Transcript: Naomi Klein. FISA lawsuit. Shock Doctrine. Jul 15th 2008

Naomi Klein talks about the ACLU suit that she has joined against the just-signed FISA bill, and her New York Times and international best seller "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism".


Thom Hartmann interviews Naomi Klein, 15 July 2008


[Thom Hartmann]: Naomi Klein is on the line with us, the award winning journalist, syndicated columnist, author of the New York Times and international best seller "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism". Naomi, welcome back to the program. Naomi?


[Naomi Klein]: Yes.


[Thom Hartmann]: Hey! Welcome back.


[Naomi Klein]: Great to be with you again.


[Thom Hartmann]: Great to have you back with us. You have participated, you have joined with the Nation magazine and the ACLU in this lawsuit over this new evisceration of the FISA statutes, I guess would be how I would characterize it. If you want to characterize in a different way, please do so.

[Naomi Klein]: No, that would be OK.


[Thom Hartmann]: Pardon?


[Naomi Klein]: That's good.


[Thom Hartmann]: OK. And tell us about this.

[Naomi Klein]: Yeah, well, the ACLU has been working on this for several months. They've brought together a coalition of people who for their work need to be able to have secure communications across borders. So they are people who work with human rights organizations, with women's organizations and journalists like us at the Nation. We're named as complainants in this suit and Chris Hedges and I are the two people representing the Nation. But these are, everybody who's involved in the lawsuit needs to be able to make phone calls, to send email with people who trust that there's some security in these communications. Obviously for journalists, we need to protect our sources. For human rights workers, they may need to communicate with somebody in Afghanistan who provided them testimony on the condition that they not be named.


And what the new bill does is it says that as long as you're not an American, as long as they can show that somebody in the United States is communicating with somebody not in the United States, then the very fact that they're not being in the United States gives them the right to put that communication under surveillance whether it's email, whether it's a phone call, to hold on to those records indefinitely. They don't need to prove that the person you're talking to is a suspected terrorist, they just need to prove that that person is not an American. So...

[Thom Hartmann]: Right, well the Fourth Amendment clearly says that you have to have probable cause before you can search somebody's, a person's papers or effects, probable cause that a crime is being committed.

[Naomi Klein]: Yeah, and that applies to American citizens, but it does not apply to American citizens when they are communicating with people outside of America who are not citizens and not protected by these rights.


[Thom Hartmann]: Under this new...


[Naomi Klein]: Under this new law.


[Thom Hartmann]: Right.


[Naomi Klein]: So, the ACLU had been preparing this lawsuit for many mnths hoping that they wouldn't have to launch it, hoping that Congress and the Senate would defeat this law. That didn't happen and as soon as President Bish signed it, the ACLU filed the case and yeah, I'm one of the complainants and I think it's really the ACLU at its best, defending the law when the lawmakers don't.

[Thom Hartmann]: Well, and in fact the day that George Bush signed the law, we had one of the spokespersons for the ACLU on the program talking about that and this is just an absolute disaster, to step off the title your book.

[Naomi Klein]: Well, you know, I had to just add that I actually find it surprising that more mainstream journalists and news organizations aren't adding their voices, because having secure communications is part of all of our work and it would have been nice to have some stronger support from bigger news organizations.

[Thom Hartmann]: Well, is it possible at this point to participate? For example, I mean, I've done this show, in March I did this show for a week from Darfur, or from the border with Darfur, from southern Sudan. And we had a lot communications to set that thing up. I did this show last month from Denmark. We're gonna be doing it in November from Germany. I also for thirty years have been, have done volunteer work for an international relief agency based in Germany and I communicate with them virtually every week and have for almost thirty years.


I've set up hospitals in Africa and South America. We took over leper colonies and orphanages in India. I mean, I have personally done those things around the world, and continue to be involved in these things. And I'm on the board of this organization that's based out of another country, based out of Germany. And, you know, I would love to participate in this lawsuit and perhaps Air America would want to. Obviously, we're not, you know, we're not the New York Times which I think you're talking about.


[Naomi Klein]: Yes. Yes.


[Thom Hartmann]: Why isn't the New York Times involved in this, but is there still a window open for people to say, 'I would like to be a co-complainant in this'?

[Naomi Klein]: I think there probably is, and they should contact, there's lots of ways that they can add their names to this lawsuit and I think the ACLU is really committed to keeping this alive despite the failure of the lawmakers.


[Thom Hartmann]: Right.


[Naomi Klein]: And it's really crucial that we do so. And, you know, one of the things that I think is really important to remember in this moment where people are talking about undoing the damage of the Bush years, you know, we talk about the rights of Americans, the rights of Americans to privacy, but there's a real message of contempt in this bill about anyone who is not an America. I happen to have dual citizenship.


The message of this bill is if you're not American, you have no rights whatsoever. And, you know, people outside of the United States are getting that message in a lot of ways. They don't have, you know, the right to Habeas Corpus in Guantanamo. They're treated, you know, depending on where they come with increasing contempt at the border. There's a lot of fear about ending up on these lists, and we just have been on these no fly lists. So it's just another way that people outside the United States are being sent a very clear message from this country about their second class citizenship.

[Thom Hartmann]: Yeah, and the contempt that the United States, at least this administration, has for humans, I mean, at the core, humans.

[Naomi Klein]: The right to privacy should actually not be attached to whether you are an American citizen.


[Thom Hartmann]: Well, in the constitution or not.


[Naomi Klein]: These people are being put under surveillance by the US government without having to have any probable cause, prove any probable cause, didn't vote for this administration, so in my view we have more of a right not to be under surveillance.


[Thom Hartmann]: Well, and in fact if you read the constitution, it refers to persons not citizens. There are only a very few places in the constitution where it refers to citizens, one being who can be a president of the United States, for example.


[Naomi Klein]: These are human rights. These are human rights.

[Thom Hartmann]: Yeah, but by and large, the constitution of the United States refers to persons and it applies, and the courts have ruled over and over and over again, it applies to people whether they are citizens are not. I mean, this is, the Hamdan ruling, this whole variety, this whole collection of Guantanamo rulings is that these people are persons and they happen to be on property which is under the control of the United States even though it's outside the borders of the United States and so they have rights.

[Naomi Klein]: Yes, yes. And I mean, you know, in terms of my work and why I feel very passionately about this, I mean, in terms of the book that I'm just launching right now, you know, this is reporting that, based on reporting all over the world and including communications with people in Iraq who are in danger if they believe that their communications are, can just be hoovered up by the US government.


[Thom Hartmann]: Right.


[Naomi Klein]: And so, you know, it's not an abstract issue.


[Thom Hartmann]: Absolutely. We're talking with Naomi Klein, her new book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, her website naomiklein.org. The book debuting in paperback on the New York Times bestseller list. Naomi, we have about two minutes left. In that time can you give us a thumbnail sketch of how the thirty year assault on the middle class by Reaganomics and supply side economics has produced a shock that we're calling the banking crisis right now that is going to be exploited.


[Naomi Klein]: Well, I mean, we have a government that doesn't believe in governing, that believes in undoing. And what has passed for governing since Reagan is actually the dismantling of the government; the unmaking of structures which, with entirely predictable results. One thing that I think people, in terms of launching of the book in paperback, I'm really feeling that the book is more relevant in this political moment than it was when the book first came out in the fall because we're facing this tsunami of crises; the oil shock, the food crisis, the subprime mortgage crisis and we're watching in real time the Bush Administration using each one of these shocks to push through what I'm just calling the stock doctrine; to push through unpopular policies that prey on people's fear, that prey on people's desire for short term solutions.


I mean, it's incredible that, the short time it took move away from a discussion about alternative energy sources, about wind, solar, hybrids and move towards a discussion of just reiterating the oil and gas industry's talking points. It's all we get when we turn on television right now whether it's the paid ads or the pundits and anchors, just repeating again and again that the way to lower gas at the pump is to drill offshore, is to drill in ANWR, you know, it's to do exploration in the shale which is environmentally devastating. None of this is true. All of this would take between five and ten years to get on line. It's just the oil and gas industry using people's fear and their desire for a quick fix to change the subject.

[Thom Hartmann]: Right, plus they already have leases that they're not drilling.

[Naomi Klein]: Well look, they want those leases. They want more leases.


[Thom Hartmann]: That's the whole point.


[Naomi Klein]: The more leases they control, the more they're able to control the supply, the more pice fixing they can do. Not only won't this lower the price at the pump, but this actually gives the oil and gas industry much more power to artificially raise prices.

[Thom Hartmann]: Right. So here the shock doctrine that was applied to the Soviet Union, the shock doctrine that was applied to Chile, privatized Social Security and everything else, the shock doctrine is being applied to us here in the United States as well. Naomi Klein, her book "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.". Now out in paperback, or shortly out in paperback. Naomi, thanks so much for being with us.


[Naomi Klein]: So great to talk to you.

Transcribed by Sue Nethercott.

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