January 10, 2003

Secret Government

Stories of some of the secrets our government keeps: of imprisonment, deportation, and spying, and how those secrets affect us.


We hear a brief clip of host Ira Glass talking to John Podesta, who as chief of staff under President Clinton helped institute that administration's policy of declassifying as many documents possible. The Bush administration's philosophy is very different. Ira runs through a list of new secrets in the federal government. (3 minutes)
Act One

Until The End Of The War

There are at least two American citizens being held without charges, unable to see lawyers, in military jails in the U.S. There may be more. Jack Hitt tried to find out everything he could about one of them: Jose Padilla, who will stay confined to a brig in South Carolina "until the end of the war," according to the White House. (17 minutes)
Act Two

Secret Trials And Secret Deportations

In the war on terror, the government is rounding up foreigners, checking their immigration status, and then, sometimes, deporting them. It won't give out their names. David Kestenbaum tried to find out everything that can be found out about who these new deportees are...and about what happened to them once they were seized and put on trial, in secret. To do this, he has to bypass the federal government (which won't say much about the deportees) and head overseas to talk with them firsthand. (18 minutes)

Act Three

Secret Wiretaps From A Secret Court

For over two decades, there's been a secret court in the United States called the FISA court (short for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act). Its job is to authorize wiretaps on possible foreign spies and foreign agents. In 24 years, it has never turned down a government request for a wiretap, as best as any outsider can tell—until this year. This past summer the court issued an opinion that said Attorney General John Ashcroft and the Justice Department were going way too far in their zeal for wiretaps. It cited 75 cases in which the Justice Department tried to sneak around rules to protect Americans from surveillance. Blue Chevigny reports on attempts to loosen up the rules on who the government spies on here in the U.S., and on this first-ever glimpse inside this secret court. (15 minutes)