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Gore Calls for Special Counsel to Investigate Wiretaps

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Former Vice-President and presidential candidate Al Gore called on the Attorney-General to immediately appoint a special counsel “to remedy the obvious conflict of interest that prevents him from investigating what many believe are serious violations of law by the President.”

In response to a question from ABC News, Gore agreed that “President Bush’s domestic spying program” might be an impeachable offense, noting that “Article II of the impeachment charges against President Nixon was warrantless wiretapping that the President said was ‘necessary’ for national security.”

Gore spoke Monday at the invitation of the bipartisan Liberty Coalition and the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy in Washington, DC. The event took place at the historic Constitution Hall of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Gore also called for new whistleblower protection for Executive Branch staff who “report evidence of wrongdoing.”

Attorney General Gonzales has agreed to testify before Congress on the warrantless wiretaps. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) has said that the Judiciary Committee will investigate next month and is reportedly skeptical “of the Bush administration’s assertions that it acted within the law.” On Sunday, Specter said he believes Bush is “wrong” in asserting that the 2001 congressional resolution authorizing retaliation against al Qaeda authorized the wiretaps.

The non-partisan Congressional Research Service, in a 41-page legal analysis released earlier this month, also questions the legality of the domestic wiretapping program.

On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights are reportedly planning to file lawsuits to try to stop the warrantless domestic wiretapping program.

Gore recounted the events leading up to last month’s revelation by the New York Times that the NSA has been involved in warrantless domestic wiretapping for four years. While bemoaning the time Congressmen spend “raising money to purchase 30 second TV commercials” instead of debating issues, he also lamented a rubber-stamp Congress:

I call upon Democratic and Republican members of Congress today to uphold your oath of office and defend the Constitution. Stop going along to get along. Start acting like the independent and co-equal branch of government you’re supposed to be.

Reaction
Deborah White calls the speech historic, “one of the great speeches in American history.” The QandO blog notes that “there’s a lot with which libertarians can agree.” The speech was also praised by the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition.

Frank James at the Chicago Tribune says the speech “demonstrated just how spicy a Washington speech can be when the person giving it has nothing left to lose.”

A spokesperson for the Republican National Committee criticized the speech: “Al Gore’s incessant need to insert himself in the headline of the day is almost as glaring as his lack of understanding of the threats facing America. While the president works to protect Americans from terrorists, Democrats deliver no solutions of their own, only diatribes laden with inaccuracies and anger.”

Quotable
My favorite quote:

Whenever power is unchecked and unaccountable it almost inevitably leads to mistakes and abuses. In the absence of rigorous accountability, incompetence flourishes. Dishonesty is encouraged and rewarded…
[I]f the pattern of practice begun by this Administration is not challenged, it may well become a permanent part of the American system. Many conservatives have pointed out that granting unchecked power to this President means that the next President will have unchecked power as well. And the next President may be someone whose values and belief you do not trust. And this is why Republicans as well as Democrats should be concerned with what this President has done. If this President’s attempt to dramatically expand executive power goes unquestioned, our constitutional design of checks and balances will be lost. And the next President or some future President will be able, in the name of national security, to restrict our liberties in a way the framers never would have thought possible.”

Technical Difficulties
Gore was supposed to have been introduced, via satellite feed, by former Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA). Barr left Congress in 2003; he was “a former House manager in the impeachment trial of then-President Bill Clinton” and is “an outspoken critic of the effect the Bush Administration’s anti-terror policies are having on civil liberties.”

Technorati tags: , , Wiretaps
gada.be tags: Gore, Politics, Wiretaps

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  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    I agree with the tenor of Gore’s remarks…but don’t think a special counsel is appropriate. A special counsel would investigate whether Bush initiated warrantless wiretaps. We already know he did; he’s admitted as much. What’s to investigate?

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    I have a hard time swallowing the statement…one of the best speeches in American history. The way Gore speaks…who could stay awake long enough to know?

  • RedTard

    Andy,

    Gore get’s quite animated whne he is angry. I enjoyed reading the speech transcript even if I think he did go a little bit overboard. I think it was the type of speech that will rally the troops for his cause.

    Too bad republicans don’t have the same kind of firebrand rhetoric while liberals are taking away property rights al la Kelo. I have yet to see the one individual person who has been effected by the Bush listening deal. I can easily point to websites with tens of thousands of people who have had their lives shattered and homes destroyed (literally) because of the left wing attack on property rights. Where is our Al Gore when you need him?

  • http://home.comcast.net/~chickyraptor/ted_hooters.jpg Dave

    Gore also said,

    “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”

    And guess who authorized this wiretapping? Hint: His name rhymes with Flobby Flennedy. This fact is conveeeeeeniently left out of all the MSM reports that try to link the NSA data mining to the MLK wiretapping.

  • Justin Berry

    Dave you know better than to state the facts. Cant you see these people only have one target in mind. How dare you implicate camel lot in anything other than the rightful practice of Deity incarnate? Thats almost as blasphemous as calling Clinton a whore-monger, or alluding to the possibility that Billary may be closet lebanese.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    Camel lot??? That’s funny! Made me think of camel toe…but I won’t go there!

  • Justin Berry

    Wrong administration Andy.

  • http://musical-guru.blogspot.com Michael J. West

    The fact that Bobby Kennedy approved the wiretaps on Dr. King does not make me think it was okay to do it. It was reprehensible and unconstitutional.

    Nor does it make me think it’s okay for Bush to do it now. It’s still reprehensible and unconstitutional.

  • Nancy

    I really did like & totally agree with Gore’s statement that congress needs to start acting like an independent & equal arm of government instead of a rubber-stamp. This congress has been so spineless & supine (for the most part) when dealing w/Bush, it’s as much of a scandal as the Abramoff thing.

  • Justin Berry

    My question is if the Government had identified Atta and his cronies pre 9/11 why were we using illegal wiretaps? Who was using the wiretaps? why did we not stop 9/11? I have no problem with data-mining to stop terrorism, I do however have a problem with not using information that could save lives.

  • http://uspolitics.about.com/b/a/180037.htm Kathy

    There are some good questions here — and that’s what made this a good speech, IMO: it’s jumpstarted (or made public) some good questions.

    To RedTard:
    Re Kelo – something totally off-topic – note that the beneficiaries were corporations, primarily one big pharma, IIRC. not exactly “liberal”

    One could argue that the supreme court decision was one favoring state’s rights — a tenet of conservative rhetoric if not jurisprudence. In essence, the Court invalidated a federal definition of public use under the Fifth Amendment in favor of individual state decisions.

    The Chrisitan Science Monitor reports that eight states explicitly prohibt actions such as that in Connecticut — using state power to “take” land from a citizen under the guise of economic development and then hand the land to a private entity:
    Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, South Carolina and Washington.

    And six have ruled that acts like Connecticut’s are a public use:
    Connecticut, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, New York and North Dakota.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    Kathy – there are good questions there…why didn’t he ask them when he was the VP?

  • http://www.chancelucky.blogspot.com chancelucky

    maybe he didn’t ask them because his administration wasn’t carrying out unwarranted wiretapping despite some of the talking points that seem to be circulating about physical searches during the Clinton administration.

    I’m still trying to make sense of the Sibel Edmonds story in the context of all this wiretapping.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    I do believe this ECHELON program was running back then too…

  • Bing

    Kathy you dance the two-step on Kelo versus New London quite well.

    However without all that spin the story goes something like this………the left leaning judges on the Supreme Court all voted in favor of eminent domain so that the private property of American citizens in New London could be taken from them in order to be given to a developer, while all the right leaning judges dissented as they were opposed to this.

    The icing on the cake was when shortly after this Howard Dean said “George Bush’s right wing supreme court wants to take your rights away, they want to take your land away.”

    Excuse Moi?

    Hey Howie, when Kelo versus New London was decided not a single Bush nominee was on the court and the “right wing” judges sided witht he private citizens not the developer.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    Unfortunately Bing…the one liberal SC judge that seems to be the most involved in this is Souter…and he was nominated by Bush 1.

    That’s what bothers me about all these folks screaming about the SC…it doesn’t matter who nominates them…they do what the fuck they want once the yget there…and no one knows what that’s gonna be!

  • http://gohah.blogpsot.com GoHah

    wasn’t there an attempt being made to take Souter’s property from him–using the Kelo decision he voted for? Where the poetic Justice?
    Anyway, I think Kennedy invented wiretapping, too–good grounding for the internet he would eventually invent.

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    Yes there is…I’ll try to link to some e-mails I got about it when I get back to the house…they were supposed to be meeting up in NH this month to try to talk The Weare, NH city council to take Souter’s property.

  • http://gohah.blogpsot.com GoHah

    Thanks, Andy–good to hear things might still proceed. I thought it might be one of those attempts that gets dropped or we never hear about it again and people forge. That Kelo decision is the most appalling, maddening and dangerous threat to property rights I’ve heard of in a long time.

  • Bernese

    Al Gore was out of town when Bill Clinton used the wire tapping he must have also missed it when Clinton did a search of his suspects home without a warrant. What I worry about is now that the media has given away top secret infromation what will the Atta’s still here in America do? Atta and the rest of the men that killed over 3000 Americans that day lived here and enjoyed to same freedoms that we all have.What will happen if the terrorist that are in jail right now get out of jail due to the fact that we are making such a big deal over trying to intercept a converstion. I submit to you that if this country is attacked again the Al Gore’s of this country will be crying that Bush did not do enough to protect it. It is a no win deal for Bush it’s a case of dammed if you do dammed if you don’t.

  • http://uspolitics.about.com/ Kathy

    Bing, I’m not dancing a two-step about Kelo. IT’S OFF TOPIC.

    Frankly I think it was an appalling decision. But I don’t run around screaming ad hominem rhetoric when I criticize it. Nor do I insert it into threads where it has no relevance.

    That said, I have an appreciation for the deferrence to state law — even though I wish they’d said “that state law is unconstitutional.”

    Understand that the beneficiaries of almost ALL of emminent domain decisions like this have been Rich Guys. You know. Like guys in Texas who own baseball teams and get land dirt cheap for stadiums.

  • Bing

    Anything that’s mentioned in a thread is on topic and Kelo was brought up before me Kathy.

    The reason I commented on it is because lately it has been all the rage for those on the far left to claim that “Republicans are taking our rights away,” “we’re living in a police state,” and “Bush is a dictator.” The far left says all these things but where is the evidence to support them?

    Rather it is the left themselves who are impeding our rights. Kelo versus New London is a proime example as it was the leftist judges who ruled in favor of eminent domain.

    So I don’t care if you think it was off topic Cathy becuase I’m not going to keep my mouth shout while the far left screams thier inane catch phrases when the evidence is contrary.

    Another example: At a recent democratic fundraiser Hillary Clinton said

    “Many of you are well enough off that … the tax cuts may have helped you. We’re saying that for America to get back on track, we’re probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.”

    Excuse Moi?

    Hillary, who is a multimillionare and lives off of donations of others and goverment funding is going to take stuff away from average Americans?

    I think this added to her recnt plantaion remarks has sealed a GOP victory in 2008.

    Allen 2008

  • troll

    Hillary must have been pleased to see all those *average Americans* at the fundraiser…

    take your petty distortions off my bridge

    troll

  • troll

    and I forgot to add –

    HASTERT 2006

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    GoHah – here’s the link to The Lost Liberty Hotel.

    This is the attempt to take Justcie Souters land in Weare, NH

  • Bing

    The only thing distorted is the view from the left.

  • GoHah

    Andy#25-thanks, hope it’s a success!

    to all–Correction: in comment#17 I meant Gore of course, not Kennedy (sometimes all these liberals seem interchangeable).

  • zingzing

    a view from the far left is distorted, just as a view from the far right is going to be distorted. it’s kind of inherant in the wording.

    i’d like to hear just what you think is so wrong with the far left, bing. stick to real issues. like i think the far right is wrong because it advocates war and intolerance and stripping freedoms from everyone while denying freedoms to select groups that most americans enjoy and take for granted. they also like to support big business and destroy the environment, and they like to ignore the separation of church and state clause. also, they like guns, even if they do kill things like people. that’s just a couple.

    so tell me what’s so wrong with the left. and don’t say we’re communists, because we’re not. socialism has its moments. communism doesn’t work. don’t say we all stick together and tow the party line, because you do that too. it’s not a good point to make. stick with issues.

    like what’s wrong with protecting the environment, protecting our freedoms and extending basic civil liberties to homosexuals? what’s really wrong with that?

  • Bliffle

    Andy: “…The way Gore speaks…who could stay awake long enough to know?…”

    Did you actually listen to the speech?

  • http://theugliestamerican.blogspot.com Andy Marsh

    Nope! I’d rather watch golf!

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