What Every American Needs to Know (and Do) About FISA Today | Tim Ferriss

this is Tim Ferriss thanks for joining me today I very rarely talk about politics I dislike talking about politics because it tends to be very dogmatic I don’t have any particular dedication affiliations any party but I do want to talk about something that’s happening next Tuesday July 8th that will affect America as you know it and your lives as you know them and I know very little about this but became very fascinated and frightened on some level of fights as it’s known just a few weeks ago and I do want to say as a caveat that I’ve met people in the current administration I’ve spoken with people from the CIA the NSA FBI who do excellent work and our safety does depend on much what they do and they do an excellent job in many respects this is about legislation and something that everyone should know about so I’m very happy to have Daniel Ellsberg with us today and just as a little bit of background on dan dan served as a company commander in the Marine Corps then completed a PhD in economics at Harvard in 1959 he joined the rand corporations economics department as an analyst in 1960 four years recruited to serve in the Pentagon under secretary of defense and then following two years in Vietnam for the State Department Ellsberg eventually returned to Rand in 1971 he made headlines around the world when he released the Pentagon Papers and Pentagon Papers in combination with Watergate led to the impeachment proceedings against Nixon and had quite an impact also on the end of the Vietnam War so I’m very pleased to have Dan here and since this is something I knew very little bit about let’s just start if you wouldn’t mind by telling us what vice’ is and why next Tuesday is so important well if I say is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was passed in 1978 and has been in Glenn on since for the last 30 years it was actually passed because of abuses that were found in the Kennedy Johnson and Nixon administration’s of communications intelligence of interception by the NSA that’s the National Security Agency the FBI the CIA and others by presidents that I served as a matter of fact I served all three of those they had been violating the Constitution the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution which requires warrants that is the intervention of a judge the judgment of the judge as to whether there is an undue an illegal invasion of privacy of American citizens that was one of the abuses of the king general warrants that that led to adultery which they were trying to remedy with the Fourth Amendment the people at NSA who were being brought in on this in the mid-70s many of them were very disturbed of what they were being asked to do but the FISA Act made it clear that there should be as the Fourth Amendment required no electronic surveillance as well as searches of homes and bureaus and whatnot without a warrant without a judge exercising judgment as to whether this was within the Constitution or the law and that’s the limit the amount of invasion of privacy that there could be by the and really for some 20 years my understanding is that an NSA what they call the first commandment was no overhearing of an American citizen without a warrant and that they followed that very closely unlike the earlier years he turns out we’ve learned by leaks addition unauthorized disclosures from within the NSA to the New York Times that the President Bush had been violating that law and the Constitution that lay behind it since 9/11 and to a considerable degree before that with the cooperation even before 9/11 the cooperation of the telephone companies the people who leaked that to The Times did so because they were worried about the illegality and the unconstitutionality they were concerned not only that they were involved in breaking the law but that this was a law that shouldn’t have been broken in the sense that there was overhearing going on that was not right was unconstitutional was against Liberty the basic Liberty that we have and that’s why they jeopardized their own clearances their own careers by putting that out much the same way that I did when I released the Pentagon Papers which were top secret only these this information they were putting out is regarded as higher than top secret I had clearance for that as well at the time but I put it out because I thought at the time that what was going on was a violation of my oath as a Marine Corps company commander as a Marine Corps officer later as a State Department official at the Defense Department official I taken the same old that every official in the NSA and everybody in the White House and the whole government and taken in every neighborhood assessed as well what they’re going like every member of Congress House and Senate it’s the same for civilians and military and that is not an oath to a president or a commander-in-chief for a Fuehrer it’s not enough to keep secrets as separate promises that are made which I must say I broke having made those promises because I thought they conflicted with my basic both which was to support and defend the Constitution of the United States so what is happening next Tuesday that makes July 8 such an important day well I’m very glad we have the chance that I’m talking about this right now Sunday night because there’s a chance for viewers as American citizens those who are American citizens to really make a difference in the next hours and day or two on Tuzla a bill will come up that changes basically really rips apart without admitting it before an Intelligence Surveillance Act by expanding the president’s ability to over here without a warrant without any judgment outside the executive branch being exercised American citizens in the United States thus gutting the Fourth Amendment essentially and also granting retroactive immunity to the telephone companies who obeyed the illegal presidential request to carry on an illegal program these last seven years actually almost eight years now the real importance of that last point which is clearly unconstitutional and which many people senators Dodd senators Feingold and over the last year until just recently Senator Barack Obama had promised to filibuster any bill that gave that immunity and the reason for that was not a desire to punish anybody actually but because the civil suit possibility for people whose rights had been violated by this Aaron gave the only real chance of finding out what it was that NSA was hearing and the FBI our CIO whoever else was involved Congress doesn’t yet know that in fact if they if they vote that immunity they’ll be voting immunity for X they don’t even really know what they’re giving like President Ford’s pardon of former President Nixon after he resigned which was for any crimes he may have committed which Ford in the absence of a prosecution of Nixon didn’t really know what he was what he was pardoning said the same would be true here meaning we’d be giving away the only chance we have discovering how much the government is spying on us illegally and finding I bought law-abiding citizens the people who who leaked that I think did it because they knew what was happening and they felt it was wrong shouldn’t be happening we they haven’t told us yet they haven’t risked their jobs to that extent to tell us either who exactly has been or heard how many for what purposes and what exactly they’ve been overhearing and what use is made of it so let me ask a couple of questions that I had because I’ve only recently become aware of this in well among other places 2600 magazine as a hacker quarterly probably going to that but the average person and myself included would say would be inclined to say well I don’t have anything to hide if it makes the country safer I don’t care if people are listening in on me or looking at my communications I don’t have anything to hide how can this or how might this affect the average person well they should ask themselves whether they think it’s possible that various members of Congress have either something to hide or something that would embarrass them politically that they don’t want out or something that would embarrass them with their family or another to be illegal doesn’t have to be sexual I could be things that the Congress person or the journalist or the source wants to achieve planning to achieve and that the government can manipulate by blocking it by frustrating under my promise in other words this information would enable the government to intimidate or blackmail or manipulate every member of Congress every official who might be tempted to reveal criminality people like the ones in the NSA who knew the criminal action was and is going on this law is intended to legalize basically and it could continue the cover-up and seal it you can’t have a democracy with the state the executive branch having that kind of information total information about the every communication every credit card transaction every fax email telephone conversation of everyone and as far as we know that’s what’s being collected right now we do need to know whether that’s yet true or not but I think it’s a pretty good assumption and that means that well know 200 years ago Ben Franklin was asked what kind of government we had at the end of the Constitutional Convention he told the lady who asked and that a republic if you can keep it you can’t keep a republic a constitutional republic with that degree of knowledge by the prisoner by the president emerge of all of our private affairs you can’t have it you have something else you have a call it an autocracy dictatorship it’s the basis for tyranny and that’s what the Constitution was meant to prevent and that’s what this bill would confer unlimited power to in the way that the East German studying these state surveillance organization in East Germany which was depicted very effectively in an academy or defending winning film a couple of years ago the lives of others and I would urge people to get hold of that DVD and look at it and see what it means to live in such society you can live lives weddings education business jobs you can go along as normal but you’re not living in a democracy or anything that even pretends to be one their motto was that the Stasi wanted to know everything and that’s what they’re collecting right now we won’t be able to pull that back if on Tuesday the last chance the civil suits of finding out what the NSA is doing are written off and for that reason I really admire some members of Congress who are doing planning to do and will do I come confident everything they can to block this unconstitutional dangerous legislation the way I see them it reminds me of a proposition by Henry David Thoreau which was very much in my mind when I at the time that I copied the Pentagon Papers and gave it to the New York Times he said there are thousands of people who were opposed to slavery in his time Boston 1848 and to the Mexican War which was a war but who can opinion but they do nothing in effect to stop it they hesitate and they regret but they do nothing with in earnest or was affected mostly said they give it cheap vote well he went on to say cast your whole vote not a piece of paper merely but you’re holding influence and there is that a minority is powerless when it conforms to the majority it’s not even a minority then but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight now for a senator happiness in house representatives for a senator to cast his or her whole vote means to clog by his or her whole weight with a filibuster a minority people senators dodd-frank old senator boxer and Senator Wyden’s have already promised to filibuster this and attempt to prolong it to be so that this bill does not infringe on our liberties natural and others controlling so this is a chance now for all the voters and citizens and Obama supporters and Republicans who care about the Constitution a lot of Ron Paul supporters by the way are being very active on this issue and people like Bruce Fein worked as Justice Department under Reagan it’s a very articulate on this issue along with some Democrats they are a minority of activists on this but they are attempting to cast their whole book and they can be encouraging that but specifically can read every viewer can in the next hours fill the message booths with the message service of their senators wherever they are Republican or Democrat and they can get instruction we can give them links on exactly the talking points to say but the point would be that they have a chance to make a real difference here to keep the Freedom and the Liberty that we’ve celebrated just two days ago on July the fourth from beginning to die two days from now from from it’s in mortal danger right now and it can be preserved if centers can be urged to live up to their oath same oath I took to uphold the Constitution I have to say that no senator Republican or Democrat should be voting for this Senate bill not one everyone who does so is in fact I would say violating his or her oath to defend the Constitution but they can do better than that specifically senator Obama who had earlier promised to join us in Australia it’s now indicating for reasons I don’t know honestly to change that reverse that position he does want to try to strip the immunity which is one thing worth doing from the bill but that could well fail if that failed he has indicated he will not filibuster the bill he will in fact vote for closure over 20,000 of his active supporters representing his facebook outfit my dot Obama barackobama.com have are appealing to him saying we support you I am one of those by the way we support you will contribute we but we ask you to do better he had it right the first time so let me jump in right now Michael when you come to me so spoke with down before and there are few simple things you can do and I don’t want to under emphasize what I perceive to be the importance based on many people I respect like dan of next Tuesday July 8th this is in many respects a point of no return it is very hard to reverse what could happen on Tuesday you can take 60 seconds and have an immediate impact it’s very easy the first thing you can do is go to WWE FFF org that’s a FF like Edward Frank Frank org and click on take action you can put in your zip code get the phone number of your senator call that will leave a message there’s a script you don’t have to do any hard thinking you just put in uff ugh click on take action you can do it in about 30 seconds if you’re an Obama supporter encourage him to go back to his original stance which was really what he felt most strongly about all you need to do is search Obama please vote no on Google so you just put in Obama please go to now the first result will be a link to the my Barack Obama site or you can join and display your numbers these are two things you can do in 60 to 120 seconds that could have a permanent impact on your life and on this country I highly encourage you to take the time it’s a very small investment and as a member of a democracy you have a responsibility as a citizen activist to create an environment that facilitates the values this country is built on so that’s it I’ll get off my soapbox I don’t talk about politics much at all I feel strongly about that so I want to thank again very much actually episodes we really appreciate it that’s it