WASHINGTON – Former Vice President Al Gore Thursday accused President Bush and Vice President Cheney of abusing executive power and lying to the American public.
Gore spoke to a packed house at Georgetown University Law School,where he was occasionally interrupted by bouts of loud clapping and laughing. The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy,a non-profit organization that supports a liberal legal philosophy,brought Gore to speak to more than 400 law students,professors and ACS members.
In a stinging indictment,Gore rebuked Bush and Cheney for “intentionally misleading the American people” and suggested they should testify under oath before Congress.
Gore cited public statements the two have made since Sept. 11,2001,and accused them of using “pretty tricky” wording to convince the public that deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden had a “meaningful relationship.”
“Are they too dishonest or too gullible? Take your pick,” he said.
If Bush actually believes in the linkage between Hussein and al Qaeda,Gore said “that would make him genuinely unfit” to be president. He drew an immediate eruption of applause.
Gore claimed the administration has to maintain the lie “lest they look like complete fools.”
Bush began “mentioning Osama bin Ladin and Saddam Hussein in the same breath,” soon after the Sept. 11,2001,attacks,Gore said. But Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi government “had nothing to do with the attacks against us,” and Bush “does not have any credible evidence to support that claim,” he said.
Gore said the administration repeatedly defends its claim,in spite of mounting evidence that it is untrue because it generates support for the war in Iraq. “Among Americans who believe there is a linkage,there remains very strong support for the president's decision to invade Iraq,” Gore said.
Gore said the bipartisan 9/11 Commission last week dealt a strong blow to the alleged linkage when it reported there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.
The report of the 9/11 Commission – also known as the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States – “should not have caught [Bush and Cheney] off guard” because the CIA and Pentagon warned them their information was inaccurate months ago,Gore said.
But Bush and Cheney have continued to “fight to the rhetorical death” in support of a claim they have been making for a year and a half – a claim Bush knows “full well” is an “artful lie,” he said.
They must maintain the linkage because “if Iraq had nothing to do with the attack or the organization that attacked us,then that means the president took us to war when he didn't have to,” Gore said.
Bush has abused the executive power by limiting Americans' civil liberties,Gore said. Bush has claimed the ongoing war exempts him from the rule of law,Gore added. Gore was referring to a Justice Department memo that the department later threw out,calling it “irrelevant and overbroad.”
All the while,Gore said,Congress has “virtually abdicated its constitutional role” to balance the executive branch's power by following the Republican Party without question and by allowing Bush's staff to write “key parts of laws for them.”
“In some ways,our current president is actually claiming more extra-constitutional power,vis-à-vis Congress and the courts,than Richard Nixon did,” he said.
The Republican National Committee dismissed Gore's accusations in a statement.
“Al Gore’s history of denial of the threat of terrorism is no less dangerous today in his role as John Kerry’s surrogate than it was in the 1990s in his role as vice president,a time when Osama Bin Laden was declaring war on the United States five different times,” said RNC Communications Director Jim Dyke.