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Rethinking Intelligence: Interview with Frederick A. O. Schwarz, Jr.

Frederick A.O. “Fritz” Schwarz, Jr. is Chief Counsel of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School and Senior Counsel at Cravath, Swaine and Moore. From 1975–76, Schwarz served as the Chief Counsel to the Senate Select Committee on Government Activities with Respect to Intelligence Activities, better known as the “Church Committee,” after its Chairman, Senator Frank Church.


Inter­view Tran­script

Fred­er­ick A.O. “Fritz” Schwarz, Jr. is Chief Coun­sel of the Bren­nan Center for Justice at NYU Law School and Senior Coun­sel at Cravath, Swaine and Moore. From 1975–76, Schwarz served as the Chief Coun­sel to the Senate Select Commit­tee on Govern­ment Activ­it­ies with Respect to Intel­li­gence Activ­it­ies, better known as the “Church Commit­tee,” after its Chair­man, Senator Frank Church. He is the co-author of Unchecked and Unbal­anced: Pres­id­en­tial Power in a Time of Terror (The New Press, 2007), is currently writ­ing a new book, Demo­cracy in the Dark: The Seduc­tion of Govern­ment Secrecy, sched­uled for public­a­tion in Spring 2015.

Mike German, a Fellow at the Bren­nan Center for Justice at NYU Law School, inter­viewed Fritz Schwarz on August 19, 2014. The follow­ing is an edited tran­script of that inter­view.

Q: Hi. My name’s Mike German. I’m a fellow with the Bren­nan Center for Justice at NYU Law School. And today it’s my honor to be with Fritz Schwarz. Fritz is the Chief Coun­sel at the Bren­nan Center. He is also Senior Coun­sel at Cravath, Swaine and Moore. From 1975 to 1976, he was Chief Coun­sel to the Senate Select Commit­tee on Govern­ment Activ­it­ies, with Respect to Intel­li­gence.

SCHWARZ: Merci­fully known as the Church Commit­tee.

Q: Merci­fully known as the Church Commit­tee, after its Chair­man, Senator Frank Church. And I also would be remiss to say, the 2014 winner of the Riden­hour Cour­age Award. So congrat­u­la­tions on that.

SCHWARZ: Thank you.

Q: And you’re currently work­ing on a book about govern­ment secrecy called Demo­cracy in the Dark.

SCHWARZ: Demo­cracy in the Dark: The Seduc­tion of Govern­ment Secrecy.

Q: Perfect. So, let’s start with the Church Commit­tee, which was the first, the govern­ment’s first compre­hens­ive look at intel­li­gence activ­it­ies which had been taking place for decades without very much super­vi­sion. What were the goals of your commit­tee’s invest­ig­a­tion? And what were the pitfalls that you faced?

SCHWARZ: Well, the Church Commit­tee was the first. It’s also still today the most compre­hens­ive invest­ig­a­tion of intel­li­gence in the United States or in the world. So, goals and pitfalls? Well, the first goal was to have an invest­ig­a­tion that was open and rigor­ous. Because before that, in the Senate and the House of the United States, and certainly in allies like Great Britain, the view was, don’t ask don’t tell. They’d rather not know. The senat­ors, the congress­men, would rather not know what was going on. And they were quite expli­cit in that, in what they said to J. Edgar Hoover or the direct­ors of the Cent­ral Intel­li­gence Agency:  “Please don’t tell us. We’ll give you a pile of money anyway.” So, the first goal was to actu­ally have an invest­ig­a­tion. Now, then it was import­ant that we get star­ted and succeed. This is a long answer. But how was it that the invest­ig­a­tion happened when it did for the first time in 1975–76? I think the events of Water­gate, and the furor about the Viet­nam War, and the leaks like the Pentagon Papers had led to a pent-up interest in what the secret govern­ment had been doing. So instead of “don’t ask, don’t tell”, it was “please let us know”. Now, we were also helped by the fact that Richard Nixon had resigned in disgrace before he would be impeached. Because, in part because he had secretly tried to manip­u­late the CIA and the FBI, as well as commit­ting crimes in the course of cover­ing up Water­gate. And Gerald Ford, who was his second vice pres­id­ent after the first one resigned for corrup­tion, Gerald Ford was faced with a dilemma. He really could­n’t tell us to go jump in the lake. He could­n’t fail to cooper­ate with us. So he was under enorm­ous pres­sure to cooper­ate. That does­n’t mean that the Ford White House just bent over and gave us what we wanted without a push. We had to push often. But we were lucky that Ford was in that diffi­cult posi­tion. And then the final external event that I would emphas­ize was that J. Edgar Hoover was dead. J. Edgar Hoover, as we proved really for the first time, had been an abysmal leader of the FBI as far as how ordin­ary Amer­ic­ans were treated, and as far as how he abused the polit­ical inform­a­tion that he had and the personal inform­a­tion that he had. He being dead removed, I think, a fear that would have exis­ted had Hoover been alive. And I think the Congress, the senat­ors – I was speak­ing for the senat­ors – would have been more reluct­ant to take on the FBI. And at the end of the day, I concluded our FBI invest­ig­a­tion was even more import­ant than our CIA invest­ig­a­tion and NSA invest­ig­a­tion, because to really simplify it, what the FBI was doing threatened demo­cracy in Amer­ica, and what the CIA was doing – again, to simplify – injured our repu­ta­tion in the world. And between the two, you have to worry more about demo­cracy being under­mined. So that’s some of the back­ground. Now aims included doing the job in a non-partisan way. Senator Mans­field, Mike Mans­field, who was the Senate Major­ity Leader, and who’d called thirty years earlier, or twenty-five years earlier, as a junior senator for an invest­ig­a­tion of the CIA, which got abso­lutely nowhere – but he struc­tured the commit­tee in a way that was help­ful toward the goal of non-partis­an­ship. And we had, instead of the normal ratio of that time- which would have been seven Demo­crats and four Repub­lic­ans- we had six Demo­crats and five Repub­lic­ans. And the senior member of the minor­ity party, the senior Repub­lican was the Vice-Chair­man, which was a real job, and not the rank­ing member which is the norm, which is a titu­lar job, but not a substant­ive job. So we were set up to be non-partisan. And the commit­tee succeeded in that very well. I can come back to that subject if you wanted to, but…

Q: Sure.

SCHWARZ: In prov­ing our non-partisan nature, most people, when we were created, said, “Well, what they’ll do is just bring out more wrong­do­ing by the Nixon Admin­is­tra­tion.” We did bring out more wrong­do­ing by the Nixon Admin­is­tra­tion. But, we also showed that every pres­id­ent – and there were six between Frank­lin Roosevelt and Richard Nixon – had abused their secret powers. And I think that find­ing prob­ably was our single most import­ant find­ing. And it’s a find­ing that helped with the commit­tee’s internal cohe­sion and their external success. Now another – I’m going to do one more thing on success and then another part, another pitfall point. On success – it was import­ant that we, we get the facts. And I want to come back to that. But it was import­ant that we then take the facts that we had discovered and disclose them, and give the inform­a­tion to the Amer­ican public so that they – and give it to them in a way that was under­stand­able at the hear­ings – most of which were public, but some, like on assas­sin­a­tions, were in exec­ut­ive session only. But give the inform­a­tion to the public in a way they could under­stand it. That was certainly some­thing that I person­ally was very much inves­ted in. Now, we had to… This is a poten­tial pitfall that we avoided. We had to demon­strate that we would handle secrecy respons­ibly. And that means, not going in with an atti­tude that everything that’s secret is for that reason improper, because there are proper secrets. So we recog­nized that in A, how we struc­tured our discov­ery of the docu­ments of the govern­ment agen­cies and B – and if you want to, you could ask me a ques­tion to come back to that…

Q: Okay.

SCHWARZ: And B, in writ­ing our final reports, writ­ing our published reports, where we agreed to let the White House and the relev­ant agen­cies see a copy of the final report – or in assas­sin­a­tion’s case, the interim report – so they could argue that we had inad­vert­ently revealed secret inform­a­tion that wasn’t neces­sary to our find­ings. And that worked very well.

Q: And you mean that privately, before it was released?

SCHWARZ: We did that privately before it was released. In the same way as after the Pentagon Papers case, most good journ­al­ists do the same thing before they release a story about secrets.

Q: So you said you were person­ally inves­ted in making sure the public got to see as much as possible. Why was that import­ant to you?

SCHWARZ: Well, I was person­ally inves­ted in this being an invest­ig­a­tion, too. Because there was a dispute at the begin­ning about whether what we would do would be to listened to – and the expres­sion then was “wise men” – and having listened to wise men say what the prob­lems were and what the remed­ies were, then we would just come out with a report about, reflect­ing, what they told us, and what we thought would be the right remedy. I fought very hard against that and was success­ful because I said, no, if we don’t prove real harm that affects our demo­cracy and affects ordin­ary people, we will never build the kind of public forum or support for change that we need.

Q: Great. What lessons did you learn about govern­ment secrecy during the course of your invest­ig­a­tion?

SCHWARZ: Well, there’s too much. It lasts too long. It too often is for reas­ons of avoid­ing embar­rass­ment or conceal­ing improper, or other­wise illegal, conduct. But there’s also some legit­im­ate secrecy. And if you don’t recog­nize that you have to draw that distinc­tion and be care­ful about it, you won’t succeed in your invest­ig­a­tion. And the paral­lel House commit­tee, which even­tu­ally was known as the Pike Commit­tee, was doing some very good work, partic­u­larly about the CIA about the qual­ity of their intel­li­gence. But at the end of the day, they were a really unfor­tu­nate fail­ure, because they never mastered an under­stand­ing of the differ­ence between legit­im­ate secrecy and ille­git­im­ate. And they would take unne­ces­sary ideo­lo­gical posi­tions like, you can’t block out the name of an informer in the first instance when you produce the docu­ments to us, or we’re not going to have a real dialogue with you about what our reports will say. So they, they, they foundered at the begin­ning and they failed at the end because they didn’t address the subject of secrecy with any soph­ist­ic­a­tion.

Q: And when there’s a debate in the public about secrecy, often it focuses on over-clas­si­fic­a­tion. And that’s obvi­ously a rampant prob­lem. But in the book, you argue that that’s sort of too narrow a lens to view this prob­lem, and that there are inher­ent dangers in secrecy.

SCHWARZ: Yeah, I’ll give two concep­tual points on that. One, is the prac­tice of making decisions in the White House with only a group of yes-men in the room. And that’s a very danger­ous prac­tice. It’s very common. It was common during the Viet­nam War. It’s been common since 9/11, partic­u­larly under the Bush Admin­is­tra­tion. But Obama Admin­is­tra­tion too has had too many closed White House decision-making processes. And that increases the chance of error. And another, another danger that’s way beyond clas­si­fic­a­tion is some­times there are examples of very appro­pri­ate clas­si­fic­a­tion which nobody thinks about chan­ging and releas­ing the inform­a­tion, even though it’s prop­erly clas­si­fied. And I’ll give two examples of that. One would be the Bush Admin­is­tra­tion’s, the Bush White House­’s… They got a lot of warn­ings from the CIA that a calam­it­ous event was being planned by al-Qaeda. It was some­thing that would be much, much, much, much more seri­ous than anything that had been done before. Without think­ing, they just kept those secret. I’m convinced, and I argue in the book, that if the warn­ings had been disclosed to the public and to every govern­ment worker respons­ible for worry­ing about terror­ist attacks, we would have thwarted the 9/11 attack. Another example also of an iconic event in Amer­ican history was the Cuban missile crisis, where Russia had atomic bombs, had put atomic bombs…

So the Russi­ans had under cover, and without our learn­ing about it until we had U-2 flights that picked it up in Cuba, put in nuclear missiles and nuclear warheads in Cuba. And we success­fully, ulti­mately by, largely by JFK and the rest of his Admin­is­tra­tion being tough, got the Russi­ans to back down. But little known – not known at the time, and not well enough known even now – was the night before the resol­u­tion, Bob Kennedy, the Attor­ney General, the pres­id­ent’s brother, a person ambi­tious on his own for ulti­mately becom­ing pres­id­ent, as comes out in some of the dialogue about this – goes to see the Russian ambas­sador and says, if – first says, “If you don’t back down, we’re gonna escal­ate against you;” he gives a threat first—but  then he says, “If you back down, we will make a deal with you to remove our missiles.”  Land-based missiles in Turkey – equally close to Russia, as Cuba is to south­ern United States. But, he said, “That has to be kept secret and never known.” Now that was, that deal was made. And it didn’t become known for twenty or thirty years. This had some very harm­ful impacts. Again, it was legit­im­ately secret at the time. Because if we’d announced the day of the deal that we’d, the day of the settle­ment of the missile crisis that we’d made this deal involving Turkey, our allies would have said, ”hm… United States, when it gets in trouble it’ll sell us down the river.” Now, that’s not some­thing that was a prob­lem later on, because other missiles, submar­ine missiles were put in there and so forth. But while legit­im­ate at the begin­ning for diplo­matic reas­ons, the diplo­matic reas­ons disap­peared, and it was kept secret for all the remain­ing years because it was thought to be incon­sist­ent with the repu­ta­tions of the assas­sin­ated John Kennedy and the ambi­tions of the ambi­tious Robert Kennedy, who himself unfor­tu­nately was later assas­sin­ated also. And it really was kept secret until the 90’s. Well, why did that matter? One thing it did is it deprived the Amer­ican public of an object lesson, that demo­cracy is not just a fist in the face of your oppon­ent. You make deals. It’s not a blink­ing eye contest, which people will recog­nize from a Rusk meta­phor: we were eyeball to eyeball and the other side just backed down. So the first harm was to the soph­ist­ic­a­tion of the Amer­ican people. But, in addi­tion, Mcgeorge Bundy, who was one of the people who did know the secret – and there were only nine people in the admin­is­tra­tion that knew the secret – the two broth­ers, and seven others. But Mcgeorge Bundy, in his book later, Danger and Survival, says, “I think this led, this helped lead, to the over­throw of Khrushchev two years later.” Khrushchev was the Russian Premier at the time of the missile crisis, and he was, for the days, for those days, a moder­ate, and was replaced by a more hard line Soviet commun­ist. And another more subtle prob­lem—and harder to prove, but I think likely—is that LBJ, who succeeded Kennedy and was always haunted by the Kennedy mystique. I think when he was deal­ing with Viet­nam, that a factor – you can’t say it’s the factor – but a factor in his tough­ness, his felt need to appear tough, was well, my sainted – who he didn’t like very much – but my – that’s unfair, who he had troubles with, John Kennedy – but my prede­cessor was known to win this incred­ible struggle just by being tough, when in fact Kennedy won by being tough, and by being will­ing to make a deal.

Q: Okay. And you call it “the triumphant myth” in the book.

SCHWARZ: Yeah, yeah. Well, that’s actu­ally not my words. That’s from Gelb.

Q: Okay. Alright. And another example you mention in the book is the, the Bush Admin­is­tra­tion’s decision to use torture as a tool in its anti-terror­ism arsenal.

SCHWARZ: Yeah. I mean, that was some­thing that they did in the dark of night. They did it with a team of yes-men in the room. They did not have anybody from the State Depart­ment, who would have said, “Well, that’s danger­ous.” They did not have people from the milit­ary who would have said, “Well, you know, isn’t this going to increase the chance of the same thing being done to our men and women in the armed forces if they’re captured?” And they really didn’t think through the implic­a­tions – leav­ing aside the legal­ity, and leav­ing aside the phony process they had of getting an opin­ion from a lawyer in the Justice Depart­ment, John Yoo, junior lawyer, who again oper­ated under differ­ent and more secret processes than normally are done in the Justice Depart­ment. Usually, the Justice Depart­ment’s Office of Legal Coun­sel will not have an opin­ion unless it’s been vetted by many other people in the Justice Depart­ment. But John Yoo’s opin­ion here was not vetted by anybody at all. Now, just another word about John Yoo. He actu­ally believed what he said in his memo, which had a lot of nonsense in it. But one of the pieces of nonsense was that the Amer­ican Consti­tu­tion inten­tion­ally gave the Pres­id­ent the powers of an English king back in the 17th century. The prob­lem with that was, A, the English had gotten rid of those powers, which were powers to ignore Parlia­ment; and B, our Consti­tu­tion, our Revolu­tion­ary War, was fought to get rid of those powers, and C, the Consti­tu­tion clearly got rid of them. So, while John Yoo believed what he wrote – he wasn’t a phony – he was really amaz­ingly wrong in what he wrote.

Q: And here we are, more than a decade later, and still feel­ing the rami­fic­a­tions of those decisions.

SCHWARZ: And you know, later you’re going to talk to me about the Senate Intel­li­gence Commit­tee. And I think that’s gotten weaker than it was inten­ded to be, and more in, in bed with the agency they’re meant to look at. But on the – they’ve come up appar­ently with a report that says the torture was, number one, worse than even John Yoo had said was okay in his opin­ion, and B, didn’t do any good. And the Obama Admin­is­tra­tion has held up that report for far too long over argu­ments over clas­si­fic­a­tion and, I would say, equally the Senate, which has tools to publish some­thing, even if the Admin­is­tra­tion says it’s still clas­si­fied – and the tools are sort of complic­ated and I cover then in the book – but they’ve either chosen not to use those tools or the partis­an­ship in the Senate might make it impossible for them to use the tools.

Q: So stick­ing with the pres­id­ents, just for the time being though, what is so seduct­ive about secrecy for the pres­id­ents? ‘Cause almost every pres­id­ent runs on the idea of trans­par­ency and talks about how crucial trans­par­ency is.

SCHWARZ: Well, you could take Woodrow Wilson as one good example of that. You could take Barack Obama as another. Well, first, when you’re outside, you’re not respons­ible. When you’re inside you’re respons­ible. And there­fore, the burden of the dangers and so forth weigh more heav­ily on you. Then—­think­ing, I have a passage in the book which spec­u­lates for Obama why he… he didn’t totally change; I mean, he’s done some good things. But he’s been more compli­ant with the wishes of the – partic­u­larly the CIA and the NSA—the parts of the intel­li­gence community meant to be oper­at­ing over­seas. Well, I think another factor is, you recog­nize these people are very good in much of what they do, and they’re very import­ant to me. So it’s first, you discover more about the dangers. And second, I think you get some more empathy for the people running the intel­li­gence agen­cies, because you know they’re doing some very good work. So it’s a, it’s both a change of your know­ledge and a psycho­lo­gical factor that affects your will­ing­ness to chal­lenge those secret agen­cies.

Q: So one of the programs that we’ve learned about through leaks by a concerned insider, Edward Snowden, NSA contractor, caused a number of oppor­tun­it­ies to look at what they were doing when the Pres­id­ent estab­lished the group they called “The Pres­id­ent’s Review Group” to look at these intel­li­gence activ­it­ies. And one of the things inter­est­ing in that report is they talked about how the intel­li­gence agen­cies don’t do enough risk manage­ment look­ing at these other prob­lems when they’re estab­lish­ing a program, partic­u­larly what will happen if it’s exposed and there­fore sort of caught off guard, much the way they are. But you would think that in an intel­li­gence agency, their job is risk manage­ment…

SCHWARZ:   Yeah.

Q: …that that should be part and parcel of what they’re doing.

SCHWARZ: Yeah, and to pick up on your… what happens if they’re exposed, the shelf life of secrets is now far shorter than it was when we did our work for the Church Commit­tee. There, many secrets were secret for thirty years, forty years; now you’d say three years or four years and there are a lot of reas­ons for why the shelf life is shorter, which we could come back to if you wanted to…

Q: Sure.

SCHWARZ: ….but, that’s defin­itely a factor that has changed. And what else were you driv­ing at?

Q: Why the intel­li­gence agen­cies aren’t doing the kind of risk manage­ment that would incor­por­ate all these dangers, the… the risk to demo­cracy that secrecy presents, as well as – would you… sort of, when you were talk­ing about the State Depart­ment…

SCHWARZ:   Yeah. I think they haven’t yet intern­al­ized the point about risks to demo­cracy. I hope my book, which is, basic­ally that’s the theme that runs through all three hundred pages of the book, which I hope people like. But, so that’s not some­thing they’ve really intern­al­ized. And I think that’s not going to be easy for them cultur­ally to intern­al­ize that risk. Other risks, like, if it’s exposed, what does it do to our foreign rela­tions? If it’s exposed, what does it do to our repu­ta­tion as an agency? I think they do recog­nize… but they bury it a little bit, you know? Getting the job done is the aim, and not think­ing about, “Well, what happens if it screws up?"

The FBI, at least for a while, I thought, intern­al­ized the lesson that if we’re in the busi­ness of domestic disrup­tion, if we’re in the busi­ness of overly broad domestic surveil­lance, it’s going to hurt our success in law enforce­ment. Now, we need to have… I don’t know whether today, intern­ally, the FBI does ask those ques­tions…

Q: Yeah. With regard to… and I’m in total agree­ment with you, the impetus to action, that these agen­cies want to get the job done, as you said…


Q: …but one of the inter­est­ing things about the Privacy and Civil Liber­ties Over­sight Board’s invest­ig­a­tion of the Section 702 Foreign Intel­li­gence Surveil­lance Act…


Q: …pro­gram, is they… one of their recom­mend­a­tions, and I’ll read it to you: “The govern­ment should develop a compre­hens­ive meth­od­o­logy for assess­ing the effic­acy and relat­ive value of coun­terter­ror­ism programs.”

SCHWARZ: Well, I mean… that would… one seems, one think, be sort of, yes, that’s…  two of the most import­ant, maybe four most import­ant ques­tions about any program they under­take… and… and they’re not doing it nearly as much as they should…

Q: Right… and I think it came out of the frus­tra­tion of saying, “Well, what is the value?” And there were no metrics that they could show them…to demon­strate the value, but… but again…

SCHWARZ: Yeah, so… so much…

Q: …you would think that would be…

SCHWARZ: …so much of what the intel­li­gence agen­cies have done, which were seen as successes when done, have real seri­ous long-term adverse impacts. And the over­throw of Mossadeq in Iran; he was a demo­crat­ic­ally elec­ted Prime Minis­ter of Iran, and people worried that he might be close to the Commun­ists, although he wasn’t a Commun­ist. And they worried that he was going to, uh… inter­fere with the Brit­ish oil mono­poly in Iran. And so the Brit­ish wanted to over­throw him and we, with Theodore Roosevelt’s grand­son doing a lot of the work, too, as head of the CIA… CIA Head of Station in… in Tehran, over­threw him. And the Shah came back! And the Shah was regarded as a friend of Amer­ica and a wonder­ful thing! Eisen­hower thought it was a great triumph, although inter­est­ingly enough, even though in private he was saying the CIA did it, he took it out of his auto­bi­o­graphy that he wrote after he finished being Pres­id­ent…but in the long run, terrible impact! That is what caused the anti-Amer­ic­an­ism of the people who over­threw the Shah. And real, real harm in the long term to Amer­ic­ans’ interests.

Q: And yet, and maybe as if part of the excess­ive secrecy around that, that the US Govern­ment some­times does support regime change around the world, includ­ing some­times demo­crat­ic­ally elec­ted govern­ments…

SCHWARZ: Yeah, in Chile, Guatem­ala, Iran…

Q: So, is it that we don’t learn the lesson of the negat­ive? Or at least, the intel­li­gence agen­cies don’t?

SCHWARZ: I think we don’t… remem­ber the lessons. We maybe learn them, and don’t… choose not to, or don’t remem­ber! And… and it’s actu­ally surpris­ing to me how little discus­sion of that fact there is in the debate about Iran today. I mean, we don’t want a nuclear weapon in Iran. But in the debate about it, people forget the history of why Iran felt antag­on­istic to Amer­ica, and also prob­ably why they feel, or have felt, they need the deterrent of an atomic weapon.

Q: And they haven’t forgot­ten it over there, though…

SCHWARZ:   They certainly haven’t…

Q: Yeah… so here we are, forty years after your work on the Church Commit­tee, and the Snowden Leaks have given the Amer­ican public an idea of the scope. And in addi­tion to what the intel­li­gence agen­cies are look­ing at, or doing, the… a lot of criti­cism has fallen upon the struc­tures that were designed to create over­sight after the work of the Church Commit­tee, the…  select commit­tees in Congress and the Foreign Intel­li­gence Surveil­lance Court. So, why don’t we start with the Foreign Intel­li­gence Surveil­lance Court. We’ve now seen a number of opin­ions that just a couple of years ago, even the Obama Admin­is­tra­tion said these could not be made public because they were so entwined with the facts of each case. Now we have seen many of them in public …

SCHWARZ: By the way, just… let me make a comment on that and then you can complete your ques­tion. I think the main fault of Bush Number Two, George W. Bush, and Obama… in insti­tut­ing the Metadata Program and in Obama in continu­ing it- yes, that raises lots of issues of legal­ity, and privacy, and effect­ive­ness. And they’re all import­ant. But I think the most funda­mental issue was the fail­ure – the demo­cratic fail­ure – to openly discuss that plan with the public, and the Congress. And there was noth­ing danger­ous about discuss­ing it, I mean, what is al-Qaeda going to do? They already thought their actual phones were being listened to; they don’t worry about metadata; so that’s sort of an aside from finish­ing your ques­tion.

Q: Sure. So now that we have been able to look at the oper­a­tion of the Foreign Intel­li­gence Surveil­lance Court, what’s your…?

SCHWARZ:   Well, I would go back, and then come forward.

Q: Okay

SCHWARZ: What we saw on the Church Commit­tee and that Court, and the Foreign Intel­li­gence Surveil­lance Act, comes directly out of the Church Commit­tee’s work. And I contin­ued as a consult­ant to then Vice Pres­id­ent Mondale after I was back at work in my New York firm, and after he was Vice Pres­id­ent, and a consult­ant on this act, as well as a number of other things. So what we’d seen is the prac­tice of wiretap­ping and bugging domest­ic­ally of Amer­ican citizens, people like Martin Luther King Jr., and Eleanor Roosevelt, and Supreme Court Justices, and other, lots of ordin­ary people, and all done without a warrant. And we said, “Well, we can’t say that internal secur­ity surveil­lance should never be done.” But what defin­itely should be some process in which the FBI, who does most of the acting here, although they’re acting often on behalf of the NSA, or using NSA inform­a­tion. They should have to get a warrant. Now, that was a correct view, both to say it should­n’t be warrant­less, and to say, “But there are times when it should be, is legit­im­ate.” The first thing that people have said is, “Well, during the history of the Court, very seldom did they reject an applic­a­tion.” And I think that’s a mislead­ing fact. It’s a true fact, but I think the implic­a­tions are mislead­ing, because the fact that the govern­ment has to disclose that it wants to go after some public figure is already a deterrent in their doing it. And they have to give a damned good reason, so there prob­ably were many examples of surveil­lance that the FBI would’ve done on a warrant­less basis before that they didn’t try to do.

Q: Right. And certainly, the numbers. You know, if you looked at the decades between the Act being imple­men­ted, and 9/11… it was a couple of thou­sand at most.

SCHWARZ: The numbers were way down.

Q: Were low, were relat­ively low.

SCHWARZ: I mean, well, you know, there were hundreds of thou­sands that the Bureau had been doing before.

Q: Right.

SCHWARZ: So, 9/11 comes along and people are worried. And they changed the law, which is too complic­ated to spend much time on. But they also changed the sort of prac­tice. And the FISA court is asked to do things which no court should be doing; they’re asked to make rulings on what’s the proper degree of mitig­a­tion, and that’s really a legis­lat­ive, or an admin­is­trat­ive matter which should be debated, I would say usually debated publicly but, anyway, should be debated. And should­n’t be decided by a court, and certainly should­n’t be decided by a court in which only the govern­ment is heard. I think they could do, on that last subject, they could do much more… let’s assume it’s recog­nized that the FISA Court should not be doing these legis­lat­ive acts , or admin­is­trat­ive acts.

Q: Right.

SCHWARZ: But they’re still being asked to approve a lot more aggress­ive action.

Q: It’s no longer just a warrant request…

SCHWARZ: Yeah, along with a warrant request, and I think having a prop­erly cleared lawyer – it does­n’t liter­ally have to be a lawyer – but, a prop­erly cleared lawyer who can argue the other side would increase the like­li­hood of the Court getting it right, without any real risk to national secur­ity. I mean, when the govern­ment wants to use secret inform­a­tion, and use it in a crim­inal trial, let’s say it’s an espi­on­age case against someone like Aldridge or Ames who’ve given inform­a­tion to the Russi­ans – sold inform­a­tion to the Russi­ans –if those cases went to trial the govern­ment is able to use clas­si­fied inform­a­tion and have a cleared lawyer on the defense side—cleared for confid­en­ti­al­ity—law­yer on the defense side handle it. And the courts have worked out pretty good ways under that law to handle secrecy and allow lawyers to resist the govern­ment, but in those instances, it’s the govern­ment which feels the need to use the secret inform­a­tion. And so, they’ve construc­ted the stat­ute that lets them do it, but let’s a lawyer come in for the other side.

Q: Right. And how about on the legis­lat­ive side, with the Congress. I mean, obvi­ously, there were no intel­li­gence commit­tees.


Q: So the level of over­sight is much more signi­fic­ant.

SCHWARZ: Well I think, it’s not surpris­ing that after an event like 9/11 you’d have the Congress, which is… reflects the general public mood, relax their rigor a little bit. I think the Snowden revel­a­tions show that that relax­a­tion went on for too long, and allowed things which as the… the general reac­tion to the release of the metadata has been, incid­ent­ally from both Repub­lic­ans and Demo­crats, that that’s some­thing that went too far. And I think the Congress, the Commit­tees, didn’t do… weren’t as rigor­ous as they should be. Now, one of the things that makes their life a little harder is the rules that the, sort of that the admin­is­tra­tions have built up, that when you notify the commit­tees, well, first thing you don’t notify them as a group; you notify only the lead­ers. Secondly, you don’t get the lead­ers in the room at the same time so they maybe could react in some way. Thirdly, you don’t allow the indi­vidual Senat­ors to bring the experts on their staff who are A, highly qual­i­fied, and B, completely cleared for sens­it­ive stuff. They’re not allowed to parti­cip­ate. So, those rules have made it harder for the Senate and the House to do the job they should be doing, and I think they should fight a little harder against those rules. I also think the reform, as the 9/11 Commis­sion saw it, of getting rid of term limits for almost every­body on the House, and most people on the Senate Commit­tee, is a little danger­ous. Because if you are perman­ently, if I’m perman­ently your babysit­ter, you know, as we grow up together, we’re going to get closer and closer, and I think that’s a natural human reac­tion. And then, another prob­lem with the intel­li­gence commit­tees—it’s really import­ant work – but it’s hard for the Commit­tee’s members to get polit­ical credit because so much of what they do is not seen. And prob­ably a great deal of it can’t or should­n’t be seen, so that’s a little bit of a deterrent to their join­ing the Commit­tees, or their func­tion­ing on the Commit­tees.

Q: And one of the func­tions that was envi­sioned in creat­ing them was that they were going to be the conduit through which Congress ‑‑ the entire Congress – would be informed about intel­li­gence activ­it­ies. How did they perform that?

SCHWARZ: Yeah, and that’s not happened nearly enough! And again, that’s prob­ably the admin­is­tra­tions, have made it too hard and then, think of the psycho­logy of the members of the Commit­tee. Well, it’s… it’s kind of, you know, you’re sort of special if you are among the only four, or the only sixteen, who… who know these super-secret things. And so, human nature bites a little bit to make the func­tion­ing harder. And I think the admin­is­tra­tions – and this has been true for every admin­is­tra­tion, of both parties – they take advant­age of that human nat- those points of human nature.

Q: And how do you think they could be reformed in a way that would address some of these concerns?

SCHWARZ: Um, a little more insist­ence by the rest of the Congress, I think that would make a big differ­ence. A little more pres­sure from the coun­try; that would make a big differ­ence.

Q: Okay…

SCHWARZ: But it’s not easy…

Q: Sure.

SCHWARZ: …because it’s… you’re… again, you… some of what you do has to be secret. And the danger is you let too much of it be secret.

Q: Right, and it’s hard to know if you’re just one Congress­man who objects to a program, to know how import­ant that… that secret is.


Q: As Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon was sort of a perfect example where he tried to warn…

SCHWARZ: Yeah. You know, and another thing that I think is relev­ant is that the admin­is­tra­tion, and here, I think I have more examples of the Obama Admin­is­tra­tion than any other, does­n’t sanc­tion members of the Intel­li­gence Community when they lie; I mean, Clap­per who was – what is he? Director of National Intel­li­gence?

Q: Right.

SCHWARZ: Clearly flat out lied to the Senate Intel­li­gence Commit­tee when Ron Wyden asked him a ques­tion about whether million­s—the Govern­ment was collect­ing data on millions of Amer­ic­ans – and he said, “Not…” or “Not inten­tion­ally.” And then later, when Snowden revealed that’s in fact what they were doing, he said, “Well, that was the… what I said was the least…” this isn’t his exact words, but the “Least dishon­est thing that I could say,” I mean that was the thrust of what he said.

Q: Right. Yeah, “the least untrue”, I think he said…

SCHWARZ: And… you know, should he have been fired for that? I don’t know. But I think Obama, by not sanc­tion­ing him at all, sent a bad message.

Q: And, you had mentioned earlier that the Senate Intel­li­gence Commit­tee’s report on torture, which again, appar­ently through the leaks suggest that the CIA had misled the Commit­tee about how effect­ive these programs were.

SCHWARZ: Yeah, and then the CIA also would in effect, bug the staff of the Commit­tee. I know when I was doing the CIA part of our work, which was—my main CIA work was on the assas­sin­a­tion plots. And I was over there at the CIA headquar­ters, and read­ing their docu­ments which were, you know, very reveal­ing and quite embar­rass­ing for the CIA. And I’m sure if they were bugging the little office they were in, I’m sure I said some­thing like, “Can you believe this? This is outrageous!” That was a very bad thing for the CIA to do. Now, I don’t know if John Bren­nan, who, when the story came out said, “I don’t think that will be proven to be true…” you know? That may’ve been his true state of mind, so, I could­n’t say it’s like the Clap­per Case where a high rank­ing Obama Admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial clearly did lie.

Q: And a lot of the discus­sion that we’re having, even some of the discus­sion about torture, came from whis­tleblowers. And you talk about a number of the whis­tleblowers in your book, includ­ing Ben Frank­lin, which I’d never, prior to read­ing that real­ized that he was…

SCHWARZ: So you didn’t know about that?

Q: …he was a whis­tleblower.  Some others that we do know about…Daniel Ells­berg…

SCHWARZ: No, he… he got some stolen docu­ments which were very embar­rass­ing to the  Governor of Massachu­setts who’d been the Lieu­ten­ant Governor, who said, in effect, to the Brit­ish, “Do what you can to take away their liberty!” And so he  then had them revealed, and he got in a lot of trouble in England for doing that.

Q: But, as far as the import­ance of having these people who have that inside know­ledge, because there is this thick wall of secrecy between what the agen­cies are doing and what they’re saying publicly about what they’re doing, which I think is the prob­lem, that they’re actu­ally mislead­ing the public about what they’re doing in a lot of these cases…

SCHWARZ: Yeah, I… I talk in the book about a lot of leak­ers and it’s a very inter­est­ing story, but if you just take the four that I lump together at the begin­ning of that chapter, it was Benjamin Frank­lin, Daniel Ells­berg, um, Chelsea…

Q: Manning…

SCHWARZ: …pre­vi­ously Brad­ley Manning, and Snowden. Um, well, Frank­lin we would regard as a hero…

Q: Of course…

SCHWARZ: …for what he did. Ells­berg, I think prob­ably the judg­ment of history is also that he was a hero… I’ll just pause for there for a minute. Frank­lin just turned over the origin­als of the letters, which were very embar­rass­ing for Governor Hutcheson, and… in Massachu­setts and helped, you know, fan the flames of the Revolu­tion. Ells­berg was very care­ful in what he released, and he… there were four volumes of the Pentagon Papers that he held back­…and they were the ones relat­ing to diplo­matic efforts. And inter­est­ingly, as I point out in the book, the… Pres­id­ent John­son’s press secret­ary revealed in his auto­bi­o­graphy some of the stuff that Ells­berg had care­fully with­held. Then we come to Manning and Snowden and the first thing is tech­no­logy changed… has changed so rapidly. In Frank­lin’s case, it was origin­als of these letters which he’d some­how, when he was Amer­ican Envoy in Great Britain, had been given and then he releases and got in a lot of trouble for doing that. Ells­berg got a copy… he… by the way, Ells­berg, as I bring out in the book, Henry Kissinger relied on Ells­berg when he took office to advise him about strategy about Viet­nam. And Henry Kissinger had employed Ells­berg as a guest lecturer in his soph­ist­ic­ated courses at Harvard College and saw him, Ells­berg, a lot in the begin­ning, and for the first year of the Nixon Admin­is­tra­tion. But then when Ells­berg was fingered as the leaker of the Pentagon Papers, did Henry Kissinger tell his colleagues in the White House, “Oh, he was someone I relied on?” No! What he did instead was to say he was a sexual devi­ant who’d shot people out of heli­copters in… so it was quite reveal­ing of the lack of char­ac­ter of Henry Kissinger. But, the tech­no­logy is import­ant. It took Ells­berg about three months, work­ing at night in some little small… company, or venture, or grocery store that had a Xerox machine, to Xerox the 7,000 pages of Pentagon Papers – it took him about three months. So then you come to, Manning and Snowden, and gigantic amounts of inform­a­tion! In Snowden’s case, on a little thumb drive, you know, the size of that…would have more inform­a­tion than an IBM super­com­puter could’ve… would’ve had when I was repres­ent­ing IBM as the supposed mono­pol­ist of the computer busi­ness. And so what took Ells­berg three months, what Benjamin Frank­lin could­n’t possibly have done, to copy, in Ells­ber­g’s case, 7,000 pages, and now we’re talk­ing, you know, 7,000,000 pages, or more than that! Which could be just like that…­copied and distrib­uted so the… that’s one of the… the fact that it’s neces­sary for good reas­ons to use digital tech­no­logy to share and spread inform­a­tion. And it’s vital for our secur­ity to spread inform­a­tion quickly, but it’s also one of the many reas­ons why the shelf life of secrets today is much shorter than it used to be. And then just one final differ­ence among the four of them: I recoun­ted how, Ells­berg was care­ful in what he released and didn’t release and Snowden, the same thing. And also Snowden released it through journ­al­ists who were going to be care­ful about not reveal­ing things like names of people who could be hurt. Manning was less care­ful and took more risks and I think while the sentence he got of thirty-five years is medi­eval and uncon­scion­able – ridicu­lous! Thirty-five year sentence for what he did, but it is I think fair to say that the way he did was less care­ful than how Ells­berg had done it, and how Snowden did it.

Q: And this admin­is­tra­tion – the Obama Admin­is­tra­tion – has prosec­uted more people for leak­ing clas­si­fied inform­a­tion…

SCHWARZ: Yeah, you know, that’s used a lot and fairly, it’s used… I don’t know what one draws from that. I think there is prob­ably more and more high-volume leak­ing now than there was. And I do think the Justice Depart­ment has allowed itself to be manip­u­lated by some ideo­logues in the Justice Depart­ment. Like in the case of Thomas Drake, an NSA offi­cial, who told a reporter from the Baltimore Sun some examples of bad manage­ment, if not corrupt manage­ment, by the NSA of a program designed to deal with their most diffi­cult prob­lem, which is how do you get from the billions of pieces of inform­a­tion, enough inform­a­tion every day that, stacked together, I think could go to the Sun.

Q: Mhm…

SCHWARZ: You know? It’s amaz­ing! And the NSA failed to deal with that prob­lem and employed a contractor who was too close to…. I think the Deputy Chief of the NSA. And so, Thomas Drake told a few non-national secur­ity details, but a few details relat­ing to… he was expos­ing malfeas­ance and incom­pet­ence on a really import­ant subject. So, I think because of the ideo­logy of one partic­u­lar prosec­utor who, Holder and the people work­ing for him should’ve watched closer, they had an indict­ment that could’ve led to thirty-five years in prison for, I think it was thirty-five, again, the amount that Manning actu­ally got, for Drake. And that was just ridicu­lous! And no decent Depart­ment of Justice would do that.

Q: And they’ve also subpoenaed journ­al­ists’ tele­phone records and things like that.


Q: How import­ant is journ­al­ism to pier­cing the secrecy that’s involved?

SCHWARZ: Well, I mean, you know, journ­al­ism has been essen­tial through the whole demo­crat­ic… Amer­ica’s exper­i­ment with demo­cracy, Jeffer­son recog­nized that; Madison recog­nized that; de Tocqueville in his young French aris­to­crat here to study pris­ons, but ends up study­ing the whole of Amer­ican soci­ety, says that, “In Great Britain… in coun­tries with an aris­to­cracy, Great Britain and France and others, people are natur­ally held together by the alle­gi­ance to their lords…” In a demo­cracy – thank good­ness – we don’t have that. And de Tocqueville said, “Well, what holds Amer­ica together is prin­cip­ally news­pa­pers.” And you see through all our history and I… and my book spends a lot of time talk­ing about the import­ant of papers. And you see that the federal govern­ment subsid­ized news­pa­pers, so that at one point news­pa­pers by weight were 90% of the volume of what goes through the post offices, but only 1/9th of the revenue, because of the subsidies. And news­pa­pers through our whole history have been vital. Now, they go up and they go down. And there was a big up during the so-called progress­ive period in the early 20th century, and then about in 1912 that ends. The muck­rak­ing magazines go out of busi­ness and for a long time, really until the late sixties and early seven­ties, journ­al­ism is in a dip, at least as far as expos­ing national stor­ies. It may be they exposed more state and local stor­ies. But journ­al­ism has been vital, and is vital today, and we have to worry about wheth­er… we have to worry about whether invest­ig­at­ive journ­al­ism is, through news­pa­pers, is going to survive and if it does­n’t, are there other devices, like ProP­ub­lica, that will succeed in keep­ing…? Because we… we need the force of the media, the press, mostly news­pa­pers – they are the best at it, or tradi­tion­ally have been. More than tele­vi­sion, it… tele­vi­sion does­n’t do this quite as well, in general, I think.

Q: And that’s what I found so inter­est­ing about the book, is that the govern­ment, back in the day, real­ized the import­ance of a free and robust press and…


Q: …and actu­ally subsid­ized it!

SCHWARZ: Yeah, yeah…

Q: Where here, the econom­ics are caus­ing diffi­culty in doing that kind of invest­ig­at­ive journ­al­ism. So, last year, you combined with some other former staff members… Last year you joined with some other staff members from the Church Commit­tee to call for a new Commit­tee-type invest­ig­a­tion, tempor­ary Commit­tee invest­ig­a­tion. What do you think that type of invest­ig­a­tion should include?

SCHWARZ: Well, it should go deep; fortu­nately, if you did it now, it… if you… I star­ted call­ing for this back in Congres­sional testi­mony in '07 and '08. And if you’d done it then, it would’ve had the disad­vant­age of seem­ing to be targeted mostly on one admin­is­tra­tion of one partic­u­lar party. If you did it now, you got a fuller record and I think that makes it more likely that you get a broad public support and bipar­tisan parti­cip­a­tion among the members of Congress. The exist­ence of the exist­ing intel­li­gence commit­tees makes it a little harder, I think, because, go back to the Church Commit­tee: when Mans­field set it up in the Senate, he was very care­ful to include – and it was really in… a team of all stars, the eleven senat­ors… he was very care­ful not to include people who had respons­ib­il­ity for supposedly over­see­ing the intel­li­gence agen­cies. And he got away with that, the polit­ics were such or… or they felt they didn’t wanna do it or… I don’t know. Today, I think having an invest­ig­a­tion is made harder by the exist­ence of the intel­li­gence commit­tees and certainly, I think it would be extraordin­ar­ily hard to do it without some parti­cip­a­tion by those people. But, of course, you can see in the Senate that it’s… like, right now, it’s the Judi­ciary Commit­tee with Pat Leahy running it, that seems to be taking the lead in the Senate on the reform NSA legis­la­tion. But I just put forward as a point that I think doing a… special invest­ig­a­tion is harder, because of the exist­ence of the commit­tees.

Q: Sure… and what do you… I mean, just look broadly at all the agen­cies? Or… is there some­thing specific­ally….?

SCHWARZ: No, I’d… I’d look at all the intel­li­gence agen­cies…

Q: Do a compre­hens­ive review of the…?

SCHWARZ: …yeah, I’d do it compre­hens­ive, and do it back over time and… and include the period of… why not include all the period after the Church Commit­tee? So you’d pick up a lot and you learn some­thing from those earlier lessons. I got a call from Tom Kane after he’d been appoin­ted to run the Co-Chair, and be the Chair of the special 9/11 Commis­sion. And I knew Lloyd Cutler, a great Wash­ing­ton lawyer who’d been coun­sel for what, three pres­id­ents? And a great private lawyer! And had recom­men­ded me as general coun­sel of the 9/11 Commis­sion to Tom Kane. But I also knew that it would­n’t be right for me to do that, because a 9/11 Commis­sion would have to look at the ques­tion of whether the Church Commit­tee’s reforms caused the fail­ures. Now, they clearly didn’t, but nonethe­less, it would­n’t’ve been right for someone who had been part of the Church Commit­tee to be… anyway, I just gave Tom Kane some advice; I had met him before when Ed Koch had him over for dinner at Gracie Mansion and I think he’s almost exactly the same age as me … and his older brother’s a co-board member of mine with the Natural Resources Defense Coun­sel. Anyway, I just gave him some advice about how to handle an invest­ig­a­tion.

Q: And it would seem now, when you were describ­ing sort of the envir­on­ment…

SCHWARZ: That’s a story, by the way, I don’t think I’ve ever told anybody before.

Q: When you were talk­ing about the envir­on­ment that exis­ted that gave the oppor­tun­ity for the Church Commit­tee to be success­ful, you talked about the leaks of the Pentagon Papers, where here we have the leaks of the Snowden records. You talked about the Viet­nam War, where we have the exper­i­ence of the Afgh­anistan and Iraq Wars. It’s very similar in a lot of ways.

SCHWARZ: But we also had the weak­ness of Jerry Ford, because of how he took office and what he… he could not appear as being obstruct­ive to us. And, you know, is that true today? I don’t think so.

Q: Okay. If some­body wanted to read more about these issues, and to learn broadly about the issue of secrecy, the issue of intel­li­gence activ­it­ies, what would you have them read?

SCHWARZ: Well, I think my book is the most compre­hens­ive treat­ment there’s ever been of it. I guess I would, on the issues of intel­li­gence commit­tees, I would read the work of Loch John­son, and Frank Smist. On the intel­li­gence community gener­ally… what is his name? There’s a great writer, his name I forget right now, but… Alas­dair Roberts! I think he’s a Cana­dian, and I think he’s very good on these issues. The Moyni­han Report is valu­able. I prob­ably should­n’t say this, but my book addresses the subject more compre­hens­ively. Start­ing with the Garden of Eden, by the way… but mostly about this coun­try.

Q: Right.

SCHWARZ: More compre­hens­ively than ever’s been done, and brings it up to date.

Q: Right.

SCHWARZ: More than has ever been done.

Q: And, it’s a good read.

SCHWARZ: Yeah, well, I’m glad you think that.

Q: And that will be out in the spring?


Q: April, great. Is there anything I forgot to ask you?

SCHWARZ: Yeah, I think there was a ques­tion which, in my mind triggered… Did things change from the begin­ning of the Church Commit­tee to the end of the Church Commit­tee? And there were some inter­est­ing changes… not on the domestic front. On the domestic front, the govern­ment never tried to limit what we did. I mean, we had our dialogue about, “Is such and such a sentence in your report going to reveal the name of an informer in the NAACP?” That’s a hypo­thet­ical.

Q: Right.

SCHWARZ: I mean, there was an informer in the NAACP but I don’t think we ever had a ques­tion like that. At least it was clear we didn’t reveal it. But, on the foreign front, start­ing roughly in the late fall of '75, our invest­ig­a­tion having star­ted in Febru­ary, we had had the Assas­sin­a­tion Report come out in Novem­ber, prob­ably, we’d begun our hear­ings. And in the late fall of '75, our foreign work, the govern­ment began to success­fully crimp it a bit. I think they felt the House Commit­tee’s mistakes had given them some extra tools, even though they didn’t have those tools against us. The assas­sin­a­tion of the CIA Station Chief in Athens, I think, helped them. I’m quoted in Frank Smith’s book, which is about, in Congres­sional invest­ig­a­tion, or in Congres­sional over­sight, up to the '80s or so. And I’m quoted in Frank Smith’s book as saying, “The govern­ment ‑‑ the Admin­is­tra­tion ‑‑ danced on the grave of Welch,” who was the Station Chief, and they used that to curb our work on foreign intel­li­gence a little bit. So while on covert action before that we’d covered covert actions in Cuba, and in the Congo, and in the Domin­ican Repub­lic, and in Haiti, and in vari­ous other places, in Chile, we had done other work on the covert action, which we didn’t get to public­ally release. So, that didn’t happen, and by that time, the Commit­tee had split into two sub-commit­tees and I was putting all my energy into the domestic stuff, mostly the FBI, but also the CIA’s activ­it­ies in the United States, and the NSA’s captur­ing of every tele­gram that left the United States. And I wasn’t any longer work­ing on the foreign stuff. And that’s not the reason the two come out differ­ently, but just, fortu­nately for me, on the work that I was doing, we didn’t have inter­fer­ence. But on the foreign work, there was a bit, and the govern­ment, it’s always, you know, ”What’s the atmo­sphere?" And, “How much can the Congress push without the Admin­is­tra­tion being able to make it a polit­ical issue?” And, “How much are they weak?” Or, “How much are they strong?”

Q: And with, I mean, what’s fascin­at­ing to me read­ing the Church Commit­tee reports, is how danger­ous these covert activ­it­ies were, the domestic activ­it­ies, to our demo­cracy, as you say, that the foreign activ­it­ies to our foreign rela­tions. And yet, we seem to be involved at another time where the intel­li­gence agen­cies are heav­ily involved in covert activ­it­ies, both domest­ic­ally and abroad, without recog­niz­ing those dangers. Are you an optim­ist about how we can re-estab­lish demo­cratic control?

SCHWARZ: Well, you know, my nature is, in the long run, to be an optim­ist. Maybe that’s a mistake, but how else can one go on if you’re not?

Q: Right. So, you think we’ll figure out ways to rees­tab­lish…?

SCHWARZ: Yeah, and also, if we had another major attack, we would face, you know, things that we haven’t even yet faced. If we have less major attacks, we live with them. I mean, they’re horrible… The Boston massacre, abso­lutely horrible. But, we’re hand­ling it through law enforce­ment and so forth. But in the absence of some weapon of mass destruc­tion success­ful attack, I think the passage of time helps. And it brings the natural inclin­a­tion of the people in Congress to say, “No, we don’t want to, it’s not Amer­ican to do those kinds of things.” Whatever, you know, whatever we’re talk­ing about.

Q: Right.

SCHWARZ: But I think the reac­tion to the Snowden revel­a­tions, you know, it’s not clear exactly how the law will be changed. But I think it will be better, and I think the debate is now about the details of what should be done rather than about, “Well, that should’ve been secret in the first place.”

Q: Right.

SCHWARZ: And I think that’s a big plus, too.

Q: Great. Alright, well, thanks very much, Fritz.


Q: Thank you very much, it was terrific.