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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.drudgereport.com/flash1g.htm GORE BLASTS BUSH FOR DANGEROUS BREACH Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C. Mon Jan 16 2006 12:40:14 ET Congressman
    Message 1 of 5 , Jan 16, 2006
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      http://www.drudgereport.com/flash1g.htm

      GORE BLASTS BUSH FOR 'DANGEROUS BREACH'
      Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C.
      Mon Jan 16 2006 12:40:14 ET

      Congressman Barr and I have disagreed many times over
      the years, but we have joined together today with
      thousands of our fellow citizens-Democrats and
      Republicans alike-to express our shared concern that
      America's Constitution is in grave danger.

      In spite of our differences over ideology and
      politics, we are in strong agreement that the American
      values we hold most dear have been placed at serious
      risk by the unprecedented claims of the Administration
      to a truly breathtaking expansion of executive power.

      As we begin this new year, the Executive Branch of our
      government has been caught eavesdropping on huge
      numbers of American citizens and has brazenly declared
      that it has the unilateral right to continue without
      regard to the established law enacted by Congress to
      prevent such abuses.

      It is imperative that respect for the rule of law be
      restored.

      So, many of us have come here to Constitution Hall to
      sound an alarm and call upon our fellow citizens to
      put aside partisan differences and join with us in
      demanding that our Constitution be defended and
      preserved.

      It is appropriate that we make this appeal on the day
      our nation has set aside to honor the life and legacy
      of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who challenged America
      to breathe new life into our oldest values by
      extending its promise to all our people.

      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-one of hundreds of thousands of Americans
      whose private communications were intercepted by the
      U.S. government during this period.

      The FBI privately called King the "most dangerous and
      effective negro leader in the country" and vowed to
      "take him off his pedestal." The government even
      attempted to destroy his marriage and blackmail him
      into committing suicide.

      This campaign continued until Dr. King's murder. The
      discovery that the FBI conducted a long-running and
      extensive campaign of secret electronic surveillance
      designed to infiltrate the inner workings of the
      Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and to learn
      the most intimate details of Dr. King's life, helped
      to convince Congress to enact restrictions on
      wiretapping.

      The result was the Foreign Intelligence and
      Surveillance Act (FISA), which was enacted expressly
      to ensure that foreign intelligence surveillance would
      be presented to an impartial judge to verify that
      there is a sufficient cause for the surveillance. I
      voted for that law during my first term in Congress
      and for almost thirty years the system has proven a
      workable and valued means of according a level of
      protection for private citizens, while permitting
      foreign surveillance to continue.

      Yet, just one month ago, Americans awoke to the
      shocking news that in spite of this long settled law,
      the Executive Branch has been secretly spying on large
      numbers of Americans for the last four years and
      eavesdropping on "large volumes of telephone calls,
      e-mail messages, and other Internet traffic inside the
      United States." The New York Times reported that the
      President decided to launch this massive eavesdropping
      program "without search warrants or any new laws that
      would permit such domestic intelligence collection."

      During the period when this eavesdropping was still
      secret, the President went out of his way to reassure
      the American people on more than one occasion that, of
      course, judicial permission is required for any
      government spying on American citizens and that, of
      course, these constitutional safeguards were still in
      place.

      But surprisingly, the President's soothing statements
      turned out to be false. Moreover, as soon as this
      massive domestic spying program was uncovered by the
      press, the President not only confirmed that the story
      was true, but also declared that he has no intention
      of bringing these wholesale invasions of privacy to an
      end.

      At present, we still have much to learn about the
      NSA's domestic surveillance. 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 persistently.

      A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very
      structure of our government. Our Founding Fathers were
      adamant that they had established a government of laws
      and not men. Indeed, they recognized that the
      structure of government they had enshrined in our
      Constitution - our system of checks and balances - was
      designed with a central purpose of ensuring that it
      would govern through the rule of law. As John Adams
      said: "The executive shall never exercise the
      legislative and judicial powers, or either of them, to
      the end that it may be a government of laws and not of
      men."

      An executive who arrogates to himself the power to
      ignore the legitimate legislative directives of the
      Congress or to act free of the check of the judiciary
      becomes the central threat that the Founders sought to
      nullify in the Constitution - an all-powerful
      executive too reminiscent of the King from whom they
      had broken free. In the words of James Madison, "the
      accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive,
      and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a
      few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed,
      or elective, may justly be pronounced the very
      definition of tyranny."

      Thomas Paine, whose pamphlet, "On Common Sense"
      ignited the American Revolution, succinctly described
      America's alternative. Here, he said, we intended to
      make certain that "the law is king."

      Vigilant adherence to the rule of law strengthens our
      democracy and strengthens America. It ensures that
      those who govern us operate within our constitutional
      structure, which means that our democratic
      institutions play their indispensable role in shaping
      policy and determining the direction of our nation. It
      means that the people of this nation ultimately
      determine its course and not executive officials
      operating in secret without constraint.

      The rule of law makes us stronger by ensuring that
      decisions will be tested, studied, reviewed and
      examined through the processes of government that are
      designed to improve policy. And the knowledge that
      they will be reviewed prevents over-reaching and
      checks the accretion of power.

      A commitment to openness, truthfulness and
      accountability also helps our country avoid many
      serious mistakes. Recently, for example, we learned
      from recently classified declassified documents that
      the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which authorized the
      tragic Vietnam war, was actually based on false
      information. We now know that the decision by Congress
      to authorize the Iraq War, 38 years later, was also
      based on false information. America would have been
      better off knowing the truth and avoiding both of
      these colossal mistakes in our history. Following the
      rule of law makes us safer, not more vulnerable.

      The President and I agree on one thing. The threat
      from terrorism is all too real. There is simply no
      question that we continue to face new challenges in
      the wake of the attack on September 11th and that we
      must be ever-vigilant in protecting our citizens from
      harm.

      Where we disagree is that we have to break the law or
      sacrifice our system of government to protect
      Americans from terrorism. In fact, doing so makes us
      weaker and more vulnerable.

      Once violated, the rule of law is in danger. Unless
      stopped, lawlessness grows. The greater the power of
      the executive grows, the more difficult it becomes for
      the other branches to perform their constitutional
      roles. As the executive acts outside its
      constitutionally prescribed role and is able to
      control access to information that would expose its
      actions, it becomes increasingly difficult for the
      other branches to police it. Once that ability is
      lost, democracy itself is threatened and we become a
      government of men and not laws.

      The President's men have minced words about America's
      laws. The Attorney General openly conceded that the
      "kind of surveillance" we now know they have been
      conducting requires a court order unless authorized by
      statute. 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. Incredibly, the
      Administration claims instead that the surveillance
      was implicitly authorized when Congress voted to use
      force against those who attacked us on September 11th.

      This argument just does not hold any water. Without
      getting into the legal intricacies, it faces a number
      of embarrassing facts. First, another admission by the
      Attorney General: he concedes that the Administration
      knew that the NSA project was prohibited by existing
      law and that they consulted with some members of
      Congress about changing the statute. Gonzalez says
      that they were told this probably would not be
      possible. So how can they now argue that the
      Authorization for the Use of Military Force somehow
      implicitly authorized it all along? Second, when the
      Authorization was being debated, the Administration
      did in fact seek to have language inserted in it that
      would have authorized them to use military force
      domestically - and the Congress did not agree. Senator
      Ted Stevens and Representative Jim McGovern, among
      others, made statements during the Authorization
      debate clearly restating that that Authorization did
      not operate domestically.

      When President Bush failed to convince Congress to
      give him all the power he wanted when they passed the
      AUMF, he secretly assumed that power anyway, as if
      congressional authorization was a useless bother. But
      as Justice Frankfurter once wrote: "To find authority
      so explicitly withheld is not merely to disregard in a
      particular instance the clear will of Congress. It is
      to disrespect the whole legislative process and the
      constitutional division of authority between President
      and Congress."

      This is precisely the "disrespect" for the law that
      the Supreme Court struck down in the steel seizure
      case.

      It is this same disrespect for America's Constitution
      which has now brought our republic to the brink of a
      dangerous breach in the fabric of the Constitution.
      And the disrespect embodied in these apparent mass
      violations of the law is part of a larger pattern of
      seeming indifference to the Constitution that is
      deeply troubling to millions of Americans in both
      political parties.

      For example, the President has also declared that he
      has a heretofore unrecognized inherent power to seize
      and imprison any American citizen that he alone
      determines to be a threat to our nation, and that,
      notwithstanding his American citizenship, the person
      imprisoned has no right to talk with a lawyer-even to
      argue that the President or his appointees have made a
      mistake and imprisoned the wrong person.

      The President claims that he can imprison American
      citizens indefinitely for the rest of their lives
      without an arrest warrant, without notifying them
      about what charges have been filed against them, and
      without informing their families that they have been
      imprisoned.

      At the same time, the Executive Branch has claimed a
      previously unrecognized authority to mistreat
      prisoners in its custody in ways that plainly
      constitute torture in a pattern that has now been
      documented in U.S. facilities located in several
      countries around the world.

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

      This shameful exercise of power overturns a set of
      principles that our nation has observed since General
      Washington first enunciated them during our
      Revolutionary War and has been observed by every
      president since then - until now. These practices
      violate the Geneva Conventions and the International
      Convention Against Torture, not to mention our own
      laws against torture.

      The President has also claimed that he has the
      authority to kidnap individuals in foreign countries
      and deliver them for imprisonment and interrogation on
      our behalf by autocratic regimes in nations that are
      infamous for the cruelty of their techniques for
      torture.

      Some of our traditional allies have been shocked by
      these new practices on the part of our nation. The
      British Ambassador to Uzbekistan - one of those
      nations with the worst reputations for torture in its
      prisons - registered a complaint to his home office
      about the senselessness and cruelty of the new U.S.
      practice: "This material is useless - we are selling
      our souls for dross. It is in fact positively
      harmful."

      Can it be true that any president really has such
      powers under our Constitution? If the answer is "yes"
      then under the theory by which these acts are
      committed, are there any acts that can on their face
      be prohibited? If the President has the inherent
      authority to eavesdrop, imprison citizens on his own
      declaration, kidnap and torture, then what can't he
      do?

      The Dean of Yale Law School, Harold Koh, said after
      analyzing the Executive Branch's claims of these
      previously unrecognized powers: "If the President has
      commander-in-chief power to commit torture, he has the
      power to commit genocide, to sanction slavery, to
      promote apartheid, to license summary execution."

      The fact that our normal safeguards have thus far
      failed to contain this unprecedented expansion of
      executive power is deeply troubling. This failure is
      due in part to the fact that the Executive Branch has
      followed a determined strategy of obfuscating,
      delaying, withholding information, appearing to yield
      but then refusing to do so and dissembling in order to
      frustrate the efforts of the legislative and judicial
      branches to restore our constitutional balance.

      For example, after appearing to support legislation
      sponsored by John McCain to stop the continuation of
      torture, the President declared in the act of signing
      the bill that he reserved the right not to comply with
      it.

      Similarly, the Executive Branch claimed that it could
      unilaterally imprison American citizens without giving
      them access to review by any tribunal. The Supreme
      Court disagreed, but the President engaged in legal
      maneuvers designed to prevent the Court from providing
      meaningful content to the rights of its citizens.

      A conservative jurist on the Fourth Circuit Court of
      Appeals wrote that the Executive Branch's handling of
      one such case seemed to involve the sudden abandonment
      of principle "at substantial cost to the government's
      credibility before the courts."

      As a result of its unprecedented claim of new
      unilateral power, the Executive Branch has now put our
      constitutional design at grave risk. The stakes for
      America's representative democracy are far higher than
      has been generally recognized.

      These claims must be rejected and a healthy balance of
      power restored to our Republic. Otherwise, the
      fundamental nature of our democracy may well undergo a
      radical transformation.

      For more than two centuries, America's freedoms have
      been preserved in part by our founders' wise decision
      to separate the aggregate power of our government into
      three co-equal branches, each of which serves to check
      and balance the power of the other two.

      On more than a few occasions, the dynamic interaction
      among all three branches has resulted in collisions
      and temporary impasses that create what are invariably
      labeled "constitutional crises." These crises have
      often been dangerous and uncertain times for our
      Republic. But in each such case so far, we have found
      a resolution of the crisis by renewing our common
      agreement to live under the rule of law.

      The principle alternative to democracy throughout
      history has been the consolidation of virtually all
      state power in the hands of a single strongman or
      small group who together exercise that power without
      the informed consent of the governed.

      It was in revolt against just such a regime, after
      all, that America was founded. When Lincoln declared
      at the time of our greatest crisis that the ultimate
      question being decided in the Civil War was "whether
      that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so
      dedicated, can long endure," he was not only saving
      our union but also was recognizing the fact that
      democracies are rare in history. And when they fail,
      as did Athens and the Roman Republic upon whose
      designs our founders drew heavily, what emerges in
      their place is another strongman regime.

      There have of course been other periods of American
      history when the Executive Branch claimed new powers
      that were later seen as excessive and mistaken. Our
      second president, John Adams, passed the infamous
      Alien and Sedition Acts and sought to silence and
      imprison critics and political opponents.

      When his successor, Thomas Jefferson, eliminated the
      abuses he said: "[The essential principles of our
      Government] form the bright constellation which has
      gone before us and guided our steps through an age of
      revolution and reformation... [S]hould we wander from
      them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to
      retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone
      leads to peace, liberty and safety."

      Our greatest President, Abraham Lincoln, suspended
      habeas corpus during the Civil War. Some of the worst
      abuses prior to those of the current administration
      were committed by President Wilson during and after
      WWI with the notorious Red Scare and Palmer Raids. The
      internment of Japanese Americans during WWII marked a
      low point for the respect of individual rights at the
      hands of the executive. And, during the Vietnam War,
      the notorious COINTELPRO program was part and parcel
      of the abuses experienced by Dr. King and thousands of
      others.

      But in each of these cases, when the conflict and
      turmoil subsided, the country recovered its
      equilibrium and absorbed the lessons learned in a
      recurring cycle of excess and regret.

      There are reasons for concern this time around that
      conditions may be changing and that the cycle may not
      repeat itself. For one thing, we have for decades been
      witnessing the slow and steady accumulation of
      presidential power. In a global environment of nuclear
      weapons and cold war tensions, Congress and the
      American people accepted ever enlarging spheres of
      presidential initiative to conduct intelligence and
      counter intelligence activities and to allocate our
      military forces on the global stage. When military
      force has been used as an instrument of foreign policy
      or in response to humanitarian demands, it has almost
      always been as the result of presidential initiative
      and leadership. As Justice Frankfurter wrote in the
      Steel Seizure Case, "The accretion of dangerous power
      does not come in a day. It does come, however slowly,
      from the generative force of unchecked disregard of
      the restrictions that fence in even the most
      disinterested assertion of authority."

      A second reason to believe we may be experiencing
      something new is that we are told by the
      Administration that the war footing upon which he has
      tried to place the country is going to "last for the
      rest of our lives." So we are told that the conditions
      of national threat that have been used by other
      Presidents to justify arrogations of power will
      persist in near perpetuity.

      Third, we need to be aware of the advances in
      eavesdropping and surveillance technologies with their
      capacity to sweep up and analyze enormous quantities
      of information and to mine it for intelligence. This
      adds significant vulnerability to the privacy and
      freedom of enormous numbers of innocent people at the
      same time as the potential power of those
      technologies. These techologies have the potential for
      shifting the balance of power between the apparatus of
      the state and the freedom of the individual in ways
      both subtle and profound.

      Don't misunderstand me: the threat of additional
      terror strikes is all too real and their concerted
      efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction does
      create a real imperative to exercise the powers of the
      Executive Branch with swiftness and agility. 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.

      But the existence of that inherent power cannot be
      used to justify a gross and excessive power grab
      lasting for years that produces a serious imbalance in
      the relationship between the executive and the other
      two branches of government.

      There is a final reason to worry that we may be
      experiencing something more than just another cycle of
      overreach and regret. This Administration has come to
      power in the thrall of a legal theory that aims to
      convince us that this excessive concentration of
      presidential authority is exactly what our
      Constitution intended.

      This legal theory, which its proponents call the
      theory of the unitary executive but which is more
      accurately described as the unilateral executive,
      threatens to expand the president's powers until the
      contours of the constitution that the Framers actually
      gave us become obliterated beyond all recognition.
      Under this theory, the President's authority when
      acting as Commander-in-Chief or when making foreign
      policy cannot be reviewed by the judiciary or checked
      by Congress. President Bush has pushed the
      implications of this idea to its maximum by
      continually stressing his role as Commander-in-Chief,
      invoking it has frequently as he can, conflating it
      with his other roles, domestic and foreign. When added
      to the idea that we have entered a perpetual state of
      war, the implications of this theory stretch quite
      literally as far into the future as we can imagine.

      This effort to rework America's carefully balanced
      constitutional design into a lopsided structure
      dominated by an all powerful Executive Branch with a
      subservient Congress and judiciary
      is-ironically-accompanied by an effort by the same
      administration to rework America's foreign policy from
      one that is based primarily on U.S. moral authority
      into one that is based on a misguided and
      self-defeating effort to establish dominance in the
      world.

      The common denominator seems to be based on an
      instinct to intimidate and control.

      This same pattern has characterized the effort to
      silence dissenting views within the Executive Branch,
      to censor information that may be inconsistent with
      its stated ideological goals, and to demand conformity
      from all Executive Branch employees.

      For example, CIA analysts who strongly disagreed with
      the White House assertion that Osama bin Laden was
      linked to Saddam Hussein found themselves under
      pressure at work and became fearful of losing
      promotions and salary increases.

      Ironically, that is exactly what happened to FBI
      officials in the 1960s who disagreed with J. Edgar
      Hoover's view that Dr. King was closely connected to
      Communists. The head of the FBI's domestic
      intelligence division said that his effort to tell the
      truth about King's innocence of the charge resulted in
      he and his colleagues becoming isolated and pressured.
      "It was evident that we had to change our ways or we
      would all be out on the street.... The men and I
      discussed how to get out of trouble. To be in trouble
      with Mr. Hoover was a serious matter. These men were
      trying to buy homes, mortgages on homes, children in
      school. They lived in fear of getting transferred,
      losing money on their homes, as they usually did. ...
      so they wanted another memorandum written to get us
      out of the trouble that we were in."

      The Constitution's framers understood this dilemma as
      well, as Alexander Hamilton put it, "a power over a
      man's support is a power over his will." (Federalist
      No. 73)

      Soon, there was no more difference of opinion within
      the FBI. The false accusation became the unanimous
      view. In exactly the same way, George Tenet's CIA
      eventually joined in endorsing a manifestly false view
      that there was a linkage between al Qaeda and the
      government of Iraq.

      In the words of George Orwell: "We are all capable of
      believing things which we know to be untrue, and then,
      when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting
      the facts so as to show that we were right.
      Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this
      process for an indefinite time: the only check on it
      is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up
      against solid reality, usually on a battlefield."

      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.

      Last week, for example, Vice President Cheney
      attempted to defend the Administration's eavesdropping
      on American citizens by saying that if it had
      conducted this program prior to 9/11, they would have
      found out the names of some of the hijackers.

      Tragically, he apparently still doesn't know that the
      Administration did in fact have the names of at least
      2 of the hijackers well before 9/11 and had available
      to them information that could have easily led to the
      identification of most of the other hijackers. And
      yet, because of incompetence in the handling of this
      information, it was never used to protect the American
      people.

      It is often the case that an Executive Branch beguiled
      by the pursuit of unchecked power responds to its own
      mistakes by reflexively proposing that it be given
      still more power. Often, the request itself it used to
      mask accountability for mistakes in the use of power
      it already has.

      Moreover, if 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.

      The same instinct to expand its power and to establish
      dominance characterizes the relationship between this
      Administration and the courts and the Congress.

      In a properly functioning system, the Judicial Branch
      would serve as the constitutional umpire to ensure
      that the branches of government observed their proper
      spheres of authority, observed civil liberties and
      adhered to the rule of law. Unfortunately, the
      unilateral executive has tried hard to thwart the
      ability of the judiciary to call balls and strikes by
      keeping controversies out of its hands - notably those
      challenging its ability to detain individuals without
      legal process -- by appointing judges who will be
      deferential to its exercise of power and by its
      support of assaults on the independence of the third
      branch.

      The President's decision to ignore FISA was a direct
      assault on the power of the judges who sit on that
      court. Congress established the FISA court precisely
      to be a check on executive power to wiretap. Yet, to
      ensure that the court could not function as a check on
      executive power, the President simply did not take
      matters to it and did not let the court know that it
      was being bypassed.

      The President's judicial appointments are clearly
      designed to ensure that the courts will not serve as
      an effective check on executive power. As we have all
      learned, Judge Alito is a longtime supporter of a
      powerful executive - a supporter of the so-called
      unitary executive, which is more properly called the
      unilateral executive. Whether you support his
      confirmation or not - and I do not - we must all agree
      that he will not vote as an effective check on the
      expansion of executive power. Likewise, Chief Justice
      Roberts has made plain his deference to the expansion
      of executive power through his support of judicial
      deference to executive agency rulemaking.

      And the Administration has supported the assault on
      judicial independence that has been conducted largely
      in Congress. That assault includes a threat by the
      Republican majority in the Senate to permanently
      change the rules to eliminate the right of the
      minority to engage in extended debate of the
      President's judicial nominees. The assault has
      extended to legislative efforts to curtail the
      jurisdiction of courts in matters ranging from habeas
      corpus to the pledge of allegiance. In short, the
      Administration has demonstrated its contempt for the
      judicial role and sought to evade judicial review of
      its actions at every turn.

      But the most serious damage has been done to the
      legislative branch. The sharp decline of congressional
      power and autonomy in recent years has been almost as
      shocking as the efforts by the Executive Branch to
      attain a massive expansion of its power.

      I was elected to Congress in 1976 and served eight
      years in the house, 8 years in the Senate and presided
      over the Senate for 8 years as Vice President. As a
      young man, I saw the Congress first hand as the son of
      a Senator. My father was elected to Congress in 1938,
      10 years before I was born, and left the Senate in
      1971.

      The Congress we have today is unrecognizable compared
      to the one in which my father served. There are many
      distinguished Senators and Congressmen serving today.
      I am honored that some of them are here in this hall.
      But the legislative branch of government under its
      current leadership now operates as if it is entirely
      subservient to the Executive Branch.

      Moreover, too many Members of the House and Senate now
      feel compelled to spend a majority of their time not
      in thoughtful debate of the issues, but raising money
      to purchase 30 second TV commercials.

      There have now been two or three generations of
      congressmen who don't really know what an oversight
      hearing is. In the 70's and 80's, the oversight
      hearings in which my colleagues and I participated
      held the feet of the Executive Branch to the fire - no
      matter which party was in power. Yet oversight is
      almost unknown in the Congress today.

      The role of authorization committees has declined into
      insignificance. The 13 annual appropriation bills are
      hardly ever actually passed anymore. Everything is
      lumped into a single giant measure that is not even
      available for Members of Congress to read before they
      vote on it.

      Members of the minority party are now routinely
      excluded from conference committees, and amendments
      are routinely not allowed during floor consideration
      of legislation.

      In the United States Senate, which used to pride
      itself on being the "greatest deliberative body in the
      world," meaningful debate is now a rarity. Even on the
      eve of the fateful vote to authorize the invasion of
      Iraq, Senator Robert Byrd famously asked: "Why is this
      chamber empty?"

      In the House of Representatives, the number who face a
      genuinely competitive election contest every two years
      is typically less than a dozen out of 435.

      And too many incumbents have come to believe that the
      key to continued access to the money for re-election
      is to stay on the good side of those who have the
      money to give; and, in the case of the majority party,
      the whole process is largely controlled by the
      incumbent president and his political organization.

      So the willingness of Congress to challenge the
      Administration is further limited when the same party
      controls both Congress and the Executive Branch.

      The Executive Branch, time and again, has co-opted
      Congress' role, and often Congress has been a willing
      accomplice in the surrender of its own power.

      Look for example at the Congressional role in
      "overseeing" this massive four year eavesdropping
      campaign that on its face seemed so clearly to violate
      the Bill of Rights. The President says he informed
      Congress, but what he really means is that he talked
      with the chairman and ranking member of the House and
      Senate intelligence committees and the top leaders of
      the House and Senate. This small group, in turn,
      claimed that they were not given the full facts,
      though at least one of the intelligence committee
      leaders handwrote a letter of concern to VP Cheney and
      placed a copy in his own safe.

      Though I sympathize with the awkward position in which
      these men and women were placed, I cannot disagree
      with the Liberty Coalition when it says that Democrats
      as well as Republicans in the Congress must share the
      blame for not taking action to protest and seek to
      prevent what they consider a grossly unconstitutional
      program.

      Moreover, in the Congress as a whole-both House and
      Senate-the enhanced role of money in the re-election
      process, coupled with the sharply diminished role for
      reasoned deliberation and debate, has produced an
      atmosphere conducive to pervasive institutionalized
      corruption.

      The Abramoff scandal is but the tip of a giant iceberg
      that threatens the integrity of the entire legislative
      branch of government.

      It is the pitiful state of our legislative branch
      which primarily explains the failure of our vaunted
      checks and balances to prevent the dangerous overreach
      by our Executive Branch which now threatens a radical
      transformation of the American system.

      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.

      But there is yet another Constitutional player whose
      pulse must be taken and whose role must be examined in
      order to understand the dangerous imbalance that has
      emerged with the efforts by the Executive Branch to
      dominate our constitutional system.

      We the people are-collectively-still the key to the
      survival of America's democracy. We-as Lincoln put it,
      "[e]ven we here"-must examine our own role as citizens
      in allowing and not preventing the shocking decay and
      degradation of our democracy.

      Thomas Jefferson said: "An informed citizenry is the
      only true repository of the public will."

      The revolutionary departure on which the idea of
      America was based was the audacious belief that people
      can govern themselves and responsibly exercise the
      ultimate authority in self-government. This insight
      proceeded inevitably from the bedrock principle
      articulated by the Enlightenment philosopher John
      Locke: "All just power is derived from the consent of
      the governed."

      The intricate and carefully balanced constitutional
      system that is now in such danger was created with the
      full and widespread participation of the population as
      a whole. The Federalist Papers were, back in the day,
      widely-read newspaper essays, and they represented
      only one of twenty-four series of essays that crowded
      the vibrant marketplace of ideas in which farmers and
      shopkeepers recapitulated the debates that played out
      so fruitfully in Philadelphia.

      Indeed, when the Convention had done its best, it was
      the people - in their various States - that refused to
      confirm the result until, at their insistence, the
      Bill of Rights was made integral to the document sent
      forward for ratification.

      And it is "We the people" who must now find once again
      the ability we once had to play an integral role in
      saving our Constitution.

      And here there is cause for both concern and great
      hope. The age of printed pamphlets and political
      essays has long since been replaced by television - a
      distracting and absorbing medium which sees determined
      to entertain and sell more than it informs and
      educates.

      Lincoln's memorable call during the Civil War is
      applicable in a new way to our dilemma today: "We must
      disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our
      country."

      Forty years have passed since the majority of
      Americans adopted television as their principal source
      of information. Its dominance has become so extensive
      that virtually all significant political communication
      now takes place within the confines of flickering
      30-second television advertisements.

      And the political economy supported by these short but
      expensive television ads is as different from the
      vibrant politics of America's first century as those
      politics were different from the feudalism which
      thrived on the ignorance of the masses of people in
      the Dark Ages.

      The constricted role of ideas in the American
      political system today has encouraged efforts by the
      Executive Branch to control the flow of information as
      a means of controlling the outcome of important
      decisions that still lie in the hands of the people.

      The Administration vigorously asserts its power to
      maintain the secrecy of its operations. After all, the
      other branches can't check an abuse of power if they
      don't know it is happening.

      For example, when the Administration was attempting to
      persuade Congress to enact the Medicare prescription
      drug benefit, many in the House and Senate raised
      concerns about the cost and design of the program.
      But, rather than engaging in open debate on the basis
      of factual data, the Administration withheld facts and
      prevented the Congress from hearing testimony that it
      sought from the principal administration expert who
      had compiled information showing in advance of the
      vote that indeed the true cost estimates were far
      higher than the numbers given to Congress by the
      President.

      Deprived of that information, and believing the false
      numbers given to it instead, the Congress approved the
      program. Tragically, the entire initiative is now
      collapsing- all over the country- with the
      Administration making an appeal just this weekend to
      major insurance companies to volunteer to bail it out.

      To take another example, scientific warnings about the
      catastrophic consequences of unchecked global warming
      were censored by a political appointee in the White
      House who had no scientific training. And today one of
      the leading scientific experts on global warming in
      NASA has been ordered not to talk to members of the
      press and to keep a careful log of everyone he meets
      with so that the Executive Branch can monitor and
      control his discussions of global warming.

      One of the other ways the Administration has tried to
      control the flow of information is by consistently
      resorting to the language and politics of fear in
      order to short-circuit the debate and drive its agenda
      forward without regard to the evidence or the public
      interest. As President Eisenhower said, "Any who act
      as if freedom's defenses are to be found in
      suppression and suspicion and fear confess a doctrine
      that is alien to America."

      Fear drives out reason. Fear suppresses the politics
      of discourse and opens the door to the politics of
      destruction. Justice Brandeis once wrote: "Men feared
      witches and burnt women."

      The founders of our country faced dire threats. If
      they failed in their endeavors, they would have been
      hung as traitors. The very existence of our country
      was at risk.

      Yet, in the teeth of those dangers, they insisted on
      establishing the Bill of Rights.

      Is our Congress today in more danger than were their
      predecessors when the British army was marching on the
      Capitol? Is the world more dangerous than when we
      faced an ideological enemy with tens of thousands of
      missiles poised to be launched against us and
      annihilate our country at a moment's notice? Is
      America in more danger now than when we faced
      worldwide fascism on the march-when our fathers fought
      and won two World Wars simultaneously?

      It is simply an insult to those who came before us and
      sacrificed so much on our behalf to imply that we have
      more to be fearful of than they. Yet they faithfully
      protected our freedoms and now it is up to us to do
      the same.

      We have a duty as Americans to defend our citizens'
      right not only to life but also to liberty and the
      pursuit of happiness. It is therefore vital in our
      current circumstances that immediate steps be taken to
      safeguard our Constitution against the present danger
      posed by the intrusive overreaching on the part of the
      Executive Branch and the President's apparent belief
      that he need not live under the rule of law.

      I endorse the words of Bob Barr, when he said, "The
      President has dared the American people to do
      something about it. For the sake of the Constitution,
      I hope they will."

      A special counsel should immediately be appointed by
      the Attorney General to remedy the obvious conflict of
      interest that prevents him from investigating what
      many believe are serious violations of law by the
      President. We have had a fresh demonstration of how an
      independent investigation by a special counsel with
      integrity can rebuild confidence in our system of
      justice. Patrick Fitzgerald has, by all accounts,
      shown neither fear nor favor in pursuing allegations
      that the Executive Branch has violated other laws.

      Republican as well as Democratic members of Congress
      should support the bipartisan call of the Liberty
      Coalition for the appointment of a special counsel to
      pursue the criminal issues raised by warrantless
      wiretapping of Americans by the President.

      Second, new whistleblower protections should
      immediately be established for members of the
      Executive Branch who report evidence of wrongdoing --
      especially where it involves the abuse of Executive
      Branch authority in the sensitive areas of national
      security.

      Third, both Houses of Congress should hold
      comprehensive-and not just superficial-hearings into
      these serious allegations of criminal behavior on the
      part of the President. And, they should follow the
      evidence wherever it leads.

      Fourth, the extensive new powers requested by the
      Executive Branch in its proposal to extend and enlarge
      the Patriot Act should, under no circumstances be
      granted, unless and until there are adequate and
      enforceable safeguards to protect the Constitution and
      the rights of the American people against the kinds of
      abuses that have so recently been revealed.

      Fifth, any telecommunications company that has
      provided the government with access to private
      information concerning the communications of Americans
      without a proper warrant should immediately cease and
      desist their complicity in this apparently illegal
      invasion of the privacy of American citizens.

      Freedom of communication is an essential prerequisite
      for the restoration of the health of our democracy.

      It is particularly important that the freedom of the
      Internet be protected against either the encroachment
      of government or the efforts at control by large media
      conglomerates. The future of our democracy depends on
      it.

      I mentioned that along with cause for concern, there
      is reason for hope. As I stand here today, I am filled
      with optimism that America is on the eve of a golden
      age in which the vitality of our democracy will be
      re-established and will flourish more vibrantly than
      ever. Indeed I can feel it in this hall.

      As Dr. King once said, "Perhaps a new spirit is rising
      among us. If it is, let us trace its movements and
      pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its
      guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way
      beyond the darkness that seems so close around us."
    • Ram Lau
      Is it transcribed by Drudge? LOL! I want to watch the real thing, hopefully C-SPAN will re-air it soon. Ram
      Message 2 of 5 , Jan 16, 2006
      • 0 Attachment
        Is it transcribed by Drudge? LOL!

        I want to watch the real thing, hopefully C-SPAN will re-air it soon.

        Ram


        --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, Greg Cannon <gregcannon1@y...>
        wrote:
        >
        > http://www.drudgereport.com/flash1g.htm
        >
        > GORE BLASTS BUSH FOR 'DANGEROUS BREACH'
        > Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C.
        > Mon Jan 16 2006 12:40:14 ET
        >
        > Congressman Barr and I have disagreed many times over
        > the years, but we have joined together today with
        > thousands of our fellow citizens-Democrats and
        > Republicans alike-to express our shared concern that
        > America's Constitution is in grave danger.
        >
        > In spite of our differences over ideology and
        > politics, we are in strong agreement that the American
        > values we hold most dear have been placed at serious
        > risk by the unprecedented claims of the Administration
        > to a truly breathtaking expansion of executive power.
        >
        > As we begin this new year, the Executive Branch of our
        > government has been caught eavesdropping on huge
        > numbers of American citizens and has brazenly declared
        > that it has the unilateral right to continue without
        > regard to the established law enacted by Congress to
        > prevent such abuses.
        >
        > It is imperative that respect for the rule of law be
        > restored.
        >
        > So, many of us have come here to Constitution Hall to
        > sound an alarm and call upon our fellow citizens to
        > put aside partisan differences and join with us in
        > demanding that our Constitution be defended and
        > preserved.
        >
        > It is appropriate that we make this appeal on the day
        > our nation has set aside to honor the life and legacy
        > of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who challenged America
        > to breathe new life into our oldest values by
        > extending its promise to all our people.
        >
        > 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-one of hundreds of thousands of Americans
        > whose private communications were intercepted by the
        > U.S. government during this period.
        >
        > The FBI privately called King the "most dangerous and
        > effective negro leader in the country" and vowed to
        > "take him off his pedestal." The government even
        > attempted to destroy his marriage and blackmail him
        > into committing suicide.
        >
        > This campaign continued until Dr. King's murder. The
        > discovery that the FBI conducted a long-running and
        > extensive campaign of secret electronic surveillance
        > designed to infiltrate the inner workings of the
        > Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and to learn
        > the most intimate details of Dr. King's life, helped
        > to convince Congress to enact restrictions on
        > wiretapping.
        >
        > The result was the Foreign Intelligence and
        > Surveillance Act (FISA), which was enacted expressly
        > to ensure that foreign intelligence surveillance would
        > be presented to an impartial judge to verify that
        > there is a sufficient cause for the surveillance. I
        > voted for that law during my first term in Congress
        > and for almost thirty years the system has proven a
        > workable and valued means of according a level of
        > protection for private citizens, while permitting
        > foreign surveillance to continue.
        >
        > Yet, just one month ago, Americans awoke to the
        > shocking news that in spite of this long settled law,
        > the Executive Branch has been secretly spying on large
        > numbers of Americans for the last four years and
        > eavesdropping on "large volumes of telephone calls,
        > e-mail messages, and other Internet traffic inside the
        > United States." The New York Times reported that the
        > President decided to launch this massive eavesdropping
        > program "without search warrants or any new laws that
        > would permit such domestic intelligence collection."
        >
        > During the period when this eavesdropping was still
        > secret, the President went out of his way to reassure
        > the American people on more than one occasion that, of
        > course, judicial permission is required for any
        > government spying on American citizens and that, of
        > course, these constitutional safeguards were still in
        > place.
        >
        > But surprisingly, the President's soothing statements
        > turned out to be false. Moreover, as soon as this
        > massive domestic spying program was uncovered by the
        > press, the President not only confirmed that the story
        > was true, but also declared that he has no intention
        > of bringing these wholesale invasions of privacy to an
        > end.
        >
        > At present, we still have much to learn about the
        > NSA's domestic surveillance. 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 persistently.
        >
        > A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very
        > structure of our government. Our Founding Fathers were
        > adamant that they had established a government of laws
        > and not men. Indeed, they recognized that the
        > structure of government they had enshrined in our
        > Constitution - our system of checks and balances - was
        > designed with a central purpose of ensuring that it
        > would govern through the rule of law. As John Adams
        > said: "The executive shall never exercise the
        > legislative and judicial powers, or either of them, to
        > the end that it may be a government of laws and not of
        > men."
        >
        > An executive who arrogates to himself the power to
        > ignore the legitimate legislative directives of the
        > Congress or to act free of the check of the judiciary
        > becomes the central threat that the Founders sought to
        > nullify in the Constitution - an all-powerful
        > executive too reminiscent of the King from whom they
        > had broken free. In the words of James Madison, "the
        > accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive,
        > and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a
        > few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed,
        > or elective, may justly be pronounced the very
        > definition of tyranny."
        >
        > Thomas Paine, whose pamphlet, "On Common Sense"
        > ignited the American Revolution, succinctly described
        > America's alternative. Here, he said, we intended to
        > make certain that "the law is king."
        >
        > Vigilant adherence to the rule of law strengthens our
        > democracy and strengthens America. It ensures that
        > those who govern us operate within our constitutional
        > structure, which means that our democratic
        > institutions play their indispensable role in shaping
        > policy and determining the direction of our nation. It
        > means that the people of this nation ultimately
        > determine its course and not executive officials
        > operating in secret without constraint.
        >
        > The rule of law makes us stronger by ensuring that
        > decisions will be tested, studied, reviewed and
        > examined through the processes of government that are
        > designed to improve policy. And the knowledge that
        > they will be reviewed prevents over-reaching and
        > checks the accretion of power.
        >
        > A commitment to openness, truthfulness and
        > accountability also helps our country avoid many
        > serious mistakes. Recently, for example, we learned
        > from recently classified declassified documents that
        > the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which authorized the
        > tragic Vietnam war, was actually based on false
        > information. We now know that the decision by Congress
        > to authorize the Iraq War, 38 years later, was also
        > based on false information. America would have been
        > better off knowing the truth and avoiding both of
        > these colossal mistakes in our history. Following the
        > rule of law makes us safer, not more vulnerable.
        >
        > The President and I agree on one thing. The threat
        > from terrorism is all too real. There is simply no
        > question that we continue to face new challenges in
        > the wake of the attack on September 11th and that we
        > must be ever-vigilant in protecting our citizens from
        > harm.
        >
        > Where we disagree is that we have to break the law or
        > sacrifice our system of government to protect
        > Americans from terrorism. In fact, doing so makes us
        > weaker and more vulnerable.
        >
        > Once violated, the rule of law is in danger. Unless
        > stopped, lawlessness grows. The greater the power of
        > the executive grows, the more difficult it becomes for
        > the other branches to perform their constitutional
        > roles. As the executive acts outside its
        > constitutionally prescribed role and is able to
        > control access to information that would expose its
        > actions, it becomes increasingly difficult for the
        > other branches to police it. Once that ability is
        > lost, democracy itself is threatened and we become a
        > government of men and not laws.
        >
        > The President's men have minced words about America's
        > laws. The Attorney General openly conceded that the
        > "kind of surveillance" we now know they have been
        > conducting requires a court order unless authorized by
        > statute. 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. Incredibly, the
        > Administration claims instead that the surveillance
        > was implicitly authorized when Congress voted to use
        > force against those who attacked us on September 11th.
        >
        > This argument just does not hold any water. Without
        > getting into the legal intricacies, it faces a number
        > of embarrassing facts. First, another admission by the
        > Attorney General: he concedes that the Administration
        > knew that the NSA project was prohibited by existing
        > law and that they consulted with some members of
        > Congress about changing the statute. Gonzalez says
        > that they were told this probably would not be
        > possible. So how can they now argue that the
        > Authorization for the Use of Military Force somehow
        > implicitly authorized it all along? Second, when the
        > Authorization was being debated, the Administration
        > did in fact seek to have language inserted in it that
        > would have authorized them to use military force
        > domestically - and the Congress did not agree. Senator
        > Ted Stevens and Representative Jim McGovern, among
        > others, made statements during the Authorization
        > debate clearly restating that that Authorization did
        > not operate domestically.
        >
        > When President Bush failed to convince Congress to
        > give him all the power he wanted when they passed the
        > AUMF, he secretly assumed that power anyway, as if
        > congressional authorization was a useless bother. But
        > as Justice Frankfurter once wrote: "To find authority
        > so explicitly withheld is not merely to disregard in a
        > particular instance the clear will of Congress. It is
        > to disrespect the whole legislative process and the
        > constitutional division of authority between President
        > and Congress."
        >
        > This is precisely the "disrespect" for the law that
        > the Supreme Court struck down in the steel seizure
        > case.
        >
        > It is this same disrespect for America's Constitution
        > which has now brought our republic to the brink of a
        > dangerous breach in the fabric of the Constitution.
        > And the disrespect embodied in these apparent mass
        > violations of the law is part of a larger pattern of
        > seeming indifference to the Constitution that is
        > deeply troubling to millions of Americans in both
        > political parties.
        >
        > For example, the President has also declared that he
        > has a heretofore unrecognized inherent power to seize
        > and imprison any American citizen that he alone
        > determines to be a threat to our nation, and that,
        > notwithstanding his American citizenship, the person
        > imprisoned has no right to talk with a lawyer-even to
        > argue that the President or his appointees have made a
        > mistake and imprisoned the wrong person.
        >
        > The President claims that he can imprison American
        > citizens indefinitely for the rest of their lives
        > without an arrest warrant, without notifying them
        > about what charges have been filed against them, and
        > without informing their families that they have been
        > imprisoned.
        >
        > At the same time, the Executive Branch has claimed a
        > previously unrecognized authority to mistreat
        > prisoners in its custody in ways that plainly
        > constitute torture in a pattern that has now been
        > documented in U.S. facilities located in several
        > countries around the world.
        >
        > Over 100 of these captives have reportedly died while
        > being tortured by Executive Branch interrogators and
        > many more have been broken and humiliated. 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.
        >
        > This shameful exercise of power overturns a set of
        > principles that our nation has observed since General
        > Washington first enunciated them during our
        > Revolutionary War and has been observed by every
        > president since then - until now. These practices
        > violate the Geneva Conventions and the International
        > Convention Against Torture, not to mention our own
        > laws against torture.
        >
        > The President has also claimed that he has the
        > authority to kidnap individuals in foreign countries
        > and deliver them for imprisonment and interrogation on
        > our behalf by autocratic regimes in nations that are
        > infamous for the cruelty of their techniques for
        > torture.
        >
        > Some of our traditional allies have been shocked by
        > these new practices on the part of our nation. The
        > British Ambassador to Uzbekistan - one of those
        > nations with the worst reputations for torture in its
        > prisons - registered a complaint to his home office
        > about the senselessness and cruelty of the new U.S.
        > practice: "This material is useless - we are selling
        > our souls for dross. It is in fact positively
        > harmful."
        >
        > Can it be true that any president really has such
        > powers under our Constitution? If the answer is "yes"
        > then under the theory by which these acts are
        > committed, are there any acts that can on their face
        > be prohibited? If the President has the inherent
        > authority to eavesdrop, imprison citizens on his own
        > declaration, kidnap and torture, then what can't he
        > do?
        >
        > The Dean of Yale Law School, Harold Koh, said after
        > analyzing the Executive Branch's claims of these
        > previously unrecognized powers: "If the President has
        > commander-in-chief power to commit torture, he has the
        > power to commit genocide, to sanction slavery, to
        > promote apartheid, to license summary execution."
        >
        > The fact that our normal safeguards have thus far
        > failed to contain this unprecedented expansion of
        > executive power is deeply troubling. This failure is
        > due in part to the fact that the Executive Branch has
        > followed a determined strategy of obfuscating,
        > delaying, withholding information, appearing to yield
        > but then refusing to do so and dissembling in order to
        > frustrate the efforts of the legislative and judicial
        > branches to restore our constitutional balance.
        >
        > For example, after appearing to support legislation
        > sponsored by John McCain to stop the continuation of
        > torture, the President declared in the act of signing
        > the bill that he reserved the right not to comply with
        > it.
        >
        > Similarly, the Executive Branch claimed that it could
        > unilaterally imprison American citizens without giving
        > them access to review by any tribunal. The Supreme
        > Court disagreed, but the President engaged in legal
        > maneuvers designed to prevent the Court from providing
        > meaningful content to the rights of its citizens.
        >
        > A conservative jurist on the Fourth Circuit Court of
        > Appeals wrote that the Executive Branch's handling of
        > one such case seemed to involve the sudden abandonment
        > of principle "at substantial cost to the government's
        > credibility before the courts."
        >
        > As a result of its unprecedented claim of new
        > unilateral power, the Executive Branch has now put our
        > constitutional design at grave risk. The stakes for
        > America's representative democracy are far higher than
        > has been generally recognized.
        >
        > These claims must be rejected and a healthy balance of
        > power restored to our Republic. Otherwise, the
        > fundamental nature of our democracy may well undergo a
        > radical transformation.
        >
        > For more than two centuries, America's freedoms have
        > been preserved in part by our founders' wise decision
        > to separate the aggregate power of our government into
        > three co-equal branches, each of which serves to check
        > and balance the power of the other two.
        >
        > On more than a few occasions, the dynamic interaction
        > among all three branches has resulted in collisions
        > and temporary impasses that create what are invariably
        > labeled "constitutional crises." These crises have
        > often been dangerous and uncertain times for our
        > Republic. But in each such case so far, we have found
        > a resolution of the crisis by renewing our common
        > agreement to live under the rule of law.
        >
        > The principle alternative to democracy throughout
        > history has been the consolidation of virtually all
        > state power in the hands of a single strongman or
        > small group who together exercise that power without
        > the informed consent of the governed.
        >
        > It was in revolt against just such a regime, after
        > all, that America was founded. When Lincoln declared
        > at the time of our greatest crisis that the ultimate
        > question being decided in the Civil War was "whether
        > that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so
        > dedicated, can long endure," he was not only saving
        > our union but also was recognizing the fact that
        > democracies are rare in history. And when they fail,
        > as did Athens and the Roman Republic upon whose
        > designs our founders drew heavily, what emerges in
        > their place is another strongman regime.
        >
        > There have of course been other periods of American
        > history when the Executive Branch claimed new powers
        > that were later seen as excessive and mistaken. Our
        > second president, John Adams, passed the infamous
        > Alien and Sedition Acts and sought to silence and
        > imprison critics and political opponents.
        >
        > When his successor, Thomas Jefferson, eliminated the
        > abuses he said: "[The essential principles of our
        > Government] form the bright constellation which has
        > gone before us and guided our steps through an age of
        > revolution and reformation... [S]hould we wander from
        > them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to
        > retrace our steps and to regain the road which alone
        > leads to peace, liberty and safety."
        >
        > Our greatest President, Abraham Lincoln, suspended
        > habeas corpus during the Civil War. Some of the worst
        > abuses prior to those of the current administration
        > were committed by President Wilson during and after
        > WWI with the notorious Red Scare and Palmer Raids. The
        > internment of Japanese Americans during WWII marked a
        > low point for the respect of individual rights at the
        > hands of the executive. And, during the Vietnam War,
        > the notorious COINTELPRO program was part and parcel
        > of the abuses experienced by Dr. King and thousands of
        > others.
        >
        > But in each of these cases, when the conflict and
        > turmoil subsided, the country recovered its
        > equilibrium and absorbed the lessons learned in a
        > recurring cycle of excess and regret.
        >
        > There are reasons for concern this time around that
        > conditions may be changing and that the cycle may not
        > repeat itself. For one thing, we have for decades been
        > witnessing the slow and steady accumulation of
        > presidential power. In a global environment of nuclear
        > weapons and cold war tensions, Congress and the
        > American people accepted ever enlarging spheres of
        > presidential initiative to conduct intelligence and
        > counter intelligence activities and to allocate our
        > military forces on the global stage. When military
        > force has been used as an instrument of foreign policy
        > or in response to humanitarian demands, it has almost
        > always been as the result of presidential initiative
        > and leadership. As Justice Frankfurter wrote in the
        > Steel Seizure Case, "The accretion of dangerous power
        > does not come in a day. It does come, however slowly,
        > from the generative force of unchecked disregard of
        > the restrictions that fence in even the most
        > disinterested assertion of authority."
        >
        > A second reason to believe we may be experiencing
        > something new is that we are told by the
        > Administration that the war footing upon which he has
        > tried to place the country is going to "last for the
        > rest of our lives." So we are told that the conditions
        > of national threat that have been used by other
        > Presidents to justify arrogations of power will
        > persist in near perpetuity.
        >
        > Third, we need to be aware of the advances in
        > eavesdropping and surveillance technologies with their
        > capacity to sweep up and analyze enormous quantities
        > of information and to mine it for intelligence. This
        > adds significant vulnerability to the privacy and
        > freedom of enormous numbers of innocent people at the
        > same time as the potential power of those
        > technologies. These techologies have the potential for
        > shifting the balance of power between the apparatus of
        > the state and the freedom of the individual in ways
        > both subtle and profound.
        >
        > Don't misunderstand me: the threat of additional
        > terror strikes is all too real and their concerted
        > efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction does
        > create a real imperative to exercise the powers of the
        > Executive Branch with swiftness and agility. 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.
        >
        > But the existence of that inherent power cannot be
        > used to justify a gross and excessive power grab
        > lasting for years that produces a serious imbalance in
        > the relationship between the executive and the other
        > two branches of government.
        >
        > There is a final reason to worry that we may be
        > experiencing something more than just another cycle of
        > overreach and regret. This Administration has come to
        > power in the thrall of a legal theory that aims to
        > convince us that this excessive concentration of
        > presidential authority is exactly what our
        > Constitution intended.
        >
        > This legal theory, which its proponents call the
        > theory of the unitary executive but which is more
        > accurately described as the unilateral executive,
        > threatens to expand the president's powers until the
        > contours of the constitution that the Framers actually
        > gave us become obliterated beyond all recognition.
        > Under this theory, the President's authority when
        > acting as Commander-in-Chief or when making foreign
        > policy cannot be reviewed by the judiciary or checked
        > by Congress. President Bush has pushed the
        > implications of this idea to its maximum by
        > continually stressing his role as Commander-in-Chief,
        > invoking it has frequently as he can, conflating it
        > with his other roles, domestic and foreign. When added
        > to the idea that we have entered a perpetual state of
        > war, the implications of this theory stretch quite
        > literally as far into the future as we can imagine.
        >
        > This effort to rework America's carefully balanced
        > constitutional design into a lopsided structure
        > dominated by an all powerful Executive Branch with a
        > subservient Congress and judiciary
        > is-ironically-accompanied by an effort by the same
        > administration to rework America's foreign policy from
        > one that is based primarily on U.S. moral authority
        > into one that is based on a misguided and
        > self-defeating effort to establish dominance in the
        > world.
        >
        > The common denominator seems to be based on an
        > instinct to intimidate and control.
        >
        > This same pattern has characterized the effort to
        > silence dissenting views within the Executive Branch,
        > to censor information that may be inconsistent with
        > its stated ideological goals, and to demand conformity
        > from all Executive Branch employees.
        >
        > For example, CIA analysts who strongly disagreed with
        > the White House assertion that Osama bin Laden was
        > linked to Saddam Hussein found themselves under
        > pressure at work and became fearful of losing
        > promotions and salary increases.
        >
        > Ironically, that is exactly what happened to FBI
        > officials in the 1960s who disagreed with J. Edgar
        > Hoover's view that Dr. King was closely connected to
        > Communists. The head of the FBI's domestic
        > intelligence division said that his effort to tell the
        > truth about King's innocence of the charge resulted in
        > he and his colleagues becoming isolated and pressured.
        > "It was evident that we had to change our ways or we
        > would all be out on the street.... The men and I
        > discussed how to get out of trouble. To be in trouble
        > with Mr. Hoover was a serious matter. These men were
        > trying to buy homes, mortgages on homes, children in
        > school. They lived in fear of getting transferred,
        > losing money on their homes, as they usually did. ...
        > so they wanted another memorandum written to get us
        > out of the trouble that we were in."
        >
        > The Constitution's framers understood this dilemma as
        > well, as Alexander Hamilton put it, "a power over a
        > man's support is a power over his will." (Federalist
        > No. 73)
        >
        > Soon, there was no more difference of opinion within
        > the FBI. The false accusation became the unanimous
        > view. In exactly the same way, George Tenet's CIA
        > eventually joined in endorsing a manifestly false view
        > that there was a linkage between al Qaeda and the
        > government of Iraq.
        >
        > In the words of George Orwell: "We are all capable of
        > believing things which we know to be untrue, and then,
        > when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting
        > the facts so as to show that we were right.
        > Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this
        > process for an indefinite time: the only check on it
        > is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up
        > against solid reality, usually on a battlefield."
        >
        > 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.
        >
        > Last week, for example, Vice President Cheney
        > attempted to defend the Administration's eavesdropping
        > on American citizens by saying that if it had
        > conducted this program prior to 9/11, they would have
        > found out the names of some of the hijackers.
        >
        > Tragically, he apparently still doesn't know that the
        > Administration did in fact have the names of at least
        > 2 of the hijackers well before 9/11 and had available
        > to them information that could have easily led to the
        > identification of most of the other hijackers. And
        > yet, because of incompetence in the handling of this
        > information, it was never used to protect the American
        > people.
        >
        > It is often the case that an Executive Branch beguiled
        > by the pursuit of unchecked power responds to its own
        > mistakes by reflexively proposing that it be given
        > still more power. Often, the request itself it used to
        > mask accountability for mistakes in the use of power
        > it already has.
        >
        > Moreover, if 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.
        >
        > The same instinct to expand its power and to establish
        > dominance characterizes the relationship between this
        > Administration and the courts and the Congress.
        >
        > In a properly functioning system, the Judicial Branch
        > would serve as the constitutional umpire to ensure
        > that the branches of government observed their proper
        > spheres of authority, observed civil liberties and
        > adhered to the rule of law. Unfortunately, the
        > unilateral executive has tried hard to thwart the
        > ability of the judiciary to call balls and strikes by
        > keeping controversies out of its hands - notably those
        > challenging its ability to detain individuals without
        > legal process -- by appointing judges who will be
        > deferential to its exercise of power and by its
        > support of assaults on the independence of the third
        > branch.
        >
        > The President's decision to ignore FISA was a direct
        > assault on the power of the judges who sit on that
        > court. Congress established the FISA court precisely
        > to be a check on executive power to wiretap. Yet, to
        > ensure that the court could not function as a check on
        > executive power, the President simply did not take
        > matters to it and did not let the court know that it
        > was being bypassed.
        >
        > The President's judicial appointments are clearly
        > designed to ensure that the courts will not serve as
        > an effective check on executive power. As we have all
        > learned, Judge Alito is a longtime supporter of a
        > powerful executive - a supporter of the so-called
        > unitary executive, which is more properly called the
        > unilateral executive. Whether you support his
        > confirmation or not - and I do not - we must all agree
        > that he will not vote as an effective check on the
        > expansion of executive power. Likewise, Chief Justice
        > Roberts has made plain his deference to the expansion
        > of executive power through his support of judicial
        > deference to executive agency rulemaking.
        >
        > And the Administration has supported the assault on
        > judicial independence that has been conducted largely
        > in Congress. That assault includes a threat by the
        > Republican majority in the Senate to permanently
        > change the rules to eliminate the right of the
        > minority to engage in extended debate of the
        > President's judicial nominees. The assault has
        > extended to legislative efforts to curtail the
        > jurisdiction of courts in matters ranging from habeas
        > corpus to the pledge of allegiance. In short, the
        > Administration has demonstrated its contempt for the
        > judicial role and sought to evade judicial review of
        > its actions at every turn.
        >
        > But the most serious damage has been done to the
        > legislative branch. The sharp decline of congressional
        > power and autonomy in recent years has been almost as
        > shocking as the efforts by the Executive Branch to
        > attain a massive expansion of its power.
        >
        > I was elected to Congress in 1976 and served eight
        > years in the house, 8 years in the Senate and presided
        > over the Senate for 8 years as Vice President. As a
        > young man, I saw the Congress first hand as the son of
        > a Senator. My father was elected to Congress in 1938,
        > 10 years before I was born, and left the Senate in
        > 1971.
        >
        > The Congress we have today is unrecognizable compared
        > to the one in which my father served. There are many
        > distinguished Senators and Congressmen serving today.
        > I am honored that some of them are here in this hall.
        > But the legislative branch of government under its
        > current leadership now operates as if it is entirely
        > subservient to the Executive Branch.
        >
        > Moreover, too many Members of the House and Senate now
        > feel compelled to spend a majority of their time not
        > in thoughtful debate of the issues, but raising money
        > to purchase 30 second TV commercials.
        >
        > There have now been two or three generations of
        > congressmen who don't really know what an oversight
        > hearing is. In the 70's and 80's, the oversight
        > hearings in which my colleagues and I participated
        > held the feet of the Executive Branch to the fire - no
        > matter which party was in power. Yet oversight is
        > almost unknown in the Congress today.
        >
        > The role of authorization committees has declined into
        > insignificance. The 13 annual appropriation bills are
        > hardly ever actually passed anymore. Everything is
        > lumped into a single giant measure that is not even
        > available for Members of Congress to read before they
        > vote on it.
        >
        > Members of the minority party are now routinely
        > excluded from conference committees, and amendments
        > are routinely not allowed during floor consideration
        > of legislation.
        >
        > In the United States Senate, which used to pride
        > itself on being the "greatest deliberative body in the
        > world," meaningful debate is now a rarity. Even on the
        > eve of the fateful vote to authorize the invasion of
        > Iraq, Senator Robert Byrd famously asked: "Why is this
        > chamber empty?"
        >
        > In the House of Representatives, the number who face a
        > genuinely competitive election contest every two years
        > is typically less than a dozen out of 435.
        >
        > And too many incumbents have come to believe that the
        > key to continued access to the money for re-election
        > is to stay on the good side of those who have the
        > money to give; and, in the case of the majority party,
        > the whole process is largely controlled by the
        > incumbent president and his political organization.
        >
        > So the willingness of Congress to challenge the
        > Administration is further limited when the same party
        > controls both Congress and the Executive Branch.
        >
        > The Executive Branch, time and again, has co-opted
        > Congress' role, and often Congress has been a willing
        > accomplice in the surrender of its own power.
        >
        > Look for example at the Congressional role in
        > "overseeing" this massive four year eavesdropping
        > campaign that on its face seemed so clearly to violate
        > the Bill of Rights. The President says he informed
        > Congress, but what he really means is that he talked
        > with the chairman and ranking member of the House and
        > Senate intelligence committees and the top leaders of
        > the House and Senate. This small group, in turn,
        > claimed that they were not given the full facts,
        > though at least one of the intelligence committee
        > leaders handwrote a letter of concern to VP Cheney and
        > placed a copy in his own safe.
        >
        > Though I sympathize with the awkward position in which
        > these men and women were placed, I cannot disagree
        > with the Liberty Coalition when it says that Democrats
        > as well as Republicans in the Congress must share the
        > blame for not taking action to protest and seek to
        > prevent what they consider a grossly unconstitutional
        > program.
        >
        > Moreover, in the Congress as a whole-both House and
        > Senate-the enhanced role of money in the re-election
        > process, coupled with the sharply diminished role for
        > reasoned deliberation and debate, has produced an
        > atmosphere conducive to pervasive institutionalized
        > corruption.
        >
        > The Abramoff scandal is but the tip of a giant iceberg
        > that threatens the integrity of the entire legislative
        > branch of government.
        >
        > It is the pitiful state of our legislative branch
        > which primarily explains the failure of our vaunted
        > checks and balances to prevent the dangerous overreach
        > by our Executive Branch which now threatens a radical
        > transformation of the American system.
        >
        > 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.
        >
        > But there is yet another Constitutional player whose
        > pulse must be taken and whose role must be examined in
        > order to understand the dangerous imbalance that has
        > emerged with the efforts by the Executive Branch to
        > dominate our constitutional system.
        >
        > We the people are-collectively-still the key to the
        > survival of America's democracy. We-as Lincoln put it,
        > "[e]ven we here"-must examine our own role as citizens
        > in allowing and not preventing the shocking decay and
        > degradation of our democracy.
        >
        > Thomas Jefferson said: "An informed citizenry is the
        > only true repository of the public will."
        >
        > The revolutionary departure on which the idea of
        > America was based was the audacious belief that people
        > can govern themselves and responsibly exercise the
        > ultimate authority in self-government. This insight
        > proceeded inevitably from the bedrock principle
        > articulated by the Enlightenment philosopher John
        > Locke: "All just power is derived from the consent of
        > the governed."
        >
        > The intricate and carefully balanced constitutional
        > system that is now in such danger was created with the
        > full and widespread participation of the population as
        > a whole. The Federalist Papers were, back in the day,
        > widely-read newspaper essays, and they represented
        > only one of twenty-four series of essays that crowded
        > the vibrant marketplace of ideas in which farmers and
        > shopkeepers recapitulated the debates that played out
        > so fruitfully in Philadelphia.
        >
        > Indeed, when the Convention had done its best, it was
        > the people - in their various States - that refused to
        > confirm the result until, at their insistence, the
        > Bill of Rights was made integral to the document sent
        > forward for ratification.
        >
        > And it is "We the people" who must now find once again
        > the ability we once had to play an integral role in
        > saving our Constitution.
        >
        > And here there is cause for both concern and great
        > hope. The age of printed pamphlets and political
        > essays has long since been replaced by television - a
        > distracting and absorbing medium which sees determined
        > to entertain and sell more than it informs and
        > educates.
        >
        > Lincoln's memorable call during the Civil War is
        > applicable in a new way to our dilemma today: "We must
        > disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our
        > country."
        >
        > Forty years have passed since the majority of
        > Americans adopted television as their principal source
        > of information. Its dominance has become so extensive
        > that virtually all significant political communication
        > now takes place within the confines of flickering
        > 30-second television advertisements.
        >
        > And the political economy supported by these short but
        > expensive television ads is as different from the
        > vibrant politics of America's first century as those
        > politics were different from the feudalism which
        > thrived on the ignorance of the masses of people in
        > the Dark Ages.
        >
        > The constricted role of ideas in the American
        > political system today has encouraged efforts by the
        > Executive Branch to control the flow of information as
        > a means of controlling the outcome of important
        > decisions that still lie in the hands of the people.
        >
        > The Administration vigorously asserts its power to
        > maintain the secrecy of its operations. After all, the
        > other branches can't check an abuse of power if they
        > don't know it is happening.
        >
        > For example, when the Administration was attempting to
        > persuade Congress to enact the Medicare prescription
        > drug benefit, many in the House and Senate raised
        > concerns about the cost and design of the program.
        > But, rather than engaging in open debate on the basis
        > of factual data, the Administration withheld facts and
        > prevented the Congress from hearing testimony that it
        > sought from the principal administration expert who
        > had compiled information showing in advance of the
        > vote that indeed the true cost estimates were far
        > higher than the numbers given to Congress by the
        > President.
        >
        > Deprived of that information, and believing the false
        > numbers given to it instead, the Congress approved the
        > program. Tragically, the entire initiative is now
        > collapsing- all over the country- with the
        > Administration making an appeal just this weekend to
        > major insurance companies to volunteer to bail it out.
        >
        > To take another example, scientific warnings about the
        > catastrophic consequences of unchecked global warming
        > were censored by a political appointee in the White
        > House who had no scientific training. And today one of
        > the leading scientific experts on global warming in
        > NASA has been ordered not to talk to members of the
        > press and to keep a careful log of everyone he meets
        > with so that the Executive Branch can monitor and
        > control his discussions of global warming.
        >
        > One of the other ways the Administration has tried to
        > control the flow of information is by consistently
        > resorting to the language and politics of fear in
        > order to short-circuit the debate and drive its agenda
        > forward without regard to the evidence or the public
        > interest. As President Eisenhower said, "Any who act
        > as if freedom's defenses are to be found in
        > suppression and suspicion and fear confess a doctrine
        > that is alien to America."
        >
        > Fear drives out reason. Fear suppresses the politics
        > of discourse and opens the door to the politics of
        > destruction. Justice Brandeis once wrote: "Men feared
        > witches and burnt women."
        >
        > The founders of our country faced dire threats. If
        > they failed in their endeavors, they would have been
        > hung as traitors. The very existence of our country
        > was at risk.
        >
        > Yet, in the teeth of those dangers, they insisted on
        > establishing the Bill of Rights.
        >
        > Is our Congress today in more danger than were their
        > predecessors when the British army was marching on the
        > Capitol? Is the world more dangerous than when we
        > faced an ideological enemy with tens of thousands of
        > missiles poised to be launched against us and
        > annihilate our country at a moment's notice? Is
        > America in more danger now than when we faced
        > worldwide fascism on the march-when our fathers fought
        > and won two World Wars simultaneously?
        >
        > It is simply an insult to those who came before us and
        > sacrificed so much on our behalf to imply that we have
        > more to be fearful of than they. Yet they faithfully
        > protected our freedoms and now it is up to us to do
        > the same.
        >
        > We have a duty as Americans to defend our citizens'
        > right not only to life but also to liberty and the
        > pursuit of happiness. It is therefore vital in our
        > current circumstances that immediate steps be taken to
        > safeguard our Constitution against the present danger
        > posed by the intrusive overreaching on the part of the
        > Executive Branch and the President's apparent belief
        > that he need not live under the rule of law.
        >
        > I endorse the words of Bob Barr, when he said, "The
        > President has dared the American people to do
        > something about it. For the sake of the Constitution,
        > I hope they will."
        >
        > A special counsel should immediately be appointed by
        > the Attorney General to remedy the obvious conflict of
        > interest that prevents him from investigating what
        > many believe are serious violations of law by the
        > President. We have had a fresh demonstration of how an
        > independent investigation by a special counsel with
        > integrity can rebuild confidence in our system of
        > justice. Patrick Fitzgerald has, by all accounts,
        > shown neither fear nor favor in pursuing allegations
        > that the Executive Branch has violated other laws.
        >
        > Republican as well as Democratic members of Congress
        > should support the bipartisan call of the Liberty
        > Coalition for the appointment of a special counsel to
        > pursue the criminal issues raised by warrantless
        > wiretapping of Americans by the President.
        >
        > Second, new whistleblower protections should
        > immediately be established for members of the
        > Executive Branch who report evidence of wrongdoing --
        > especially where it involves the abuse of Executive
        > Branch authority in the sensitive areas of national
        > security.
        >
        > Third, both Houses of Congress should hold
        > comprehensive-and not just superficial-hearings into
        > these serious allegations of criminal behavior on the
        > part of the President. And, they should follow the
        > evidence wherever it leads.
        >
        > Fourth, the extensive new powers requested by the
        > Executive Branch in its proposal to extend and enlarge
        > the Patriot Act should, under no circumstances be
        > granted, unless and until there are adequate and
        > enforceable safeguards to protect the Constitution and
        > the rights of the American people against the kinds of
        > abuses that have so recently been revealed.
        >
        > Fifth, any telecommunications company that has
        > provided the government with access to private
        > information concerning the communications of Americans
        > without a proper warrant should immediately cease and
        > desist their complicity in this apparently illegal
        > invasion of the privacy of American citizens.
        >
        > Freedom of communication is an essential prerequisite
        > for the restoration of the health of our democracy.
        >
        > It is particularly important that the freedom of the
        > Internet be protected against either the encroachment
        > of government or the efforts at control by large media
        > conglomerates. The future of our democracy depends on
        > it.
        >
        > I mentioned that along with cause for concern, there
        > is reason for hope. As I stand here today, I am filled
        > with optimism that America is on the eve of a golden
        > age in which the vitality of our democracy will be
        > re-established and will flourish more vibrantly than
        > ever. Indeed I can feel it in this hall.
        >
        > As Dr. King once said, "Perhaps a new spirit is rising
        > among us. If it is, let us trace its movements and
        > pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its
        > guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way
        > beyond the darkness that seems so close around us."
        >
      • THOMAS JOHNSON
        More and more, I ve come to recognize Al Gore as the Democratic spokesman.. All the senators are too timid.. None of the House members have much name
        Message 3 of 5 , Jan 16, 2006
        • 0 Attachment
          More and more, I've come to recognize Al Gore as the
          Democratic spokesman.. All the senators are too
          timid.. None of the House members have much name
          recognition, which means limited press coverage..
          Howard Dean's main priority is fund-raising and the
          Republicans and the press have managed to characterize
          him as unstable and extremist.. Bill Clinton has too
          much invested in Hillary's presidential aspirations
          too be very frank.. I'd like to hear more from Gore.


          Tom



          --- Ram Lau <ramlau@...> wrote:

          > Is it transcribed by Drudge? LOL!
          >
          > I want to watch the real thing, hopefully C-SPAN
          > will re-air it soon.
          >
          > Ram
          >
          >
          > --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, Greg Cannon
          > <gregcannon1@y...>
          > wrote:
          > >
          > > http://www.drudgereport.com/flash1g.htm
          > >
          > > GORE BLASTS BUSH FOR 'DANGEROUS BREACH'
          > > Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C.
          > > Mon Jan 16 2006 12:40:14 ET
          > >
          > > Congressman Barr and I have disagreed many times
          > over
          > > the years, but we have joined together today with
          > > thousands of our fellow citizens-Democrats and
          > > Republicans alike-to express our shared concern
          > that
          > > America's Constitution is in grave danger.
          > >
          > > In spite of our differences over ideology and
          > > politics, we are in strong agreement that the
          > American
          > > values we hold most dear have been placed at
          > serious
          > > risk by the unprecedented claims of the
          > Administration
          > > to a truly breathtaking expansion of executive
          > power.
          > >
          > > As we begin this new year, the Executive Branch of
          > our
          > > government has been caught eavesdropping on huge
          > > numbers of American citizens and has brazenly
          > declared
          > > that it has the unilateral right to continue
          > without
          > > regard to the established law enacted by Congress
          > to
          > > prevent such abuses.
          > >
          > > It is imperative that respect for the rule of law
          > be
          > > restored.
          > >
          > > So, many of us have come here to Constitution Hall
          > to
          > > sound an alarm and call upon our fellow citizens
          > to
          > > put aside partisan differences and join with us in
          > > demanding that our Constitution be defended and
          > > preserved.
          > >
          > > It is appropriate that we make this appeal on the
          > day
          > > our nation has set aside to honor the life and
          > legacy
          > > of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who challenged
          > America
          > > to breathe new life into our oldest values by
          > > extending its promise to all our people.
          > >
          > > 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-one of hundreds of thousands of
          > Americans
          > > whose private communications were intercepted by
          > the
          > > U.S. government during this period.
          > >
          > > The FBI privately called King the "most dangerous
          > and
          > > effective negro leader in the country" and vowed
          > to
          > > "take him off his pedestal." The government even
          > > attempted to destroy his marriage and blackmail
          > him
          > > into committing suicide.
          > >
          > > This campaign continued until Dr. King's murder.
          > The
          > > discovery that the FBI conducted a long-running
          > and
          > > extensive campaign of secret electronic
          > surveillance
          > > designed to infiltrate the inner workings of the
          > > Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and to
          > learn
          > > the most intimate details of Dr. King's life,
          > helped
          > > to convince Congress to enact restrictions on
          > > wiretapping.
          > >
          > > The result was the Foreign Intelligence and
          > > Surveillance Act (FISA), which was enacted
          > expressly
          > > to ensure that foreign intelligence surveillance
          > would
          > > be presented to an impartial judge to verify that
          > > there is a sufficient cause for the surveillance.
          > I
          > > voted for that law during my first term in
          > Congress
          > > and for almost thirty years the system has proven
          > a
          > > workable and valued means of according a level of
          > > protection for private citizens, while permitting
          > > foreign surveillance to continue.
          > >
          > > Yet, just one month ago, Americans awoke to the
          > > shocking news that in spite of this long settled
          > law,
          > > the Executive Branch has been secretly spying on
          > large
          > > numbers of Americans for the last four years and
          > > eavesdropping on "large volumes of telephone
          > calls,
          > > e-mail messages, and other Internet traffic inside
          > the
          > > United States." The New York Times reported that
          > the
          > > President decided to launch this massive
          > eavesdropping
          > > program "without search warrants or any new laws
          > that
          > > would permit such domestic intelligence
          > collection."
          > >
          > > During the period when this eavesdropping was
          > still
          > > secret, the President went out of his way to
          > reassure
          > > the American people on more than one occasion
          > that, of
          > > course, judicial permission is required for any
          > > government spying on American citizens and that,
          > of
          > > course, these constitutional safeguards were still
          > in
          > > place.
          > >
          > > But surprisingly, the President's soothing
          > statements
          > > turned out to be false. Moreover, as soon as this
          > > massive domestic spying program was uncovered by
          > the
          > > press, the President not only confirmed that the
          > story
          > > was true, but also declared that he has no
          > intention
          > > of bringing these wholesale invasions of privacy
          > to an
          > > end.
          > >
          > > At present, we still have much to learn about the
          > > NSA's domestic surveillance. 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 persistently.
          > >
          > > A president who breaks the law is a threat to the
          > very
          > > structure of our government. Our Founding Fathers
          > were
          > > adamant that they had established a government of
          > laws
          > > and not men. Indeed, they recognized that the
          > > structure of government they had enshrined in our
          > > Constitution - our system of checks and balances -
          > was
          > > designed with a central purpose of ensuring that
          > it
          > > would govern through the rule of law. As John
          > Adams
          > > said: "The executive shall never exercise the
          > > legislative and judicial powers, or either of
          > them, to
          > > the end that it may be a government of laws and
          > not of
          > > men."
          > >
          > > An executive who arrogates to himself the power to
          > > ignore the legitimate legislative directives of
          > the
          > > Congress or to act free of the check of the
          > judiciary
          > > becomes the central threat that the Founders
          > sought to
          > > nullify in the Constitution - an all-powerful
          > > executive too reminiscent of the King from whom
          > they
          > > had broken free. In the words of James Madison,
          > "the
          >
          === message truncated ===
        • Gregory
          I very much agree! I wonder if he had injected a bit of this type of energy into the 2000 race what might have happened. Not having an office to seek, or
          Message 4 of 5 , Jan 16, 2006
          • 0 Attachment
            I very much agree! I wonder if he had injected a bit of this type of
            energy into the 2000 race what might have happened. Not having an
            office to seek, or hold onto, has a very liberating effect.

            Gregory


            --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, THOMAS JOHNSON
            <AVRCRDNG@F...> wrote:
            >
            > More and more, I've come to recognize Al Gore as the
            > Democratic spokesman.. All the senators are too
            > timid.. None of the House members have much name
            > recognition, which means limited press coverage..
            > Howard Dean's main priority is fund-raising and the
            > Republicans and the press have managed to characterize
            > him as unstable and extremist.. Bill Clinton has too
            > much invested in Hillary's presidential aspirations
            > too be very frank.. I'd like to hear more from Gore.
            >
            >
            > Tom
            >
            >
            >
            > --- Ram Lau <ramlau@y...> wrote:
            >
            > > Is it transcribed by Drudge? LOL!
            > >
            > > I want to watch the real thing, hopefully C-SPAN
            > > will re-air it soon.
            > >
            > > Ram
            > >
            > >
            > > --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, Greg Cannon
            > > <gregcannon1@y...>
            > > wrote:
            > > >
            > > > http://www.drudgereport.com/flash1g.htm
            > > >
            > > > GORE BLASTS BUSH FOR 'DANGEROUS BREACH'
            > > > Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C.
            > > > Mon Jan 16 2006 12:40:14 ET
            > > >
            > > > Congressman Barr and I have disagreed many times
            > > over
            > > > the years, but we have joined together today with
            > > > thousands of our fellow citizens-Democrats and
            > > > Republicans alike-to express our shared concern
            > > that
            > > > America's Constitution is in grave danger.
            > > >
            > > > In spite of our differences over ideology and
            > > > politics, we are in strong agreement that the
            > > American
            > > > values we hold most dear have been placed at
            > > serious
            > > > risk by the unprecedented claims of the
            > > Administration
            > > > to a truly breathtaking expansion of executive
            > > power.
            > > >
            > > > As we begin this new year, the Executive Branch of
            > > our
            > > > government has been caught eavesdropping on huge
            > > > numbers of American citizens and has brazenly
            > > declared
            > > > that it has the unilateral right to continue
            > > without
            > > > regard to the established law enacted by Congress
            > > to
            > > > prevent such abuses.
            > > >
            > > > It is imperative that respect for the rule of law
            > > be
            > > > restored.
            > > >
            > > > So, many of us have come here to Constitution Hall
            > > to
            > > > sound an alarm and call upon our fellow citizens
            > > to
            > > > put aside partisan differences and join with us in
            > > > demanding that our Constitution be defended and
            > > > preserved.
            > > >
            > > > It is appropriate that we make this appeal on the
            > > day
            > > > our nation has set aside to honor the life and
            > > legacy
            > > > of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who challenged
            > > America
            > > > to breathe new life into our oldest values by
            > > > extending its promise to all our people.
            > > >
            > > > 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-one of hundreds of thousands of
            > > Americans
            > > > whose private communications were intercepted by
            > > the
            > > > U.S. government during this period.
            > > >
            > > > The FBI privately called King the "most dangerous
            > > and
            > > > effective negro leader in the country" and vowed
            > > to
            > > > "take him off his pedestal." The government even
            > > > attempted to destroy his marriage and blackmail
            > > him
            > > > into committing suicide.
            > > >
            > > > This campaign continued until Dr. King's murder.
            > > The
            > > > discovery that the FBI conducted a long-running
            > > and
            > > > extensive campaign of secret electronic
            > > surveillance
            > > > designed to infiltrate the inner workings of the
            > > > Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and to
            > > learn
            > > > the most intimate details of Dr. King's life,
            > > helped
            > > > to convince Congress to enact restrictions on
            > > > wiretapping.
            > > >
            > > > The result was the Foreign Intelligence and
            > > > Surveillance Act (FISA), which was enacted
            > > expressly
            > > > to ensure that foreign intelligence surveillance
            > > would
            > > > be presented to an impartial judge to verify that
            > > > there is a sufficient cause for the surveillance.
            > > I
            > > > voted for that law during my first term in
            > > Congress
            > > > and for almost thirty years the system has proven
            > > a
            > > > workable and valued means of according a level of
            > > > protection for private citizens, while permitting
            > > > foreign surveillance to continue.
            > > >
            > > > Yet, just one month ago, Americans awoke to the
            > > > shocking news that in spite of this long settled
            > > law,
            > > > the Executive Branch has been secretly spying on
            > > large
            > > > numbers of Americans for the last four years and
            > > > eavesdropping on "large volumes of telephone
            > > calls,
            > > > e-mail messages, and other Internet traffic inside
            > > the
            > > > United States." The New York Times reported that
            > > the
            > > > President decided to launch this massive
            > > eavesdropping
            > > > program "without search warrants or any new laws
            > > that
            > > > would permit such domestic intelligence
            > > collection."
            > > >
            > > > During the period when this eavesdropping was
            > > still
            > > > secret, the President went out of his way to
            > > reassure
            > > > the American people on more than one occasion
            > > that, of
            > > > course, judicial permission is required for any
            > > > government spying on American citizens and that,
            > > of
            > > > course, these constitutional safeguards were still
            > > in
            > > > place.
            > > >
            > > > But surprisingly, the President's soothing
            > > statements
            > > > turned out to be false. Moreover, as soon as this
            > > > massive domestic spying program was uncovered by
            > > the
            > > > press, the President not only confirmed that the
            > > story
            > > > was true, but also declared that he has no
            > > intention
            > > > of bringing these wholesale invasions of privacy
            > > to an
            > > > end.
            > > >
            > > > At present, we still have much to learn about the
            > > > NSA's domestic surveillance. 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 persistently.
            > > >
            > > > A president who breaks the law is a threat to the
            > > very
            > > > structure of our government. Our Founding Fathers
            > > were
            > > > adamant that they had established a government of
            > > laws
            > > > and not men. Indeed, they recognized that the
            > > > structure of government they had enshrined in our
            > > > Constitution - our system of checks and balances -
            > > was
            > > > designed with a central purpose of ensuring that
            > > it
            > > > would govern through the rule of law. As John
            > > Adams
            > > > said: "The executive shall never exercise the
            > > > legislative and judicial powers, or either of
            > > them, to
            > > > the end that it may be a government of laws and
            > > not of
            > > > men."
            > > >
            > > > An executive who arrogates to himself the power to
            > > > ignore the legitimate legislative directives of
            > > the
            > > > Congress or to act free of the check of the
            > > judiciary
            > > > becomes the central threat that the Founders
            > > sought to
            > > > nullify in the Constitution - an all-powerful
            > > > executive too reminiscent of the King from whom
            > > they
            > > > had broken free. In the words of James Madison,
            > > "the
            > >
            > === message truncated ===
            >
          • Ram Lau
            Gregory, Like what I ve been saying all along, Gore may just pull a Nixon in 2008. If Olympia Snowe is not running and Gore accepts the draft, I m joining the
            Message 5 of 5 , Jan 16, 2006
            • 0 Attachment
              Gregory,

              Like what I've been saying all along, Gore may just pull a Nixon in
              2008. If Olympia Snowe is not running and Gore accepts the draft, I'm
              joining the Gore campaign.

              I'll catch the re-run of the speech on C-SPAN at 8PM.

              Ram


              --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, "Gregory" <greggolopry@c...>
              wrote:
              >
              > I very much agree! I wonder if he had injected a bit of this type of
              > energy into the 2000 race what might have happened. Not having an
              > office to seek, or hold onto, has a very liberating effect.
              >
              > Gregory
              >
              >
              > --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, THOMAS JOHNSON
              > <AVRCRDNG@F...> wrote:
              > >
              > > More and more, I've come to recognize Al Gore as the
              > > Democratic spokesman.. All the senators are too
              > > timid.. None of the House members have much name
              > > recognition, which means limited press coverage..
              > > Howard Dean's main priority is fund-raising and the
              > > Republicans and the press have managed to characterize
              > > him as unstable and extremist.. Bill Clinton has too
              > > much invested in Hillary's presidential aspirations
              > > too be very frank.. I'd like to hear more from Gore.
              > >
              > >
              > > Tom
              > >
              > >
              > >
              > > --- Ram Lau <ramlau@y...> wrote:
              > >
              > > > Is it transcribed by Drudge? LOL!
              > > >
              > > > I want to watch the real thing, hopefully C-SPAN
              > > > will re-air it soon.
              > > >
              > > > Ram
              > > >
              > > >
              > > > --- In prezveepsenator@yahoogroups.com, Greg Cannon
              > > > <gregcannon1@y...>
              > > > wrote:
              > > > >
              > > > > http://www.drudgereport.com/flash1g.htm
              > > > >
              > > > > GORE BLASTS BUSH FOR 'DANGEROUS BREACH'
              > > > > Constitution Hall, Washington, D.C.
              > > > > Mon Jan 16 2006 12:40:14 ET
              > > > >
              > > > > Congressman Barr and I have disagreed many times
              > > > over
              > > > > the years, but we have joined together today with
              > > > > thousands of our fellow citizens-Democrats and
              > > > > Republicans alike-to express our shared concern
              > > > that
              > > > > America's Constitution is in grave danger.
              > > > >
              > > > > In spite of our differences over ideology and
              > > > > politics, we are in strong agreement that the
              > > > American
              > > > > values we hold most dear have been placed at
              > > > serious
              > > > > risk by the unprecedented claims of the
              > > > Administration
              > > > > to a truly breathtaking expansion of executive
              > > > power.
              > > > >
              > > > > As we begin this new year, the Executive Branch of
              > > > our
              > > > > government has been caught eavesdropping on huge
              > > > > numbers of American citizens and has brazenly
              > > > declared
              > > > > that it has the unilateral right to continue
              > > > without
              > > > > regard to the established law enacted by Congress
              > > > to
              > > > > prevent such abuses.
              > > > >
              > > > > It is imperative that respect for the rule of law
              > > > be
              > > > > restored.
              > > > >
              > > > > So, many of us have come here to Constitution Hall
              > > > to
              > > > > sound an alarm and call upon our fellow citizens
              > > > to
              > > > > put aside partisan differences and join with us in
              > > > > demanding that our Constitution be defended and
              > > > > preserved.
              > > > >
              > > > > It is appropriate that we make this appeal on the
              > > > day
              > > > > our nation has set aside to honor the life and
              > > > legacy
              > > > > of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who challenged
              > > > America
              > > > > to breathe new life into our oldest values by
              > > > > extending its promise to all our people.
              > > > >
              > > > > 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-one of hundreds of thousands of
              > > > Americans
              > > > > whose private communications were intercepted by
              > > > the
              > > > > U.S. government during this period.
              > > > >
              > > > > The FBI privately called King the "most dangerous
              > > > and
              > > > > effective negro leader in the country" and vowed
              > > > to
              > > > > "take him off his pedestal." The government even
              > > > > attempted to destroy his marriage and blackmail
              > > > him
              > > > > into committing suicide.
              > > > >
              > > > > This campaign continued until Dr. King's murder.
              > > > The
              > > > > discovery that the FBI conducted a long-running
              > > > and
              > > > > extensive campaign of secret electronic
              > > > surveillance
              > > > > designed to infiltrate the inner workings of the
              > > > > Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and to
              > > > learn
              > > > > the most intimate details of Dr. King's life,
              > > > helped
              > > > > to convince Congress to enact restrictions on
              > > > > wiretapping.
              > > > >
              > > > > The result was the Foreign Intelligence and
              > > > > Surveillance Act (FISA), which was enacted
              > > > expressly
              > > > > to ensure that foreign intelligence surveillance
              > > > would
              > > > > be presented to an impartial judge to verify that
              > > > > there is a sufficient cause for the surveillance.
              > > > I
              > > > > voted for that law during my first term in
              > > > Congress
              > > > > and for almost thirty years the system has proven
              > > > a
              > > > > workable and valued means of according a level of
              > > > > protection for private citizens, while permitting
              > > > > foreign surveillance to continue.
              > > > >
              > > > > Yet, just one month ago, Americans awoke to the
              > > > > shocking news that in spite of this long settled
              > > > law,
              > > > > the Executive Branch has been secretly spying on
              > > > large
              > > > > numbers of Americans for the last four years and
              > > > > eavesdropping on "large volumes of telephone
              > > > calls,
              > > > > e-mail messages, and other Internet traffic inside
              > > > the
              > > > > United States." The New York Times reported that
              > > > the
              > > > > President decided to launch this massive
              > > > eavesdropping
              > > > > program "without search warrants or any new laws
              > > > that
              > > > > would permit such domestic intelligence
              > > > collection."
              > > > >
              > > > > During the period when this eavesdropping was
              > > > still
              > > > > secret, the President went out of his way to
              > > > reassure
              > > > > the American people on more than one occasion
              > > > that, of
              > > > > course, judicial permission is required for any
              > > > > government spying on American citizens and that,
              > > > of
              > > > > course, these constitutional safeguards were still
              > > > in
              > > > > place.
              > > > >
              > > > > But surprisingly, the President's soothing
              > > > statements
              > > > > turned out to be false. Moreover, as soon as this
              > > > > massive domestic spying program was uncovered by
              > > > the
              > > > > press, the President not only confirmed that the
              > > > story
              > > > > was true, but also declared that he has no
              > > > intention
              > > > > of bringing these wholesale invasions of privacy
              > > > to an
              > > > > end.
              > > > >
              > > > > At present, we still have much to learn about the
              > > > > NSA's domestic surveillance. 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 persistently.
              > > > >
              > > > > A president who breaks the law is a threat to the
              > > > very
              > > > > structure of our government. Our Founding Fathers
              > > > were
              > > > > adamant that they had established a government of
              > > > laws
              > > > > and not men. Indeed, they recognized that the
              > > > > structure of government they had enshrined in our
              > > > > Constitution - our system of checks and balances -
              > > > was
              > > > > designed with a central purpose of ensuring that
              > > > it
              > > > > would govern through the rule of law. As John
              > > > Adams
              > > > > said: "The executive shall never exercise the
              > > > > legislative and judicial powers, or either of
              > > > them, to
              > > > > the end that it may be a government of laws and
              > > > not of
              > > > > men."
              > > > >
              > > > > An executive who arrogates to himself the power to
              > > > > ignore the legitimate legislative directives of
              > > > the
              > > > > Congress or to act free of the check of the
              > > > judiciary
              > > > > becomes the central threat that the Founders
              > > > sought to
              > > > > nullify in the Constitution - an all-powerful
              > > > > executive too reminiscent of the King from whom
              > > > they
              > > > > had broken free. In the words of James Madison,
              > > > "the
              > > >
              > > === message truncated ===
              > >
              >
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