Al Gore Arrogates to Himself Power to Ignore His Past

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.

“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.”

“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.”


Al Gore
January 16, 2005


Another, “He played on our fears!” moment from Al Gore today.

Democrat Al Gore, pictured in 2005, President George W. Bush’s rival in the 2000 presidential election, accused him of breaking the law by authorizing a domestic spying program.(AFP/File/Roslan Rahman)

Yet, back in the 1990’s Here is what Al Gore and his boss Bill Clinton thought about warrantless searches when they were in office:

“The Department of Justice believes, and the case law supports, that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes,” Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on July 14, 1994, “and that the President may, as has been done, delegate this authority to the Attorney General.”

“It is important to understand,” Gorelick continued, “that the rules and methodology for criminal searches are inconsistent with the collection of foreign intelligence and would unduly frustrate the president in carrying out his foreign intelligence responsibilities.”

Executive Order 12333, signed by Ronald Reagan in 1981, provides for such warrantless searches directed against “a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power”…

…Gorelick signaled that the administration would go along a congressional decision to place such searches under the court — if, as she testified, it “does not restrict the president’s ability to collect foreign intelligence necessary for the national security.” In the end, Congress placed the searches under the FISA court, but the Clinton administration did not back down from its contention that the president had the authority to act when necessary.

John Schmidt, who served as associate attorney general in the Clinton Justice department, wrote in the Chicago Tribune (via Byron York at the National Review) that:

“We cannot eliminate the need for extraordinary action in the kind of unforeseen circumstances presented by Sept. 11,” Schmidt continues. “I do not believe the Constitution allows Congress to take away from the president the inherent authority to act in response to a foreign attack. That inherent power is reason to be careful about who we elect as president, but it is authority we have needed in the past and, in the light of history, could well need again.”

Bill Clinton expanded the use of warrantless searches in 1994:

In 1994, President Clinton expanded the use of warrantless searches to entirely domestic situations with no foreign intelligence value whatsoever. In a radio address promoting a crime-fighting bill, Mr. Clinton discussed a new policy to conduct warrantless searches in highly violent public housing projects.

On December 20th Glenn Reynolds noted this CATO Institute Report published back in 1997:

The Clinton administration has repeatedly attempted to play down the significance of the warrant clause. In fact, President Clinton has asserted the power to conduct warrantless searches, warrantless drug testing of public school students, and warrantless wiretapping…

…The Clinton administration claims that it can bypass the warrant clause for “national security” purposes. In July 1994 Deputy Attorney General Jamie S. Gorelick told the House Select Committee on Intelligence that the president “has inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches for foreign intelligence purposes.” [51] According to Gorelick, the president (or his attorney general) need only satisfy himself that an American is working in conjunction with a foreign power before a search can take place.

Some may see this as just another wild accusation from the man who Bush defeated in 2000.
The Big Dogs at Powerline are weighing in.
(And, how about that Powerline News Video? Pretty cool!)
Rathergate has a suggestion for the media.
The Astute Blogger has more on Al’s distortions.
TigerHawk notes Al Gore’s problems with “extraordinary rendition.”

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