On Martin Luther King day (January 16th), Al Gore has given a really strong speech on the current state of politics in America, the wiretapping of American citizens by the Bush administration, the lawless imprisonment of US citizens, the practice of torture by the CIA and he couldn’t have been more explicit and precise in many ways.
The Raw Story has a transscript of the speech (Washington Post has one as well) and Madge Weinstein managed to get her hands on a full recording of the speech (MP3, 1:06:35, 45.71 MB) and published it on the Yeast2 podcast.
Here are some notable excerpts of the speech:
“Can it be true that any president really has such powers under our Constitution? If the answer is “yes” then under the theory by which these acts are committed, are there any acts that can on their face be prohibited? If the President has the inherent authority to eavesdrop, imprison citizens on his own declaration, kidnap and torture, then what can’t he do?”
He also relates to surveillance technology itself:
“…we need to be aware of the advances in eavesdropping and surveillance technologies with their capacity to sweep up and analyze enormous quantities of information and to mine it for intelligence. This adds significant vulnerability to the privacy and freedom of enormous numbers of innocent people at the same time as the potential power of those technologies. These techologies have the potential for shifting the balance of power between the apparatus of the state and the freedom of the individual in ways both subtle and profound.”
Furthermore he addresses the overall state of the legal and judiciary system in the US.
“Moreover, in the Congress as a whole-both House and Senate-the enhanced role of money in the re-election process, coupled with the sharply diminished role for reasoned deliberation and debate, has produced an atmosphere conducive to pervasive institutionalized corruption.”
He also gives examples on the suppresion of free speech by threatening NASA scientists:
“To take another example, scientific warnings about the catastrophic consequences of unchecked global warming were censored by a political appointee in the White House who had no scientific training. And today one of the leading scientific experts on global warming in NASA has been ordered not to talk to members of the press and to keep a careful log of everyone he meets with so that the Executive Branch can monitor and control his discussions of global warming.”
He adds the any “telecommunications company that has provided the government with access to private information … without a proper warrant should immediately cease and desist their complicity in this … illegal invasion of the privacy of American citizens”. And, even more important, he relates to freedom of speech on the Internet in particular:
“Freedom of communication is an essential prerequisite for the restoration of the health of our democracy. It is particularly important that the freedom of the Internet be protected against either the encroachment of government or the efforts at control by large media conglomerates. The future of our democracy depends on it.”
All in all, a very impressive speech. Take your time and listen to it.