The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 06/06/13
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST: And thanks to you at home for joining us this
So, did you spend any time reading or sending any e-mail today? Did
you Google anything? Did you check your account on Gmail or maybe Yahoo?
You were not alone.
We begin tonight with breaking news. “The Washington Post” and “The
Guardian” newspaper today reporting on the existing of a previously
unreported top secret government spying program. The National Security
Administration and the FBI reportedly tapping directly into the servers of
the biggest internet companies in the world. Essentially putting
government taps deep inside the machinery that hosts hundreds of millions
of American e-mail accounts and online storage and social media and
If this sounds familiar, you`re mistaken. This is new. This new
secret spying program is entirely different, for example, from the phone
records spying program that was revealed last night by “The Guardian” –
the program that has the government storing records of past phone calls
allowing intelligence to go back to that data and mine through it at a
later date. We`re going to have more on the latest details about that
program, the phone program, in just a little bit.
But on the computer spying, the story breaking tonight, “The Guardian”
and “The Washington Post”, both reporting tonight that the National
Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers
of nine different U.S. Internet companies.
Big, big names in American computing, including Google and Yahoo!,
like I just mentioned. Also, Microsoft, who was apparently first in, in
the program. And Facebook and AOL, and Skype and YouTube and Apple and
something called PalTalk.
I was not previously familiar with PalTalk. It is a smaller company
that`s important in the Middle East. It carries a lot of Internet traffic
in Syria apparently, and it has been particularly vital as communications
medium during the Arab spring.
Of the companies named in these NSA documents published by “The Post”
and “The Guardian,” so far by our accounting, five of these big names that
are named in the documents have issued statements tonight denying that they
participate in this program, saying that they do not provide the government
direct access or some sort of secret back door to their servers.
Nevertheless, the NSA says they`re in.
Both papers were apparently given access to what seems to be the same
document or similar document. It appears to be a PowerPoint slide show
used to train intelligence operatives of capabilities of this computer
program, which is called PRISM. PRISM reportedly allows officials to
monitor not just e-mail traffic in real time but also search histories and
file transfers and live chats.
NBC News has confirmed the existence of the program. And as
elaboration, one source is describing this real time monitoring of computer
traffic as the equivalent of standing in the post office and watching for
specific envelopes that come from parts of the world or people that are
deemed possible troublemakers.
Sources also telling NBC News that the surveillance is mainly oriented
toward communications that originate outside the U.S. or that involve
communications from the U.S. to a foreign country – key word there
probably is “mainly oriented.” Either way, the program is one that
American intelligence is relying upon with greater frequency.
“The Post” got its hand on an internal NSA report that describes the
new tool as the most prolific contributor to the president`s daily brief,
citing PRISM date in nearly 1,500 articles last year. “The Guardian”
reports that more than 77,000 intelligence reports in total have cited the
PRISM program as a source since data collection began in this program in
December of 2007. Over 2,000 PRISM reports issued every month.
One career intelligence officer considers how this intelligence was
obtained to be a gross invasion of privacy and therefore worth revealing to
the world at large. Quoting from the very end of “The Washington Post`s”
report tonight, “Firsthand experience with these systems and horror at
their capabilities is what drove a career intelligence officer to provide
these PowerPoint slides about PRISM and supporting materials to `The
Washington Post` in order to expose what he believes to be a gross
intrusion of privacy.”
“They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type,” the
Joining us now is Dominic Rushe. He`s the U.S. business correspondent
for “The Guardian” newspaper. He contributed to their reporting on this
Mr. Rushe, thank you very much for being with us.
DOMINIC RUSHE, THE GUARDIAN: Thanks for having me.
MADDOW: So, you`ve been reporting on this. You know it in more
detail than I do. I`m reading what you wrote. Did I mischaracterize any
of that or anything important that I missed?
RUSHE: No. It`s a shocking story. I mean, we live, like you said,
we live our lives online now. Who among us has not been online today to
check an e-mail or look on Google, chat with people, it`s part of our
everyday life now.
It appears that a lot of communications we thought of as private are
MADDOW: In terms of the company`s response to this, we`re watching
the companies one by one saying, hey, don`t blame us, we`re not
participating in this, we didn`t provide – Google, for example, saying we
didn`t provide any back door access to the government so they could intrude
on our users` privacy in this way.
What do you make of their denials here?
RUSHE: Well, I spoke to a lot of people in Silicon Valley today,
senior figures. They were all confused I think is probably the most
accurate word. Seems to me they didn`t know about this. One had a blanket
denial from Apple earlier today that they ever even heard of PRISM.
So, there`s a disconnect between what we see in the documents and what
people in Silicon Valley and these tech companies are telling us. I think
there`s just so questions raised by this we need some kind of inquiry into
what actually happened there. It`s hard to disentangle it at this stage.
MADDOW: But the thing that is hard to disentangle is the NSA`s
assertions in the – what appear to be training document, these slides.
That they have to count on their corporate partners for access to this
information but they have been able to count on those corporate partners
and therefore, get this information in mass amounts providing this
exponentially increasing proportion of the intelligence that the United
States considers worthy of acting on or at least of telling the president.
That can`t both be true and – that can`t be true and the companies`
denials that they know anything about it. Those two things can`t co-exist.
RUSHE: One of these things is wrong. In these documents, they
specifically refer – they use the word “assistance.” So, how do you have
assistance if no one is assisting?
But we don`t know at the moment. Certainly, the denials, to me, felt
genuine. And there`s a genuine sense of shock from senior figures in –
who were saying they haven`t even heard of this scheme.
I just had an e-mail from Microsoft just now saying that they never
give information unless there`s a subpoena. And that`s – they have
systems in place. I mean, they get requests from the government all the
time for private information and then they are assessed on a case by case
But this is something entirely different.
MADDOW: With the Glenn Greenwald piece that was reported last in the
night “The Guardian” about phone data. That`s not the PRISM program.
But this other program about phone data, which we`re going to be
talking about a little later on in the show, the government response to
that in part was saying, you know, don`t worry about this. Don`t think
that this is a great intrusion. This is just metadata. We may know who
you`re calling when you`re calling them and how long you`re calling them
for and we may know that for everybody in the country, but we don`t know
what the content of your conversations is.
That`s been the sum of the character of their assurance today on the
phone spying issue. But on PRISM, we`re actually talking about the content
of communications, aren`t we?
RUSHE: Yes, we are. And I think it comes against the background of
legislation we have in place in the U.S. is frankly around the world is
totally out of date. When we rely on so much, the junk mail you get in
your postbox has better protection than your e-mail and that stuff you pick
up and throw straight in the trash is better protected by U.S. legislation
than your private e-mails to your boss, to your doctor, to your children,
it`s a shocking state of affairs.
And for the government to say that you shouldn`t worry about it is
worrying in itself.
MADDOW: Also, it`s hard to get that assurance on spying on phone data
and then within the 24-hour period, lose that assurance when it comes to
everything you do online. Increasingly, people are making phone calls
using voiceover Internet protocol. That would be included in this sort of
collection of data. Also, photographs. Also, the text e-mails, also your
Also, I mean, it`s all sort of – it`s rich data, right?
RUSHE: Yes. Very rich data.
MADDOW: And this is something that started, as far as your reporting
goes, 2007 the start of this program?
RUSHE: Yes, yes.
MADDOW: All right. Dominic Rushe, business correspondent for “The
Guardian” – thanks for helping us understand this.
RUSHE: Thank you very much.
MADDOW: It`s great having you here.
All right. So, this is part of the breaking news tonight, but there`s
more. Internet snooping, this breaking news about the government`s PRISM
program, there`s a lot going on. Including, we have Jameel Jaffer here
from the ACLU who`s had some absolutely very, very stern reaction to some
stuff breaking over the last couple of days.
Stay with us. There`s lots still to come.
MADDOW: At the end of the Reagan administration, a scandal broke in
that presidency that ultimately resulted in 14 senior administration
officials being indicted, not subpoenaed, not recused, but criminally
indicted, up to and including the secretary of the defense and the head of
the CIA and not one but two national security advisors to President Reagan.
One of the national security advisors who got indicted, Bud McFarlane,
he was convicted but then got a pardon from Poppy Bush.
The other national security adviser, John Poindexter, he was convicted
on five counts but his convictions were later overturned by a court. So he
did not have to get the pardon like everybody else did.
For George H.W. Bush, it was an awkward way to start a presidency,
right? The same way that Ford had to start his presidency by pardoning
Nixon. Poppy Bush had to pardon all the guys from the Reagan
administration who are otherwise going to the pokey for Iran Contra.
But when Poppy Bush`s son became president, he kind of picked up where
dad left off. He decided to complete the public rehabilitation of the
Reagan administration`s Iran Contra indictees not by pardoning them, since
dad took care of that, but instead by giving them all new jobs in the
And putting one of those old Iran Contra convicts in charge might have
been the first mistake the Bush administration made with the Total
Information Awareness Program.
Other mistakes probably included the name “total information
awareness”, seriously? Also, maybe the logo was a mistake.
If you`re trying to earn people`s trust and not freak them out about
what you`re doing, A, do not call it “total information awareness”. B, do
not use the glowing eyeball in the pyramid gazing out in total over the
globe. And, C, do not give this thing a Latin logo asserting that
knowledge is power – power from the glowing eyeball out of the pyramid
looking over the whole globe. Also, do not put the Iran Contra convict,
John Poindexter, in charge of it.
The whole rollout of the total information awareness debacle was just
wrong. And even in those heady days, right after the 9/11 attacks, right
at the start of the Afghan war, right at the formation of the Department of
Homeland Security. Have we ever used the word “homeland” before in this
country, when it seemed like nothing too Orwellian enough to freak us out,
John Poindexter`s Total Information Awareness Program with the eyeball and
the pyramid and everything, that freaked us out even then.
And that engendered one of the first and now a long series of periodic
upsets we have had as a nation over privacy since 9/11. Not just since
9/11 broadly, but specifically since the big change to the law we enacted
right after 9/11 which Congress passed in fact 44 days after 9/11.
It`s 132 pages long. It was called the Patriot Act. It was under
Patriot Act authority that the George W. Bush administration tried to
create this total information awareness thing. They did actually create
the office and put John Poindexter in charge of it in 2002.
But as noted, they did botch the rollout so badly that by 2003,
Congress had actually taken a vote to defund that office.
And not the office and the logo and creepy Latin motto. Now, the
office and logo and creepy Latin motto doesn`t exist anymore exactly the
way they rolled it out. The de-funding of that office may have taken away
all those trappings of the office but didn`t take away the surveillance
powers ascribed to that office.
Globally, surveillance of communication and various transactions
across the U.S. border and surveillance of communication and activity
inside the United States, even by U.S. citizens, has all increased
dramatically since 9/11, mostly under powers granted under the Patriot Act.
And while that does not seem to upset us as a nation in the abstract, every
once in a while when we find out what it means in terms of privacy, it
really does bug us and it sometimes even gets political traction.
In 2004, at the Democratic National Convention, John Kerry was picked,
of course, as the Democratic nominee for president to try to make George W.
Bush a one term president. And although it was John Kerry`s convention,
the speech that stole the show was the keynote by U.S. Senate candidate
At the apex of that great, great speech he gave in 2004, then-Senate
candidate Barack Obama referenced over one of these privacy stories –
privacy upsets that have periodically roiled us since 2001.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), THEN-SENATE CANDIDATE: Even as we speak, there
are those who are preparing to divide us. The spin masters, the negative
ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes.
Well, I say to them tonight, there is not a liberal America and a
conservative America, there is the United States of America.
There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America
and Asian America, there is the United States of America.
The pundits – the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red
states and blue states. Red states for Republicans, blue states for
Democrats. But I`ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in
the blue states, and we don`t like federal agents poking around in our
libraries in the red states.
We coach little league in the blue states, and, yes, we`ve got some
gay friends in the red states.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: When he said at that apex of that speech, we do not like
federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states, what he was -
- that was July 2004, what he was referencing there was librarians around
the country sounding the alarm about they`re being cold to cooperate with
government efforts to spy on people`s efforts in libraries.
And it was not an abstract worry. FBI agents showed up at the door of
a library in Windsor, Connecticut, and delivered demanding, quote, “any and
all subscriber information, billing information and access log of any
person or entity who had used the computers” in that library on a
particular day at a particular time.
That demand letter was top secret. The librarians were not allowed to
tell anybody they had received it or what had been demanded of them.
Still, in top secrecy, the librarians fought the order to divulge
library patrons otherwise confidential information. Only after they won
their case years later could those four Connecticut librarians reveal the
government`s very concrete claim to the records of what was going on in
There was drama and upset over privacy even inside the George W. Bush
administration. Some of this came rushing back just last week when we
learned President Obama was going to tap former Bush Justice Department
6`8” prosecutor guy James Comey to run the FBI. The thing he very famous
for other than being very tall in a job where you don`t have to be very
tall has to do with Bush Attorney General John Ashcroft getting
John Ashcroft got acute pancreatitis had to go to the hospital in
2004. At the time there was this big standoff inside the Bush
administration over the government spying on people.
The National Security Agency does signals intelligence. So, that is
phone calls, e-mails, electronic digital radio based transmissions, all
that kind of stuff, signals intelligence. That`s what they do and they`re
supposed to be doing it outside the country. It`s supposed to be part of
our spying on other countries.
But after 9/11, the Bush administration reportedly told the NSA to
start vacuuming up that kind of stuff inside the United States as well.
So, not just abroad, but turn those sensors inward.
And every 45 days, President George W. Bush would give the NSA a
military order as commander in chief directing them that the surveillance
were doing internationally, they should do it inside the country, too.
And that`s kind of a big deal. I mean, if you`re at the NSA and you
get an order like that, obviously it raises the question whether or not
that very big deal order from the president is actually legal. Can the
president legally tell us to do that?
Well, John Ashcroft with pancreatitis kind of decided, no, those
orders weren`t legal, at least not the way they were trying to justify it
at one point during the Bush administration.
And that is what led to the big dramatic standoff in that hospital
room in March 2004, when the Bush administration`s program to have the NSA
spying on all of us by presidential order needed to get its periodic legal
rubber stamp from the Justice Department.
And John Ashcroft was wicked sick. He was in the hospital. So, he
appointed big tall James Comey to be the attorney general instead. So, it
was going to have to be Comey who was going to have to sign off on it.
And so, the White House tried to go to James Comey to get him to sign
off on it and he wouldn`t, and then they tried to go around him and have
sick John Ashcroft from his hospital bed authorized it and James Comey
raced them to John Ashcroft`s hospital room and sat by his bed and told the
FBI agents not to let anybody in or out and wouldn`t let it happen. That
was what that whole drama was about – whether the Bush administration
spying on us was being done in a legal way.
The resolution of that drama ultimately the Justice Department
wouldn`t sign off on the program as it was. It was a big drama. Everybody
threatened to quit. Words were exchanged. There was reportedly swearing.
And the ultimate resolution was they did keep spying on us, kept doing
the spying they were doing but they tweaked the rationale to make the
Justice Department more comfortable. We finally learned they were doing
that, spying in that way in 2006 when “USA Today” broke the news all these
phone companies had been told to turn over phone records to the NSA, not
just people suspected of anything but anybody so the NSA could create a
giant mega database of every call that was made in the country.
And just as people got upset when they heard about total awareness and
the library and upset they were collecting all this information. Upset
enough in 2007 Congress voted that the Bush administration should not be
able to do that kind of thing just on their own say-so anymore. Their
decisions about spying on all of us, getting all that data about all our
phone calls and all our e-mails and all the rest of it, even for the
millions of us who are not suspected of any wrongdoing, they should not be
able to do that just because they say so, just because they want to, a
court should be involved. There should be judicial oversight.
So, after one of our periodic upsets over privacy issues back in 2007,
Congress passed a law that put something called the FISA Court in charge of
decisions how much the government can spy on us even if we`ve done nothing
wrong and they don`t think we`ve done anything wrong. FISA is a real court
but they meet in secret and their rulings are in secret, so we never know
what they`re saying it was OK for the government to do.
When Barack Obama became president in 2009, the Justice Department and
the intelligence community said that year that they would start a review
process to maybe declassify some of those FISA court rulings to maybe let
us know what some of those court rulings said since that was the legal
basis how much we could be spied on. They said they would start a review
process to redact and release some rulings of that secret court so we could
know how much we are being spied on.
Whether or not they started that process, whether or not they ever
reviewed those FISA court rulings none have ever been released. That`s how
we get to last night`s all caps exclamation point big deal report from
Glenn Greenwald writing for “The Guardian” newspaper in Britain. It`s not
new that the government claims the right to collect any business records
from any business of any kind, as long as it`s connected to some kind of
anti-terrorism investigation. That`s been the law in the Patriot Act since
it passed in 2001. It`s not new the government is vacuuming up wholesale
top level information from our communications, even without suspicion that
we have done anything wrong.
We learned about that in 2005 from “The New York Times” and expanded
way from “USA Today” in 2006.
What is news now is that we finally get to see one of these orders
from this secret court which we`ve never been able to see before and it
spells out this is the kind of power the government thinks the law gives
them. It spells it out in detail.
The court order specifically is about Verizon business customers.
Specifically about the government getting access to 90 days worth of
calling records from Verizon business customers. But there`s no reason to
believe that the other parts of Verizon are not subject to similar orders
and there`s no reason to believe that all the other phone companies are not
subject to the similar orders. Presumably, they`re vacuuming all this
There`s also no reason to believe that this 90-day period that`s
spelled in the court order is anything special. Indeed, the top senator on
the Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, she came out today and
implicitly confirmed the authenticity of the court order and said, yes,
it`s not just 90 days. We`ve been doing this since 2007, since that
congressional decision to put all this under FISA authority.
Since then, FISA courts have apparently been okaying mass surveillance
without suspicion of all the top level data on all our phone calls. And
who knows? Maybe all our e-mails, too, since they`ve got the power to do
Senator Feinstein represents one of the three types of political
responses to this revelation today. There`s the Feinstein reaction which
is shared by Senators like Saxby Chambliss and Lindsey Graham. It`s not
partisan thing at all.
You can essentially describe their reaction as the big whoop reaction.
They`re saying, listen, there`s nothing new here. We`ve been getting
briefed on programs like this for years. We`ve been voting on programs
like this for years. We`ve authorized this kind of surveillance for years
now. Why are you freaked-out about this?
So, that`s reaction number one.
Reaction two is best typified by this headline at “The Hill” newspaper
today. Today. We don`t have it? I have it here on my paper.
Patriot Act author extremely troubled by NSA phone tracking. Patriot
Act author is troubled by this?
Jim Sensenbrenner, who is the original author of the Patriot Act, who
introduced the Patriot Act in 2001 which cleared the way for all this to
happen, he says that “I had no idea this would happen.”
So, first reaction is: big whoop we all knew this was happen. The
second reaction was kind of “who me” caucus? I had no idea this was going
Senator Isakson who voted for the Patriot Act and voted for FISA
authority and voted for the FISA reauthorizing when it came up last year,
he`s in the “who me” category, along with Jim Sensenbrenner. He said I
never voted intentionally for any bill that would grant blanket authority
to monitor every phone call. Senator, apparently yes, you did.
The third reaction today has been from members of Congress who
actually do think this is a big deal and who did know this was happening,
and who have been trying to get people concerned about it all the long
while that they have known.
Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall writing to the attorney general last
year, warning that if the secret court rulings were ever made public, they
would, quote, “stun Americans,” saying that there is now a, quote,
“significant gap between what most Americans think the law allows and what
the government secretly claims the law allows.”
When the FISA court authorizing was up for another vote in December
last year, those senators and others supported an amendment that would have
forced the security administration to reveal just exactly how many
Americans are being surveilled by that agency. That amendment only got 43
votes and it failed.
They tried another amendment that would have made the program
transparent to the public. It got only 37 votes. It failed, too.
Back in 2009 when the Patriot Act was being re-authorized, Russ
Feingold and Dick Durbin tried and amendment to say that people should not
have their records seized by the government unless there was some
tangential connection to terrorism. That amendment failed, too.
You go all the way back to 2005 when senators tried and amendment that
would have kept the NSA from seizing your phone records unless they had
specific and arcticulable facts showing that the person whose records they
wanted was, quote, “an agent of a foreign power.” That amendment was
sponsored by Idaho Senator Larry Craig of wide-stance fame. It was co-
sponsored by an Illinois senator named Barack Obama. But again, that one
failed, too. Never went anywhere.
None of those amendments ever went anywhere. No effort to curtail
this kind of power has ever gone anywhere in Congress since they killed the
Total Information Awareness office but none of the associated programs.
And that was a long time ago.
And the Patriot Act was not only authorized in 2001. It was re-
authorized in 2006. It was re-authorized again in 2011.
FISA oversighted this kind of mass vacuuming up of American data for
people who are not accused of any wrongdoing, that was approved by Congress
in 2007. It was reapproved in 2012 just this past December. Remember the
controversy? No, you don`t because it didn`t happen.
Even the specifics of what is being authorized by all these votes,
every once in a while rears up and horrifies us what it means for our
privacy, in the abstract the broad authorities for government to keep doing
it keep getting okayed. So, we`ve got new specific data last night about
the NSA directing the mass seizure of Verizon`s phone data.
Tonight, as we said at the top of the show, “The “Washington Post” and
“The Guardian” added more. Another program we did not know about before
called PRISM established in 2007 and apparently running ever since in which
the NSA and FBI tap directly into the central servers of nine top Internet
companies grabbing en masse not just e-mails, but information about when
you log-on or off, your documents, your videos, your audio, your chats,
Skype chat, your photos.
And again, it is not for people who are suspected of crimes, it is, a
least it seems, for all of us, everything that goes through Microsoft,
Yahoo!, Google, Facebook, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple and PalTalk. And,
apparently, according to classified documents reviewed by “The Washington
Post”, all the date on drop box is expected to be coming soon to this
We`ll have much more on this straight ahead. The ACLU`s Jameel Jaffer
joins us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: New details are breaking about widespread
government surveillance of Americans. It turns out every time you picked
up the phone, the government has known what number you were dialing. A
secret surveillance program is collecting is the telephone records of every
single one of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Late last night, “The Guardian” newspaper in London broke
what ultimately became the giant news story of the day here in the U.S.,
secret court orders never been seen before showing the NSA telling Verizon
that the NSA was going to collect en masse Verizon`s telephone data. That
was the big story of the day until we learned late tonight of a similar
program in which the NSA and the FBI have the ability, they say, to tap
directly into these central servers of nine top American Internet
companies, grabbing not just e-mails but also documents and videos and
audio files and photos and chats.
Joining us now is Jameel Jaffer. He`s the deputy legal director of
Mr. Jaffer, thank you very much for being here tonight.
JAMEEL JAFFER, ACLU: Thank you.
MADDOW: Part of me feels like, wow, these are huge new revelations.
And part of me feels like didn`t we already know they were doing this stuff
from revelations in 2005 and 2006?
JAFFER: Well, I mean, some of it certainly went on before. Some of
it went under the Bush administration before there was this new FISA
Amendment Act that was created by congress in 2008.
When it was done by the Bush administration it was lawless in the
sense that there was no statute the government was relying on. In some
cases, the government was acting in violation of statute.
Now, the Obama administration is pointing to statutes to justify its
surveillance. In some cases, the administration is right. The statutes
are so broad that the kind of surveillance the administration is engaged in
is exactly what was contemplated by Congress.
In other cases, and I think yesterday`s order, Verizon order is an
example of this, the administration`s interpretation of the law essentially
guts the law. It`s so extreme that it goes even beyond the very permissive
boundaries set by Congress in the Patriot Act and then the FISA Amendment
MADDOW: So, “The New York Times” publishing an angry editorial
denouncing these revelations today in which they have sort of to pause in
the middle of their anger how upset they are to say, we recognize it`s
JAFFER: I don`t think that`s what “The New York Times” said either.
I think that “The New York Times” said there is a statute the government is
pointing to, to justify the surveillance. That`s different than saying
it`s a constitutional statute.
JAFFER: Ultimately, I think here there is blame to go around. It`s a
target rich environment in terms of villains here. There`s the Congress
that gave the administration this power. There`s the administration which
exercised all of that power and more, and there`s the court, the secret
court that signed off on this incredibly broad order that allows the
government to sweep up information about everybody.
Every phone call you make. Every – how long is that phone call? Who
are you calling? Maybe even the location information associated with the
phone call. That`s a lot of data. It`s not just about suspected
terrorists, it`s about everybody.
MADDOW: Let me ask you about a statement that`s come out tonight
obviously from an unnamed official because it`s always an unnamed official.
An unnamed senior administration official telling “Reuters” tonight that
the program – the PRISM program that`s been disclosed by “The Washington
Post” and “The Guardian” tonight, communications collection program
referred to in “The Guardian” and “Washington Post” stories does not allow
targeting of any U.S. citizen or any person in the United States. So, it`s
only targeting non-U.S. persons outside the U.S.
Would that be a definitive legal – would that definitively change
your assessment of the legality of what they`re doing here?
JAFFER: No. I know what they`re doing here, a game they`ve been
playing for a while with this particular statute, because this particular
statute allows the government to engage in surveillance directed at people
outside the United States. And the government points to that to try to
reassure Americans this isn`t about them.
In fact, in the course of surveillance directed outside the United
States, the government routinely collects international phone calls that
Americans make to those people or calls that those people make to Americans
inside the United States.
And so, while the program is nominally directed at people outside,
it`s collecting all sorts of information Americans have an interest in.
And so, this program, even if you sort of accept we shouldn`t care at all
about privacy of people outside the United States, this program is
something people ought to care about. It`s a program that results in the
government building huge databases of Americans` communications.
MADDOW: Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the ACLU – I have a
feeling we will be hearing from the ACLU in some official capacity shortly.
JAFFER: You might.
MADDOW: I will not ask you to tip your hand.
Jameel, thank you very much for being here. Appreciate it.
JAFFER: Thank you.
MADDOW: All right. Much more to come, including a best new thing in
the world tonight.
MADDOW: Pat Sajak has been the host of the TV game show, “Wheel of
Fortune” for almost 30 years and it has been very good to him because he
looks almost the same as he did when he first started, when he first had to
console the contestants who had spun bankrupt on the big wheel. So, good
Pat Sajak is also glad for folks to know where he stands politically,
which is on the right. Last summer, he wrote this essay about President
Obama`s “you didn`t build that” line to explain the importance of
infrastructure and education spending. At the time, Republicans thought
you didn`t build that was a huge gaffe that might turn the election. Those
Republicans included Pat Sajak.
And then, here, if you pay super close attention, is Pat Sajak making
a joke on “Wheel of Fortune” about the “you didn`t build that” line.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAT SAJAK, WHEEL OF FORTUNE: John?
SAJAK: There`s B. What do we have?
CONTESTANT: A thriving business.
SAJAK: Yes, that`s.
SAJAK: We can build that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: A thriving business, Pat Sajak says, we can build that. Kind
of subversive, right?
But if you like political subversion in your game show hosts, frankly,
Republican Pat Sajak is chicken feed. If you want to see it done to the
ants (ph), you got to stay foot for the best thing in the world tonight.
Cash, game prices and a lovely parting gift and game show host civil
obedience 70 times like you`ve never seen before. That`s coming up.
MADDOW: OK. When the story broke about the IRS and the political
keywords they were using to scrutinize applications for tax-exempt status,
that story broke because an inspector general report was coming out about
it, and an IRS official decided she would apologize for that practice ahead
of that inspector general report coming out. That`s how we all came to
know that that thing was happening.
The Department of Justice collecting phone records for all those phone
lines of “The Associated Press” – well, that story broke because the
Justice Department sent a letter to “The A.P.”, telling them that that
surveillance had happened and then “The A.P.” decided to make it public.
And the story about the Justice Department getting access to the phone
records and e-mails of that FOX News reporter, that other leak
investigation, that one broke at the same time as all those other ones but
the timing on the FOX reporter story was actually by accident. The FBI
getting into that reporter`s e-mails and phone calms, that was supposed to
have been made public a year and a half ago. But it apparently
accidentally left sealed in a court filing by accident, until a court
reporter in Washington noticed it a couple weeks ago and that`s how that
one came to be known.
This is turning out to be a big summer of big news about the Obama
administration. But how all these stories are coming to light is getting
to be an important part of the news itself and that is nowhere more clear
than all these national security stories breaking right now.
“The Washington Post” story broken by Barton Gellman and Laura Poitras
tonight about PRISM, this mass collection of data from Internet sources,
that story was borne from a slide show intended for internal use of the
NSA, kind of a training PowerPoint slide show. And that slideshow was
leaked to “The Washington Post” and to “The Guardian” by a career
Quoting from “The Post,” “Firsthand experience with these systems and
horror at their capabilities is what drove a career intelligence officer to
provide PowerPoint slides about PRISM and supporting materials to `The
Washington Post` in order to expose what he believes to be a gross
intrusion on privacy.”
The source even gave “The Post” a quote explaining his motivation for
the leak. Quote, “They quite literally can watch your ideas form as you
“The Guardian” scoop that broke last night is thus far pretty much –
is thus far more opaque in terms of where that story came from. What
leaked in “The Guardian” story from last night is a secret court ruling
that directs Verizon to hand over data about all of the phone calls on its
system to the NSA.
Glenn Greenwald`s piece for “The Guardian” simply said that the secret
court ruling had been obtained but not how or from whom.
“The New York Times” says that that court order was marked top
secret/SI/no foreign, which would make it, quote, “the most closely held
secrets in the federal government.” And that court order is what “The
Guardian” released last night.
And tonight, they released their own version of the PRISM story, which
is also in things with “Washington Post”, including their own chunk of the
actual slides from the secret PowerPoint presentation.
NBC News reporting tonight that U.S. intelligence officials are
reeling tonight after all of these leaks, piercing the most sensitive
secrets in the counter terror data collection operation.
And this all follows the NBC report last night on this, the internal
U.S. government tally and a kind of spreadsheet on its covert program of
drone strikes in Pakistan. NBC`s Richard Engel reporting last night on
“Nightly News” and then on this show, that over the year and a half long
period covered in this government tally, about a quarter of the people the
U.S. says it killed in drone strikes were not only not known by name, they
were not even known by affiliation with any specific bad guy militant
group, even though the U.S. insists they must definitely have been
militants of some kind.
Twenty-six percent of the people said to be killed in these drone
strikes over a year-and-a-half are just simply listed by the U.S. in this
document as, quote, “other militants, or foreign fighters.” That`s in the
U.S. government`s own accounting.
“The McClatchy” news agency published an account of similar drone data
in April. I should have noted that last night in my introduction to
Richard and I`m sorry about that. But NBC says that its drone data is
actually different from what McClatchy reported on back in April. And that
means that it`s not the same classified document circulating to different
news agencies, which means, if you think about it in terms of thinking
about where the leaks are coming from, it means the drone data is also
leakier than we first thought, right?
The FISA court secret ruling leaked to one source. What is apparently
the NSA`s biggest and most secret surveillance operation, PRISM, leaked to
two separate sources. The covert drone program after action report
spreadsheet was leaked to two sources in two slightly different forms.
Where are all these leaks coming from?
When it rains, it pours. And right now national security leaks are
pouring down like a flood.
MADDOW: Best new thing in the world. Are you ready?
So it turns out that the Turkish word for gas mask is gazmaskesi, and
the reason I know that is not because I speak Turkish, obviously, but
because of the best new thing in the world today.
As you know, there have been big protests going on in Turkey, tens of
thousands of demonstrators taking to the streets for almost a week now,
started as an effort to save a park in downtown Istanbul. It`s has now
turned into a big, sustained, anti-government maelstrom. It`s fueled by
outrage of how authorities have reacted to these peaceful protesters with
tear gas and violence. It`s also been fueled by long, simmering grievances
against the government there.
Around the world, we have had access to a lot of dramatic images from
those protests. But inside Turkey, the government has censored the
coverage for domestic consumption.
That said, TV game shows are one of the things that do still go on,
without new trouble, even in times of civil unrest, even under a censorious
In Turkey, there`s a TV game show that`s called “The Word Game”. And
it`s kind of like “Wheel of Fortune”, maybe closer to “Password.” you ever
see “Password” on for about a zillion years, a zillion years ago, I`m on
Anyway, in this Turkish version of password, this show that`s called
“word game”. The host gives the contestants a clue, and then based on the
clue, they have to guess what the secret word is.
On Monday night, the host of the word game in Turkey decided to use
the game show to subvert the censorship in his country. He made the whole
game – the whole game show about the thing that nobody is allowed to talk
about on TV.
For example, one clue to the contestants was “democracy breather.”
Democracy breather? I`m stumped. But the contestant was not stumped.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: Gas mask! Democracy breather, as the government has been
tear-gassing the protesters, right?
How about this one? A person that concentrates all political power.
That`s the clue. Hmmm.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: Dictator! Good clue.
The next clue was, the social network site that has been described as
a curse. Answer?
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
MADDOW: Twitter, Twitter. If missed that one in America, Twitter is
In Turkey, on the morning of that episode of “The Word Game”, prime
minister had called Twitter a menace to society. And at single one hour
episode of “The Word Game” in Turkey, the host brought up the anti-
government protest that nobody is allowed to mention 70 different times.
Among the 70 secret words he put into the game were “police” and “violence”
and “silence” and “resistance” and “censorship”.
According to “The New York Times” lead blog which picked up on some of
the translated coverage of this hero game show hosts, the last two clues
were pretty direct messages to the government.
The second to last clue was, to voluntarily give up a position. The
answer was: resign.
And the last clue was: the act that makes a person bigger by asking to
be forgiven for wrong actions. The answer, of course, to that was
The host has not been back on TV for a live show since doing this on
Monday night. So, we do not know what his act of bravery will cost him.
Whether or not the host Ali Ihsan Varol ever knew that bravery would be
what was needed from him, as a host, as a game show host, he has showed
that he has got what it takes, best new thing in the world – amid another
night of all-night protests tonight in Istanbul, it is the best new thing
in the word.
That does it for us tonight.
Now, it`s time for “THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”.
Have a great night.
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