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Al Gore on Homeland Security

2000 Democratic Nominee for President; Former Vice President


Our government condones torture for first time in history

For the first time in American history, the Executive Branch of our government has not only condoned but actively promoted the treatment of captives in wartime that clearly involves torture, thus overturning a prohibition established by General George Washington during the Revolutionary War.

It is too easy--and too partisan--to simply place the blame on the policies of Pres. Bush. We are all responsible for the decisions our country makes. We have a Congress. We have an independent judiciary. We have checks and balances. We are a nation of laws. We have free speech. We have a free press. Have they all failed us? Why has America’s public discourse become less focused and clear, less reasoned? Faith in the power of reason--the belief that free citizens can govern themselves wisely and fairly by resorting to logical debate on the basis of the best evidence available, instead of raw power--remains the central premise of American democracy. This premise is now under assault.

Source: The Assault on Reason, by Al Gore May 16, 2007

Mass eavesdropping threatens integrity of Bill of Rights

The disclosure that our government has been cruelly and routinely torturing captured prisoners--and was continuing to do so as official policy--provoked surprisingly little public outcry, even though it threatened America’s values and moral authority in the world. Similarly, the disclosure that the executive branch had been conducting mass eavesdropping on American citizens without respecting the constitutional requirement that it obtain judicial warrants--and was continuing to do so--caused so little controversy that the Congress actually adopted legislation approving and affirming the practice. Yet this action threatened the integrity of the Bill of Rights, which is at the heart of America’s gift to human history.
Source: The Assault on Reason, by Al Gore, p. 53 May 16, 2007

Real danger to WTC is not terrorism, but rising sea levels

In Manhattan, the World Trade Center Memorial is intended to be, among other things, an expression of the determination of the United States never to allow such harm to befall our country again.

But if sea levels rose 20 feet worldwide, the site of the World Trade Center Memorial would be underwater.

Is it possible that we should prepare for other serious threats in addition to terrorism? Maybe it is time to focus on other dangers as well.

Source: An Inconvenient Truth, by Al Gore, p.208-209 May 26, 2006

FBI targeted MLK with secret illegal wiretaps

Many of us have come here to sound an alarm and call upon our fellow citizens to join with us in demanding that our Constitution be defended. It is appropriate that we make this appeal on the day we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

For the last several years of his life Dr. King was illegally wiretapped. The FBI privately labeled 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 tried to blackmail him into committing suicide. This campaign continued until Dr. King’s murder. The discovery that the FBI conducted this long-running and extensive campaign of secret electronic surveillance was instrumental in helping to convince Congress to enact restrictions on wiretapping. And one result was the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act, [so] an impartial judge would verify that there was indeed a sufficient cause for the surveillance.

Source: Al Gore’s speech on Constitutional issues Jan 16, 2006

Bush is ignoring laws against domestic wiretapping

The Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act, often called FISA, was enacted 30 years ago to ensure that foreign intelligence surveillance would be presented to an impartial judge to verify that there was indeed a sufficient cause for the surveillance.

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.

During the period when this eavesdropping was still secret, the president reassured the American people 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, the president confirmed the story was true but in the next breath declared that he has no intention of stopping.

Source: Al Gore’s speech on Constitutional issues Jan 16, 2006

Bush is breaking the law and threatens our rule of law

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 attacks on September 11th and we must be ever vigilant. Where we disagree is on the proposition that we have to break the law or sacrifice our system of government in order to protect Americans from terrorism.

Once violated, the rule of law is itself 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 mistakes and reveal errors, it becomes increasingly difficult for the other branches to police its activities. And once that ability is lost, democracy itself is threatened and we do become a government of men and not laws.

Source: Al Gore’s speech on Constitutional issues Jan 16, 2006

Bush considers congressional authorization a useless bother

FISA 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 11. But this argument simply does not hold any water. First, the attorney general concedes that the administration knew that the NSA project was prohibited by existing law and that that is why they consulted with some members of Congress about the possibility of changing the statute. Indeed, when the Sept. 11 authorization was being debated, the administration did seek to have language inserted that would have authorized them to use military force domestically, and the Congress refused to agree. When Pres. Bush failed to convince Congress to give him the power he wanted when this measure was passed, he secretly assumed that power anyway, as if congressional authorization was a useless bother.
Source: Al Gore’s speech on Constitutional issues Jan 16, 2006

Bush has no right to imprison unaccused US citizens

The disrespect embodied in [Bush’s] 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:
Source: Al Gore’s speech on Constitutional issues Jan 16, 2006

Bush allows torturing prisoners in breach of int’l law

The executive branch has claimed a previously unrecognized authority to mistreat prisoners in its custody in ways that plainly constitute torture, Over 100 US captives have reportedly died while being tortured. And, in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, investigators estimated that more than 90% of the torture victims were completely innocent of any criminal charges whatsoever.

This is a shameful exercise of power that overturns a set of principles that your nation has observed since George Washington first enunciated them during our Revolutionary War. They have been observed by every president since then until now. They violate the Geneva Conventions, the International Convention Against Torture and our own laws against torture.

After appearing to support legislation sponsored by Sen. McCain to stop the continuation of torture, the president declared that he reserved the right not to comply with the bill.

Source: Al Gore’s speech on Constitutional issues Jan 16, 2006

Congress is complicit in not overseeing Bush

The legislative branch of government as a whole, under its current leadership, now operates as if it were entirely subservient to the executive branch. There have now been two or three generations of congressmen who don’t really know what an oversight hearing is. In the ‘70s & ‘80s, 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. Oversight is almost unknown in the Congress today. The role of the authorization committees has declined into insignificance.

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 executive branch is further limited when the same party controls both Congress and the administration. The executive branch time and again has co-opted Congress’ role. And too often Congress has been a willing accomplice in the surrender of its own power

Source: Al Gore’s speech on Constitutional issues Jan 16, 2006

Calls for special counsel to investigate Bush lawbreaking

I endorse the words of Bob Barr [former US Representative, R, GA] 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.” [I recommend]:
  1. A special counsel should be immediately appointed to investigate what many believe are serious violations of law by the president.
  2. New whistleblower protection should immediately be established for members of the executive branch who report evidence of wrongdoing.
  3. Both houses of Congress should hold comprehensive hearings into these serious allegations of criminal behavior on the part of the president.
  4. The extensive new powers in the Patriot Act should under no circumstances be granted until there are adequate and enforceable safeguards.
  5. 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.
    Source: Al Gore’s speech on Constitutional issues Jan 16, 2006

    We should focus on bin Laden, not Iraq

    No challenge is more critical than the situation we confront in Iraq. Regardless of your opinion at the beginning of this war, isn’t it now obvious that the way the war has been managed by Bush has gotten us into very serious trouble? We have to be crystal clear about terrorism. It is deadly. It is real. It is imminent. But in order to protect our people, shouldn’t we focus on the real source of this threat: the group that attacked us and is trying to attack us again - al Qaeda, headed by bin Laden
    Source: Primetime speech to the Democratic National Convention Jul 28, 2004

    Troops are stretched thin and exhausted

    Our troops are stretched thin and exhausted not only because Secretary Rumsfeld contemptuously dismissed the advice of military leaders on the size of the needed force - but also because Bush’s contempt for traditional allies and international opinion left us without a real coalition to share the military and financial burden of the war and the occupation.
    Source: Speech on Iraq, with MoveOn PAC at NYU May 26, 2004

    The best technology makes U.S. military the best

    Q: What is the proper role for the military?

    GORE: The US has to be strong in order to promote peace and stability. We need to make sure that our personnel are adequately paid and that their pay is comparable to the competition from the private sector. I have supported the largest pay raise in many a year. I support another one now. I also support modernization of our tactical weaponry. I think one of the ways we’ve been able to be so successful in Kosovo and other places is by having the technological edge. Now, readiness. I propose $100 billion for this purpose.

    BUSH: We have an opportunity to use the great technology of the United States to make our military lighter, harder to find, more lethal. We have an opportunity to keep the peace. I’m going to ask the secretary of defense to develop a plan so we’re making sure we’re not spending our money on political projects, but on projects to make sure our soldiers are well-paid, well-housed and have the best equipment in the world.

    Source: St. Louis debate Oct 17, 2000

    Help with landmine removal; ban them in 2006 but not now

    On land mines: “Gore has said he supports the current policy” [which is to spend tens of millions per year assisting with landmine removal, but to not sign the treaty banning mines]. “Gore adds that he intends to sign the treaty in 2006,” said a land mine expert. “But disturbingly, Gore has said recently that we may need to re-negotiate some parts of the treaty. Bush has not spoken out on the issue.”
    Source: NPR’s “Morning Edition” Sep 7, 2000

    Keep America strong for challenges of newly free world

    I will keep America’s defenses strong. I will make sure our armed forces continue to be the best-equipped, best-trained, and best-led in the entire world. In the last century, this nation more than any other freed the world from fascism and communism. But a newly free world still has dangers and challenges, both old and new. We must always have the will to defend our enduring interests, and we must strengthen our partnerships with Africa, Latin America, and the rest of the developing world.
    Source: Speech to the 2000 Democratic National Convention Aug 18, 2000

    Build-down military to smaller but more effective

    Since World War II, there have been several build-downs that have strained America military readiness. In contrast, the current Administration’s handling of the post-Cold War build-down has yielded a force that while smaller, is more agile, more powerful, and more effective at countering new strategic threats. The build-down can now be matched by a careful investment in further transforming the forces and endowing them with the cutting edge technology they will need to succeed in their missions.
    Source: AlGore2000.com Press Release, “Strengthening” May 27, 2000

    Prepare for challenges of the information-age battefield

      To achieve the reconfiguration of America’s armed forces that will best prepare us to win on the information-age battlefield, Al Gore believes we must set our sights on 4 key challenges:
    1. Recruiting, training, and retaining a professional all-volunteer force of the highest caliber;
    2. Taking full advantage of America’s technological edge by arming our troops with the most advanced weaponry and deploying the most sophisticated intelligence and information systems;
    3. Developing and implementing new military strategy, updating operational concepts, modernizing organizations, and innovating systems -- in short, transforming the armed forces to meet future challenges; and
    4. Continuing to streamline and innovate in the Defense Department, producing more efficient management and releasing resources for critical defense needs.
    Source: AlGore2000.com Press Release, “Strengthening” May 27, 2000

    Use military as last resort, only when effective & shared

Source: AlGore2000.com “Briefing Room”: Armed Force Journal speech May 27, 2000

From day one: Transform to 21st century military strategy

    Al Gore will use the Quadrennial Defense Review in the first few months of the new Administration to set a course for military strategy:
Source: AlGore2000.com “Briefing Room” May 27, 2000

Forward Engagement: address problems before crises arise

Al Gore today outlined a New Security Agenda based upon the concept of Forward Engagement that addresses international problems before they become crises.

Gore explained that America has entered a new Global Age, where we are not only faced with “classic” security threats, such as regional instability, ethnic rivalries, nuclear weapons, but also “new” security threats. These new challenges, including terrorism, drug trafficking, weapons proliferation, environmental disruption and disease, no longer respect national borders.

“At the dawn of the 21st century, we need a foreign policy that addresses the classic security threats - and understands the new ones as well,” Gore said. “We need to pursue a policy of ‘Forward Engagement’ - addressing problems early in their development before they become crises; addressing them as close to the source of the problem as possible; and having the forces and resources to deal with those threats as soon after their emergence as possible.”

Source: Press Release on speech in Boston Apr 30, 2000

Sensible increases in defense spending

Background: The US government spends about 16% of its budget on defense, down from about 50% in the early 1960s. The number of active-duty troops has dropped by about one third since the end of the Cold War. Gore’s views:: Wants unspecified “sensible” increase in defense spending. Has helped negotiate arms reduction and nuclear stability arrangements. As senator, voted for SDI and B-2s. Supported military force in Persian Gulf War and the nuclear test ban treaty.
Source: NyTimes.com Politics Library Feb 3, 2000

Nation-building is part of world leadership

Q: Do you agree with the Governor’s views on nation-building?

GORE: I don’t think we agree on that. I would certainly also be judicious in evaluating any potential use of American troops overseas. But the world is changing so rapidly. Like it or not, the US is now the natural leader of the world. All these other countries are looking to us. Now, just because we cannot be involved everywhere and shouldn’t be doesn’t mean that we should shy away from going in anywhere. But there is a difference [with Bush] here. This idea of nation building is kind of a pejorative phrase, but think about the great conflict of the past century, World War II. And acting upon the lesson of WWI, in the aftermath of WWII, we laid down the Marshall Plan; we got intimately involved in building NATO and other structures there. We still have lots of troops in Europe. And what did we do in the late 40’s and 50’s and 60’s? We were nation building.

BUSH: One of the lessons between WWI and WWII is we let our military atrophy.

Source: Presidential Debate at Wake Forest University Oct 11, 2000


Al Gore on Military Personnel

US military is best in history of the world

I want to make it clear: Our military is the strongest, best-trained, best-equipped, best-led fighting force in the world and in the history of the world. Nobody should have any doubt about that, least of all our adversaries or potential adversaries. I will do whatever is necessary in order to make sure our offices stay the strongest in the world. In fact, in my 10-year budget proposal, I have set aside more than twice as much for this purpose as Gov. Bush has in his proposal.
Source: Presidential debate, Boston MA Oct 3, 2000

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is unfair & hasn’t worked

Q: Do you support the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military?

A: The ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy has not worked. Furthermore, I believe that, as a matter of basic fairness, the policy should be changed. It is unacceptable that patriotic men and women who serve their nation with distinction are not only discharged, but suffer persecution and even violence. They should be allowed to serve their country without discrimination.

Source: Associated Press Sep 6, 2000

No soldier should have to rely on food stamps

I don’t pretend that my own military experience matches in any way what others here have been through. I didn’t do the most, or run the gravest danger. But I was proud to wear my country’s uniform. And my own experiences gave me strong beliefs about America’s obligation to keep our national defenses strong. I will make sure that no members of our armed forces ever have to rely on food stamps. Our armed forces should be commemorated on stamps. They shouldn’t have to use them to buy groceries.
Source: Kevin Sack, NY Times Aug 23, 2000

Personnel: better pay; housing; family services; healthcare

Source: AlGore2000.com “Briefing Room”: Armed Force Journal speech May 27, 2000

$1.2 billion in new education money for veterans

Al Gore courted veterans yesterday with $1.2 billion in new education money for them, their families, and their survivors. “Those who fight for our security should never have to fight for the education they need to succeed,” Gore said at a VFW post.

Gore’s plan would increase monthly payments to veterans and families by 25%, from $536 to $670. Gore said that would be the largest increase in their education funding since the program began 16 years ago as part of the GI Bill. Benefits also would be indexed to inflation and veterans could use the money for other types of learning during school breaks. Gore said no new money would be needed to pay for the increased benefits since they would be covered by the money available from the Veterans Administration. “We don’t give our veterans anything,” Gore concluded. “You have earned what you get with blood, sweat, and tears.”

Source: Associated Press in Boston Globe, p. A36 May 11, 2000

Appointees must ENFORCE allowing gays; not AGREE with policy

Gore stated last week that he would require appointments to the Joint Chiefs of Staff to support a policy of allowing gays to serve openly in the military. Four days ago, Gore backed down from the position, saying he would not apply a “litmus test.”

Today, Gore suggested that he would apply a test of whether an appointee would follow orders. He said he would not demand that an appointee believe in allowing gays to serve openly, but he would ask for a commitment that he or she enforce that policy. Describing a hypothetical interview with a potential appointee, Gore said that a person would not be disqualified if he or she was uncomfortable with the policy. But he said that after asking the person to explain the reservations, he would “then ask, ‘Give me the reassurance that of course you’re going to do your best to implement it.’ And of course that goes without saying, because officers do that in our military.”

Source: New York Times, p. A20 Jan 11, 2000


Al Gore on Missile Defense

Full-scale “Star Wars” is unrealistic & too expensive

I favor an effort to develop a limited missile defense system and not a massive “star wars” system because our country will probably face a new threat later in this decade from a small arsenal of relatively unsophisticated ICBMs in the hands of a rogue state. [Bush’s proposed] much larger, space-based star wars approach is far more difficult to design and build, far more expensive to purchase, less likely to work, and is calculated to destroy existing arms control arrangements with the Russians.
Source: Transcript of Gore interview Jul 10, 2000

Nuclear unilateralism will hinder arms control

Gore criticized Bush’s support for a national missile defense system along with a possible one-sided reduction in American nuclear warheads. “An approach that combines serious unilateral reductions with an attempt to build a massive defensive system will create instability and thus undermine our security,” Gore said. “Nuclear unilateralism will hinder, rather than help, arms control.” Again and again, Gore assailed the notion of one-sided arms reductions, a prospect that Bush had raised [last week]. Gore emphasized that reductions should be pursued within negotiations and the framework of existing arms control treaties.

Gore said that the Clinton administration was already negotiating for bilateral cuts in nuclear arms and was considering a limited missile defense, but said the kind of approach recommended by Bush was misguided. “Reductions alone do not guarantee stability,” Gore said. “If you’re not careful, you could have a reduction of missiles and a more dangerous world.”

Source: Katharine Q. Seelye, New York Times May 28, 2000

Build less powerful SDI; to keep ABM treaty & START III

We believe that it is essential to [build a missile defense system] in a way that does not destroy the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The ABM Treaty is the cornerstone of strategic stability in our relationship with Russia. It prevents the Russians or ourselves from deploying defenses powerful enough-assuming anyone can solve the engineering problems-to neutralize the deterrent of either side. The Russians have made clear that their response to a powerful US defensive system would be to halt arms control and increase the number of their offensive nuclear weapons.

The ABM Treaty is a prerequisite for the deeper reductions in nuclear arms that we are seeking in START III, which is under discussion with the Russians as we speak. [Further missile reductions] are possible only through careful negotiation. [SDI defending against rogue states] can co-exist with the ABM Treaty, if that treaty is adjusted. It can be compatible with further arms reductions.

Source: Speech at West Point Military Academy May 27, 2000

Focus SDI on rogue states

We need to continue on a course of deeper reductions [in nuclear weapons]. But it is critical that we have the right approach in doing so. We are urging the Russians to tighten cooperation with us to protect nuclear weapons materials and stop the transfer of ballistic missile and nuclear weapons technology to rogue states. It is these states that represent the emerging threat to our country.

The administration has been working on the technology for a national missile defense system designed to protect all 50 states from a limited attack at the hands of a rogue state. We believe, however, that it is essential to do this in a way that does not destroy the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The national missile defense system that the president will review this summer is intended to meet threats from proliferant states like North Korea while preserving strategic stability.

Source: Speech at West Point Military Academy May 27, 2000

Test Ban Treaty is the tide of history; ratify it

Outraged at the Senate for voting down a treaty banning nuclear weapons testing worldwide, Vice President Gore takes to the airwaves tomorrow to declare “there’s no more important challenge than stopping the spread of nuclear weapons.” “This vote goes against the tide of history and the advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from the Clinton, Bush, Reagan, and Carter administrations,” Gore says in the ad. Gore says he wants a mandate from the voters to send the treaty back to the Senate to be ratified.
Source: Boston Globe, p. A5 Oct 15, 1999

Other candidates on Homeland Security: Al Gore on other issues:
Nominees:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

Third Parties:
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
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Page last updated: Dec 07, 2008