Bernie Sanders by Wikipedia
I interviewed Senator Bernie Sanders on July 9th.
Thanks to Don Caldarazzo for doing the transcript.
Rob Kall: And welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, WNJC 1360 AM out of Washington Township, reaching metro Philly and South Jersey. My guest tonight is Senator Bernie Sanders. Are you there?
Bernie Sanders: I am right here.
Rob Kall: Oh great. Thanks so much for being on the show. I really appreciate it. Oh, I've got a long list of stuff I want to talk to you about. I wanted to start with your Progressive campaign. I just got an email about it today, and that sounds pretty exciting. I'm going to post the description on opednews.com (here) but can you talk a little bit more about it? And who are you trying to reach? And how is it different from reaching out to Democrats?
Bernie Sanders: Well it's very different, because there are a lot of people; my guess is the vast majority of the American people are disillusioned with both political parties. I think they perceive the Republican Party now having become a Right wing extremist party. And while the Democratic party in my view in every sense is much stronger and more responsive to the needs of ordinary people, I think many people perceive that the Democrats have become much too Conservative, and are too dependent on Corporate money, and [have] too much sympathy for big money interests, and are not standing up for working families.
So I think there are a lot of people out there who are not Democrats and are not Republicans. They're in the Middle Class. These are people who are working longer hours for lower wages. They're seeing their family income going down. They can't afford to send they're kids to college, they're struggling with healthcare, and they're asking themselves, "How does it happen that the only people in this economy who are doing well are the very, very wealthy, and large, multinational corporations?" Those are the people I'm trying tot talk to.
Rob Kall: Awesome. That's certainly my readership, because, the readers at Opednews, I would say 85% of them, are no longer very happy with Democrats, even though they're way Left of Democrats. This is a great thing that you're starting, I think.
There are so many topics I want to discuss. The hot one right now is the revelations about the NSA that Edward Snowden brought to our attention, and I understand that you're interested more in those revelations than in Snowden. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Bernie Sanders: Well, what I mean is that I think the revelations are very disturbing to people in this country (and people, by the way, all the way across the political spectrum). In my view, you can't go around saying, "I believe in Freedom, and I believe in liberty!" at the same time that you say, "Yeah! It's OK with me if the NSA codifies and puts into a file every phone call that I make, or maybe they get into my website." That's not what freedom, and not what liberty, is about. People have the right to make a bloody telephone call in this country without believing that the government is filing that phone call (who they call, what time they make that call) into some huge database somewhere.
So this is an issue that brings together people from different political persuasions, and which says, "Yeah, of course. Terrorism is a serious issue. We want the government to be vigorous in protecting the American People (I certainly do), but you can do that without undermining the Constitution of the United States - specifically, the 4th Amendment. And you can do that by saying to the Intelligence Agencies, "If you have evidence that somebody may be involved in terrorist activity, go get em'!" But that is a very different approach than filing every phone call made in the United States of America by 99.9% of the people who have nothing to do with terrorism.
Rob Kall: Yeah. One of the big things that has allowed that to happen in the FISA courts.
Bernie Sanders: Yes.
Rob Kall: What I've learned is that the FISA court judges are appointed by the Chief Justice of the United Sates, John Roberts; and the current one, my read of his biggest claim to fame is that he ordered that a defendant demand that journalists disclose their sources. To me, that's one of the most sacrosanct of all the privacies that we have, and yet, this is the guy that Roberts appointed to the FISA court; so it seems to me like the FISA court is just going to rubber stamp whatever it's asked for -
Bernie Sanders: Well the issue of the rubber stamp is an issue that a lot of people have talked about because the vast majority of the requests that come in from intelligence agencies or law enforcement are approved. I mean an overwhelming majority: I think over 99% are approved by the FISA court. What in my view we have to do - and Legislation that I have introduced would do - is amend section 215 of the USA Patriot ACT (something that I've consistently voted against), and amend that section to make it very clear that before a law enforcement or intelligence agencies can start monitoring or investigating an individual, they have to make a case that there's at least probable cause (or some other legal definition), which says, "We have evidence to believe that this person is involved in terrorist activity." That is the direction that we've got to go. We've got to say, "You can't just file every phone call in the United Sates because it makes it easier for you to go after terrorists. That's not good enough. Before you go after people, you have to have reason to believe that they are involved in terrorist activities."
Rob Kall: You know, I've spoken to a number of young people in their late 20s recently. One is a lawyer. He went to law school, graduated fairly recently, and he learned in law school that, about 30-40 years ago, a guy was in a phone booth, and he shut the door, and then they tapped his phone. And he was basically released free because they weren't allowed to invade his privacy that way, because he thought he was speaking privately - even though it was a public place. Now that young lawyer said, "Today, there is no such thing as that kind of privacy"; and young people across the board give that answer, "I don't worry about privacy because I have nothing to hide." What's your answer to them?