentially say that Sunday Morning Political Gum Flap Shows are really only the venue for potted political bullshit and no place for "intelligence talk."

He goes on to say that words like "terrorist" and "extremist" are "freighted with political cargo" and "why do you put the CIA in the position where they have to make determinations" and I sort of think that they do because there were lots of CIA stuff happening in Benghazi? But the point Hayden makes is that the whole talking point issue is one of simple inter-agency "process," that was not ideal.

"GARGLE BLARGLE GHAZIBLARGE," says Johnson, cramming as many party talking points into a mutterance as he can.

Johnson "wants to see an immigration bill pass" but BORDERGARGLEFART, you know?

Okay, we will now have a series of panel expectorations from Bill Kristol and Mara Liasson and Mary Matalin and Peter Baker in the traditional "2 reporters/2 conservatives/0 liberals" Sunday morning format.

Bill Kristol is so MAD about the national security leaks, because they take away from the potency and distract from the IRSGhazi. The NSA with their super robust information hoovers and total compliance from most major tech companies can do no harm to anyone, the real villains are the easily caught and at-a-disadvantage IRS mid-level functionaries in dirty offices on Ohio, who have got calculators and lots of forms for you to please fill out!

Matalin says that Obama is a hypocrite for calling the massive surveillance state under Bush a set of false choices about liberty and security while referring to the massive surveillance state under his own direction as a set of very wise and effective trade-offs. I can see her point.

Matalin also insists that the all-powerful IRS guys from Ohio, with there mighty file cabinets and post-it notes of up to five colors are the real supervillians. And also OBAMACARE is the REAL ENEMY.

"You've heard our two Republican panelists try to conflate the two," says Wallace, who could have stopped them from conflating the two any time he wanted to.

Kristol says, explicitly, that he is for the NSA doing their stuff and against the IRS doing their stuff. Matalin says that she's affronted by everything that Obama does, because everything that Obama does is a de facto abuse of the Constitution, EXCEPT for the NSA spying, because that's just and good. She then quotes Rush Limbaugh, because who would YOU QUOTE for perspectives on civil liberties? Thomas Jefferson? Don't be crazy.

Baker makes the point -- sort of, I mean, it's more like he puts the ingredients for making this point and then leaves it for me to make, know, no problem, Peter, I got this! -- that Obama in one week was saying, "Hey, the old war on terror is over, America" and now this week he's saying, "We need to have this surveillance apparatus running full-tilt to fight the war on terror, which is over."

More panel flapping. Baker says that Obama is getting "more assertive" with his appointments. (Probably because his political strategy, 2013-14, is basically "trolling the GOP into behaving like nimrods.") Matalin thinks Rice is terrible, but she thinks Samantha Power is great, and Power's greatness will be bad for Obama, for reasons she can't really explain.

Liasson points out that Rice and Power are both REALLY REALLY hawkish (one of the things that hasn't been pointed out enough is the extent to which Susan Rice is like, PRETTY NEOCONNY, and just because she drew the short straw to bring a snapshot of rapidly changing information about a foggy incident in Benghazi to Sunday Morning prattleshows, it hilariously put a wedge between her and the Republicans that would normally find her hawkishness to be endearing) -- but that both Rice and Power stop short of supporting an intervention in Syria, which is good news because "Syrian intervention fandom" seems to be popular among the nimrod set.

Kristol scoffs about how Obama acts "proud to have gotten out of Iraq" and "pleased to not be intervening in Syria." He really is passing on some golden opportunities to piss money away and get lots of Americans killed and bog us down in Middle Eastern garrisons forever.

Baker says that we don't know what happened inside the U.S.-China summit. Matalin says about four utterly useless sentences, but you should know that she thinks cyberwarfare and cybersnooping is bad. Liasson says it's a big deal. Kristol thinks cyberwarfare is preferable to warfare but still I guess prefers warfare to not going into massive debt in dumb quagmires filled with the corpses of American soldiers, the end.


Today is going to be a News-a-palooza and also a panel-chitchit festival, as usual. One of the very few lawmakers I actually mostly like, Kirstin Gillibrand, is on the show, which is nice. Actually, there are a lot of women on the show today -- Jackie Speier and Kelly Ayotte will be here with Elijah Cummings and Michael McCaul. NICE JOB CBS BOOKER!

There is news from Pretoria, over the health of Nelson Mandela. Last we heard, he was in "serious but stable condition." Nothing has changed, but it does sound more authoritative, now that we're hearing it from someone with the South African dialect, which always sounds crisp and officious. Mandela "had a good night's rest," we are told, but his "health has deteriorated in recent months," owing to a respiratory condition. We are told that South Africa is basically sort of psychologically preparing for Mandela to eventually pass away, so "everyone is hoping for the best" but preparing for the inevitable.

Now, here's Congressmen Michael McCaul and Elijah Cummings for a few minutes of mansplaining before we get to flip the gender ratio. Schieffer, who briefly calls the NSA "NASA," asks McCaul if they have "overreached," what with all the PRISM and the sucking up of every available bit of metadata about all of us. McCaul says Congress will look at the issue, but the program is totally lawful and fits in the FISA statutes and is totally keeping us safe, while simultaneouslt "raising concerns on several levels." "This gives a lot of Americans great pause and concern," he says, before adding, that the optics aren't bad because of it coming at the same time as the "IRS scandals." Except "political optics" aren't scary and don't impact Americans, and I'm pretty sure that I am not nearly as fearful of a bunch of IRS functionaries as I am of a sprawling surveillance state sucking down my every keystroke.

"You have to ask yourself," he says, "Can you trust this administration with my phone records?" The real question I would ask is, "Could you guys actually do some real national security instead of paging through my Facebook updates, because I promise you that you are not learning anything about the world of security threats that way."

Would McCail restrict the NSA? Essentially no, though he does cleverly talk about this to provide the comforting illusion that he has worries. "It's the warehousing of the phone records within the Federal government that gives people concern. I think we can do it through the private sector, like we used to do it." Yeah, alternatively, don't warehouse my phone records, at all, because that is a warehouse filled with stuff that's not actually protecting anyone.

Cummings reminds people that he voted against the Patriot Act, like a BOSS. "We have to makes sure we protect our Bill of Rights," he says, "the right to privacy is important." It's also not specifically ENUMERATED in the Bill of Rights, unfortunately. Cummings says that "we have gone to far" and we need to have a debate on this stuff. "If this has become the normal now," he says, "What's going to become the normal tomorrow?"

Schieffer switches topics to the IRS, and whether the White House is actually the guiding force behind the probes into conservative groups. FACE THE NATION is sort of a week in the past on this one -- as everyone knows now, "Being Pissed At The IRS For Targeting A Group That Shares My Political Beliefs" is now a game that people of all political persuasions can play!

All told, around 470 groups were flagged as "potential political cases" between 2010 and 2012, including 298 whose experiences were analyzed in a Treasury Department inspector general's report. Because the IRS by law must not name groups that have not yet been approved or which were rejected, only a subset of their names was made public in May by the agency -- 176 cases.

Of these, "the majority of the groups selected for extra scrutiny probably matched the political criteria the IRS used and backed conservative causes, the Tea Party, or limited government generally," wrote Martin A. Sullivan in a June 3 piece in Tax Notes, a newsletter published by the Tax Analysts group. "But a substantial minority -- almost one third of the subset -- did not fit that description."

Non-conservative advocacy groups given special scrutiny by the IRS in or after 2010 included the Coffee Party USA, the alternative to the Tea Party movement that got a bunch of press in 2010, as well as such explicitly progressive groups as the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada; Rebuild the Dream, founded by former Obama administration official Van Jones; and Progressives United Inc., which was founded by former Wisconsin senator Russ Feingold.

Also included in the special scrutiny were Progress Texas and Progress Missouri Inc.; Tie the Knot, which sells bow ties to raise money to promote same-sex marriage; and ProgressNow, which describes itself as "a year-round never-ending progressive campaign."

The IRS "also rolled up centrist groups, such as the Across the Aisle Foundation -- the educational and cultural arm of No Labels." It's hard to know whose side to take there, because while I don't like the targeting, it remains a fact that No Labels are a gaggle of pretty big idiots.

Cummings says that Darrell Issa "has the tendency to make strong allegations and then having to take them back, never finding anything."

CUMMINGS: We have a situation here where we now have interviewed the manager of the exempt office in Cincinnati of the IRS. He is a conservative, 21-year veteran who spent six hours with our committee the other day talking in an interview and he explained to us that this Tea Party situation started with one case back in 2010. Somebody -- one of the screeners -- brought it to him, he looked at it and said we must send this to the technical office in Washington because this is high profile, this is a unique situation and we want to have consistency. So Washington IRS technical office did not ask him for the case, he sent it. Now, keep in mind what I said, Bob, this was a 21-year veteran and he termed himself a conservative Republican.

SCHIEFFER: All right, well are you saying the Chairman of your committee is a liar?

CUMMINGS: I would never do that. I think those kinds of words are inappropriate in our -- on Capitol Hill.

Well, that's actually not true, they are some of the most appropriate words possible.

CUMMINGS: What I am saying and what I've said to him over and over again, we must maintain the integrity of our committee and of our work product and in order to do that we cannot make these wild accusations, Bob, and then not be able to back them up. Because then when we say anything people begin to question it. And I can tell you that in this case Chairman Issa, with all due respect, is absolutely wrong. This republican --.


CUMMINGS: No, no, let me finish. This Republican manager said there was no White House involvement, no political involvement, none of that. He made the decision doing the best he could to have some kind of consistency.

Cummings appeared elsewhere, on CNN today, and he vowed to release full transcripts of the testimony from Internal Revenue Service employees, which Issa has thus far not done after offering to do it (mainly so Issa can get favorable coverage with stories that use the partial, piecemeal transcripts he's given out).

"I want every syllable of those transcripts to be released," Cummings said, on CNN.

By the way, another key distinction between the IRS case and the NSA situatuon is that even if Congress can compel someone from the NSA to offer testimony, the chance that you will hear "every syllable" of that testimony is the null set.

McCaul says that we need to have a criminal investigation to find out who leaked the NSA information THAT YOU NEED NOT WORRY ABOUT BECAUSE IT'S TOTALLY LAWFUL GOOD AND YOU SHOULD CALM DOWN.

Okay, it's time for Kelly Ayotte to join the fray. She says that she will endorse the Gang Of Eight's plan for comprehensive immigration reform. She says that we have a broken immigration system and the OctoGang have a "thoughtful solution" and their plan has both a "tough but fair" system of bringing the undocumented onto a path to citizenship with border security that it to her liking.

"I don't think anyone wants to filibuster this," she says. It will probably still die in the House of Representatives.

Ayotte is less inclined to criticize the surveillance state, even as she sort of provides the ample ground for criticism. "We ought to make sure we aren't collecting records that we don't need to protect America," she says, unknowingly describing what is precisely going on with these programs. Ayotte notes that Congress can authorize or re-authorize the parts of these laws whenever they want.

"I don't think it's an accident that administrations from two different philosophies have kept this in place," she says. Well, duh. It's because they share two things in common: a love of expansive power and the way it just makes things easier when you don't have to work through the restraints put on the executive branch by the pesky old Constitution, and the knowledge that if terrorists get lucky (as sometimes happens) and there is an attack that succeeds (as sometimes happens) the first thing that will happen is that partisans on the other side will probably come for their heads.

So, what Obama and Bush like about it is basically that having power is awesome, having more power is even better, at the power to protect your own neck is best of all.

Ayotte isn't as kooky-crazy loudly-braying about Susan Rice. I mean, she is still SO UPSET about the way Susan Rice came on Sunday shows and said things that were imperfectly informed -- EVEN CONTRADICTING THE LIBYAN PRESIDENT, OL' WHAT'S HIS GODDAMNED NAME, WHO IS THE BRAVEST AND BEST HUMAN, HOW DARE SHE.

I am really especially amused at how being mad at Susan Rice forces so many people to be all: "DON'T WORRY PRESIDENT OF LIBYA WE GOT YOUR BACK DUDE DAMN YOU ARE OUR NEW BEST FRIEND, GONNA POKE THE CRAP OUT OF YOU ON FACEBOOK, BRO."

But whatever, she says that Rice's new appointment is the President's call and she'll work with Rice whenever she can.

Ayotte says that sexual assaults in the military are "so wrong" and the commanders on the ground are the people who need to be held accountable. Would she take the punishment out of the hands of the commanders, though? Slight hestitation? But just a teensy amount: "No problem gets solved in the military without the chain of command, but I wouldn't let the chain of command off the hook."

And the chain of command had better get with the program, she says. And by "the program," I am referring to "what the Senate Armed Services Committee is going to hand down."

"We're not letting this go," Ayotte says. Which is awesome!

Now Speier and Gillibrand -- both part of the Difficult To Type Their Last Names Quickly While Liveblogging Caucus -- are here.

I am glad that we are having this discussion on FACE THE NATION, but I'll say that in a few years time, I hope that we can bring people like Gillbrand onto shows like this to talk about issues because the subject and the issue are worthy of national discussion and not because "WOW IT SURE IS NEAT THE WAY THOSE MALE MILITARY COMMANDERS GOT STRAIGHT UP TOLD BY THE PRETTY BLONDE SENATOR LADY." I guess we need the novelty of PRETTY BLONDE SENATOR LADY being angry to even bring the topic of military sexual assault onto Sunday morning teevee, but it really feels straight kindergarten, knowing that this is the guiding reason behind the discussion in the first place, and that it's this whole decorative scene of gender-flipped code-switching that's fired the fascination of the show's producers, and not the urgent need to actually address the widespread incidences of sexual assault.

Gillibrand says that she thinks that the commanders understand that there is a problem, but they may not totall grasp the full scope and seriousness of it.

GILLIBRAND: What we have here is a crisis. We have 26,000 unwanted sexual contacts, assaults, and rapes a year. We know of the 3,300 who are willing to report that 70% of them are sexual assaults and rapes. It's a serious problem. These are serious crimes. And what the victims tell us across the board is that they're afraid to report because of retaliation, because they've seen other women be retaliated against, or they feel that they'll either be marginalized and their careers will be over or they'll be blamed. So until you have transparency and accountability and objectivity where the decision-maker of whether you're going to trial or not, is an objective prosecutor, and not a commander, you're not going to have the kind of reporting and, frankly, justice that we need in this system.

Schieffer asks how the military can maintain discipline? Speier says, "I think's a distinction between discipline -- which they absolutely should have total control over -- and crimes, felonies, violent crimes. And that's where the distinction should be made and I think that's both what Kristen and I are interested in doing is fixing that component of it. They're enablers because this has been a problem for 25 years and for 25 years they've trotted up to Capitol Hill, they sat in committee hearings, and they said all the right things, zero tolerance, but then the scandals keep happening."

Gillibrand says that her legislation will mimic other nations' armies by moving oversight of these crimes outside the chain of command and into the hands of military prosecutors who can bring both justice and accountability and a cultural change. Speier is in agreement with this. She says, "Typically with the chain of command you have someone who knows the assailant, may even be the assailant. or is also concerned about a promotion. And having something under your watch take place that's a violent crime may not look to good when they're trying to be be promoted. So historically they've found ways around it. Either non-judicial punishment or saying to the victim, 'You know what? We think you have a personality disorder so we're going to give you an honorable discharge but you're going to leave.' So typically you have the perpetrator getting promoted and the victim getting kicked out."

Gillibrand says that the legislation she'll introduce will remove those barriers to objectivity, by placing the decisions in the hands of a prosecutor that runs outside the chain of command. She goes on to note that this is by no means a "women's issue" as men are the victims of more than half of these incidents, all of which, taken together, just undermine readiness.

Schieffer says that "we are in the midst of a changing culture where we are redefining what privacy means." There are good things about that and bad things about that, and it's going to be "rough" sorting it all out, probably.

Okay, time to panel until our pants fall down, with David Sanger and Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Joe Nye and Margaret Brennan.

What's the takeaway from the China/U.S. summit? Nye says that it's important. "They met in an informal situation" and there were "not deliverables," and that was "good thing." Sanger says that there are "forces in the U.S. and China that might" tip the relationship between the two leaders in directions they don't want to do -- instead of coopeerating, military advisors may emphasize antagonism. Chandrasekaran says that "perhaps incremental progress" was made and that "getting these two leaders in the same room to start to tackle" their issues "was an important step forward." Brennan says that the summit was intended to be a tone-setter. And hey, China has been doing a little cracking down on North Korea, which is a total bro move!

Nye ensures us that we will not necessarily go to war with China, which is nice. He notes that we have many areas of interdependence that require us both to at least attempt to be cooperative with one another.

What about all of China's cybersnooping? Why can't they do the good kind of cyber-espionage, which is the stuff directed at Iran? Sanger says that eventually, investors will not have much faith in China's long-term future for development if investors think that China is stealing all their good ideas from other people.

Of course, there are still idiots willing to give Jonah Lehrer book deals despite the fact that he steals ideas from people and makes up stuff out of whole cloth. As Tom Scocca pointed out Lehrer's one great idea is his racket, and as long as his racket is profitable, people are gonna want a piece of that bad enough to continue to enable it. China stealing everyone else's innovations will work the same way.

Sanger and Brennan sound like they think that a military intervention in Syria is growing less likely, though Sam Power's promotion complicates that because everyone's read of Power's career is that she's hot to intervene everywhere.

We move to the NSA stuff. Sanger says that what's happened this week is that Americans have "come to recognize" that the government is keeping "huge logs" of data and it's been a long time since anyone's said, "Hey, let's revisit the whole concept of where we draw the line."

Nye thinks that the overall liberty/security balance is fine, but we need to talk about the tipping point where one ends and the other begins. And the problem he identifies is that the debate is pretty much one that takes place in secret. Chandrasekaran says that the American people were never really clued in to the extent to which their data was being collected and what the government was doing with it, pointing out that there was a "cavalier attitude" from the government about it. Because we have always been up on your phone calls in this war with Eurasia.

Sanger says that he's not sure a lot of the stuff that we're classifying really needs to be classified. He's asked the White House why some of the stuff got classified, but "hasn't gotten an answer."

Probably because it's classified.


So today we will hear from Glenn Greenwald and Senator Mark Udall -- who has been warning against executive abuses for some time now, before ceding the program to Dianne Feinstein and Mike Rogers, who love the surveillance state so much that they probably have unprotected sex with it. Then a useless panel. Then we stumble out of our warrens and return to our lives.

Greenwald is a fascinating figure in the post-Bush era because he's managed to prove that some Obama fans have a genetic immunity to whiplash, which is a fascinating adaptive trait. It manifests itself specifically in the way that some who criticized the over-arching powers claimed by the Addington/Yoo/Cheney/Rumsfled/Perle-enabled Bush White House with a very Puritanical rigidity somehow managed to soften that stance when Barack Obama became president, presumably because Obama wore the White Hat and not the Black Hat and also didn't menacingly twirl his mustache at damsels who'd not paid the rent. Here was a gentleman-scholar into whose hands we could place the global panopticon and limitless unchecked powers the Bush executive had tried to claim.

Somehow, the necks of these people remained very flexible, having successfully shaken the physiological impediments placed on the neck by this condition known as "internal intellectual consistency." It's not known how they are managing this. Some speculate, however, that these people have actually managed to somehow disenable this "internal intellectual consistency" through the participation in tribal political rituals.

I'm afraid I don't know much about that. But theoretically, by the time America is run by, say, President Marco Rubio, these powers will suddenly be Bad Again. And it will be as if the Obama administration never happened, and these powers were always bad, and someone really needs to demand that the powers be taken, from the Bad President.

Hypothetically, this mad toggling between contradictory poltical positions could continue indefinitely, depending on which political tribe holds these executive powers.

The neat thing is that is most of the people who will be calling for these powers to be curtailed when they become President Rubio's powers will be suddenly huge fans of the cases that Greenwald lays out against these powers. This will be puzzling to him, because during this interregnum where the Terrible Cheney Powers were being wielded by Sainted Democrat, Greenwald was a terrible villain because -- and this is a trademarked blog and twitter line from Greenwald's liberal critics, so please contact me to let me know who to make the royalty check out to -- "WHILE EVERYONE OF COURSE HAS THE RIGHT TO CRITICIZE THE PRESIDENT, PEOPLE WHO LIKE GOOD THINGS UNDERSTAND THAT IT IS STILL A VERY BAD THING TO DO WHEN IT MIGHT HURT THE GOOD PRESIDENT'S RE-ELECTION CHANCES AGAINST THE VERY BAD PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. TSK TSK WE CAN SAVE THESE IMPORTANT HIGH-STAKES DISCUSSIONS FOR A TIME WHERE NOTHING IS AT STAKE."

So, eventually, all these people will be Greenwald's pals again, once these powers are claimed by a President they don't like. Not today, though!

Anyway, this will be fun, because, like Alex Pareene pointed out in the piece I referenced at the top of this liveblog, George Stephanopoulos is unique among Sunday hosts because he really has no concerns in the world about anything, save for putting together a show that has enough shiny lights and loud noises. So it will be weird to see him contend with people who actually take this stuff -- both sides of the issue -- seriously.

GREENWALD: There are two key findings. One is that there are members of the Congress who have responsibility for oversight, for checking the people who run this vast secret apparatus of spying to make sure they are not abusing their power. These people in Congress have continuously asked for the NSA to provide basic information about how many Americans they are spying on, how many conversations and telephone and chats of Americans they are intercepting, and the NSA continuously tells them we don’t have the capability to tell you that, to even give you a rough estimate. So with these documents that we published show, that were marked top secret to prevent the American people from learning about them, was that the NSA keeps extremely precise statistics, all the data that the senators announced (ph) where the NSA has falsely claimed does not exist, and the other thing that it does, as you said, is it indicates just how vast and massive the NSA is in terms of sweeping up all forms of communication around the globe, including domestically.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You also drew new criticism yesterday from the director of national intelligence, James Clapper. He called the disclosures reckless, said the rush to publish has created significant misimpressions and added that the articles are filled with inaccuracies. Your response to that?

GREENWALD: Every single time any major media outlet reports on something that the government is hiding, that political officials don’t want people to know, such as the fact that they are collecting the phone records of all Americans, regardless of any suspicion of wrongdoing, the people in power do exactly the same thing. They attack the media as the messenger and they are trying to discredit the story. This has been going back decades, ever since the Pentagon papers were released by the New York Times, and political officials said you are endangering national security. The only thing we’ve endangered is the reputation of the people in power who are building this massive spying apparatus about any accountability who are trying to hide from the American people what it is that they are doing. There is no national security harm from letting people know that they are collecting all phone records, that they are tapping into the Internet, that they are planning massive cyber attacks both foreign and even domestic. These are things that the American people have a right to know. The only thing that’s being damaged is the credibility of political officials in the way that they exercise power in the dark.

Stephanpoulos brings up to fact that the tech companies named in this leak (that is nothing to worry about but man is the leaker going to get keelhauled as soon as they are identified) have denied that they are involved in PRISM. "I take it there could be some semantic word games being played," says Stephanopoulos. HA, LOL, MAYBE. Some of the "word games" may just be this neat game called, "I AM A FLACK AND ILIED RIGHT TO YOUR FAT FACE."

Greenwald points out that these denials are not being sworn out against the Guardian, they are being sworn out against the NSA. All the Guardian has done is report the discrepancies. "Let these companies that collect massive amounts of information about people and the government resolve this discrepancy in public," says Greenwald.

Greenwald says he has not been contacted by any investigator. He also suggests that he may actually have more than one source, leaking him these things. he goes on to defend the practice of whistleblowing:

GREENWALD:But let me first make this point, because I think this is so critical, because every time there is a whistle-blower, somebody who exposes government wrongdoing, the tactic of the government is to try and demonize them as a traitor. They did that to Daniel Ellsberg when he exposed the systematic lies that the government was telling the people about the Vietnam War. This is what they do over and over. Think about what somebody who has access to top secret documents has at their disposal in terms of options. They can go and they can sell those documents for vast sums of money to all kinds of foreign intelligence agencies around the planet. The sources here did not do that. They could go and pass the information covertly to an American adversary if it were their intent to harm the United States or to be a traitor or whatever other accusations get around. The sources here did not do that either.

What they did was they risked their careers and their lives and their liberty because what they were seeing being done in secret inside the United States government is so alarming and so pernicious that they simply want one thing, and that is for the American people at least to learn about what this massive spying apparatus is, and what the capabilities are, so that we can have an open, honest debate about whether that’s the kind of country that we want to live in. And if the people decide that yes, they do want the government knowing everything about them, intervening in all of their communications, monitoring them, keeping dossiers on them, then so be it, but at least we should have that debate openly and democratically. Unfortunately, since the government hides virtually everything that they do at the threat of criminal prosecution, the only way for us to learn about them is through these courageous whistle-blowers who deserve our praise and gratitude and not imprisonment and prosecution.

Moving onto Mark Udall.

Udall says, "I tried to draw attention to what was happening over two years ago. I am not happy that we’ve had leaks and these leaks are concerning, but I think it’s an opportunity now to have a discussion about the limits of surveillance, how we create transparency, and above all, how we protect Americans’ privacy."

Stephanopoulos asks Udall what his "main concern" is, and Udall says that "Americans don't know the extent to which they are being surveilled."

UDALL:We hear this term metadata, which has to do with when you make calls, where you make calls to, who you’re talking to. I think that’s private information, and I think if the government is gathering that, the American people ought to know it, we ought to have a discussion about it, and frankly, I think we ought to reopen the Patriot Act and put some limits on the amount of data that the National Security Administration is collecting.


Look, you know through a contract with your company that they’re going to collect this data, but the phone company can’t arrest you, prosecute you, put you in jail. And metadata, although it sounds simple and it sounds innocuous, can lead to a lot of additional information. I just draw the line a little bit differently than the president does. We do need to remember, we’re in a war against terrorists, and terrorism remains a real threat, but I also think we have to cue to the Bill of Rights, and the Fourth Amendment, which prevents unlawful searches and seizures, ought to be important to us. It ought to remain sacred, and there’s got to be a balance here. That is what I’m aiming for. Let’s have the debate, let’s be transparent, let’s open this up. I don’t think the American public knows the extent or knew the extent to which they were being surveilled and their data was being collected.

Stephanopoulos points out that Obama has said that these issues have been "fully debated and authorized by Congress." Ahh, but that word "fully" is doing a lot of heavy lifting! Udall says that the debate has only happened in "a limited way," and that the time is nigh to re-examine the Patriot Act powers and debate their merits again.

Udall allows that "in general," the administration has "been straight with the American people." But the law "is being interpreted in a secret way" and he wants a "full disclosure of how this law is being applied." He says that this is not a "scandal" just a matter of riveting concern.

But does he think the program has been effective? Udall says that evaluating the efficacy demands that one define certain terms specifically: "There are two programs that are being discussed. There is one the so-called PRISM program, Article 702 in the law, and it’s been very effective. It surveils foreigners, grabs content, photographs, emails. The 215 provisions which are collecting all the metadata, I am not convinced that it’s uniquely valuable intelligence that we could not have generated in other ways. So I know these claims are being made, but that’s all the more reason to have a debate, to share this information and to determine whether or not we ought to be collecting millions of records every day of Americans’ phone calls. It’s just to me a violation of our privacy, particularly if it’s done in ways that we don’t know about."

Here representing the United Bipartisan Face Of Give Me All Your MetaData, Let Me Just Pick You Up By Your Heels And Shake-Shake-Shake You, Shake You Good, Until I Get All That Sweet Sweet MetaData, Hoo Boy, is the Human Centipede DBA "Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Representative Mike Rogers (R-Mich.)."

Stephanopoulos asks if the critics are right that the balance between liberty and security is not out of whack. Feinstein says that "balance is difficult to identify" (especially when it's identified in secrecy, if at all) but the programs that are sucking down torrents of your personal stuff are totally lawful. Hey guys, that program that is recording all your credit card information is TOTALLY glanced out by a judge every ninety days. And the metadata is not a big deal! It's just like the stuff that's "on your telephone bill" (but isn't the stuff on your telephone bill).

Very few people have access to that information, we are assured. Because that's freedom -- where only a few people have the absolute right to violate your rights, and they do so in secret.

There are two cases that have been "declassified" to prove that vacuuming up everything that can be known about every Americans' call history and credit care purchases are the only way to defeat terrorism, sorry! This includes the aforementioned "Najibullah Zazi" case.

"Here is the point," says Feinstein. "I flew over THE WORLD TRADE CENTER!!! Going to SENATOR LAUTENBERG'S FUNERAL!!!! And in the distance was the STATUE OF LIBERTY!" And the melodramatic juxtaposition of all these things. NON-EXISTENT BUILDINGS! DEAD SENATOR HERO GUY! STATUE THAT WE GOT FROM FRANCE! It means something. And what that means is SHUT UP GIVE ME METADATA.

The hindpart of the Human Centipede, Mike Rogers, gurgles to life. The NSA is not reading your emails, trust them! The Patriot Act TOTALLY has parts you can read, so don't worry. You can't listen in on the discussion of how the law is APPLIED, no no. But you can read the statutes that we through together when we were terrified about 9/11 happening again and then passed without giving it a second thought.

Rogers says that "the number of times it's accessed is very -- it is a fraction of a fraction," because only having you rights violated a few times is okay. Lay back and learn to enjoy it! Rogers continues: "No one can data mine that information. That is what's so frustrating to those of us who know this program."

Leaving open the possibility that as soon as "some one can data mine that information" it will relieve the frustration.

(If you can't data mine it, though, why collect it?)

Stephanopoulos says that all people like Mark Udall want is more public information, and more public debate. He plays a clip of Senator Ron Wyden, who is of a similar mind.

SEN. RON WYDEN, D-OREGON: Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?


WYDEN: It does not?

CLAPPER: Not wittingly. There are cases where they could inadvertently, perhaps, collect, but not wittingly.

Stephanopoulos says that he has a hard time "squaring that answer with what we learned this week." (That's because Clapper lied; is a liar.)

The Feinstein head croaks, "There is no more direct or honest person than Jim Clapper," thus relieving herself of having to maintain a similar high standard. Anyway, Feinstein says:

FEINSTEIN: You can misunderstand the question. This is one of the dilemmas of talking about it. He could have thought the question had content or something, but it is true that this is a wide collection of phone records, as Mike said. No name, no content. But the number to number, the length of time, the kind of thing that's on the telephone bill, and we have to deal with that.

If Sarah Palin wakes up today and discovers that a serving of word salad she was planning on eating is missing, I have a lead.

Feinstein is "open to" a public meeting about the law, but "the rub" is that all the good the law does is based on stuff that's classified, so it's really hard to explain how awesome the law is! See, their hands are tied, but trust them it is pretty awesome.

Rogers says that "one of the things we're charged with is keeping America safe." Really, who charged you with that? Cite the specific text, making that obligation.

"[Glenn Greenwald] doesn't have a clue how this program works," scoffs Rogers. GOLLY GEE, I'm pretty sure he would agree, hence the desire to learn more about how the program works. Rogers has not sufficiently demonstrated that he understands how the program works, either. The only thing that his testimony today demonstrates is that he's got enough facts at his disposal to enable the argument that no one needs to know anything else about how the program works.

Nevertheless, it's really important to track down the leaker of this information and prosecute the bejeezus out of them, sayeth the Centipede.

One last round of panel dribble, hastily summarized.

George Will is asked where he "comes down on the the issue" of the NSA's invasiveness. Will doesn't really answer the question directly, but he seems to be against it, quietly, for very philosophical reasons. Paul Krugman, advances the ball a teensy bit less quietly, by saying that "we are on the authoritarian side" of the equation.

Congressman Keith Ellison says the whole process of participating in the program is a Kafkaesque dance of nonsense:

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you are a member of Congress. The president said on Friday that every member of Congress has access to information.

Can you just first start out by explaining what a member of Congress who is not on the committee knows about this program or can know about this program?

ELLISON: I would say almost nothing. The reality is you can't bring your staff in there, so we are moving around Capitol Hill at lightning speed, nearly every member of Congress is. If you can't get staff support, that means you've got to go into that room, you've got to sit there and pore through documents over the course of hours.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you allowed to see everything?

ELLISON: I don't think I am. I'm allowed to see certain things. And they tell us, it's available if you make certain times and places to go see it. But the fact is, no, I am not aware of this program that was revealed today. I have no notice. We checked our e-mails and our notices. We were never told that we were able to find out the information that's been revealed this week.

So, I think it's a fiction. It's a fiction that everybody in Congress knows. No, nobody -- very few people in Congress...

STEPHANOPOULOS: So you voted on it, but without full knowledge?

ELLISON: I voted against the PATRIOT Act.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You voted against it...

ELLISON: And I voted against it, because we don't know what we don't know.

Van Susteren doesn't understand why the program has to be secret. "You know, maybe if we all know about it, we all agree that it's a good idea, we live in a very different society, but we're supposed to have a transparent government."

She continues: "The second thing is, the FISA court that suppose -- that signs and gives the permission. The FISA courts, and I've got to give credit to Rick Klein of ABC News, he tipped me off to it, that there's a 2012 letter to -- from the NSA to Senator Harry Reid, and there 1,789 requests in calendar year 2012, or until August 30, 2012. 1,789 requests -- now of the 1,789 requests for authorization, one was withdrawn by the government, all of the others were granted."

"It's a rubber stamp," George Stephanopoulos. Y'all, I could have told you this.

Dowd says that anyone who understands how data is collected understands that this is, contra what the Human Centipede was implying, a "deep invasion of privacy," and the debate is simply the invaders saying, "Trust us on this. They're saying that we're doing this. We're going to protect you."

He continues: "And that's my second point on this, this is a balance between an erosion of civil liberties and a protection of public safety. And what the congress and the president is telling us is there's a serious erosion of civil liberties. They don't say there's not an erosion of civil liberties, they say it's worth it to erode civil liberties in this way because it's going to protect you in a certain way -- we're not going to tell how many of you are protected, we're not going to tell you how many times it has -- but trust that we're going to be able to do that."

Will agrees with Van Susteren, and goes on to point out that "secrecy makes us stupid" and that conservatives in particular should recognize/rationalize "secrecy" as "government regulation."

Ellison says that the law needs to be reviewed -- "we passed this law when we were afraid." Dowd says that Obama has essentially put all the Bush-era programs on steroids. Ellison says that the nature of executive power is that you claim all the powers on the inside of the lines that have been drawn, and agrees with Dowd that Congress hasn't done a good job putting a check on those powers. "We need to peel them back," he says.

"This is where the IRS scandal metastasizes into a CIA scandal," Will says. Or it puts the de minimis nature of the former scandal into perspective. Remember, THERE IS NO PARTISAN CONSTITUENCY THAT IS IN FAVOR OF THE IRS PROFILING TEA PARTY ORGANIZATIONS, AND EVERYONE HAS LEAPT TO IMMEDIATELY PUT A HALT TO IT. That's a big difference.

Van Susteren says that the leak has really exposed secret and allowed the debate to begin. Stephanopoulos says, "Yeah but wasn't this an open secret?" No one cosigns this, because the scope and the capabilities were not known, obviously.

Some discussion about the nominations of Rice and Power. Will says that Rice and Power support "altruistic international intervention" which he is "skeptical" of. He also says that the best UN Ambassadors have a "skepticism" of the UN, and for some reason he is really upset that Samantha Powers sits on an "Atrocity Prevention Board."

WILL: Now think about that. What do they do, they convene around a table and they say, a quorum being present, let's prevent an atrocity. I mean, there's a kind of right-mindedness and feel-goodness about this that I don't think translates into policy.

I mean, how do you know they haven't actually prevented atrocities? Maybe there would be more atrocities without these efforts being undertaken. Maybe we'd have an atrocity every single week. Maybe it's simply important to have people who define and decry atrocities as a matter of conscience.

But hell, we can try it your way: the laissez-faire approach to slaughter and genocide probably will work awesomely.

Krugman gets, you know, two minutes to talk about the economy, because if This Week does anything well, it's manage people's time. He says, "I think we were ready to have a much stronger recovery. Housing is coming back. People are feeling better. Kids are starting to form households again. All those things. And the sequester -- you know, it's not that -- we shouldn't be looking at as positive job growth, we should be looking at it as, gosh, we might have been ready for takeoff here. And we have the sequester killing it."

Krugman also points out that the Affordable Care Act is a pretty effective anti-poverty program.

Dowd is concerned with income inequality: "90 percent of this country, people in this country, have had no real movement in their financial situation, more than 90 percent in 15 years basically, 15 years. And part of the thing that we all haven't really faced is, is are we in this new normal -- are we in a new normal of an economy where 400,000 jobs a month, or 500,000 jobs a month, or increases in average wages, are a thing of the past? And I think at some point we have to have this conversation about where are we as a country and our institutions, our government institutions, do they meet where we are as a 21st Century country? Because 95 percent -- every time we point out the stock market is doing great, 95 percent of the country isn't benefiting."

Keith Ellison provides America with the one and only time in 2013 that a Sunday show will discuss labor rights and wages: "George, there is a very positive trend. You have all of these low-wage, fast food workers -- New York, Chicago, all over the country, who are literally going on strike even at 8 bucks an hour to try to demand an increase in their pay. So as Congress is not raising the minimum wages, we're stuck."

We are promised more roundtable. We get it. Will says that various Republicans don't like immigration reform. Krugman says that the Federal Reserve will continue to wuss out of helping the economy recover. Dowd says that he hopes that we will revisit the issue of guns "especially in light of the idea that basically we're willing to give up civil liberties to potentially protect and have people access all these kinds of records, but we're unwilling to give up some sense of civil liberty to take guns out of the hands." Van Susteren says that "government conferences should be called government parties," and that it's all "government stealing."

Ellison says that "Student loan rates on Stafford loans are due to double by July 1st if Congress does not act. I'm hoping people will say something."

That will probably be the last time anyone on a Sunday show will say something about that.

Okay, well, I'm going to leave off and get on with the remainder of Sunday. I hope everyone has a good week, despite the fact that the NSA will know whether you are having a good week before you do.

Next week: Meet The Press returns. Sorry, America!

[The Sunday Morning Liveblog returns on June 16th, I guess! In the meantime, enjoy some of the stories stacked up on my Rebel Mouse page.]