Meet the Press   |  June 23, 2013

Fiorina: Moment of bipartisan opportunity from NSA scandal

Democratic Mayor of Atlanta Kasim Reed; Former Chair and CEO of Hewlett Packard, Carly Fiorina; and NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd discuss how to hold bureaucracies accountable and restore public trust in the wake of multiple scandals.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> carly fiorina , you know, i think it's important because what congress has failed to do is actually have the gut to have a debate. if you want to debate these things, then don't pass the patriot act in perpetuity. don't give the president authority to wage a military campaign without coming back and saying, hey, maybe we ought to review this. but mike, who ran the nsa, was on last week, and he made the point these programs cannot operate in the dark. they have to be politically sustainable. here's what he said last week.

>> i think it's living in this kind of a democracy we're going to have to be a little bit less effective in order to be a little more transparent to get to do anything to defend the american people .

>> your thoughts.

>> well, mike hayden was a great nsa leader and he's a great friend, and i agree with both him and the mayor. i think there is a moment of the opportunity here. when we get past the specific of edward snowden, there is a moment of bipartisan opportunity to step back and say, how is it that we should be holding these vast complicated agencies accountable? i actually think the irs and the nsa scandal have something in common. whatever you think, you don't need to think the president politically mote valted the irs and you don't need to be against the nsa program to raise the profound question of when you have such vast bureaucracies. how do we hold them accountable? how does congress meet its oversight responsibility? how do the american people come to trust government again knowing that big bureaucracies actually are held in check somehow and we have a bayway way of determining that the people working in them are not abusing power but are ethical. that's an important debate.

>> chuck, the glenn greenwald issue and the debate under way this morning.

>> there is a culture of transparency. we live with it now, this culture of are social media . government institutions have been slow to respond. i think when the country changes culturally government should respond to the cultural change in the country and when it comes to transparency and to what the government's doing, how much information we as a governed people expect to have, we expect to have more information, not less. we expect this. so i think this is the case with the president in particular, but congress has also failed to respond to the country culturally. this issue of journalism and whistle-blowers, i'm hesitant. on one hand, i do think that the justice department was overbearing on what they did with a number of these folks, what they did with the associated press and snowden. i've had people who are uncomfortable having phone conversations now with different sources, even on the smallest of levels. so in that respect i understand the skittishness on the other hand. on the other hand, you know, glenn greenwald , you know, how much was he involved in the plot? it's one thing as a source, but what was his role -- did he have a role beyond simply being a receiver of this information? and is he going to have to answer those questions? there is a point of law. he's a lawyer. he attacked the premise of your question. he didn't answer it.

>> two big points to this. one, it's never been easier in human history to be a whistle-blower than now. so there's a legitimate path there. the other point people have to understand --

>> i disagree. the path within government stinks. it is not a protected path.

>> we disagree on that. the digital world has changed everything. the internet is an incredible tool for outlaws and terrorists. it's not surprising the security for the state is trying to compete with that. sending your cat photo around the world in a nanosecond changes everything online. government is struggling with how to not let that be a free channel for bad people to use as a tool and on the other hand not be ubiquitous in shattering privacy.

>> robert, one of the things chuck wrote about this morning was the notion of being leaderless in washington. one of the struggles for the leader of the government, the president, is finding his voice on this. he has spoken but rather cryptally about the utility of these programs and his view about it. is that a problem?

>> well, one, it is hard to talk about these programs without being in some ways cryptic because, as you heard michael hayden talk about, the more transparency that we give -- and we do need to give a necessary amount in order to sustain these programs politically and in public opinion -- but you have to be careful as to not just talk about what mike talked about, which is give terrorists basically the playbook for how we're monitoring their communications. but, you know, i think it is important to have this debate. we do have to have something that in the end comes out of this that is politically sustain sustainable. and you saw it beginning this week with the current head of the nsa talking about the plots that have been disrupted. i do think, again, an honest conversation about what is and what isn't being collected so that, like i said, i don't turn on the tv and i hear people talk about literally there must be the millions and millions of fbi agents that are listening to every single phone call in this country. not only is that --

>> be responsible --

>> not only is that -- right. not only is that not happening it's incapable of happening.

>> i do think one of the reasons it's important to step back and kind of begin to talk about some of these profound questions, distrust is created when people can't square the circle. so on the one handle you hear people say, oh, we've disrupted 50 terrorist plots, and on the other hand boston happens, we were warned about this person twice, and yet somehow that occurred. and we know that terrorists get on the internet all the time and get a how-to book to do all kinds of things. soy think people are having trouble reconciling what appears to be a lot of oversight with something like boston. and in the end, as we all know, it's human nature . if you don't know something, you assume the worst. american people have woken up to the fact that they don't know a whole lot about what government is involved in.

>> let me --

>> -- in five days.

>> but they also kill and wounded many.

>> absolutely, but over ten-year period i would take the hand that the united states has had and the diligence that law enforcement has displayed since 9/11 and it is essential to americans that when something terrible like that hams those individuals this be brought to justice. all of these measures were necessary as it relates