The latest front in the War on Terrorism was opened yesterday – by former Vice President Al Gore. At a critical juncture in the War on Terror, with the handover of sovereignty to the Iraqi Governing Council just weeks away, Gore appeared before the MoveOn.org, a radical group which had already compared Bush to Hitler. In a voice trembling with affected passion, Gore indicted the President for seeking world domination, referred to Abu Ghraib as Bush’s “gulag,” accused the President of “war crimes,” and intimated that he was a murderer. Gore also accused the war criminal of denying civil rights to terrorists and subverting American democracy, asserted there was no connection between the Saddam regime and terror, and declared for the third time this year the commander-in-chief had “betrayed” the American people.
According to Gore, this betrayal was co-terminous with the Administration itself. “To begin with, from its earliest days in power, this administration sought to radically destroy the foreign policy consensus that had guided America since the end of World War II.” In fact, it was Gore himself and Jimmy Carter who broke the consensus when they attacked Bush days after he went to the U.N. to seek what became a unanimous Security resolution on Iraq, thus launching the partisan battle over the war that has consumed the domestic political debate for the last year and a half, and sabotaged the war on terror in the process.
This was not the only history that Gore attempted to rewrite, as he claimed that, “the long successful strategy of containment was abandoned in favor of the new strategy of ‘preemption.’” Successful? There were five attacks on America by the terrorist enemy on Gore’s watch, beginning with the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 -- all of which went unanswered, which might well explain why al-Qaeda felt emboldened enough to undertake the attacks of 9/11. Containment? Saddam Hussein had tossed the UN inspectors out of Iraq with impunity when the Clinton Administration was too preoccupied with Monica Lewinsky to care. Only Bush's "pre-emptive" extrusion of 100,000 American troops onto the borders of Iraq caused Saddam to change his tune.
“More disturbing still,” Gore continued, “was (the Bush administration’s) frequent use of the word ‘dominance’ to describe their strategic goal, because an American policy of dominance is as repugnant to the rest of the world as the ugly dominance of the helpless, naked Iraqi prisoners has been to the American people.” This Marxoid prose was old hat to Gore, who was bellowing nearly two years ago that Bush’s foreign policy was “based on an openly proclaimed intention to dominate the world.” Shades of the Great Satan.
Echoing al-Jazeera, Gore fantasized massive prisoner abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan, then called the president a mass murderer. “George Bush promised to change the tone in Washington,” Gore said. “And indeed he did. As many as 37 prisoners may have been murdered while in captivity, though the numbers are difficult to rely upon because in many cases involving violent death, there were no autopsies.” To date, the Army has not affirmed that a single prisoner death has been caused by American troops. Yet Gore can rant – reviving a trope devised by Teddy Kennedy --: “How dare they subject us to such dishonor and disgrace! How dare they drag the good name of the United States of America through the mud of Saddam Hussein's torture prison!”
In his attack on the Administration for flouting international law in regard to the terrorists it is holding, Gore overlooks one vital fact: the Geneva Convention does not protect terrorists; it applies only to captured military personnel. Terrorists represent no state and, therefore are not signatories to these accords nor, as the beheading of Nicholas Berg gruesomely reminds us do they observe them. Thus, the military need not accord them these protections. As Berkeley law professor John Yoo noted in the Wall Street Journal, “Applying different standards to al-Qaeda does not abandon Geneva, but only recognizes that the U.S. faces a stateless enemy never contemplated in the Conventions.” But a man who required three recounts and a Supreme Court ruling before conceding defeat is probably not impressed by such arguments.
Gore expressed passionate concern for the “victims” of American dominance, particularly the terrorist enemy incarcerated at Abu Ghraib, and pointed the finger directly at the President. “What happened at the prison,” Gore thundered, “was not the result of random acts by ‘a few bad apples’; it was the natural consequence of the Bush administration policy that has dismantled those wise constraints and has made war on America's checks and balances.” (Speaking of checks and balances, during the Clinton administration an elderly couple named Glenn and Patricia Mendoza told President Clinton, “You suck, and those boys died!” referring to the soldiers killed in the Khobar Towers attack, about which Clinton and Gore did nothing. Clinton had them arrested for “threatening” him. Gore’s protest of this abuse of executive power has not been recorded.)
Of course, the Army had launched multiple investigations immediately on learning of the incidents at Abu Ghraib (and well before Gore was aware of them); the jail’s presiding officer, General Janis Karpinski, currently has a lawyer as her constant travel companion and President Bush has made an unprecedented presidential apology to Arabs for infractions that are minor compared to what normally goes on in Arab jails. But Al Gore is outraged. The cognitive dissonance is impressive.
And it does not end:
It is now clear that [the Bush Administration’s] obscene abuses of the truth and their unforgivable abuse of the trust placed in them after 9/11 by the American people led directly to the abuses of the prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison and, we are now learning, in many other similar facilities constructed as part of Bush's Gulag, in which, according to the Red Cross, 70 to 90 percent of the victims are totally innocent of any wrongdoing. (Emphasis added.)
The Red Cross in fact made no such statement. It launched no investigation into the matter whatsoever. Secondly, the statement that it did make, we should remind ourselves is a statement by a component of the Red Cross -- the Red Crescent, which is the Middle Eastern version of the Red Cross -- that has allowed its ambulances to be used by Palestinian terrorists. But then it is appropriate that this Al Gore, the Alpha Gore who has come out of the closet as a raving leftist, should rely on such sources for his indictment of Americans.
Of course, behind all this foaming is the staple view of the anti-war Democrats that the liberation of Iraq is a damnable fraud and should not have been undertaken in the first place. “[The President] has exposed Americans abroad and Americans in every U.S. town and city to a greater danger of attack by terrorists because of his arrogance, willfulness, and bungling at stirring up hornet's nests that pose no threat whatsoever to us.” Too bad that Gore made the same claim himself, and if any betraying has been done it has been Gore’s own 180 degree turn on this matter of war and peace:
If you allow someone like Saddam Hussein to get nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, chemical weapons, biological weapons, how many people is he going to kill with such weapons? He's already demonstrated a willingness to use these weapons. He poison-gassed his own people. He used poison gas and other weapons of mass destruction against his neighbors. This man has no compunction about killing lots and lots of people. (Al Gore, 1998)
Four years later and two weeks after Bush’s State of the Union Address, in which the President identified Iraq as part of an “Axis of Evil,” and made it clear that a confrontation with Saddam was brewing, Gore told the Council on Foreign Relations that he supported the President’s position:
Since the State of the Union there has been much discussion of whether Iraq, Iran and North Korea truly constitute an “Axis of Evil.” As far as I’m concerned, there really is something to be said for occasionally putting diplomacy aside and laying one’s cards on the table. There is value in calling evil by its name. (Al Gore, February 2002)
Not only was the Iraq regime evil, according to Gore, America must take Saddam down:
In 1991, I crossed party lines and supported the use of force against Saddam Hussein, but he was allowed to survive his defeat as the result of a calculation we all had reason to deeply regret for the ensuing decade. And we still do. So this time, if we resort to force, we must absolutely get it right. It must be an action set up carefully and on the basis of the most realistic concepts. Failure cannot be an option, which means that we must prepared to go the limit. (Emphasis added)
But that was then, and this is the reinvented now.
For the new Al Gore, the President cannot tell the truth, and terrorists like Saddam cannot connect with terror organizations like al-Qaeda. “The President convinced the country with a mixture of forged documents and blatantly false assertions that Saddam was in league with al-Qaeda.”
Tell that to Nicholas Berg, beheaded by al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who after being wounded in America’s war against the Taliban, took refuge and received medical treatment in Saddam’s Iraq and trained al-Qaeda warriors at Iraq’s Ansar al-Islam terrorist training base. A 16-page government memo provides convincing proof of the connection between Saddam and al-Qaeda. The Weekly Standard’s Stephen F. Hayes has written volumes on the matter. The al-Qaeda affiliate terrorist group Ansar al-Islam trained its terrorists in northern Iraq for years, even before Zarqawi arrived. A Saddam insider has testified that Saddam’s secret police, the Mukhabarat, provided weapons and funds to Ansar. Only diehard opponents of the war on terror, like the radicals at MoveOn.org could ignore this evidence to make the claims they do.
Not content to paint the president as a menace to foreigners (make that foreign terrorists), Gore charges Bush with undermining American democracy, as well. “They have launched an unprecedented assault on civil liberties.” Presumably, he is referring to the Patriot Act, which he wants to see repealed. Of course, as vice president, Gore asked for virtually identical investigative powers in the 1996 Anti-Terrorism Act (H.R. 666). In a fit of projection, Gore added, “Their appetite for power is astonishing. It has led them to introduce a new level of viciousness in partisan politics.”
Not to be outdone in non-sequiturs, even by himself, Gore ups the ante: “[Bush] has brought deep dishonor to our country and built a durable reputation as the most dishonest President since Richard Nixon.” Big words from a man who called an impeached perjurer “one of our greatest presidents.”
On the other hand, the kind of mendacity that Gore is now engaged in makes Clinton’s peccadillos seem exactly that. We are dealing here not with the sensibilities of a twenty-two year old intern or the amour propre of an overgrown adolescent. We are dealing with the security of 300 million Americans, and a force of thousands – potentially millions --planning atrocities against us we can barely imagine. In this moment of national peril, Al Gore is not serving his country or his fellow Americans well.