ALISON STEWART: I’m Alison Stewart.
JON MEACHAM: And I’m Jon Meacham. Here’s what you Need to Know.
ALISON STEWART: Spies like us. Russians living typical American lives…except for the trying to gather nuclear intelligence part. We’ll find out whether they represented a serious threat to national security.
JON MEACHAM: Drilling down into the Gulf oil spill… will this disaster be the turning point in U.S. energy policy?
FEMALE VOICE: It’s time for us to force our government to think outside the barrel.
ALISON STEWART: And the story of big pharma’s little pink pill…
LEONORE TIEFER: Viagra is approved and the next thing that happens is people are saying where is the Viagra for women.
JON MEACHAM: All that, and next week’s news with Andy Borowitz.
ALISON STEWART: Next, on Need to Know.
ALISON STEWART: Hello everybody. Thanks for joining us.
JON MEACHAM: We’re devoting much of the program this time to matters of national security. Later, we’ll bring you a panel discussion we conducted with some of the world’s leading energy and environmental experts to talk about our relationship to oil….and how the BP disaster in the gulf could lead us toward a new energy policy. Our nation’s dependence on foreign oil raises some key national security issues.
ALISON STEWART: But first we turn to a story that caught nearly everybody by surprise…the round up of 11 alleged Russian spies—10 living in America, one abroad. They went by names like Murphy and Foley and Lazaro. They used old school spy techniques like invisible ink and encrypted Morse code, as well as passing coded messages through photos posted online. They seemed like perfect neighbors – except when they were tipping off HQ in Moscow. The KGB is no longer called the KGB but the agency’s mission is still alive and well, as these latest arrests prove. And while there’s something almost nostalgic about the days of Boris and Natasha…the question remains… could they have posed a real threat to national security? And what is the capability of our intelligence services to stop other spy rings? Joining us to illuminate this murky underworld is the author of “Legacy of Ashes, the History of the CIA,” Tim Weiner. Weiner is a former New York Times intelligence reporter and is currently working on a book about the history of the FBI…welcome Tim.
TIM WEINER: Hi.
ALISON STEWART: So there’s so many different places to dive into this story—one I think is interesting is the amount of time that these people have been in the United States, 10 to 20 years. Why would Russia invest that kind of time with people who have very mundane lives?
TIM WEINER: Good intelligence operations take 10, 20 years maybe more. The Russians have been running this kind of intelligence network in the U.S. since the 1920s. Ever since the Russian Revolution. This entire story could have been filmed as a black and white movie in the 1930s and 40’s because these are the time honored coded messages, invisible ink brush passes where we’re walking down the street you and I and you hand me your suitcase and I take it and nobody notices. Except possibly the FBI.
ALISON STEWART: Why do you say possibly the FBI?
TIM WEINER: Well it looks like the FBI has clearly been investigating these people for a decade. And it looks like the FBI got into their game and penetrated their computer network, and maybe messed with one of their computers.
ALISON STEWART: Well that brings me to one of my big questions which is, if the illegals know the FBI know they’re here and the FBI know the illegals are here and we’re all, everybody’s just looking at each other, where do you go from there?
TIM WEINER: There are 2 things you have to decide when you’re investigating a case like this: are they stealing secrets, and should we let them so that we can catch them in the act. The FBI waited for years and years and years for this network to actually commit espionage, that is, steal secret information from a friend or a friend of a friend, from somebody who knew classified data, they never did it. These people spent years clawing their way up the greasy poles to the very middle of American society, but they never got close to an undersecretary of defense or a CIA officer or anybody who knew anything of deep value.
ALISON STEWART: What if nothing ever happened for these people who are in their 30s and their 40s, are we to assume their children might be brought into the fold?
TIM WEINER: The lead defendant in this case is a woman named Anna Chapman, not her real name. Her father is listed as a Soviet diplomat who served in Africa some years back. The Soviets don’t conduct a lot of diplomacy in Africa, they do conduct spying. My guess is that her father was a spy and she got into the game that way. And these folks had kids who were American citizens. My guess is that in time if they had not been rolled up their kids would have been recruited into the game and so on unto the generations. The Russians wanted some understanding of how we work, we Americans, what makes us tick. They don’t really get us, the way we don’t really get them, and they wanted to essentially create Americans who could think like Americans, think, speak their language, and learn something about how our minds work to get inside our heads.
ALISON STEWART: Anna Chapman is a really good example of someone that was hiding in plain sight. She had a Facebook page. Some of the other alleged spies – one was a very opinionated political columnist. These weren’t people who were hiding out, they were mingling and being very public.
TIM WEINER: That was their job.
ALISON STEWART: Why would it be their job to be so public if they’re trying to find secrets?
TIM WEINER: Because it’s perfect cover. Being a journalist is the perfect cover for a spy.
ALISON STEWART: I said that to someone yesterday because this would be the best – a journalist would be the best because you ask questions, you’re nosy.
TIM WEINER: You go into strange places ask strange questions of strange people. We don’t do that, but the Russians do. These people – these people spent years essentially learning stuff that you and I can learn by surfing the web, reading the New York Times, reading books or going to, you know, a foreign policy seminar at the Brookings Institution. It’s a clear insight into how much the Russians don’t understand anything deep about America
ALISON STEWART: Why is that?
TIM WEINER: We’re so different. Our alphabets are different our histories are different. The only time that the Russians really penetrated American society is when we were allies during WWII, we were on the same side fighting Hitler. And that’s when Soviet intelligence made a deep penetration into American military and intelligence circles, stole the secrets of the atomic bomb, really burrowed its way into American policy circles, and had some influence. When we were no longer allies when the Cold War began, Russian intelligence collapsed and it took years to rebuild it.
ALISON STEWART: Should we assume that there are other networks out there living in the suburbs of LA and Dallas and…
TIM WEINER: Oh yeah, America is a very juicy intelligence environment because we’re an open society. There are about a dozen really important secrets in the US and they are rather closely guarded. Uh, how do you fire a nuclear weapon, what are the intelligence codes, how do we go up Al Qaeda, who are the agents of other countries who are working against other governments for the US, those are real secrets. I mean we are an open society and every other country on the planet is spying the bejesus out of this country to serve their own national needs.
ALISON STEWART: How do we know whether or not this particular network did any damage, and how long would it take for us to find that out?
TIM WEINER: The clue is that these people were not charged with espionage. They were charged under a 1930 law that Herbert Hoover insisted we pass, as failing to register as a foreign agent. If you’re a foreign lobbyist for example if you’re working with South Africa or Paraguay you have to register. When you come to this country you have to register your presence with the government. That’s a law, it comes with a 5 year penalty, and then because of the way they moved money in and out of this country they’re charged with money laundering as well, but not espionage. That is, if not proof, rather strong evidence that these guys never stole a secret.
ALISON STEWART: In your educated opinion was this network, did it pose a security threat?
TIM WEINER: I think this was the gang that couldn’t spy straight. I don’t think they got very deep into American society, I think they skimmed over the top of it like a water bug, and I think they will be remembered as a third rate operation.
ALISON STEWART: Let’s pull back from this specific case and think about spies as a national security threat. We’ve been so focused on terrorism and terrorist groups. Can you explain to us what kind of serious threat – if there is a serious threat – what kind of threat spies pose to our national security in 2010?
TIM WIENER: Intelligence is the most vital thing in military operations. Without good intelligence soldiers die. With bad intelligence you can lose a war. You can certainly lose a battle. So military intelligence and intelligence that works against terror networks is incredibly vital to the United States.
ALISON STEWART: What the spies of other countries can do, uh, to hurt us is to mess with the way intelligence networks communicate with one another in the United States, take down secure systems of communications, uh, feed disinformation into American military and political circles, mess with our minds…
TIM WEINER: Uh, the greatest threat of course is not spy networks, but terror networks. Um, those aren’t the kind of networks you want to string along for years to see if they are going to create a crime. You want to disrupt them, take them down.
ALISON STEWART: Is the FBI getting better at this?
TIM WEINER: The FBI struggled, uh, for decades really after the death of J. Edgar Hoover to establish an identity for itself in the United States. It struggled throughout the 80s, it struggled throughout the 90s. On September 12, 2001 everyone knew what the mission was. The FBI has transformed itself or is in the process of transforming from a law enforcement agency to an intelligence agency. It doesn’t care so much about catching people after they have committed crimes, they want to stop the crimes before they are committed against the United States. The transformation of the FBI into an intelligence service is a great story. It’s the story I’m writing right now.
ALISON STEWART: To be continued until next year. Tim Weiner, thanks for your time today.
TIM WEINER: My pleasure.
JON MEACHAM: Has there been any good news about the BP oil disaster? Even Mother Nature, in the form of hurricane Alex, has piled on… making a bad spill worse and frustrating clean up and containment efforts. If there is any good news, we can’t find it in the Gulf. But we’re glad to say we found a bit of hope in Washington this week, where there was a gathering of experts to offer their best thinking about ways to mitigate the catastrophe…It was a reminder that we do have an alternative – and renewable – energy source at our disposal…brainpower.
JON MEACHAM: It’s Monday – Washington, D.C. Hundreds of people gathered to hear some of the best minds in science, technology, and clean energy – all trying to make sense of the oil spill that’s still plaguing the Gulf of Mexico. Affiliated with the popular “Ted-Talks” conferences, this event was called “Tedx: Oil Spill.” On stage came a striking array of people. There were noted oceanographers…
SYLVIA EARLE: We are tied to the ocean, not just those who live along the edge.
JON MEACHAM: …and experts on energy policy.
LISA MARGONELLI: We are 4% of the world’s population, we use 25% of the world’s oil production.
LATOSHA BROWN: People are breaking down…
JON MEACHAM: Community leaders were followed by leaders in technology.
PETE GANKY: I like nothing better than just like processing gigabytes of data…
JON MEACHAM: Google sent one of their people…so did Tesla – the maker of high end, fully electric cars.
DIARMUID O’CONNELL: …almost 250 miles of range…
JON MEACHAM: All these people came to wrestle with a series of questions: What’s happening at the spill site? Are we doing everything we can to stop it?
PHILIPPE COUSTEAU: We have not invested the money in research and science to understand the ecosystems…
JON MEACHAM: And where does the country go from here? Here’s just a small sampling of the voices we heard:
MIKE MENDEZ , SAPPHIRE ENERGY: So, let’s talk about photosynthesis and again what led us to algae. That’s the other thing I want to point out. Sapphire Energy which I work for and I’m a co-founder of, we’re not an algae company. We are an energy company. That is my main focus scientifically at Sapphire is to domesticate algae, give it all the traits that one needs to make it an actual energy crop. The Department of Energy, the USDA has granted Sapphire Energy 104 million to build an integrated bio-refinery. I’m breaking ground in September on this. And we should be fully online by 2012. Next question: Have you actually made any fuel? The answer is yes. We’ve made jet fuel, we’ve made gasoline and we’ve made diesel. These are two examples. One of the first things I focused on was making jet fuel. And why? Because there’s nothing like jet fuel to mimic, you can’t mimic jet fuel. It has a precise chemical makeup and it’s the most difficult fuel to make. We made over 600 gallons of jet fuel. We flew a plane out of Tokyo, we flew a plane out of Houston on Continental as a demonstration of the fuel’s capabilities.
ANDREW SHARPLESS, OCEANIA: We have a policy objective, we have a policy opportunity here to make something good from this terrible catastrophe. We cannot drill our way to energy independence on the basis of oil, but we can become energy independent. Wind power from the ocean should be a really big part of that solution.
DIARMUID O’CONNELL, TESLA MOTORS: The way to think about the Tesla Roadster is really it’s the $2,000 cell phone of 1984. It is the first of a new generation of technologies. One of the neat aspects of the Tesla Roadster is it serves as an awesome demonstration of platform for the unique benefits of an electric motor. An electronic motor generates full torque from 0 RPMs – what it means is you’re going really fast, really quickly. At 3.7 seconds in a 0 to 60 context, The Tesla Roaster, I think there’s one production vehicle, it’s a Ferrari that can do better in terms of acceleration. It’s also very useful for defeating all of the notions about EVs that they’re pathetic little golf carts.
PHIL RADFORD, GREENPEACE: So I want to talk with you a little bit about the solutions, and then just ask you to help push for those solutions. Because we have the technical expertise. What we really lack is the people rising up and saying, never, ever again.
JON MEACHAM: After the day’s events, I talked with three of the day’s participants to drill a bit deeper into these varied issues.
Sylvia Earle is a legendary oceanographer, explorer, and author. Known affectionately as “her deepness,” Earle has been at the forefront of deep water exploration for over forty years. She has led over 50 expeditions around the world, spending more than 6,000 hours underwater. She’s currently the National Geographic Society’s explorer-in-residence.
Lisa Margonelli is the director of the New America Foundation’s “Energy Policy Initiative” and one of the pre-eminent chroniclers of our cultural dependency on oil. She is the author of this award-winning book: “Oil on the Brain: Petroleum’s Long Strange Trip to Your Tank.”
David Gallo is the director of special projects for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Gallo was one of the first scientists to map the ocean floor with manned submersibles and robots. He is currently working with film director James Cameron on ideas for how to cap the leaking well in the Gulf.
JON MEACHAM: Dave, earlier at the TEDx conference, you said this: “Some of the best ocean warriors I know are still sitting in their labs wondering what’s going on.”
DAVID GALLO: Sure.
JON MEACHAM: Unpack that.
DAVID GALLO: I think– well, watching many of the colleagues I know — some in the business itself – oceanographers, others, like James Cameron, who’s got a deep history in ocean engineering — were watching on TV what was going on deep in the Gulf. That club is very small, people that work at that depth — a mile deep. And you can’t help but wonder who’s making some of the decisions that were being made. The general feeling is that we don’t know what’s going on. Because we make guesses, watching what we see on TV, the films. We get some leaks from people on the inside of the– of whatever’s happening out there. But generally, we’re in this world where very little information is coming out, and there’s an awful lot at stake.
SYLVIA EARLE: I really sympathize with the comments that David has just been making about the transparency issue. We don’t know what it’s like at 5,000 feet. We’re look– we’re given this image. I think sometimes of that Yule log burning image that we get around Christmas time. It’s there, and you see the flames, it’s just one image, on and on and on — that’s what we’re seeing with the spill. It’s just this one image. What’s happening behind? What’s happening– what happened to the rig? I’d love to see something that gives us insight into the area.
DAVID GALLO: And yet there’s this monster loose on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico. And, you know, President Obama has said, “We will fight this spill with all we’ve got for as long as it takes.” And I do believe he means that. But I don’t think he understands the deep sea and what it takes to fight this monster on the deep sea.
JON MEACHAM: The President of the United States. He’s no dope, by all accounts. Why? Why doesn’t he know that?
LISA MARGONELLI: Well, I think when the spill started, I don’t think that President or anyone in government really had a sense of how long it might take to fix this. I think B.P. by the second day was like, oh my god, this might be a nine-month problem, it might be a year. And so, they were thinking in this long trajectory, which also involved kind of limiting information along the way to prevent kind of the political reaction that was going to happen at some point. And so, what you had was the application of the dispersants. You had limiting the size of the spill and the information. And I don’t think that the administration or people in government really fought back against that for quite a long time.
DAVID GALLO: But even today, who’s making those calls? Who decides?
SYLVIA EARLE: We know– now we know it’s a big problem and it could be a long-term probably, and they’re still using the dispersants on location.
DAVID GALLO: But why don’t we see the faces of these people? You know, I hear we’re treating it like a crime scene. That there’s an ongoing crime, and we need to protect that crime scene, yet, the people that are the perpetrators, the most obvious ones, are controlling the information in and out of that crime scene. So what does that make the government? Some sort of accomplice. You know, I don’t understand this. And I understand that litigation is a big part of this. But still, this is an extraordinary event that calls for extraordinary measures. And if it just turns into lawyers versus lawyers, we’re never going to get this thing solved. You know, it’s just not–
LISA MARGONELLI: I think it’s of a piece with another tradition, which is that we simply don’t ask questions about the oil industry. I mean, I’ve been covering oil for eight years, and doing all sorts of weird, exotic things like, you know, throwing napalm on oil spills and things like that for many years. And it’s only this summer that people around barbeques are saying “Tell us about blowout preventers.” (LAUGHTER)
JON MEACHAM: Well, suddenly you’re popular.
LISA MARGONELLI: Right. I mean, yes, suddenly there’s a use for me, and a purpose. But I think it’s– we’re at the very beginning of a huge, national conversation about oil. We’ve been using the stuff for 150 years. We have no sense beyond the Beverly Hillbillies of where it comes from. And– so, the fact that there’s an information blackout overlapped with a spill is not all that surprising.
JON MEACHAM: Sylvia, you spoke about the disproportionate amount of attention being paid to the land as opposed to the ocean itself. What’s it like down there at that depth?
SYLVIA EARLE: It’s beautiful. It’s beautiful. And I just wish everyone could take even one dive down to a mile. Passing from clear, blue water that is as clear as the air and as you descend think about being offshore where the water is that amazing indigo blue. And the deeper you go, it just gets darker and darker, like dawn or dusk. And it gets more purple. And then purple, black, and then finally, it’s dark. But it isn’t totally dark — there are these little luminous creatures that flash, sparkle and glow. It’s the firefly kind of light, but it’s not just in a few organisms. There’s– it’s like diving into a galaxy. And all the way down. Most of life on earth lives in the dark all of the time.
JON MEACHAM: But what you all say to the argument that that’s very elegant, it’s poetic–
SYLVIA EARLE: It’s truth.
JON MEACHAM: It has a virtue of being true, as Doctor Kissinger used to say. However– however, we have to run an economy. We have to make certain tradeoffs. We have to have certain– nature has to pay a certain cost here. And this is one of the costs, is having to drill in otherwise pristine areas?
SYLVIA EARLE: I mean, of course there’s a cost. But this is the only planet in the solar system or maybe in the universe that’s hospitable for the likes of us. Why? Because there’s an ocean of water — liquid water, filled with life, and it isn’t just rocks and water — it’s life, that keeps us alive. Generates the oxygen. Grabs the carbon dioxide. Does all this free stuff. But we didn’t know that when oil drilling began. We didn’t. Now we know. Now we know the real cost of what we’re doing. We’re, for the first time, beginning to account for nature.
LISA MARGONELLI: You know, we’re not drilling in a mile deep water three miles below the crust of the earth by accident. We need these fossil fuels, and we have run to the end of our reservoir limits, and we have run to the end of the politically acceptable places to drill in the United States. And so, we’re going deeper and deeper into the Gulf. The Gulf has been basically magical oil, emerging off the coast. Well off the coast, out of sight. If we ever saw it, it was through advertising images that looked like Jules Verne. The thing is, it wasn’t– it didn’t appear to be in anyone’s front yard. And what we have had is a sudden awareness that, in fact, this was in our bird sanctuary, in our most important fishing ground. Will this be the wakeup call? I don’t know. The question is like how many more times do we have to sort of get whacked by this before we decide that that’s what we want to do?
JON MEACHAM: You said that we shouldn’t get too obsessed with the moral part of this argument. Explain what you mean by that.
LISA MARGONELLI: Well, you know, what we do in the United States, when we have a crisis around oil, or if we have high prices for gas, or if we have a spill, is we call these CEOs down to Washington, and we try to humiliate them on TV. And it was– it’s very satisfying, it’s very cathartic to look at it and say, oh, look, that’s Tony Hayward squirming. Hey, look at him. He looks like a worm. But you know what, (LAUGHS) the point isn’t is he a greedy bastard. They may be or they may not be, and that’s not the question. The question is how do we want to regulate? How do we want to change our relationship to the substance that their industry produces, and how do we want to change our relationship to the industry through regulation.
JON MEACHAM: Looking forward, is this moment, is the Deepwater Horizon, we’re now approaching three months. Is it a defining moment at which– to use another cliché, consciousness has been raised to such a point that you’ll believe there’ll be substantive change?
SYLVIA EARLE: Turning point. A turning point. Well, if we fail to, then it will be a double tragedy. If we fail to learn from this, and change course, we really do need to rethink where we’re going. There are limits. There are limits to how much fossil fuel. I mean, think of it, fossil fuel, taking millions of years to develop this storehouse of energy, and we’ve been drilling it down in a few decades. And, I mean, the quality of life that we now have is amazing. And it would be great to be able to at least maintain it, if not make it better. But we can’t continue to do it with fossil fuels because, for one thing, the emission of C02 that we now know is killing us. I mean, think of it. It’s global warming, it’s acidification of the ocean, it’s sea level rise. This host of the downside of having fossil fuels as our source of energy. We– I mean, we must change. No matter what, or we face dire consequences.
DAVID GALLO: Well, that puts a lot of pressure on us in the business that know the sea and know how bad this is, and can get, to stand up and make that case. And to do our best to communicate to people, to the masses about what we see. Not just as advocates, because it’s an emotional thing, but because there’s fact behind that.
SYLVIA EARLE: It’s just facts.
DAVID GALLO: Yeah, simple facts. And it’s you know, and that’s not that easy for many of us in the scientific community. We don’t like to take the emotional road, we don’t like to take the advocacy position, because we’re in it for the pure knowledge. And that’s not enough at this point. So, do we have the guts to stand up, and be heard now. And– I’m not sure yet. I’m hoping so.
LISA MARGONELLI: I think we’re at a defining a moment for I think a lot of institutions in the United States. It’s a defining moment for the environmental movement to say are we going to continue to press for the things that we’ve pressed for before. And I think also as citizens, this is a moment when we suddenly connect the dots between ourselves, the oil supply chain that goes all the way back to Nigeria, and all around the world. And we suddenly say, this is where we are, and we do have the power to change things. I think that the pictures of oiled birds are incredibly persuasive to people. You look at that and you realize I have some role in making this unspeakable thing happen.
JON MEACHAM: Which is an elegant and– and– insightful point, but when it comes down to someone having to pay more for energy, when it comes down to someone changing their habits to the extent of how they move around–
SYLVIA EARLE: It’s accounting for the real costs. And– and that’s what we have been missing up until maybe just about now. That cheap oil is not cheap.
JON MEACHAM: Where do you think the American public is, the voting American public is on these issues right now? You’ve studied oil. Are they as close as Sylvia thinks and hopes?
LISA MARGONELLI: Well, I think that actually oil for us still is cheap because the spills are basically happening elsewhere. I mean, this is a horrible spill on our own coast, but in fact, many, many spills have happened. I mean, Nigeria, for example, has thousands of spills a year, and they’ve had the equivalent of an Exxon Valdez worth of oil spilled on their land every year since 1969. But that– so, in a way, we’ve rationalized our energy consumption, because we’ve outsourced these costs. But so, where does the American public stand? We don’t really want to sacrifice, and yet, we are willing to spend more. We’re willing to spend more on a Prius if it’s part of a status symbol, or if it gives us a feeling that we’re not harming the earth. And some people– but not everyone can afford to pay for that. But then, do we make the big leap to really removing, starting to remove the oil from our economy? My feeling is that once we make up our minds, it’s not that hard. We have so many perverse incentives, so many things that just consume energy that everyone hates. For example, people in Los Angeles spend 70 hours a year sitting in traffic jams, going somewhere. But, obviously not. But those traffic jams consume a huge amount of energy. Everyone would like to have those traffic jams removed. If we do that, we also benefit ourselves in terms of energy. We also are switching people out of gasoline– you know, individual gasoline cars. So, there are certain things that we can do that kind of solve a lot of problems at once, including climate change, and including the damage to the oceans.
SYLVIA EARLE: And it increases rather than diminishes our quality of life.
LISA MARGONELLI: Exactly.
JON MEACHAM: Lisa, many of the folks you were with today at TEDx would not agree with this. You were not against the President’s expansion of offshore drilling some months ago. And I’m just curious, have the events of the past three months changed your view on that?
LISA MARGONELLI: I have to say I’ve never actually been for offshore drilling, but I’m not pro-moratorium. What I think is that moratoriums are a morally false choice. I don’t know that you have a right to drive a car and use oil if you’re not willing to let someone drill it out of your front yard. And I’m just not sure that that’s a right. Just because you’re a rich country, and you can afford to import the stuff that we should be imposing those costs on other people. What I think is that we need to reduce the oil demand dramatically. And we need to do that. And we can do that with the same focus that we’ve approached drilling the heck out of the Gulf. This is every family, every home, every car, every salad of baby lettuce. We need to think about how that gets to us. And all of this is so dependent upon huge amounts of oil. And we use more oil in our economy per dollar of G.D.P. than most other industrialized economies. So, we really need to address this at a big systemic level.
JON MEACHAM: Again, when you look back at American history, where have we, as a public, made a decision to sacrifice in order to make the future better in terms of our daily lives? I’m not talking about going to war.
SYLVIA EARLE: That comes to mind instantly.
LISA MARGONELLI: Yeah, World War II.
JON MEACHAM: Of course. Of course.
SYLVIA EARLE: Because everybody mobilizes.
DAVID GALLO: Isn’t that what this is? Isn’t that what this is? This case, we’re going to war. I mean, the President said, we will fight this spill — fight– with everything we’ve got, for as long as it takes. Now, I think that’s a call to action. I don’t think action resulted from that, because we’re not attacking. No, we’re responding. But, so, I’m hoping in the coming weeks and month ahead that we start to attack, that we get more behind this effort. And part of that has got to be explaining to the public why this is a call to action. Why this is a war we’re fighting. And hopefully, that’ll do the trick. You know, that– that’ll– because I think what we have to do is relate what we see in the oceans to that person sitting in Kansas, and Oklahoma, and Wyoming about why it’s important. And we know that everything that you do, no matter where you live on this planet, ends up impacting the ocean. And everything that– every day, your life is impacted somehow by the sea, through climate change and things like that. We have this intimate relationship with this body of water on the planet that we know almost nothing about– except that we know that we’re hurting it right now.
JON MEACHAM: You all have spent your lives on this, presumably will spend the rest of them as well. Where do you think, if we’re sitting here in ten years, talking about these issues, where do you think the issue will be? Do you– are you all hopeful or are you more pessimistic?
SYLVIA EARLE: I’m the eternal optimist, because there are plenty of reasons for hope. There is still time, not a lot. I think ten years is the timeframe that will determine much of the human future. I say sometimes that the next ten years are likely to be the most important in the next 10,000. And you might as well say the next ten million. Because we’re right on the edge on issue after issue. Whether it’s freshwater, coral reefs. Half are basically gone or in a state of great decline. We’ve– we’re down 90 percent of many of the big fish in the sea. Tuna fish probably less than ten percent of the Atlantic blue fin remain and now this– tragedy compounding their outlook for the future. But there’s still ten percent of the sharks left in the ocean. We still have a few tuna fish. We have not totally lost the opportunity to turn things around. And we have new means of communication that– that give us hope that people can be informed. You can’t care if you don’t know. You might not care even if you do know, but you can’t care if you don’t.
JON MEACHAM: Do you all agree this is the decisive decade?
LISA MARGONELLI: I think this is a decisive time. McKinsey estimates that we basically need to do an industrial revolution in the next 40 years if we’re gonna deal with climate change, and if we’re also gonna — maintain a thriving economy. That’s basically you know, the industrial revolution in triple time. That’s, when I talk to college students, they get excited. I think that that’s, you know, we need to kind of start to look forward and think about the opportunities that are here. And understand there’s gonna be winners and losers. And it’s gonna be rough. But this is something that’s worth going after.
JON MEACHAM: Decisive– decisive decade?
DAVID GALLO: Yeah, sure. I think if– decisive next couple– decisive next few months even. I think given this opportunity in the crisis that if we stand up for what we believe is the truth in the ocean community. And make the case about why we’re at the edge of that cliff Sylvia talked about, then we win. We just need to get over the hurdles that we’ve always lived with about passing on our passion for the oceans to the public at large. And once we get over that, we win.
ALISON STEWART: What do women want? Flowers, yes. The remote, definitely. But if you ask the pharmaceutical industry, some will say women should have their own version of Viagra…a magic little pill that will improve their sex lives. And the drug companies really want to deliver. The most recent attempt – which some are calling the little pink pill – is being pioneered by a German pharmaceutical firm. It has rekindled a debate about whether a woman’s lack of sexual desire can be treated or enhanced by a drug. Correspondent Rick Karr follows this pill’s progress, from the campaign to create a market for it, to its appearance before an FDA advisory committee.
RICK KARR: Not long after Viagra was approved for sale, the deluge of advertising began –
COMMERCIAL VOICE OVER: Viva Viagra!
RICK KARR: And, according to some doctors and therapists, men’s attitudes toward sex changed. The ads for the drug and its competitors … suggested … that they’d never have to have another “off night.”
COMMERCIAL VOICE OVER: Will you be ready?
RICK KARR: So, the argument goes, they focused less on relationship issues and more on … mechanical ones. Ever since Viagra hit the market twelve years ago … drug companies have been searching for the little blue pill’s little PINK counterpart – a drug that would work on the other half of the population. And psychologist and NYU professor Leonore Tiefer has been warning that that’s a bad idea.
LEONORE TIEFER: And Viagra is approved and the next thing that happens is people are saying where is the Viagra for women? And I thought to myself, oh my god I can see what’s going to happen to women.
RICK KARR: Tiefer says … the problem is … that taking a pill is simple – but human sexuality is … complicated.
LEONORE TIEFER: I’ve had thousands of patients and no two have been alike. No two sex lives are alike when you really get down to it. But if all we do is write prescriptions that variety is not going to be allowed to bloom much longer.
RICK KARR: Tiefer’s seen one pharmaceutical firm after another try to develop a sex drug for women – and tap a market that could be worth two billion dollars a year. The first attempt was with Viagra itself, which increases blood flow. It didn’t do a thing for women. In two thousand four, a hormone patch failed to win regulatory approval. Then a German firm – Boehringer-Ingleheim – tried a different approach.
LEONORE TIEFER: Blood flow didn’t work, hormones didn’t work well… let’s see if we can get the brain to work. So now we give women something that will alter the neural chemistry of the brain. And we’re still calling it the “female Viagra” which is absurd.
SHERYL KINGSBERG: If we can find something that can perhaps help some women improve their sexual desire and the media wants to call it the pink Viagra that’s fine with me as long as there isn’t the misperception that it works the same way.
RICK KARR: Sheryl Kingsberg is as enthusiastic a supporter of a “female Viagra” as Leonore Tiefer is an opponent. Kingsburg’s a psychotherapist who focuses on sexuality and teaches at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland. She says … there’s more to some women’s sex problems than psychology.
SHERYL KINGSBERG: I’ve been addressing the psychological components for 20 years and for many women that has worked very well but there has always been a piece for some women that has not been able to be addressed. So for me offering them another treatment option can only help them.
RICK KARR: Boehringer-Ingleheim’s “female Viagra” candidate is called flibanserin, and it has polarized sex therapists. Tiefer launched a campaign with other activists to urge an FDA advisory committee to reject it. Kingsberg signed on as a paid consultant to Boehringer-Ingleheim. She says … the drug works: one trial on premenopausal women led to their having sex about once a month more often than those who took a placebo. Women in another trial reported that they felt more desire. Leonore Tiefer isn’t impressed – and she worries that nobody knows exactly how the drug affects the brain.
RICK KARR: So what does it do, this new drug flibanserin?
LEONORE TIEFER: I hope you’ll ask everyone you see that question because the answer is nobody knows, nobody really knows. You can’t get into somebody’s brain and measure the level of neurotransmitters that they’ve got in there. That’s not good. That’s not safe, that’s not sane.
RICK KARR: Flibanserin’s designed to treat a condition known as HSDD – hypoactive sexual desire disorder. The bible of psychological diagnosis – known as the DSM, defines it as, “persistently … deficient … desire for sexual activity” which “causes marked distress.” Kingsberg’s camp says one in ten women may suffer from it. But Leonore Tiefer and some other sex therapists aren’t convinced that the condition even exists.
LEONORE TIEFER: Calling HSDD a disorder I think is a mistake because it implies that there is a normal level of desire and that deviations from that level are something that require medical attention.
SHERYL KINGSBERG: I think the best way to ask what’s normal is to ask each woman what’s normal for her and when we look at HSDD it is a woman’s personal experience of losing what was normal for her and now being distressed by that so its not up to us to say here’s what’s normal
RICK KARR: While the F-D-A advisory committee was weighing the evidence on flibanserin this Spring, Boehringer-Ingleheim couldn’t market the drug – but it could call attention to the condition that it’s meant to treat. So the firm provided funding to a nonprofit that publicizes HSDD. The drug company’s PR firm launched a web site – sexbrainbodydot.com – to do the same. And the campaign hired “Dancing with the Stars” contestant and soap actress Lisa Rinna to barnstorm morning TV and point women to sexbrainbody.com.
RICK KARR: Neither Boehringer-Ingleheim – nor its pending drug – were mentioned on any of those broadcasts. Kingsberg turned up in a CNN segment … and on a Cleveland newscast; neither reported her ties to the pharma firm.
NEWS CHANNEL 5 REPORTER: This national campaign just launched yesterday. Kingsberg says she doesn’t have a hidden agenda, like so many other websites.. not selling any products. Kingsberg says 2010 will be a good year for women .
RICK KARR: Boehringer-Ingleheim also put money into an hour-long program on HSDD that aired on the Discovery Channel. Six of the eight experts interviewed in the show – or their organizations – have received money from the pharmaceutical firm; not one of those relationships was disclosed. In a statement, Boehringer-Ingleheim said it’s “transparent about any financial support it provides” to educational campaigns and outside groups … and that any statements its consultants make to the media, “are based on their own relevant expertise and experience, and do not necessarily reflect that of Boehringer-Ingelheim.”
RICK KARR: You are basically, you are a consultant to Boehringer-Ingelheim the company that developed this, do you feel in any way that that presents any kind of conflict at all when your analyzing a drug like this or that the need for it say?
SHERYL KINGSBERG: So yes I am a consultant and I am thrilled that a pharmaceutical company is interested in consulting with people that do sexual medicine for a living. because if a drug is available then it is important that clinicians as well as consumers understand who its right for, who its not right for and making that individualized choice.
DR. JOHN ABRAMSON: Why is Boehringer doing that now? Because they want to sell the drug. It’s their job.
RICK KARR: Dr. John Abramson wrote a book about how pharma firms do their jobs. He teaches at Harvard Medical School and advises plaintiffs in lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies. He says the problem is that the companies conduct their own research behind closed doors – which means they control how the results are interpreted … and marketed.
RICK KARR: Aren’t physicians equipped to sort the truth from the marketing hype when they see things that are funded by medi — by pharmaceutical companies?
DR. JOHN ABRAMSON: The answer is that the vast majority of physicians feel that they can sort out, subtract out, like Photoshop the hype of the presentation, whether it’s continuing medical education or a drug rep that has come to their office, or even a, a journal article where the study is published by the drug manufacturer. But the truth is it’s impossible to do that. In the work I do in litigation, I sometimes get to see what the real science shows, and there are certainly instances where the science is greatly different than what was written in medical journals and what was taught to doctors and what was advertised.
RICK KARR: In June, the FDA advisory committee wasn’t impressed by the science behind flibanserin: It found that the drug wasn’t effective enough to justify its side effects, which can include dizziness and fatigue – but its vote wasn’t binding. Members of the panel did encourage more research. Leonore Tiefer says if a drug IS approved, women may end up feeling the same pressure some men do when it’s time for sex to just … pop a pill.
LEONORE TIEFER: This is just going to further peoples belief that sexuality is a medical thing and just a mechanical thing, and something that there are very high standards for and its going to make people feel anxious if there not wanting a lot of sex, having a lot of sex, loving a lot of sex. It’s going to raise the bar for ordinary peoples’ sex lives. And in the present climate that’s going to be a problem.
RICK KARR: Boehringer-Ingleheim says it will continue to try to get the drug approved for pre-menopausal women. Meanwhile, another firm, hopes its own drug to enhance women’s sex drives will come up for approval next year. It all means that the pharmaceutical industry keeps hoping that, someday soon, women will be singing their own version of this song….
COMMERCIAL VOICE OVER: Viva, viva Viagra!
JON MEACHAM: There is a theme running through the crises that face America in this, our latest summer of discontent. What links energy policy to deficits and debt to education reform and, always, Iraq and Afghanistan, is the need for national sacrifice.
It is a grim political term, sacrifice, evoking the hopelessly distant and purportedly halycon days of FDR calling a nation to common purpose.
FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT: No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory.
JON MEACHAM: For a moment a few years back, John McCain spoke of the nobility and the necessity of serving a cause larger than oneself—
JOHN MCCAIN: Thank you, thank you.
JON MEACHAM: But then came Sarah Palin, and that was the end of that.
JON MEACHAM: In my conversation with three leading figures in the world of deep oceans and energy policy, I asked for an historically analogous instance in which we fundamentally changed our economic, cultural, and political lives–at great cost–to serve a greater good or to secure benefits for a future generation. The replies were, to put it kindly, not numerous. The best answer we could come up with was warfare. At first glance, at least, there is something to that analogy. Wars are dramatic, focused, and presume campaigns of action that will lead to a moment of ultimate victory.This is why presidents are so fond of calling their major policy efforts “wars.”
LYNDON JOHNSON: …and this administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America.
JIMMY CARTER: …and we are the generation that will win the war on the energy problem…
GEORGE BUSH: …the war on drugs will be hard won neighborhood by neighborhood, block by block, child by child.
JON MEACHAM: The trouble with martial metaphors, though, is that war is war, and we have had little to no success in replicating that sense of urgency in other, non-military causes. Energy policy, insofar as it will require sacrifice in terms of changed behaviors and higher taxes, will be a lonely struggle for president Obama. Lonely, and fraught, and hopeless–until it isn’t hopeless. Near-universal health care was a lost cause, too–one requiring higher taxes to extend a fundamental human right to virtually every American. Passing health care took a spirit of sacrifice. Perhaps, just perhaps, some of that same spirit can be found in the oily waters of the Gulf of Mexico or so we may hope.
ALISON STEWART: On the next Need to Know…Treatment instead of punishment. The debate over courts set up specifically for veterans…
MARTY GONZALEZ: When you mess up, a lot of people may turn their back on you but there’s a veteran population out there that’s saying, hey, we’re, we’re not gonna turn our back on you, we’re gonna help you out and we’re gonna give you that second chance.
JON MEACHAM: In a world of tweets and up-to-the-minute status updates, any media outlet can keep you on top of the news.
ALISON STEWART: But only Need to Know keeps you ahead of the present. Here’s Andy Borowitz with next week’s news.
ANDY BOROWITZ: Thank you, Alison and Jonathan. It’s Fourth of July weekend and that means it’s time for a “Next Week’s News” newsitorial. Fourth of July is a time to be with family and friends. A time to celebrate our precious freedoms as Americans. And a time to ask ourselves this question…Are my neighbors Russian spies?” This week, the feds pounced on suspected Russian spies who were living in typical suburban neighborhoods, posing as typical Americans. The lesson? Russian spies are everywhere. Now, the alleged spies’ neighbors said that these people seemed like average Americans, just like you and me. Or did they? Maybe their woefully unobservant neighbors just weren’t looking for the right clues. This holiday weekend, keep your eyes open for these three telltale signs of Russian spy-ness:
Are your neighbors having a barbeque? Russian spies like to have barbeques where they serve such aggressively American fare as hot dogs and hamburgers to throw you off the scent. But don’t be naïve. The minute you go home they’re breaking out the borscht.
Are they setting off fireworks? Setting off fireworks on the Fourth of July may seem like a typical display of patriotism. Unless you’re a Russian spy, in which case you are testing America’s missile defenses.
And finally, are your neighbors boring? Do your talk incessantly about excruciating topics, like their children? And when they talk, do they use perfectly grammatical English? Well, anyone who speaks like that couldn’t possibly be a product of the American educational system. Verdict? Russian spies.
To review: barbeque – fireworks – boring. If your neighbors are exhibiting even one of these three signs, wrestle them to the ground and call the FBI pronto. Even if it turns out that they haven’t been spying for the Russians, it’ll teach them not to. That’s it for “Next Week’s News.” On next week’s show: how to tell if your kids are Russian spies. Alison, Jon?
ALISON STEWART: Thanks, Andy. And thanks to all of you for joining us. Need to Know is also available online…anytime. This week you’ll find part of my conversation with Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree…we talk about class and race in America…as well as his former colleague Elena Kagan.
JON MEACHAM: For more on this and other exclusive features, visit the Need to Know site. Have a safe and happy Independence Day weekend.