Al Gore’s Fantasy World

Former Vice President Al Gore must have some rose-colored glasses the size of Jupiter if he really believes what he told an audience in Montreal a few days ago. He said that he expects Congress to rein in the surveillance programs of the NSA and other executive agencies.

Former U.S. vice-president Al Gore predicted Tuesday that lawmakers in his country would rein in intelligence agencies in the wake of leaks by whistleblower Edward Snowden, who revealed massive secret government surveillance programs.

While Gore said he favoured surveillance to ensure security, he described the efforts made public by the former Central Intelligence Agency employee as “outrageous” and “completely unacceptable.”…

Gore said the revelations are disturbing to say the least.

“He has revealed evidence of what appears to be crimes against the Constitution of the United States,” he said.

Gore said governments throughout history have understandably conducted surveillance to protect their security but added that efforts have gone to “absurd” lengths and are counter-productive.

“When you are looking for a needle in a haystack, it’s not always wise to pile more hay on the haystack,” he said quoting a scholar on the CIA.

The former senator said while he appreciated the work of intelligence services, he doubted the excesses would be allowed to continue and noted some states are already passing laws or putting referendum questions to their constituents.

“I think they will have to pull this back,” Gore told a brief question period at McGill University where he delivered the Beaverbrook Annual Lecture. “I think you will see a reining in.”

Let’s just say I’m not holding my breath. The Republicans certainly aren’t going to do it and they control the House. The Democratic leadership in both chambers — Pelosi, Reid, Feinstein — are as deep in the tank for a virtually unlimited executive branch as the Republicans. Obama has been nothing short of a disaster in this area. The absolute best we could hope for is some token bill with meaningless new forms of “oversight” (we can see how well that worked; the Senate put together a massive report on torture by the Pentagon and the CIA and refuses to release it). They aren’t about to actually do something to rein in the NSA, CIA or FBI. Not a chance.

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  • doublereed

    There are two main bills being pushed for right now. One is Dianne Feinstein’s ridiculous Bullshit Legislation (which may actually make things worse by giving these things more authority) and the other is Sensenbrenner and Leahy’s USA Freedom Act which the ACLU has endorsed.

    They’re both in play. It’s not really clear how things will go.

  • trucreep

    Feinstein’s bill, which I think doublereed described perfectly as ridiculous bullshit legislation, is as offensive as it is pathetic. It codifies all of the abuse we are seeing in addition to granting more powers to the NSA and hindering the already meager oversight we already have. What makes it so offensive is that Feinstein, as the HEAD of the Senate Intelligence Committee that is supposed to provide oversight, dresses it up as reform. She is the most unapologetic shill for the IC that very clearly benefits by abdicating her purpose and weakening any kind of checks on the IC.

    This is something that I think a lot of us tend not to think about, maybe because politics have become so shitty we expect this sort of thing. But the members of Congress that are supposed to oversee our intelligence agencies are so obviously subservient to them its ridiculous. They’re not there to do their jobs, they’re there to have an inflated and (especially) unwarranted sense of superiority over the “common citizen.” Nothing speaks to that mentality better than Mike Rogers, who thinks your privacy isn’t violated if you don’t know about it. What a fucking thug.

  • doublereed

    Senator Wyden is a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee and he has been incredibly outspoken against the NSA violations. When the leaks started coming out he said something like “I’m not sure what was released, but if you’re outraged, then it’s probably only the tip of the iceberg.” Remember that all this stuff is classified.

    Also, I’m pretty sure it’s Wyden who, whatever he asks the NSA Director, the answer is yes. He’s asking the questions in public hearings but he already knows the answer. The NSA Director gives whatever answer he’s going to give, but the actual answer is yes.