Al Gore’s MLK-Day Speech

I finally got around to reading the speech Al Gore gave on Martin Luther King Day: America’s constitution is in grave danger.

Wow. Yeah, I don’t care at this point. Maybe the political right is relishing an Al Gore candidacy in 2008. Maybe Karl Rove thinks this issue of national security and defense of the Constitution is a winner for his side, that people are afraid enough of Osama bin Laden to retain the same team that let 9/11 happen, the same team that has demonstrated abject incompetence in dealing with al Qaeda in the years since, just because of some vague attitude that Republicans are “tougher” on terror than Democrats. And maybe the Democratic opinion leaders will again do what they did in the 2004 election, shying away from direct confrontation with Bush’s war policy, offering up someone like Hillary (who says that Bush’s war on Iraq was more or less the right thing to do), rather than someone like Gore (who has consistently told the opposite truth).

But for now, I just don’t care. Al Gore is the man. We’re pretty much guaranteed to get a dramatically better president in 2008 than the one we have now (assuming Bush doesn’t manage to make himself President for Life), but if the one we get is Al Gore, I’ll have actual hope for the future of the country for the first time in a while.

11 Responses to “Al Gore’s MLK-Day Speech”

  1. trg34221 Says:

    This is why I love Democrats they hire Al Gore to demand the President stop eavesdropping on known terrorist with the new “Terrorist Protection Act” I wonder how many red states Hillary will flip with that program!

    PS>>> If Al Gore is all the Democrats have left to challenge GW Bush I almost feel sorry for the Party!

    Lastly General Hayden who served as NSA director from 1999 until 2005 spelled it out more clearly then any crazy former Vice President…. “Had the eavesdropping program been in effect prior to 9/11, (When Al Gore was in charge) it is my professional judgment that we would have detected some of the 9/11 Al Qaeda operatives in the United States”

  2. enkidu Says:

    I can tell you didn’t read the speech. You might have noticed that Bob Barr was also there (a Republican btw). You might have noticed that the speech was on Martin Luther King Day, or as rednecks across the good ol USofA like to call it Confederate Pride Day. You might have heard the reports that shrub called the Constitution “just a goddamn piece of paper!”

    The Dems gave shrub the thumbs up to destroy the Taliban in Afghanistan. No one crowned him Emperor.

    Just think how much you would want Hillary to have unfettered power to tap every communication anyone makes, anywhere… sounds great huh? I have no problem tapping non-americans’ comm. Same for US citizens, if you have a court order. Fact is, shrub and co. have had over a year’s worth of warning to cover up the worst of it. If they couldn’t bring these tap requests before a judge, just who the heck were they tapping? FISA has rejected maybe a handful of requests in 20 years. You can tap for 3 days and then submit the paperwork. Doesn’t seem like a roadblock unless you are doing something really illegal or immoral.

    That quote from Hayden is bull. Some of the hijackers were already under watch by the FBI etc. We had communiques between some of the hijackers but didn’t translate them until after 9/11/01.

    One more little thought experiment: if it had come out in 2000 that Bill Clinton was having the NSA spy on thousands of Americans (perhaps millions, maybe all), do you really think you would be posting “I think it’s great!”

    I look forward to your reply.

  3. trg34221 Says:

    I have already had Hillary Clinton go through my FBI file and not one dam person cared least Bob Barr and what did it get him but grief as some right wing extremist. So wiretapping terrorist cetainly is not only legally, but if Hillary can see mt FBI file then we can wiretape terrorists..

    Disregarding General Hayden the man in charge even under the Clintons is unfair who else would know the true regarding this program..

  4. enkidu Says:

    whew, forgive me for pointing this out but either:

    a) you drink heavily before noon

    b) you are a GOP sweatshop hire in New Delhi spouting Rove’s lastest drivel

    c) your command of the English language is reflective of your general mental state (I leave that to the reader to evaluate)

    The point is not about tapping terrorists and their comm – that is fine with every American imho. The point: it is illegal to tap American communications without a court order. Fine, carte blanche to tap it for 72 hours to see if there is anything there, but you must go in front of a judge and justify your invasion of privacy. Furious George has probably been tapping way more than “terrists” just like his hero Nixon. Otherwise (other than imperial overreach) why didn’t he go to the FISA court? Or get the law adjusted in Congress?

  5. trg34221 Says:

    In a 2002 opinion about the constitutionality of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the USA Patriot Act, the court wrote:

    “The Truong court, as did all the other courts to have decided the issue, held that the President did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information. (26) It was incumbent upon the court, therefore, to determine the boundaries of that constitutional authority in the case before it. We take for granted that the President does have that authority and, assuming that is so, FISA could not encroach on the President’s constitutional power.”

    26 Although the plurality opinion in Zweibon v. Mitchell, 516 F.2d 594, 633-51 (D.C. Cir. 1975) (en banc), cert. denied, 425 U.S. 944 (1976), suggested the contrary in dicta, it did not decide the issue.

    This is war>>> Al Qaeda Agent A is captured in Afghanistan and has Agent B’s number in his cell phone, which is monitored by NSA overseas. Agent B makes two or three calls every day to Agent C, who flies to New York. That chain of facts, without further evidence, does not establish probable cause for a court to believe that C is an agent of a foreign power with information about terrorism. Yet, post 9/11, does Al Gore want NSA to cease monitoring Agent C just because he landed on U.S. soil? Of course he does that is why America is better of he lost in 2000. The question is do you?

  6. treehugger Says:


    Al Gore is more of a statesman than Bush will ever be, and that drives people like you, trg, absolutely crazy. I’m lovin’ it.

  7. enkidu Says:

    trg, you can’t be serious right? If those agents A, B, C are US citizens, then you have to get a court order. It is that simple. Show reasonable cause or you can’t tap. The gov can even go fishing for 72 hours before appearing before the court to request a wire tap. I imagine you can continue to tap while the court delays or deliberates an application? mb not

    If they are not US citizens, different rules apply. Basically anything we can get our hands on… anything, anytime, anywhere. Let em sue us in international court (whoop d doo) Go for it lads! Echelon2000+double+good

    If we DON’T have major taps of the entire Pakistani and Saudi comm nets, then we should impeach these folks for dereliction of duty.

    So are we a nation of laws? Are all men equal before the law? Is our new king George above or beyond the law? Torture if he feels like it? Suspend habeus corpus for US citizens indefinitely?

    The bigger question might be: is there any way to get oversight back? Can we get a list of all the US citizens the NSA was listening in on (the thousands of dead ends in news reports)? Are we sure this is the list and not some bs db that the cooked up?

    As an aside aren’t you thrilled that the Democracies we’re are causing to bloom in the middle east are all radical fundementalist islamic shariia law states? Way to go george. Maybe Lebanon will turn out on the plus side?

  8. trg34221 Says:

    FISA provides a mechanism by which the executive can conduct warrant-approved surveillance under certain circumstances. But FISA covers only a limited number of intelligence-gathering scenarios. And no Administration–Democrat or Republican–has recognized FISA as a binding limit on executive power.

    No one would suggest the President must get a warrant to listen to terrorist communications on the battlefield in Iraq or Afghanistan. But what the critics are really insisting on here is that the President get a warrant the minute a terrorist communicates with an associate who may be inside in the U.S. please not only is that silly but it is stupid as well.

    If during the civil war President Abraham Lincoln can suspended the Writ of Habeas Corpus which protects Americans from being unjustly imprisoned and if during WWII President Roosevelt who signed Executive Order 9066, which branded Japanese Americans “enemy aliens” and ordered them out of California, Arizona, Oregon and Washington. Forcing 110,000 people of Japanese descent mostly US citizens to internment camps……

    Then GW Bush can use the NSA to monitor contacts of foreign terrorist to prevent someone from planting and setting off a Nuclear Bomb in NYC…

  9. enkidu Says:

    Interesting that you KNOW that everyone in your example is a terrorist. You KNOW there is a bomb ticking. You KNOW things you wouldn’t know in the real world. And you could care less if any of these ‘agents’ are US citizens. hmmmmmm hello 1984?

    When you phrase the question “Is it OK for gwb to tap the phones of foriegn terrorists without a warrant?” then folks are going to answer yes. If you phrase it “Is it OK for gwb (or president hillary?) to tap the phones of any US citizen without a warrant?” It seems your answer would be “Yes please!” for gwb, but “BURN THE WITCH!” if it were preznit hillary?

    Your examples from Lincoln and FDR are some of the darkest and dumbest moments in US history. These collosal mistakes are your examples of doing it right? right wing(nut-moonbat-kill-the-commies-crazy)

  10. ethan-p Says:

    TRG, I have a few problems with some of your assertions. First:

    This is war

    In my opinion, calling the war on terrorism a proper war is really rhetoric, since the war on terrorism is not a war in any formal or legal sense. Congress voted to give George Bush the power to use military force, and appropriated funds for use of military force. War was never declared. No articles of war were drafted, and congress did not declare it (the constitution is very specific in that only the congress can declare war). War is a strictly legal term, and the seriousness of war mandate strict adherence to the procedural rules which govern such acts. In terms of the war on terrorism, the term ‘war’ is used in a colloquial sense. It is no more a war than our war on drugs and our war on poverty are wars. If the war on terrorism is an actual war, then maybe we’ve been at war since the late 60’s…in which case, maybe suspending habeus corpus was appropriate all along. It’s irrelevant, because it hasn’t happened.

    What is especially disturbing is that a war on terrorism can’t be won. There are no leaders to negotiate surrender with, and it will never go away. If we rounded up every single terrorist on the planet, more would sprout up overnight. It is (sadly), an effective means of fighting a greater power, and an effective means of swaying public opinion. It isn’t going away.

    I’m not suggesting that we not fight terrorism or accept defeat. On the contrary, it’s appropriate to look out for American interests. What I’m opposed to is declaring war on a non-proper noun. It doesn’t work. I’m even more opposed to using the colloquial term ‘war’ and applying it’s term literally (in a legal manner) in order to indefinitely suspend civil liberties.

    The constitution is very clear about how these things are supposed to work. There is a disturbing trend among many modern politicians who, rather than changing the consitution through proper channels, would rather just ignore it altogether.


    If during the civil war President Abraham Lincoln can suspended the Writ of Habeas Corpus

    I don’t have a problem with Lincoln suspending habeus corpus. Here’s my problem. If Bush is going to effectively suspend the writ of habeus corpus (or declare martial law), he should stop trying to munge terms and just do it. Of course, this would be extremely unpopular…but there’s where my problem is. If he is going to wield his power, he should do it the proper, legal way. Obviously, he realizes that the emergency just isn’t there to warrant this kind of suspension of civil liberties, so he’s using other means in a seemingly tricky way. Further, there are legal restrictions on a president’s ability to suspend habeus corpus.

    None of these actions should be undertaken in the caviler fashion that President Bush seems to be treating them.


    if during WWII President Roosevelt who signed Executive Order 9066, which branded Japanese Americans “enemy aliens” and ordered them out of California, Arizona, Oregon and Washington. Forcing 110,000 people of Japanese descent mostly US citizens to internment camps

    There was nothing OK about this. This was a despicable act. The operant word in the term Japanese American is the word American, and there’s nothing alright about putting innocent Americans into internment camps just because of their race. This is akin to putting Muslims into internment camps because there is a link between Islam and terrorism. There is also a distinct difference between the three time periods you mentioned (Civil War, WWII, and the War on Terrorism) that I alluded to earlier. In the first two cases, Articles of War were drafted and signed. War was formally declared. I challenge anyone to locate a formal declaration of war, authorized by congress.

    The fact that we’re in a new world, where everything has changed is simply not sufficient, just like saying that we’re at war is not enough. The president doesn’t have the power to change or ignore laws. That’s why congress is called the legislative branch. It’s their job to change the laws and create new ones…just like it’s their job to declare war (remember that authorizing force is not the same as declaring war).

    Why am I so up tight about the rules? Because if the government doesn’t follow its own rules which protect us from them, then we’re no longer free. All of our talk of freedom talk then becomes rhetoric. If that’s the case, what way of life are we fighting for? A lost ideal that’s been bastardized by an increasingly authoritarian government?


    Al Qaeda Agent A is captured in Afghanistan and has Agent B’s number in his cell phone, which is monitored by NSA overseas. Agent B makes two or three calls every day to Agent C, who flies to New York. That chain of facts, without further evidence, does not establish probable cause for a court to believe that C is an agent of a foreign power with information about terrorism. Yet, post 9/11, does Al Gore want NSA to cease monitoring Agent C just because he landed on U.S. soil?

    I think that you may misunderstand what is being argued. As far as I understand it, FISA does not protect foreign nationals on US soil. FISA protects American citizens living in the US. Furthermore, FISA realizes that there are certain potential emergencies which cannot wait for a warrant. The law allows for a 72-hour period to being a search without a warrant. This seems like a very fair compromise, which will keep us safe, while protecting civil liberties.

    The fundamental problem that I have is that the safeguards that average citizens have against the government are eroding. This is particularly alarming because we know what governments are capable of, even modern western governments. Within my parents lifetime, we’ve seen a possible worst-case-scenario emerge when a radical German leader came to power. During this same time, our own government has perpitrated some pretty heinous acts (like the aforementioned Japanese internment camps). Within a lifetime before that, the American government distributed smallpox-infested blankets to the undesirable American Indians. I am not saying that our government is evil and must be done away with. However, this is a reminder of what unchecked power has brought us in the past. The executive branch of our government is asking for, nay, assuming unchecked power. Many people have pointed out that your arguments tend to be aligned with partisan arguments, and if you are being partisan, just try to imagine a party whom you don’t inherently trust asking you to make the same sacrifice. Also remember that the changes that this president is proposing will apply to future presidents, whether you like them or not.

  11. enkidu Says:

    nicely put e-p

    Of course any attempt at rational discourse will be scorned and dismissed as delusion, slander and treason. Welcome to dumbya’s amerka.

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