Gore on Freedom and Security

Al Gore gave a speech on “Freedom and Security” at Constitution Hall yesterday, sponsored by “MoveOn”:http://www.moveon.org/ and the “American Constitution Society”:http://www.americanconstitutionsociety.org/. I was actually there, thanks to some tickets that my friend Tom scored. Neither of us had been to to a live political speech for as long as we could remember, so the partisan rah-rahing was a bit overwhelming. I’m plenty partisan — someone who voted for Gore and not just against Bush — but giving Tipper a standing ovation for walking in the room struck me as a tad excessive.

It was a “good speech”:http://www.moveon.org/gore/speech2.html — a little rough in the delivery, but fiery and full of righteous fury against Ashcroft and the rest of the Administration. More of that kind of moxie in 2000 would have made all the difference. The recurrent calls from the audience of “Run, Al, run!” were telling — he definitely has an ineffable _something_ that the nine actual contenders are all missing.

An excerpt:

I want to challenge the Bush Administration�s implicit assumption that we have to give up many of our traditional freedoms in order to be safe from terrorists. Because it is simply not true. In fact, in my opinion, it makes no more sense to launch an assault on our civil liberties as the best way to get at terrorists than it did to launch an invasion of Iraq as the best way to get at Osama Bin Laden.

In both cases, the Administration has attacked the wrong target.

In both cases they have recklessly put our country in grave and unnecessary danger, while avoiding and neglecting obvious and much more important challenges that would actually help to protect the country.

In both cases, the administration has fostered false impressions and misled the nation with superficial, emotional and manipulative presentations that are not worthy of American Democracy.

In both cases they have exploited public fears for partisan political gain and postured themselves as bold defenders of our country while actually weakening not strengthening America.

In both cases, they have used unprecedented secrecy and deception in order to avoid accountability to the Congress, the Courts, the press and the people.

Indeed, this Administration has turned the fundamental presumption of our democracy on its head. A government of and for the people is supposed to be generally open to public scrutiny by the people — while the private information of the people themselves should be routinely protected from government intrusion.

But instead, this Administration is seeking to conduct its work in secret even as it demands broad unfettered access to personal information about American citizens. Under the rubric of protecting national security, they have obtained new powers to gather information from citizens and to keep it secret. Yet at the same time they themselves refuse to disclose information that is highly relevant to the war against terrorism.