Monday January 16th 2006, 12:56 pm
Filed under: Free Speech, Government, Courts
Al Gore gave a speech today in Washington, DC which started shortly after noon. I watched the speech on C-Span. Excerpts below are from his remarks as prepared.
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.
…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.”
…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.
Please contact your Senators against Alito with this easy form.
Al Gore also criticized other aspects of Bush’s view that he has limitless power. This includes torture:
The Executive Branch has claimed a previously unrecognized authority to mistreat prisoners in its custody in ways that plainly constitute torture…Over 100 of these captives have reportedly died while being tortured by Executive Branch interrogators…
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.
Bush’s claim that he can label any of us an “enemy combatant” to be imprisoned for the rest of our lives without trial (the Jose Padilla case):
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.
« Implications For Free Speech »
More power to the presidency is bad for freedom of speech.
If people are afraid that speaking out will cause them to be spied on by the government, some will be less eager to speak out. If people are afraid that speaking out will cause them to be labelled “enemy combatants,” some will be less eager to speak out.
This is one of the reasons we need checks-and-balances.