Former Vice President AL GORE: He brought the crowd to its feet when he called for a repeal of the Patriot Act, which expanded government's surveillance and detention power, allowing authorities to monitor books people read and conduct secret searches.
WASHINGTON (AP) - Former Vice President Al Gore accused President Bush on Sunday of failing to make the country safer after the Sept. 11 attacks and using the war against terrorism as a pretext to consolidate power.
"They have taken us much farther down the road toward an intrusive, 'big brother'-style government - toward the dangers prophesied by George Orwell in his book '1984' - than anyone ever thought would be possible in the United States of America," Gore charged.
Gore, who lost the disputed 2000 presidential election to Bush, said terrorism-fighting tools granted after Sept. 11 amount to a partisan power grab that have led to the erosion of the civil liberties of all Americans.
He brought the crowd to its feet when he called for a repeal of the Patriot Act, which expanded government's surveillance and detention power, allowing authorities to monitor books people read and conduct secret searches.
Gore chided the administration for what he said was its "implicit assumption" that Americans must give up traditional freedoms in order to be safe from terrorists.
"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," Gore said.
In both cases, Gore said, the administration has "recklessly put our country in grave and unnecessary danger."
He also said the administration still has "no serious strategy" for domestic security - charging that there aren't sufficient protections in place for ports, nuclear facilities, chemical plants and other key infrastructure.
His speech before a crowd of about 3,000 people was sponsored by the liberal activist group Moveon.org, which earlier this year held an online presidential primary in which Howard Dean finished first.
Copyright 2003 West-Art, Prometheus 90/2003