Revolution #32, January 29, 2006,
Al Gore's Warning
Revolution #32, January 29, 2006, posted at revcom.us
Speaking on Martin Luther King's birthday, at a program sponsored by groups ranging from a liberal civil liberties attorneys group to a conservative libertarian group, former vice president (and the guy from whom Bush stole the 2000 election) Al Gore issued some very sobering warnings about where this country is headed. Those warnings were met with smug arrogance by the regime, and silence by the Democrats, even while Gore's speech set off a stir broadly in society, with blogs and break-rooms buzzing over what Gore let out of the bag.
Bush claims that he's only spying on people who have gotten phone calls from al-Qaida. Gore - who knows what he's talking about - said that the government "is eavesdropping on huge numbers of American citizens." And that the executive branch (the White House) "has brazenly declared that it has the unilateral right to continue without regard to the established law enacted by Congress to prevent such abuses."
And Gore referred to the fact that "for the last several years of his life, Dr. King was illegally wiretapped-one of hundreds of thousands of Americans whose private communications were intercepted by the U.S. government during this period. The FBI privately called King the 'most dangerous and effective negro (sic) leader in the country' and vowed to 'take him off his pedestal'. The government even attempted to destroy his marriage and blackmail him into committing suicide. This campaign continued until Dr. King's murder."
"The Cycle May Not Repeat Itself"
Gore laid out, in rather stark terms, a list of draconian moves by the Bush Regime, including:
"The President claims that he can imprison American citizens indefinitely for the rest of their lives without an arrest warrant, without notifying them about what charges have been filed against them, and without informing their families that they have been imprisoned.
"At the same time, the Executive Branch has claimed a previously unrecognized authority to mistreat prisoners in its custody in ways that plainly constitute torture in a pattern that has now been documented in U.S. facilities located in several countries around the world.
"Over 100 of these captives have reportedly died while being tortured by Executive Branch interrogators and many more have been broken and humiliated. In the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, investigators who documented the pattern of torture estimated that more than 90 percent of the victims were innocent of any charges."
"The President has also claimed that he has the authority to kidnap individuals in foreign countries and deliver them for imprisonment and interrogation on our behalf by autocratic regimes in nations that are infamous for the cruelty of their techniques for torture."
After discussing events in US history like the detention of Japanese Americans in World War II, and repression against the movement against the War in Vietnam, Gore said that, "[I]n each of these cases, when the conflict and turmoil subsided, the country recovered its equilibrium and absorbed the lessons learned in a recurring cycle of excess and regret. There are reasons for concern this time around that conditions may be changing and that the cycle may not repeat itself."
Gore pointed to "The slow and steady accumulation of presidential power," combined with the fact that "we are told by the Administration that the war footing upon which he has tried to place the country is going to 'last for the rest of our lives.' " And , "[T]he advances in eavesdropping and surveillance technologies with their capacity to sweep up and analyze enormous quantities of information and to mine it for intelligence."
Gore poses a fourth reason to believe that the self-correcting mechanisms he believes normally operate may not be operating now: "This Administration has come to power in the thrall of a legal theory that aims to convince us that this excessive concentration of presidential authority is exactly what our Constitution intended."
We should listen carefully to Gore's warning: "If the President has the inherent authority to eavesdrop, imprison citizens on his own declaration, kidnap and torture, then what can't he do?"
"Can't Touch That" and "Don't Go There"
The response of the Democrats and ruling class liberals to Gore's speech was basically "can't touch that." The New York Times, which bills itself as "the newspaper of record" normally reprints major speeches by people on Gore's level, but in this case The Times downplayed the speech and did not print a transcript.
When asked about Gore's remarks by PBS' Jim Lehrer, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said, "I have the greatest respect for Al Gore, but I won't direct my remarks about Al Gore." And when Lehrer followed up by asking if impeachment proceedings should be considered, Reid said, "I think it's way, way too early for that."
"Way, way too early" to talk about impeachment?! To quote probably more than one comment heard on the street recently, "What the hell do you have to do to get impeached around here?" Lehrer - in his role as an "impartial adviser" on intra-ruling class disputes and in preserving the credibility of the system had to ask Reid, "Well, then if the hearings aren't -- are there any alternatives to that? I mean, what do you and the Democrats, or anybody else who is opposed to what the president is doing, what are you going to do about it?"
Bush's press flak, Scott McClellan, accused Gore of hypocrisy because under the Clinton administration, McClellan said that a CIA officer being investigated for spying had his home broken into. Gore replied that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) allowed for such searches at the time, and was amended to prohibit them. And, he also raised an important point - that by invoking the "they broke the law so why can't we?" argument, the Bush regime, "ironically demonstrates another reason why we must be so vigilant about their brazen disregard for the law. If unchecked, their behavior would serve as a precedent to encourage future presidents to claim these same powers, which many legal experts in both parties believe are clearly illegal."
Making the Case
In making the "hypocrisy" charge, McClellan was making the point to Gore beyond the specific claim that the Clinton/Gore administration spied on someone. The other message here was: Hey - don't forget, you are one of us. Which does put a crimp on what Gore is inclined to say, and what he can say.
Gore is, after all, still speaking from within the US imperialist ruling class. His exposure was framed early in his speech:
"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 attack on September 11th and that we must be ever-vigilant in protecting our citizens from harm.
"Where we disagree is that we have to break the law or sacrifice our system of government to protect Americans from terrorism. In fact, doing so makes us weaker and more vulnerable."
As this newspaper has pointed out and argued in many articles, the so-called "war on terror" is actually a war for unchallenged U.S. domination of the planet, even while it is now taking the form of conflict between the US and Islamic fundamentalist forces, and is focused on the Middle East.
Gore, for instance, calls the Vietnam war, and the war on Iraq "colossal mistakes." In fact, those wars were not mistakes, they were wrong - unjust wars driven by the essential nature of imperialism.
And, when he speaks of democracy, Gore upholds "Athens and the Roman Republic upon whose designs our founders drew heavily." Athens was a Greek slave society. The Roman Republic was a slave society as well. When the Roman Republic defeated rival Carthage (a rival city-state), they looted and then burned Carthage to the ground, even, according to legend, sowing salt into the fields so that nothing could ever be grown there. The surviving inhabitants of Carthage were sold into slavery.
This paper repeatedly prints and encourages readers to dig into three sentences from RCP Chairman Bob Avakian that cut the heart of upholding of democracy in the abstract:
"In a world marked by profound class divisions and social inequality, to talk about 'democracy'--without talking about the class nature of that democracy and which class it serves--is meaningless, and worse. So long as society is divided into classes, there can be no 'democracy for all': one class or another will rule, and it will uphold and promote that kind of democracy which serves its interests and goals. The question is: which class will rule and whether its rule, and its system of democracy, will serve the continuation, or the eventual abolition, of class divisions and the corresponding relations of exploitation, oppression and inequality."
Despite all that, the news is that speaking from within the ruling class, Gore's speech just taken on its own indicts the Bush regime for: systematic torture ("the Executive Branch has claimed a previously unrecognized authority to mistreat prisoners in its custody in ways that plainly constitute torture ") and murder ("Over 100 of these captives have reportedly died while being tortured by Executive Branch interrogators"), of innocent people ("more than 90 percent of the victims were innocent of any charges."). For spying on "huge numbers" of people in this country - spying reminiscent of the FBI's operation against Martin Luther King. And that there is good reason to think the direction things are heading is worse, and is not going to get corrected by normal workings of the system.
Gore's speech should serve as a wake up call to all about just how extreme things have gotten, and how dangerous a direction things are heading.
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