Beltway Happenings
January 16, 2006--Speaking at Daughters of the American Revolution's Constitution Hall on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, former Vice President Al Gore warned that "America's Constitution is in grave danger."  Gore's speech comes about a month after the New York Times revealed the National Security Agency is eavesdropping on some overseas calls made by U.S. citizens.  Gore said he believes "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."  "What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels the conclusion that the President of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and insistently," Gore declared.  "Any president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government." 

Gore also lamented a Congress which acts "as if it were entirely subservient to the executive branch."  "Oversight is almost unknown in the Congress today," he stated. 

Gore said that, "It is time to breathe new life into America's democracy."  He outlined five steps to protect the Constitution: the Attorney General should appoint a special counsel; new whistleblower protections should be introduced for members of the executive branch; both Houses of Congress should hold hearings; the Patriot Act extensions should not be approved until safeguards are ensured; and any telecommunications companies that have been providing private information without a warrant should immediately stop.

The Liberty Coalition and the American Constitution Society sponsored Gore's speech on "Restoring the Rule of Law."  Many members of the progressive organization attended.  The conservative former Congressman Bob Barr had been scheduled to introduce Gore from a remote location but the hookup failed.

RNC Press Secretary Tracey Schmitt responded to the speech thusly: "Al Gore's incessant need to insert himself in the headline of the day is almost as glaring as his lack of understanding of the threats facing America.  While the President works to protect Americans from terrorists, Democrats deliver no solutions of their own, only diatribes laden with inaccuracies and anger."

"A seasoned statesman" in the words of one member of the audience.
The Liberty Coalition
American Constitution Society
Copyright © 2006  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action