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There He Blows Again By: Ben Johnson
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, January 17, 2006

AL GORE’S SPEECH BEFORE MoveOn.org yesterday confirmed what many of us had long suspected: he has morphed into Morton Downey Jr.

Years after the controversial talk show host claimed to be the victim of an imaginary neo-Nazi attack, Downey confessed, “It got out of control because the producers...wanted me to top myself every night. If I did something outlandish on Monday night, on Tuesday night, we'd have to think of something even more outlandish. And after awhile, you work yourself toward the edge of the trampoline and you fall off. I fell off a number of times and I found it very displeasing.” Al Gore is now in the position of having to one-up himself during his overheated homilies to the radical Left, and yesterday, he again vented the hate-filled lies his constituency has come to expect from him.

Substantively, he called for the appointment of a special prosecutor and Congressional hearings into “serious allegations of criminal behavior on the part of the president.” He also apparently called for Big Business mutiny, saying telecommunications companies “should immediately cease and desist their complicity in this apparently illegal invasion of the privacy of American citizens” embodied in President Bush’s wiretapping of al-Qaeda terrorists located overseas.


But the real fireworks were in his many, many overheated and demonstrably false charges against the president and the U.S. military – the latest in a long line of such allegations since his rejection by the voters in 2000. This time out:


·        Gore launched a railing accusation that Bush operated “a grossly unconstitutional program” that “seemed so clearly to violate the Bill of Rights” through “wholesale invasions of privacy.” He continued: “What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels the conclusion that the president of the United States has been breaking the [FISA] law repeatedly and persistently...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.”


Most legal scholars believe the president has inherent constitutional authority to conduct warrantless wiretaps to collect foreign intelligence, and no statute – including FISA – can reverse that. Citing a 22-year-old precedent, the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review ruled in 2002 that “the president did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information...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. John Schmidt, President Clinton’s associate attorney general from 1994-7, wrote that NSA surveillance against al-Qaeda “is consistent with court decisions and with the positions of the Justice Department under prior presidents”; FISA “did not alter the constitutional situation.” He quoted Clinton Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick’s 1994 testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee: “The Department of Justice believes, and the case law supports, that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes.” This led the way for President Bill Clinton’s Echelon program, which unleashed a far greater “invasion of privacy” during peacetime by intercepting millions of communications, often between American citizens – including Senator Strom Thurmond.


·        “[T]he Executive Branch has claimed a previously unrecognized authority to mistreat prisoners in its custody in ways that plainly constitute torture.”


Just last month President Bush reaffirmed, “this government does not torture…we adhere to the international convention of torture, whether it be here at home or abroad.” He spoke these words after signing Sen. John McCain’s ill-advised bill to extend Geneva Convention guarantees to terrorists. Not a single investigation into the actions of Private England, et. al. has uncovered any complicity from the Bush administration. Lt. Gen. Randall “Mark” Schmidt and Brig. Gen. John Furlow told the Senate Armed Services Committee last July, “No torture occurred” at Guantanamo Bay, either.


·        “Over 100 of these captives have reportedly died while being tortured by Executive Branch interrogators and many more have been broken and humiliated.”


According to the news report Gore misconstrued, 108 detainees died in U.S. custody, but “Roughly a quarter of those deaths have been investigated as possible abuse by U.S. personnel.” (Emphasis added.) That is 27 of 65,000 prisoners, or 0.0003 percent of all foreigners taken into custody on two fronts over four years. Most of these two dozen perpetrators have already faced or received disciplinary action.


In a 2003 MoveOn speech, Gore charged Bush with a mere 37 murders in Afghan and Iraqi prisons – another example of his one-upmanship.


·        “In the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, investigators who documented the pattern of torture estimated that more than 90 percent of the victims were innocent of any charges.”


The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) did in fact call the treatment terrorists receive “tantamount to torture,” though it did not “document” the charge. Amnesty International (and Ted Kennedy) referred to it as “the gulag of our time.” However, the claim that “90 percent of the victims were innocent” is recycled from an earlier Gore/MoveOn speech. As David Horowitz and I pointed out in our article “Al Gore or Al Jazeera?” Gore is referencing the ICRC, which conducted no such study, much less proved 90 percent of detainees were innocent.


·        “These practices violate the Geneva Conventions and the International Convention Against Torture, not to mention our own laws against torture.”


Even openly torturing terrorists would not violate the Geneva Conventions – which do not apply to terrorists – otherwise Senator McCain’s recent torture bill would have been unnecessary.


·        Gore claimed “CIA analysts” who disagreed with the president “found themselves under pressure at work and became fearful of losing promotions.”


Three reports produced in two nations refuted this conspiracy theory. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence did not find any evidence that administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or pressure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities.The Silberman-Robb report states there was “no evidence of political pressure…analysts universally asserted that in no instance did political pressure cause them to skew or alter any of their analytical judgments.” The Butler Report concluded likewise.


·        Gore alleged Bush is trying “to censor information that may be inconsistent with its stated ideological goals.”


Not one media outlet has claimed President Bush tried to “censor” its message. This is John Birch Society histrionics. Considering the recent burst of leaked covert information about the way the Bush administration gathers intelligence on terrorists – from EU “black sites” to James Risen’s new book – one could hardly say he is succeeding. 


  • Echoing Jimmy Carter, Gore warned “the American values we hold most dear have been placed at serious risk” by Bush’s “unprecedented claims” of “a truly breathtaking expansion of executive power.”

There is nothing “unprecedented” about Bush’s claim to have the inherent right to collect foreign intelligence by surveillance, without a warrant. The Supreme Court’s 1972 Keith decision states the president has such authority. Presidents since Carter, including Gore’s boss, have written executive orders on the subject. Clinton even authorized the NSA to wiretap the phone and ransack the home of CIA spy Aldrich Ames, sans court authorization.


Further, this is hardly the most “breathtaking expansion of executive power” in history. In his speech, Gore acknowledged that Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, Woodrow Wilson unleashed the “Palmer Raids,” and FDR forced Japanese internment during World War II. He overlooked the “Trail of Tears,” in which Andrew Jackson forced Indians off their land in Georgia in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling, reportedly saying, “[Chief Justice] John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.” Spying on terrorists seems inconsequential by comparison.


After these unwarranted slams, Gore really “fell off the trampoline.” He asserted President Bush attempted to undermine the authority of federal courts…by appointing Supreme Court justices! “Judge Alito is a longtime supporter of a powerful executive…Chief Justice Roberts has made plain his deference to the expansion of executive power through his support of judicial deference to executive agency rulemaking.” Alito famously told his inquisitors during his confirmation hearings, No person is above the law, and that means the president. Heaven knows what Gore is talking about in the Roberts case. (Besides, don’t leftists love “executive agency rulemaking,” especially by the EPA and OSHA?)


Gore raged on. “Members of the minority party are now routinely excluded from conference committees [in Congress], and amendments are routinely not allowed during floor consideration of legislation.” OK….


The favorite candidate of Buddhist temples everywhere deemed the Abramoff scandal “the tip of a giant iceberg that threatens the integrity of the entire legislative branch of government.” He also moaned about the Medicare prescription drug benefit and large corporations’ domination of the internet, all of which is somehow Bush’s fault, because his presidency “seems to be based on an instinct to intimidate and control.”


Despite his protests over Bush’s “unprecedented” power grab, Gore also claims terrorist actions create:


a real imperative to exercise the powers of the Executive Branch. Moreover, there is in fact an inherent power that is conferred by the Constitution to the president to take unilateral action to protect the nation from a sudden and immediate threat, but it is simply not possible to precisely define in legalistic terms exactly when that power is appropriate and when it is not.


Which begs the question, “Why is he bitching?”


Because he is the closest thing to the official voice of George Soros’ MoveOn.org – a group whose website twice hosted ads comparing President Bush to Adolf Hitler – and he has to live down to their expectations.


These insane ramblings are par for the course for the man who thundered, “He betrayed us! He betrayed this country!” They are but the latest in a long string of irresponsible, beyond-the-pale inanities from a bitter man.


In 2003, he insisted that Bush “engaged in a systematic effort to manipulate the facts in service to a totalistic ideology.” In an earlier speech, he called Abu Ghraib “Bush’s gulag,” and accused the president of “war crimes.”


In his August 7, 2003, MoveOn.org speech at NYU, Gore insisted “this president has claimed the right for his executive branch to send his assistants into every public library in America and secretly monitor what the rest of us are reading.” He then all but accused the Bush administration of complicity in 9/11, saying, “Two years ago yesterday…the president was apparently advised in specific language that al-Qaeda was going to hijack some airplanes to conduct a terrorist strike inside the U.S.” (Unfortunately for Gore, the first such report came in September 1998.) And he branded the Bush administration “fundamentally un-American.”


On Feb. 9, 2004, he asserted Operation Iraqi Freedom “was preordained and planned before 9/11.


Two months later, at another MoveOn-NYU speech, the head of CurrentTV claimed Bush “planted the seeds of war”; that he “made the world a far more dangerous place and dramatically increased the threat of terrorist attacks against the United States”; that Abu Ghraib interrogators used guidelines designed and insisted upon by the Bush White House; and that Iraq is “not the central front in the war on terror.” He also made repeated favorable mention of Gen. Anthony Zinni’s book just days after Zinni said Jewish “neocons” launched the war to support Israel.


This is raving conspiracy talk. Something you would expect to hear from someone with delusions of grandeur – someone who would claim he “took the initiative in creating the internet,” or “found a little place in upstate New York called Love Canal,” or “got a bunch of people indicted and sent to jail” as a reporter, or was a “a co-sponsor” of McCain-Feingold and “wrote” the Earned Income Tax Credit law, or that failure to recycle was roughly the same as the Holocaust, or “God sometimes talked to him,” or wrote part of Hubert Humphrey’s 1968 acceptance speech (as a 20-year-old pot smoker), or he “was fired upon” in Vietnam after he “grew up on a farm,” or whose lies span multiple, single-spaced pages.


It is a disgrace Al Gore came within a few hundred votes of becoming president during 9/11. It is to the Democratic Party Left’s everlasting shame that he still commands the respect of such a visible segment of their followers.

Ben Johnson is Managing Editor of FrontPage Magazine and co-author, with David Horowitz, of the book Party of Defeat. He is also the author of the books Teresa Heinz Kerry's Radical Gifts (2009) and 57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry's Charitable Giving (2004).

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