Home Store In Memoriam Deborah Newsletter Forum Topics Blogfeed Blogroll Facebook MySpace Contact Us About

Al Gore's Speech January 16, 2006, Part 2 - Fox's cut; White House response; Gore's response

Reported by Chrish - January 17, 2006

FOX News didn't cover any of Al Gore's scathing speech live yesterday; they needed time to selectively edit it and craft a rebuttal for the White House so their viewers would not get an uncensored hearing of Gore's statements. What follows is a transcript of Jim Angle's report on the speech, the White House response, Fox's article on the White House response available at FOXNews.com, and Gore's response to the White House.

Jim Angle last night reported on the speech, using selected clips indicated by (Gore) as follows:

JA - Former VP Al Gore uncorked a broad assault on the Bush administration, Congress, the judiciary, and even American society but his sharpest words were reserved for (Bush) whom he accused of criminal activity calling for the appointment of a Special Counsel to investigate.

(Gore) ...and it should be a political issue in any race, regardless of party, section of the country, house of Congress, for anyone who opposes the appointment of a Special Counsel under these dangerous circumstances when our Constitution is at risk.

JA - Gore was pointing to (Bush's) authorization of the NSA to eavesdrop on the calls and emails of terrorists overseas, even if one end of the conversation is in the US. But Gore acknowledged not knowing the details, he referred to them as wholesale invasions of privacy and argued there is no question they're illegal.

(Gore) What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels the conclusion that the President of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and insistantly.

JA - Gore did not mention that President Clinton authorized the FBI to search and wiretap the home of Aldrich Ames, a suspected spy, all without a warrant, and asserted the presidential power to do so. In the current case (Bush) did notify key members of Congress in both parties, some of whom raised questions but did nothing more. Gore criticized them too.

(Gore) Democrats as well as Republicans in the Congress must share the blame for not taking sufficient action to protest and seek to prevent what they consider a grossly unconstitutional program.

JA - National security experts say there are ways in which such eavesdropping would be in fact be legal unless it actually targets people in the US, for which the administration says it did seek warrants. Though no one knows exactly what (Bush) did authorize, a Republican strategist concedes there is a debate.

(Ron Kaufman, Fmr WH Political Director) But no one doubts that he's doing the right thing for the right reasons. And it's interesting, Al Gore is one of the people leading the charge, after 9/11, that we hadn't done our job, that we hadn't been listening carefully enough, that there were things we should have been doing more to make sure it didn't happen. You can't have it both ways.

(Comment: Apples and oranges. And yes you can; Bush needn't have carried this spying in secret - unless he's hiding something.)

JA - Gore said he'd come to raise alarm bells about an unprecedented expansion of executive power. So far the public doesn't seem that troubled, with polls showing a 3:1 support for eavesdropping on terrorists, or terrorist suspects, wherever they are.

Comment: The poll cited is faulty. It does not address the issue at hand.

From the White House Press Room this morning:

Q You kept saying "lawful." It's true the President -- there is a law that permits the President to get a warrant and wiretap. But he has not been doing that; he's been breaking the law. Al Gore said he broke the law. The ACLU is filing a suit. Why does he break the law? I mean, he has the means and the tools to do what --

MR. McCLELLAN: I reject that wholeheartedly, Helen. The legal justification has been spelled out by the Department of Justice.

In terms of Al Gore's comments, I think his hypocrisy knows no bounds. It was the Clinton administration that used warrantless physical searches. An example is what they did in the case of Aldrich Ames. And it was the Deputy Attorney General under the Clinton administration that testified before Congress and said, "First, the Department of Justice believes and the case law supports that the President has inherent authority" -- inherent authority -- "to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes and that the President may, as has been done, delegate this authority to the Attorney General." This is testimony, public testimony before the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

(Comment: That testimony by James Gorelick was made July 14, 1994, before FISA. Surely McClellan knows that.)

I would also point out that a former associate Attorney General under the Clinton administration said that every President since FISA's passage has asserted that he retained inherent power to go beyond the Act's terms -- under President Clinton -- and he pointed to the Deputy Attorney General's comments that I just referenced. So --

Q Then you welcome a core test on whether this is really legal or not.

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, there's going to be a Judiciary Committee hearing and the Attorney General has indicated he looks forward to going before the Judiciary Committee and discussing the legal justification for this. We have already spelled that legal justification out for people to look at. And he looks forward to talking to the Judiciary Committee and testifying on these matters.

Q Scott, let me just follow on the criticism of Al Gore, who, as Helen notes, called the spying program a dangerous over-reach; said that it should be looked into by a special counsel; said later that this may even be an impeachable offense. At the same time you've got Senator Hilary Clinton calling this administration one of the worst in U.S. history, comparing your Republican-controlled House to a plantation where dissenting voices are squelched.

How do you respond to what seem to be --

MR. McCLELLAN: You're combining two things. Let me address the first one --

Q Right, but I mean, they're combined in a sense that they go to how the party is governing, how the President is governing --

MR. McCLELLAN: I think I just talked about Al Gore's comments and I said Al Gore's hypocrisy knows no bounds. If he is going to be the voice of the Democratic Party on national security matters, we welcome it, we look forward to the discussion. I think the American people clearly understand the importance of what we're trying to do to protect them and prevent attacks from happening. And that's why this authorization is so vital.

In terms of the comments you referenced from Senator Clinton, I think that they were out of bounds.

Fox's website article highlighted the same talking points:

WASHINGTON — The White House said on Tuesday that comments by former Vice President Al Gore over the National Security Agency's electronic surveillance program show his "hypocrisy knows no bounds."

"If Al Gore is the voice of the Democratic Party on national security issues, we welcome it," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

McClellan was responding to Gore's assault on the Bush administration, Congress, the judiciary, and even American society Monday in a broadside attack before a glowing audience of supporters. (Comment: Glowing - that's rich. The audiences hand-selected and pre-screened for Bush must be positively radioactive, though I don't recall Fox ever noting this.) His Washington speech targeted the NSA program, which Gore claims threatens "the very structure of our government" especially hard.

McClellan defended the program as "a critical tool in the War on Terror" and "it's designed to prevent attacks."

Gore did not mention former President Bill Clinton's authorization for the FBI to search and wiretap the home of Aldrich Ames, a spy suspect, without a warrant. But McClellan brought it up in his remarks, saying the Clinton/Gore administration "engaged in warrantless physical searches," citing the search of Ames' home without a warrant.

Gore, who said Bush "repeatedly and persistently" broke the law when authorizing the program, called for a special counsel to be appointed by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Gonzales announced last week that he would testify at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the legal grounds of the program.

"And it should be a political issue in any race, regardless of party, section of the country, house of Congress, or anyone who opposes the appointment of a special counsel under these dangerous circumstances when our Constitution is at risk," Gore said, speaking in Washington to the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy and the Liberty Coalition, two organizations that expressed concern with the legality of the surveillance program.

Bush has defended the program as an essential anti-terrorism tool. The president has also referenced a congressional resolution passed after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that gave him authorization to use force.

Gore said he wants a special counsel to investigate Bush's authorization of NSA's program that eavesdrops on phone calls and e-mails of terrorists overseas. (Comment: It's the DOMESTIC spying that is at issue. Everybody knows that; why doesn't FOX?) Though Gore acknowledges not knowing the details of the program, he referred to them as "wholesale invasions of privacy."

"What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels the conclusion that the president of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and insistently," Gore said.

Bush informed congressional leaders from both parties about the NSA program, some of whom raised questions but did nothing more. Gore criticized those congressional leaders, saying, "Democrats as well as Republicans in the Congress must share the blame for not taking significant action to protest and seek to prevent what they consider a grossly unconstitutional program."

Experts on national security say eavesdropping can be legal unless it actually "targets" people in the United States, for which the administration contends it did seek warrants.

Ronald Kaufman, a Republican political strategist, said Gore is wrong.

"No one doubts [Bush] was doing the right things for the right reasons," Kaufman said. "And it's interesting, Al Gore was one of the folks leading the charge, saying after 9/11 that we hadn't done our job, that we hadn't listened carefully enough, that there were things we should have been doing more to make sure it didn't happen. You can't have it both ways."

Other Republicans also spoke out against Gore's comments.

"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," said Tracey Schmitt, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee.

Here is Gore's reply, which I've yet to see on FOX and somehow suspect we won't:

The Administration's response to my speech illustrates perfectly the need for a special counsel to review the legality of the NSA wiretapping program. The Attorney General is making a political defense of the President without even addressing the substantive legal questions that have so troubled millions of Americans in both political parties.

There are two problems with the Attorney General's effort to focus attention on the past instead of the present Administration's behavior. First, as others have thoroughly documented, his charges are factually wrong. Both before and after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was amended in 1995, the Clinton/Gore Administration complied fully and completely with the terms of the law.

Second, the Attorney General's attempt to cite a previous administration's activity as precedent for theirs - even though factually wrong - ironically demonstrates another reason why we must be so vigilant about their brazen disregard for the law. If unchecked, their behavior would serve as a precedent to encourage future presidents to claim these same powers, which many legal experts in both parties believe are clearly illegal.

The issue, simply put, is that for more than four years, the executive branch has been wiretapping many thousands of American citizens without warrants in direct contradiction of American law. It is clearly wrong and disrespectful to the American people to allow a close political associate of the president to be in charge of reviewing serious charges against him.

The country needs a full and independent investigation into the facts and legality of the present Administration's program.

***********
Comment: The FOX reportage on this story closely mirrors the White House talking points, both offensive and defensive. The (what has to be ) deliberate distortion of the Clinton/Ames story is useful only in defending Bush, not in truthfully informing viewers. The RNC attack on Gore seeks to smear and dismiss and is blatantly partisan.

Comments
Post a comment




Remember Me?


We welcome your opinions and viewpoints. Comments must remain civil, on-topic and must not violate any copyright or other laws. We reserve the right to delete any comments we deem inappropriate or non-constructive to the discussion for any reason, and to block any commenter for repeated violations.

Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.