Former Vice President Al Gore gave another one of his famous anti-Bush speeches(1) last week before an enthusiastic audience of left-wing extremists called the 'Liberty Coalition' at the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., and a more annoying compilation of unsubstantiated accusations I've not heard in recent times.
Gore began his screed by pointing out that he and Representative Bob Barr have had their fair share of disagreements in the past (as if anyone cared) but that the two "have joined together today with thousands of our fellow citizens, Democrats and Republicans alike, to express our shared concern that America's Constitution is in grave danger."
"Grave danger"? Hmmm... now where have I heard those words before? Oh yeah, that was the catchy term Al Gore used at the beginning of a speech he gave last October.
"I came here today because I believe that American democracy is in grave danger," he remarked at a 'We Media' conference(2) in New York... and now that I think about it, I also recall him saying those same two words during another address in 2004.
In an American Constitution Society speech(3) at Georgetown University, titled (surprise-surprise) 'Democracy Itself is in Grave Danger', Gore stated "I am also convinced that they [our founding fathers] would warn us that democracy itself is in grave danger if we allow any president to use his role as commander in chief to rupture the careful balance between the executive, the legislative and the judicial branches of government."
And in yet another speech(4) to the members of MoveOn.org in November of 2003, big Al asserted that the Bush Administration had "recklessly put our country in grave and unnecessary danger."
Apparently ever since President Bush told the U.N. in September of 2002(5) that Iraq posed "a grave and gathering danger" to the world, Al Gore has decided that the words 'grave' and 'danger' are particularly ear-catching when used together in speeches, especially those designed to harm the Bush Administration.
Of course, repetition is one of the key attributes of modern neo-socialists, so it's not surprising that Al would throw out such a term again and again... and again. I will give him a little credit however, at least he refrained from uttering the phrase "culture of corruption" in his speech, something that many of his fellow travelers in the DNC just can't seem to resist doing whenever they mention Republicans these days.
Here are a few examples for those of you who haven't been paying attention to the left side of the political aisle lately.
"Now that they control the White House and the Congress, Republicans in Washington have made their culture of corruption the norm, and no longer put the interests of Americans first." - Howard Dean, DNC Chairman(6)
"I think it's a sad day for the Republican caucus. A man is innocent until proven guilty, but just to me, it is no surprise because Republicans have had a culture of corruption and that has now been validated by their caucus." - Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader(7)
"Republicans cannot be trusted to end the culture of corruption." - Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader(8)
"This deal raises even more questions about the Republican culture of corruption in Washington, D.C." - Karen Finney, DNC Communications Director(9)
"With the Jack Abramoff scandal and Tom DeLay's trial for money laundering, the American people are beginning to get a sharper picture of the Republican culture of corruption." - Josh Earnest, DNC Press Secretary(10)
"We have a culture of corruption, we have cronyism, we have incompetence. I predict to you that this [Bush] administration will go down in history as one of the worst that has ever governed our country." - Hillary Clinton(11)
Apparently every major player in the Democrat party has learned one propagandist principle quite well. "If repeated often enough, a lie will become the new truth." - Joseph Goebbles, Nazi Germany Minister of Propaganda
But getting back to Mr. Gore's speech of Monday last, let's take a look at the more substantive aspects of the ex-VP's remarks.
"As we begin this new year, the executive branch of our government has been caught eavesdropping on huge numbers of American citizens and has brazenly declared that it has the unilateral right to continue without regard to the established law enacted by Congress precisely to prevent such abuses," declared Al, and right off the bat the wheels of the liberal spin machine began to turn.
The government was "caught" eavesdropping? I suppose Al Gore would have us believe that the Bush Administration (which is what he meant by "the government") devised a secret surveillance plan without anyone else's knowledge, and that the NSA was suddenly ensnared in a carefully laid trap designed to uncover its unscrupulous deeds, however, that simply isn't true. Everyone in Congress with the requisite security clearance has know about the NSA's Signals Intelligence program from the beginning, so exactly who's been caught by whom doing what?
If what Gore's really trying to say is that the American people have learned of the fact that the NSA, under orders from the Commander in Chief, has been carrying out a top secret anti-terror snooping program, he's absolutely right, and the person responsible for leaking that information to the general public should be hanged!
Funny how he failed to mention to his audience that the only reason they know about the program in question is because someone in, or with connections to, the intelligence community committed treason.
Gore went on to say that "on this particular Martin Luther King Day it is especially important to recall that for the last several years of his life Dr. King was illegally wiretapped."
Of course he's right about that, but what he didn't bother to add is that the people responsible for permitting the wiretapping of the famous civil rights leader were Democrats. Gee, I wonder why?
By any means, Gore continued by asserting that this sort of electronic surveillance lead to the creation of the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act (FISA), and that "It included ample flexibility and an ability for the executive to move with as much speed as desired." This last part is pure hokum, and I'd be very surprised indeed if Al Gore didn't already know that.
The fact of the matter is, as Byron York pointed out in an excellent article(12) on the subject last month, "In 2002, when the president made his decision, there was widespread, bipartisan frustration with the slowness and inefficiency of the bureaucracy involved in seeking warrants from the special intelligence court," explaining that "Lawmakers of both parties recognized the problem in the months after the September 11 terrorist attacks. They pointed to the case of Coleen Rowley, the FBI agent who ran up against a number of roadblocks in her effort to secure a FISA warrant in the case of Zacarias Moussaoui, the al Qaeda operative who had taken flight training in preparation for the hijackings. Investigators wanted to study the contents of Moussaoui's laptop computer, but the FBI bureaucracy involved in applying for a FISA warrant was stifling, and there were real questions about whether investigators could meet the FISA court's probable-cause standard for granting a warrant. FBI agents became so frustrated that they considered flying Moussaoui to France, where his computer could be examined. But then the attacks came, and it was too late."
So the bureaucratic red tape created by left-wingers to prevent the the sort of surveillance undertaken by previous left-wingers against other left-wingers actually aided the 9/11 terrorists in their mission to bring down the twin towers in Manhattan, and now left-wingers everywhere are outraged because President Bush recognizes just how dangerous to our national security that red tape is. Go figure.
Gore also remarked that "As the executive acts outside its constitutionally prescribed role and is able to control access to information that would expose its mistakes and reveal errors, it becomes increasingly difficult for the other branches to police its activities."
As I pointed out before, Congressional leaders from both parties knew all about the NSA surveillance program every step of the way, so there was never any danger of the president doing something that our other elected representatives weren't aware of.
As far as the Constitutionally prescribed role of George W. Bush is concerned, it is primarily one of Commander in Chief of the armed forces of the United States, and with that role comes certain inherent powers, some of which have often been looked upon with scornful eyes over the generations. Still, presidents have traditionally been given extreme latitude when it comes to their decisions concerning the defense of our nation during times of war, because Americans have always understood that sometimes extraordinary measures must be taken by the people charged with protecting us from those who would slaughter our children in their beds.
Of course, the rules have suddenly changed now that Al's 2000 electoral adversary is in office, and one cannot help but wonder what Mr. Gore would be saying at this very moment if John Kerry were in the White House instead of George W. Bush.
But that question aside, if Mr. Gore is having trouble understanding the legal position of the Bush Administration regarding NSA surveillance, he need look no further than the following statements by Attorney General Gonzalez, who made it quite clear during a press conference(13) in December of last year that "the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act provides - requires a court order before engaging in this kind of surveillance that I've just discussed and the President announced on Saturday, unless there is somehow - there is - unless otherwise authorized by statute or by Congress. That's what the law requires. Our position is, is that the authorization to use force, which was passed by the Congress in the days following September 11th, constitutes that other authorization, that other statute by Congress, to engage in this kind of signals intelligence."
He went on to remark that "one might argue, now, wait a minute, there's nothing in the authorization to use force that specifically mentions electronic surveillance. Let me take you back to a case that the Supreme Court reviewed this past - in 2004, the Hamdi decision. As you remember, in that case, Mr. Hamdi was a U.S. citizen who was contesting his detention by the United States government. What he said was that there is a statute, he said, that specifically prohibits the detention of American citizens without permission, an act by Congress - and he's right, 18 USC 4001a requires that the United States government cannot detain an American citizen except by an act of Congress. We took the position - the United States government took the position that Congress had authorized that detention in the authorization to use force, even though the authorization to use force never mentions the word 'detention.' And the Supreme Court, a plurality written by Justice O'Connor agreed. She said, it was clear and unmistakable that the Congress had authorized the detention of an American citizen captured on the battlefield as an enemy combatant for the remainder - the duration of the hostilities. So even though the authorization to use force did not mention the word, 'detention,' she felt that detention of enemy soldiers captured on the battlefield was a fundamental incident of waging war, and therefore, had been authorized by Congress when they used the words, 'authorize the President to use all necessary and appropriate force.'
For the same reason, we believe signals intelligence is even more a fundamental incident of war, and we believe has been authorized by the Congress."
In his MLK Day speech, Al Gore said "The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act self-evidently does not authorize what the NSA has been doing and no one inside or outside the administration claims that it does," but as Mr. Gonzalez explained, it doesn't matter what FISA authorizes if Congress has overridden it with new authorization.
Mr. Gore may disagree with the Attorney General's line of reasoning on the matter, but just because he doesn't find the Bush Administration's arguments convincing, doesn't mean that the Supreme Court won't. Heck, you'd think he would have come to that conclusion pretty quickly, especially since the high court is controlled by the same right-wing ideologues (save for one) who robbed him of his election victory five years ago. *sarcasm off*
But I digress.
Next Gore decided to attack Bush's war detainee policies, saying "the president has also declared that he has a heretofore unrecognized inherent power to seize and imprison any American citizen that he alone determines to be a threat to our nation," adding that "No such right exists in the America that you and I know and love. It is foreign to our Constitution."
Really Al? What about when Franklin Delano Roosevelt (another Democrat) seized and imprisoned tens of thousands of innocent American citizens during World War II, just because they happened to be of Japanese extraction? It seems to me that if the authority of which you speak was "heretofore unrecognized", then FDR would have been impeached and thrown out of office.
And speaking of impeached presidents, why is it that Mr. Gore didn't speak up for the rights of the American people when his former boss, Bill Clinton, was authorizing the warrentless searches(14) of individuals like former CIA agent Aldrich Ames?
Oh, I forgot, those were warrantless PHYSICAL searches, and we're talking about warrantless electronic searches now. I guess it's all right for the government to enter your home without a warrant and rummage through your personal property, but if they should read an email you've sent to Osama Bin Laden, that's out of line!
Following several more minutes of mind-numbing gibberish, Gore stated "As a result of this unprecedented claim of new unilateral power, the executive branch has now put our constitutional design at grave risk."
There's that word again... grave. Ya know, I was going to recap a considerable amount of Al's speech, but the more I think about it the more I realize what a complete waste of my time that would be. Suffice it to say that the whole thing was just one long Bush-is-evil tirade, with a couple of quotes by Lincoln and Jefferson thrown in for good measure.
Al even mentioned global warming once or twice near the end of it, which didn't really surprise me considering the audience he was preaching to. I'll say this much for him though, he did manage to elicit some rather spirited applause at various times throughout the evening, which I'm sure made him feel all warm and fuzzy inside, in spite of the fact that almost everything he said was complete tripe.
Edward Daley was born to American parents on a U.S. military base in Stephenville, Newfoundland, Canada, and moved to the United States as an infant. He became active in politics in 1984, the first year he was old enough to vote for the President of the United States. He is currently a political op-ed columnist for upwards of 38 on-line conservative journals and magazines, and a landlord of rental property. Edward has been a salesman, bar doorman, typesetter, and security guard. He is a college graduate with a number of hobbies and interests, including reading, writing poetry and short stories, web designing, watching professional football, and drinking 12-year-old single malt scotch.