MHP   |  January 19, 2014

How efficient is the 'surveillance state'?

The MHP panel discusses the moment of panic-fueled surveillance post-9/11 and if the invasion of privacy domestically ruptures trust with the government.

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

>>> privacy people, perhaps, don't understand that we still occupy the role of the great satan. new bombs are being devised. new terrorists are emerging. new groups, actually, a new level of viciousness. and i think we need to be prepared. i think we need to do it in a way that respects people's privacy rights .

>> that was california democratic senator, dianne feinste feinstein, who is also the chair of the senate intelligence committee , speaking to nbc's david gregory on this morning's "meet the press." so, marcus, you wrote a biography that i teach of condoleezza rice . and this language that others perceive us as the great satan and we've got to protect ourselves, that was really the discourse coming out of the bush white house under the rice regime. and so i'm just wondering, how much that continues to resonate for folks.

>> i think in the bush administration , i talk about the book, but i don't think we've acknowledged it significantly enough. there was a psychosis. after 9/11, these people were the administration. condoleezza rice , george w. bush , certainly, were absolutely traumatized, and they couldn't admit this publicly, but the fact that 9/11 happened on their watch. whoever them wanted to import responsibility for, for that attack, the cia, our intelligences agencies not talking to each other, the fact is, it happened on their watch. and they were not going to let anything like that ever happen again. and they didn't care. they would go to any lengths to ensure that didn't happen. their feeling really was, it didn't matter about privacy. all that married was securittered was secu rity. they really did believe nothing else mattered except for that. this balancing act we see the administration trying to do, there was no balance problem.

>> that notion of ideology, and i don't want to miss that, what we think of as the foreign enemy and domestic enemy, simultaneously being driven by that ideological viewpoint. khalil, we were reminded, just recently, the florida state legislature had passed a law to drug test welfare recipients. it was struck down by the federal courts . but then mississippi turn s around and passes its own, you know, if you want government aid , you have to be drug tested. the notion of the government, in order to give you benefits, you have to pass up a constitutional right to privacy.

>> it's also, in the larger context, it is a response to the perception of the obama administration and this moment as the great liberalization of america. the great back door to socialism in the united states . in that way, it does --

>> it wants to make you take trips to an actual socialist country .

>> it does take us back to that historical arc, that takes us to dr. king, which is to say, what does it mean in the nation where inequality is so significant and intransigent, who is responsible for addressing this? and if not the government, whom? and in this case, the rationale is to say, this is an undeserving poor. that poverty resides in the character of the individual, resides in the culture of the community, therefore, this is not about the nation, this is not about our society. to me, that rationale justifies any effort to invade privacy for the purposes of discounting one's humanity in this society.

>> and it also feels to me like that ruptures a basic trust, that is necessary in a democracy. both that there has to be a certain level of trust in order to have privacy and human freedom , from the government to the people, but also that the peep must have a certain level of trust vis-a-vis their government. so i wonder, both on this domestic level of privacy invasion and on this question of whether or not in order to protect our boundaries, we are now invading the live of american citizens and foreign leaders. whether or not this just ruptures that trust in a way that is difficult for us to mend again.

>> what's interesting about, at the top of the hour, talking about dr. king and the fbi surveillance on him and also fbi surveillance on many activists. and at one point, every black student was under fbi surveillance. but that disclosure and the snowden disclosures, both of those happened because of individuals, private citizens, who stole information or gave information they weren't authorized to give. and that sparked a public debate and action. so it's really, what we're seeing right now is is a moment in time with the obama administration, trying to toe this line, and obama said, we need to have this public debate and more robust public debate . but it's being caused by private citizens. it isn't the state being fort forthright about it. but what's challenging is the nature of the debate, so much is classified. seeing senator feinstein, she's seeing things we're not seeing. so that's part of it too.

>> and i want to acknowledge that. it's not just ideological that there are enemies of the state , both internally and externally. there really was an oklahoma city bombing . there really was 9/11. these things are not imaginary. and as a citizen, i do, in fact, want my state to take action for the protection of its citizens.

>> then the difficult question becomes one of effectiveness and efficiency, and whether or not this program is effective and efficient. and how much money is put into this. and even the president s review board says showed, it is not very effective. in case of emergency, the city gets shut down, like in the case of the boston bombings, that they can then access and query this database. the problem with that is that querying a database, as m.i.t. showed in their studies, you can have an entire profile of an individual, and as the counterintelligence agency has from the '50s or from the truman years, up to, it was ending in the carter years, that it was used for political enemies. and each -- and it didn't matter, democrat, republican, whatever it was, they queried that, and used that for political gains. and where does that fit in that national security structure?

>> bridgegate got nothing on what happened in truman administration .

>> that's right.

>> thank you to khalil mohammad and the other folks are sticking around for a bit. up next, the alarming turn of events iraq and what americans know or don't know about what is happening over