Al Gore About the Homeland Security Act
Excerpt from a transcript of "CNN Larry King Live",
aired November 19, 2002
CALLER: What do you think about the homeland security becoming a cabinet
A. GORE: Oh, I don't think it's a bad thing to make it a cabinet position.
I think that moving the boxes around on the organizational chart has
limited benefit, but I think in this case, it can bring some limited
but real benefits. I would like to add one other thing on this. While
making it a cabinet department is a good thing, and many other features
of that bill are excellent, I am growing more and more concerned about
the violations of individual privacy that are contained in the current
A. GORE: Well, they have a plan that this guy, Admiral Poindexter has
been put in charge of in the Pentagon -- you know, he was the one in
the Iran Contra business. It's called Total Information Awareness, and
if carried out, this plan would empower the government to collect information
on every citizen of the United States and keep it there, and then in
the discretion of somebody in the administration, they could use it or
not use it, presumably because they were simply focused on countering
the terrorism threat.
But fear can cause people to make mistakes, and fear can cause great
nations to make mistakes, and just yesterday, the news came out this
morning of this secret court dramatically changing the standards for
wiretapping American citizens, and giving the Justice Department the
right to go in and use a much weaker standard to listen in on conversations.
What in the world are they doing here?
KING: Couldn't they say -- I don't want to speak for them -- the fear
A. GORE: Well, the fear -- the fear is warranted, but the remedy needs
to be matched to the threat. And see, what is -- the objective of terrorists
is to destroy our way of life. We should not give them part of their
victory by destroying important parts of our own way of life. And a right
to privacy is a part of every American's right. And this whole -- you
know, for many years going back to George Orwell and before, there have
been these warnings that the new technologies of communication and wiretapping
and everything create the possibility of a Big Brother-type state, and
we've always pushed that away and said, No, we want nothing like that
in the U.S. We will cast our lot with free speech and openness and the
rights of the individual.
And now, step by step, we're actually getting into a situation where
some of the things they're contemplating would take us big steps down
the road to a Big Brother-type approach. I think there ought to be a
lot of resistance to this. I think it -- that part of it ought to be
KING: Do you think it will?
A. GORE: Well, I don't know. I hope so. One reason I'm speaking out
on it here is to try to do my part to add...
KING: So you vote against the whole, or...
A. GORE: If they kept that part of it in, I would vote against the whole
darn thing. Yes, I would.