In wake of NSA leaks, former key lawmaker says no tradeoff needed between security and liberty
July 15th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

In wake of NSA leaks, former key lawmaker says no tradeoff needed between security and liberty

EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the latest in a series of stories and opinion pieces previewing the upcoming Aspen Security Forum. Security Clearance is a media sponsor of the event which is taking place from July 17-20 in Aspen, Colorado.  Follow the event on Twitter under @aspeninstitute and @natlsecuritycnn #AspenSecurity.

By Elise Labott, CNN

Revelations of classified National Security Agency programs by former contractor Edward Snowden have prompted debate about the public and political oversight of U.S. intelligence and the role of a special court that reviews electronic surveillance requests.

CNN’s Foreign Affairs Reporter Elise Labott talks to Jane Harman, a former Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, about fallout from the Snowden leaks and questions they raise about the role of intelligence collection.

Harman, now head of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, will participate in a panel about counterterrorism, national security and the rule of law at the Aspen Security Forum this week.

CNN: The revelation of PRISM has prompted a lot of thought as to whether these programs sacrifice too much of Americans’ privacy in the name of security. Is there a tradeoff?

Harman: Ben Franklin said over 200 years ago that he who surrenders some liberty for security deserves neither. And this is how I see it. I see liberty and security reinforcing values; it’s not a zero sum game. I think on the front end of policymaking, we should consider both how to make us safer and how to protect our values. That is what the Privacy and Civil Liberties Commission was set up to do. The idea was that a congressionally confirmed board of people would review policy at the front end and consider privacy and civil liberties so we would have this positive sum expression of both. And I worry a lot that we have taken too long and if we are attacked again in some major way, we will shred our Constitution. And that makes us less safe.

I think it is good to have a debate about this. If Congress feels the contours of some these programs, once it fully understands them, is too broad, it should scale them back. But I was there for the first half of this movie. From 2003, when I became ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, through 2006, when I left the committee, and in 2008, during the amendments to the FISA court, I know what we did. I know how much we cared about having the separation of powers work and having oversight of programs by the FISA court and Congress. There have to be limits on executive power. We were strongly against the use of the president’s authorities as a way to justify these programs. We thought they had to strictly comply with law. That is what we worked for and I think that is what we did.

CNN: Are the lines being blurred between domestic and foreign surveillance?

Harman: Some domestic attacks are inspired by foreign connections. FISA has a predicate, which is a foreign terrorist. But it is complicated when there is an American connection. It happens and we have to do it carefully. We have separate institutions. We have the CIA to focus on foreign attacks. We have the FBI to do domestic attacks. And we have an intelligence piece of the FBI which is kind of tricky. The NCTC (National Counterterrorism Center) does fusion.

I am not going to say the line never blurs. But the line that cannot blur is the Fourth Amendment line. Protection of individual rights, as far as I know and as far as I believe, is a paramount value. Our Constitution says there needs to be an individual warrant in order to know the content of a person’s communication or to listen to a phone call or read an e-mail. I am strict about that. The way we set up the FISA court’s review of the programs, like the telephone and the early stages of the PRISM programs, I have reasonable confidence checks and balances in the system are protecting Americans. In fact in 2008, we expended the protections for Americans to include their communications when they are outside the United States.

CNN: Is the FISA Court being abused?

Harman: I don’t know enough about what it is doing now. I think some of its decisions should be declassified or at least summaries should be available. The reports of 100-page decisions leads me to believe that a lot of stuff is being carefully assessed and I think the public has a right to understand how this court approaches issues. I also think the FISA court should be used for “kill lists” of Americans targeted by drones and for offensive cyber attacks. I think it should be expanded to be a counterterrorism court, instead of just a foreign surveillance court.

CNN: Has there been enough public debate about the intersection of our values and our national security interests?

Harman: I have been saying for 10 years that we need a debate about a new framework about our post 9/11 world. We have focused too much on tactics and how to get the bad guy.  We call it the whack-a-mole strategy. Playing whack-a-mole will never win the argument with some kid in Yemen trying to strap on a suicide vest. What is far more important, and what we have focused on inadequately, is winning the argument. We win the argument by living our values, and we need to our understand what we do reflects our values.

CNN: How much have Snowden’s revelations damaged U.S. national security and our relations with our allies?

Harman: We don’t yet know the extent of the damage. I think it is extremely substantial. He reportedly downloaded as much as can fit on a thumb drive. That is a lot of information and he is strategically putting it out over time. And a lot of these revelations have been not just been embarrassing, but extremely damaging to our national security. Someone defaced the U.S. Embassy in Berlin with lights that said United Stasi of America (referring to East Germany’s extensive surveillance tactics). This is in Germany, one of our closest allies.

But there are different layers of conversations. There is the public/political level, which reminds me of the movie Casablanca, where they say “I’m shocked, round up the usual suspects.” Then there is a quieter conversation we are having with our allies. And then there are the real conversations in the intelligence world where there has been close cooperation for years and years and will continue.

soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Joanie Athens

    This was awesome! I would like you to clean up all this spam though

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/yusufhanafy

    June 9, 2021 at 6:23 am | Reply
  2. Tyrell Baver

    This was great! I would like you to clean up all this spam though

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/yusufhanafy

    June 7, 2021 at 9:26 pm | Reply
  3. Lindsay Birton

    This was great! I would like you to clean up all this spam though

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/yusufhanafy

    June 6, 2021 at 2:06 am | Reply
  4. Samara Fulmer

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these Second Life authors and blogs

    http://myvedana.blogspot.com/2005/10/down-under.html?m=0

    May 31, 2021 at 6:15 am | Reply
  5. Douglas Franzel

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a video game where you can do anything you want. SL is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these second life websites and blogs

    http://myvedana.blogspot.com/2006/06/goodbye.html?showComment=1151743200000&m=0

    May 30, 2021 at 7:29 am | Reply
  6. Claribel Lindau

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a online game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these Second Life websites and blogs

    http://everydayliteracies.blogspot.com/2008/02/blogging-live-from-247-diy-video-summit.html

    May 29, 2021 at 6:40 am | Reply
  7. Leslie Dimes

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a video game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these sl articles and blogs

    http://myvedana.blogspot.com/2006/07/and.html?m=0

    May 28, 2021 at 6:01 am | Reply
  8. https://www.songmanhits.com

    Best view i have ever seen !

    https://images.google.gy/url?q=https://www.songmanhits.com

    May 24, 2021 at 7:33 pm | Reply
  9. Johnathon Rheome

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a online game where you can do anything you want. SL is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you would like to see more you can see these Second Life authors and blogs

    http://herald.blogs.com/slh/2008/11/something-wicke.html?cid=138144080

    May 23, 2021 at 5:13 am | Reply
  10. Raymundo Randa

    I don't know about you all but I am obsessed with airplanes. I have a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2010/06/free-food-on-horizon-airlines-just-have-to-look-at-an-ad/

    http://www.washingtonbids.us/washington-contractors/naics-71-Arts-Entertainment.14.htm

    May 22, 2021 at 3:24 am | Reply
  11. Holli Hallaway

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is essentially a online game where you can do anything you want. sl is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these sl websites and blogs

    http://everydayliteracies.blogspot.com/2014/08/farewell-to-jack-shallcrass-splendid.html?showComment=1538054938748

    May 21, 2021 at 3:25 am | Reply
  12. Juan Catchpole

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a game where you can do anything you want. sl is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these second life websites and blogs

    http://adolit.blogspot.com/2008/05/school-20.html

    May 20, 2021 at 5:08 am | Reply
  13. Delia Vallo

    I don't know about you people but I am obsessed with airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loves airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2009/09/jet-airways-cancels-flights-due-to-pilot-strike/

    http://www.pseconline.org/pipermail/reps_pseconline.org/2012-November/000869.html

    May 19, 2021 at 6:00 am | Reply
  14. Ursula Tridenti

    I don't know about you people but I am obsessed with airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loves airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2010/05/in-australia-customs-asks-if-you-are-carrying-porn-and-then-will-watch-it/

    http://www.donationto.com/nonprofit-organizations/washington/mukilteo/future-of-flight-foundation

    May 18, 2021 at 4:10 am | Reply
  15. Harlan Tuomala

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a online game where you can do anything you want. Second life is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these second life authors and blogs

    http://adolit.blogspot.com/2007/04/adding-to-my-list-of-favorite-blogs.html

    May 17, 2021 at 9:00 am | Reply
  16. Robbi Auricchio

    I don't know about you guys but I am obsessed with airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff I don't know about you guys but I love airplanes. I had a friend in highschool that loved airplanes, so here are some airplane related stuff https://www.airlinereporter.com/2010/06/trans-states-pilot-who-didnt-turn-on-second-engine-is-director-of-flight-operations/

    http://blog.seattlepi.com/airlinereporter/2010/01/21/get-vip-tickets-to-watch-the-boeing-747-8-first-flight/

    May 16, 2021 at 6:53 pm | Reply
  17. Levi Berzins

    This was awesome! I would like you to clean up all this spam though

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/yusuf-hanafy-82493b183

    May 12, 2021 at 5:52 am | Reply
  18. Lynna Gerten

    Have you ever heard of second life (sl for short). It is basically a video game where you can do anything you want. SL is literally my second life (pun intended lol). If you want to see more you can see these sl websites and blogs

    http://digitalbeginnings.blogspot.com/2008/09/club-penguin-times.html

    May 11, 2021 at 8:51 am | Reply
  19. Paddle App

    I don't care about my privacy I just don't want to be killed on the street and I want to see these terrorists suffer.

    June 11, 2017 at 11:49 am | Reply
  20. RP

    It's terrible how CNN has taken government spying completely out of focus. Distracting us with unimportant news and focusing on Snowdens asylum instead of what he revealed. We really are forced to be an ignorant country with news agencies like these...

    July 16, 2013 at 11:22 pm | Reply
  21. gallagadiplobugs

    "I see liberty and security reinforcing values; it’s not a zero sum game" – Well said Ms Harman, that's how it should be. That balance between security and liberties might be elusive or will never be clear, but it is a balance worth seeking and working for. It mustn't be viewed as an absolute, as nothing is anyway in life and in this world. It should be viewed as a dynamic and constantly evolving process.

    July 16, 2013 at 5:18 am | Reply
  22. Palle sol Fuoco

    We don't need another commission? That is a cop out from holding our elected representatives accountable.

    July 16, 2013 at 1:12 am | Reply
    • George patton

      Well put, Palle sol Fuoco. Thank you.

      July 16, 2013 at 11:01 am | Reply
  23. gshields

    ..very well said...to the point,...with out contradiction...at least somebody out the World is thinking.....relavancey is a matter of course...lose sight of who you are and the rest is mitigation..

    July 15, 2013 at 10:12 pm | Reply
  24. John McKane

    I agree with George below. We need to just ignore these right-wing fanatics, including that stupid Senator whose name is similar to mine!

    July 15, 2013 at 7:09 pm | Reply
  25. George patton

    What would one expect this right-wing broad Jane Harman to say? The right-wingers always stick together like Hitler and Mussolini did during WW2! It would be nice, however, if NSA would go after criminals instead people like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange who only want to keep us informed.

    July 15, 2013 at 10:08 am | Reply
    • George Patton

      my imposture strikes again !!!!! Ignore the above post by Phunnie boy.

      July 15, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Reply

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.