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April 8, 2014

Host: Ted Simons

Attacks on Journalism

  |   Video
  • The Committee to Protect Journalists and Bloomberg News will host a public forum at the Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication regarding attacks on journalism. One of the Panelists, former Washington Post Executive Editor and now ASU Professor Leonard Downie Jr., will talk about the attacks, which come from sources such as the Obama Administration’s war on leaks and NSA surveillance.
  • Leonard Downie Jr. - Professor, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Category: Government   |   Keywords: government, attacks, journalism, war, leaks, nsa, surveillance, news, bloomberg,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Arizona Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. The committee to protect journalists is teaming with Bloomberg news tonight to present a panel discussion on the U.S. government's increasing threats to the press. The public forum will be held at ASU's Walter Cronkite school of journalism and mass communications. Former "Washington Post" executive editor and current ASU professor Leonard Downie junior is on tonight's panel. He is with us tonight. Good to he see you again.

Leonard Downie junior: Nice to see you.

Ted Simons: This is a forum that addresses what?

Leonard Downie junior: The increasing problems that American news media are having covering issues of national security. It's two-fold. One is that the Obama administration has essentially declared war on leakers, even though the president promises to be the most open administration in history. It has not been. Anybody who leaks classified information to the press in their view is investigated. There are lie detector tests. In some cases there cycle some prosecutions under a seldom used espionage act. Eight different sources of information have been prosecuted under that. A "New York Times" reporter is under subpoena with the threat he will go to prison if he doesn't testify against one of these people who is being prosecuted. And now comes along the revelations of the NSA surveillance, and the question of whether or not journalists and their sources are subject to that surveillance as well.

Ted Simons: So we are talking eight prosecutions for leaks. I think I read only three in the entire country --

Leonard Downie junior: Three in 90years from 1917 until the Obama administration. And eight of them since 2009.

Ted Simons: So if these folks are being prosecuted for leaks, what kind of information is being leaked?

Leonard Downie junior: Well, it depends on the prosecution. But in one case, for instance, it was questions about whether or not the NSA was spending too much money on surveillance techniques that weren't working, for example. We call that whistle blowing in the newspaper business. And we think that's important information for the American public to have.

Ted Simons: How do you differentiate between whistle blowing and leaking classified information that might better be kept classified?

Leonard Downie junior: Well, the first thing is there's way too much information has been classified, way, way, too much. The president has said that. But for instance, the revelations by private Chelsea manning in the documents that were turned over to the media, a lot of what was classified in there were newspaper articles and diplomatic cables. They are not supposed to be secret. They never were secret so there's a lot of stuff that shouldn't be classified. And the question, for editors to decide and television price producers to decide when there is information that's injurious to national security. By and large the news media is good about not putting that on the air. What we do need to be doing is bringing to the attention of the American people those activities by our government that people should have some say in.

Ted Simons: And in researching this, the Yemen terrorist plot. We had classified Israeli information disclosing names of CIA agents. I know some would say I want to keep that classified. You are saying it's up to the press to determine whether or not that should be classified?

Leonard Downie junior: Yes. The one thing you mentioned is definitely against the law. It's against the law to identify or publish the names of covert CIA agents. In that case even though that person was originally prosecuted for it's -- that didn't really happen in the way the government alleged. They just wanted to stop that particular person from talking generally about problems in the CIA to the press. And that's a problem is that the government, what the government is doing is using these kinds of laws and all of our agreements that you shouldn't, should not publish information that's harmful to national security as a cover for trying to protect things that are embarrassing or politically problems.

Ted Simons: So just to make sure because the folks watching this will say I don't want to know about America's attempts to undermine Iran's nuclear plans. There are limits to the free flow of information but the limits are way past what the Obama administration is doing right now?

Leonard Downie junior: Yes, yes. And for instance in the case of the attempts to gum up the works in the Iranian nuclear program, this was, in fact, already out because somebody had done something wrong, and as a result, the virus had gone out around the world causing all sorts of trouble instead of being confined to the covert operation against Iran. That's really what the reporting was about. It wasn't revealing anything that the Iranians didn't already know.

Ted Simons: Right, right. Has, thinks a reflection on the changing nature of the media? With blogs out there, with everyone and their brother seeming to run some sort of information portal out there. Is that, could that be why this is changing?

Leonard Downie junior: Well, it's changing in a variety of ways. Yes, the media is becoming more fragmented, there's not this central occur that would occur when there were a few big newspapers and big television networks. Everybody has more access to information. But it's also about the technology. And it's about the technology on both sides. Edward Snowden was able to use technology to bring to public attention all kinds of information that normally you wouldn't be able to get out of the system. And on the other hand, the news media is becoming more adept at using technology to find things.

Ted Simons: Yeah, and they are finding things. Can we trust those in power -- these people trust folks like you, as you mentioned, to sit there and figure out if this is injurious to the country. With K-we still trust folks throughout?

Leonard Downie junior: I have not seen any examples yet of information that's been made public that is truly injurious to either human life or national security.

Ted Simons: You mentioned NSA and surveillance. How much were, were journalists targeted big time here?

Leonard Downie junior: We don't know its answer. Because the metadata collection is collecting everybody's phone records. We do know some of the prosecutions we discussed earlier this was not NSA surveillance, this was secret subpoenas by the justice department. Secret seizures of phone records of news sources and reporters which, of course, was very invasive of the editorial process. And actually violated the justice department's own guidelines. But the problem with the NSA surveillance is all of the communication records of all Americans are being collected, and so we don't know how much is being matched up between journalists and sources.

Ted Simons: So we don't know necessarily if journalists are targeted for -- they are being caught up in the big net.

Leonard Downie junior: Right, right. And we don't know but that is very worrying to source. When I did a report a little while ago on the Obama administration, the press about all these problems, all the reporters in Washington who deal with any kind of national security issues, telling me their sources were drying up because they didn't know when they were being surveilled or in the being surveilled. They didn't know when somebody was searching through their phone records north. They are all worried about getting in trouble or even being prosecuted.

Ted Simons: Indeed. The concept of a Federal shield law, what we are talking about here?

Leonard Downie junior: Many states, in fact, most states in the union already have shield laws in which reporters under most circumstances cannot be forced legally to reveal their sources, confidential sources of information which is a big protection of the kind of reporting that's necessary for investigative reporting. It protects sources' identities in many cases. The Federal law would do the same thing for Federal law enforcement and for Federal cases. Which is not -- does not exist now. There's no such protection now.

Ted Simons: Is there work afoot?

Leonard Downie junior: There are bills in Congress to do it. There are questions about how you define who is covered by the legislation because what, who constitutes a journalist now days? The bill talks about who is covered by the law. But that's one issue. And the other issue is the national security exempts exemption the bill does center big national security exemption and some national security reporters tell me that's fine and good for other reporters dealing with their confidential sources but it's not going to protect me at all because there's a big exemption for national security. James Risen of the "New York Times" is still under subpoena to testify in one of these prosecutions we discussed and if he doesn't testify he is going to go to prison. It's gone up to the appellate circuit court of appeals. Probably make its way to the Supreme Court before it's over. He is not protected by shield law because there's no Federal shield law.

Ted Simons: Is it a good chance we will see a Congressional debate out there but where is the debate going?

Leonard Downie junior: There appears to be a consensus in Congress that this is something that ought to pass but we just have to wait and see. It's been making its way gradually through the Congress. It's supported by most media organizations and by most people who are concerned about government transparently.

Ted Simons: A last question on this. Is the press playing catch-up to government surveillance efforts? Or is the government playing catch-up to terrorist efforts or nefarious efforts? It seems like technology -- we talked about this earlier. It just seems like everyone is trying to play catch-up. Things are getting caught in the middle.

Leonard Downie junior: Things are going back and forth between the United States and adversaries and whether or not we are ahead or behind I don't know. But I do know the government is way ahead of the media, reporters now are scrambling to figure out how can they encrypt their emails? How can they use phones differently? Do they have to meet people in underground garages like in Watergate? And so on. So it's the media that's trying to catch up with the government now.

Ted Simons: The last thing, what do you want folks to fray this forum?

Leonard Downie junior: I want them to know that in, the only country in the world with the first amendment, the government is impinging too much on the freedom of press particularly the ability to do investigative reporting that holds government accountable to all of us.

Ted Simons: Thanks for joining us.

Leonard Downie junior: Good to see you.

AZ Technology and Innovation: Border Security Technology

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  • The Phoenix Convention Center recently hosted the 8th Annual Border Security Expo. The two-day event attracted law enforcement, policy makers and vendors showing off their latest tools and technology. We’ll go beyond the border and show you how one company’s facial recognition software could soon appear in your favorite store.
Category: Technology   |   Keywords: technology, innovation, border, security, expo, law, enforcement, software,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: The Phoenix Convention Center recently hosted the eighth annual border security Expo. The two-day event attracted law enforcement officials, policymakers and vendors. Producer Christina Estes and photographer Juan Magana stopped by the exhibit hall where it seemed no move went unnoticed.

Company Official: It offers night vision capability.

Company Official: We do people counting.

Company Official: We are a very slow detection.

Company Official: We count the individuals on a ten-minute increment.

Christina Estes: Among more than companies showing off their latest tools --

Ready? This is called the dragon runner 20.

Christina Estes: It was a small, quiet booth that really caught our eyes.

Kevin Haskin: We are showing the premiere facial recognition software.

Christina Estes: Cognitec systems is a German company with a powerful reach.

Kevin Haskin: It's being used in airports. Around the world. The camera captures your face and is using pattern technology to look at this part of your face. Just above your eyebrow to just above your lip and there's patterns and contours within your face just like a fingerprint.

Christina Estes: From a single image, has since says, they can determine with a degree of certainty, your race, gender and age within about five years. They can verify you are the person on your passport or driver's license or run your face through a watch list or suspect database. When it comes to more challenging pictures --

Kevin Haskin: Running recognition right now we still have enough from the face to come up with a hit. But that's generally not good enough.

Christina Estes: They put a 2-D image into a 3-D to generate facial characteristics.

Kevin Haskin: With that information, we now have a matchup of a suspect at this point.

Christina Estes: They collect location information, too. If a person showing up somewhere more often than usual, Haskins says they can alert police.

Kevin Haskin: We are talking about facial recognition. We are not talking about anything that a human can't do. We're just making it faster, quicker, and more reliable.

Joe Battaglia: This is used to surveil large areas of the border.

Christina Estes: New York-based telephonics already has more than truck-mounted systems along our southern border. This is their latest model.

Joe Battaglia: He's got maps of the local area on his computer. He can expand, he can zoom in on certain areas right down to a street level, to a house level. He can actually see what's going on.

Christina Estes: The mast can reach feet high with cameras that can track people miles away.

Joe Battaglia: We have found that we have numerous international opportunities for this. As you well know there's lots and lots of borders around the world with lots and lots of people that don't like each other.

Christina Estes: For those who don't like the possible invasion of privacy, he says --

Joe Battaglia: You can't have it both ways. You know? We're -- the system is built to defend the people. And in order to do that you have to have knowledge what was going on in the area. And the only way you can do that is through some. Electronic devices that we have.

Christina Estes: In 1996, Swedish company axis communications became the first to release a surveillance camera that could transit data throughout internet.

John Merlino: The way that it's used has to be purposeful. I think -- I don't know that it needs to be regulated. Certainly I wouldn't say it needs to be regulated but it has to be done in a way that respects people's privacy. People can use technology not just cameras, to make their environment safer. They're generally in favor of it.

Christina Estes: Safety is not the only selling point. Retailers are using it to save and make money.

Kevin Haskin: If a shoplifter comes in, security receives the alert. If it's a VIP, cons area or buyer's assistance may receive that notice.

Christina Estes: Businesses also like to break down the demographics so they can figure out who is shopping when and where they are spending the most time.

Kevin Haskin: I was asked, where could you see this in years? I can't tell you where it's going to be in six months. The technology is so evolving and so advancing that with our company and what we are doing, I am amazed six months from now what we are going to be releasing.

Ted Simons: Axis Communications says it likes to partner with young, innovative minds at Universities when researching and developing new technological ideas. Tomorrow on "Arizona Horizon," it's our weekly look at state politics with the "Arizona Capitol Times." And we'll hear about efforts to improve American Indian education. That's tomorrow at 5:30 and 10 on the next "Arizona Horizon." Reminder if you want to check out our website, see previous programming or check out what we have in store for the remainder of the week and month, you might want to check us out at That is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Tempe Town Lake Dam

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  • The rubber dam on the west end of Tempe Town Lake will be replaced with a hydraulically-operated steel dam, with work starting this summer. On April 23 at the Tempe Center for the Arts, the city will give the public information about the dam replacement. Jeff Kulaga, assistant city manager for Tempe, will discuss the issue.
  • Jeff Kulaga - Assistant City Manager, Tempe
Category: Environment   |   Keywords: environment, tempe, town, lake, dam, summer, steel,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: The City of Tempe is ready to begin construction on a new hydraulically operated dam on the west end of Tempe Town Lake. Work on the new dam is set to begin this summer. Here to talk about the project is Tempe assistant city manager Jeff Kulaga. Good to see you again. This is, this summer, when this summer?

Jeff Kulaga: We look to begin site preparation probably in mid-June or so to begin construction of the west dam on Tempe Town Lake. So we are right now on the cusp of that construction project, $40 million project. It's an exciting time in the City of Tempe for us.

Ted Simons: This is a different dam than the rubber dam before. How does the new dam work?

Jeff Kulaga: Absolutely. It is a different dam. First of all, the materials are different. It is a steel-gated hydraulically operated dam. Our present dam is rubber bladders, essentially big inner tubes. This big dam will be a combination system of eight steel gates operated to move up and down by hydraulic cylinders.

Ted Simons: We are seeing kind of fast motion here. This is of the dam going down. In case like we have a major rainfall or flood? Correct?

Jeff Kulaga: That's what's very important about this dam and the need for the gate. One question we always get is, why don't you just build a concrete wall? Well, that is fine during most of the year when the lake needs to operate like a lake, and the dam on the west side here is there to keep the waters in Tempe Town Lake. But during those events, storm events where the flow is coming through the Salt River, up from Roosevelt lake and Roosevelt dam where there are releases, our Tempe Town Lake has to transform into a river. And that river has to convey the waters through the lake. Therefore, those steel-gated dams need to move up and down. They will operate on a hinge much like, I guess a drawbridge, eight drawbridges through the lake and the river bottom. And when they move down, the water is able to convey through the river channel.

Ted Simons: We saw a speed up motion camera there. How long does it take all the way up to all the way down?

Jeff Kulaga: Probably a couple of hours.

Ted Simons: OK.

Jeff Kulaga: When there's, we get a good -hour notice from SRP when they are releasing waters up at Roosevelt dam. So we get notice. We start lowering the dams to whatever level need be to pass that water, to convey that water through the river channel and then as those storms and storms subside we raise them back up again to collect the tail waters and bring back Tempe Town Lake safely for everybody to use.

Ted Simons: How long is this new dam expected to last?

Jeff Kulaga: It is steel and concrete with proper maintenance of the hydraulics, good preive maintenance, we are looking at 50 years.

Ted Simons: Is this same kind of dam now in operation elsewhere?

Jeff Kulaga: We looked at Oklahoma City -- has three or four dams using this same system. They're smaller. As far as we know right now this will be the largest steel-gated hydraulically operated steel-gate the dam in the world.

Ted Simons: By a long shot?

Jeff Kulaga: By enough, I guess. We haven't really compared but we know it's larger. We haven't really compared by how much. It is large, though. But the fabricator of Oklahoma City's dam, steel fab, they did those. They are designing ours. Schuff Steel is building and designing it. Gannett has begun the engineering and the Tempe contractor will be doing the construction. So there's a hometown organizations here designing, building the dam.

Ted Simons: This is going to be built 100 feet west of where the old dam was? Is that correct?

Jeff Kulaga: That's absolutely correct, Ted. The existing dam is under the pedestrian bridge which is enjoyed by a lot of people recreating around Tempe Town Lake right there at the door of Tempe center for the arts. The new dam will be feet west of there. We did that for three reasons. One, simply needed a little bit more space to convey the water with the new dam. So that was achieved moving it feet west. Secondly, we're able to use the existing rubber bladder dam to hold the waters in of Tempe Town Lake so the new steel-gated dam is built on dry land therefore saving money and time. And lastly, once it's complete, the waters of Tempe Town Lake will extend another feet west. So if you are walking across, riding your bicycle across the pedestrian bridge, you have water on both sides now.

Ted Simons: And when you mention the fact it's going to be built on dry land, does that also mean that the lake doesn't have to be drained, doesn't have to be messed with?

Jeff Kulaga: Absolutely correct. When we are building this new dam, the existing rubber bladder dam will be there protecting the construction site and project from the lake waters.

Ted Simons: How will construction impact the lake in general?

Jeff Kulaga: Well, it's going to, you know, moving the lake feet west is going to be a little bit bigger. The construction itself during construction over about the next months, minimal impact to the lake itself. However, we do need to relocate a storm drain pipe so the pedestrian path right there at the Tempe center for the rights will be detoured around the center for the arts for a period of time. Our goal is to keep the bridge open.

Ted Simons: OK. So minimal impact. Bird watching you are not going to be many birds.

Jeff Kulaga: Surprisingly those herons, they don't like to movement they are pretty tough.

Ted Simons: They seem to be always. For those who are relatively new here, why is this new dam necessary? Give us the story if you can quickly of the old dam.

Jeff Kulaga: Very quickly, about years, in , almost four years ago we would a rupture of one of the balloters. It drained the lake on a Tuesday night on July th. Since then, we have an agreement with bridgestone the manufacturer of the rubber bladders, essentially they are rentals. We have them for a five-year period. After that five-year period we are looking at a permanent replacement. The permanent replacement is the steel-gated dams.

Ted Simons: This is the west end. What about the east end?

Jeff Kulaga: The east side of the lake is managing, managing the water as well. There's not an issue there right now. We are focusing all our attention on completing this west dam for the community and for the city of Tempe by December of .

Ted Simons: How does it work on the east end? Is there a dam?

Jeff Kulaga: Is a dam -- there is a dam but the waters essentially hit a shoreline there. Because the river bottom is higher on the east end than on the west end, about 20 feet or so plus or minus. So we collect the waters on the west end and much like a shore of a lake or the ocean, it just fades to a couple of feed feat on the east end.

Ted Simons: As far as it could go?

Jeff Kulaga: Yes.

Ted Simons: You mentioned $40 million here. How is this going to be paid for?

Jeff Kulaga: We are using bond funding, some cash, cash that we have as part of the project. It's all in our five-year capital improvement program. It's been planned for, budgeted by our city council through their leadership. And again the goal is to get it done by December 2015.

Ted Simons: That's all the budget has all been ready?

Jeff Kulaga: Right. We have been planning for this since prior to 2010.

Ted Simons: We have about seconds left. The importance of Tempe Town Lake to Tempe.

Jeff Kulaga: It had three purposes. Flood control, recreation and economic development. A good example of the economic development right now is the state farm complex on the south shore there near ASU.

Ted Simons: All right. Good luck on it.

Jeff Kulaga: Thank you.

Ted Simons: We will be watching the construction and the birds and the whole nine yards and it's exciting times. Should be finished by the end of next year?

Jeff Kulaga: December of 2015, yes.

Ted Simons: Good to have you.

Jeff Kulaga: Thank you.