Gore Assails Domestic Wiretapping Program


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The Associated Press
Monday, January 16, 2006; 7:05 PM

WASHINGTON -- Former Vice President Al Gore called Monday for an independent investigation of President Bush's domestic spying program, contending the president "repeatedly and insistently" broke the law by eavesdropping on Americans without court approval.

Speaking on Martin Luther King Jr.'s national holiday, the man who lost the 2000 presidential election to Bush was interrupted repeatedly by applause as he called the anti-terrorism program "a threat to the very structure of our government."

Former Vice President Al Gore gestures while addressing the American Constitution Society on the threat to the Constitution from President Bush's domestic wiretap policy, Monday, Jan. 16, 2006 at the DAR Constitution Hall in Washigton. Gore asserted Monday that President Bush
Former Vice President Al Gore gestures while addressing the American Constitution Society on the threat to the Constitution from President Bush's domestic wiretap policy, Monday, Jan. 16, 2006 at the DAR Constitution Hall in Washigton. Gore asserted Monday that President Bush "repeatedly and persistently" broke the law by eavesdropping on Americans without a court warrant. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (Susan Walsh - AP)

Gore charged that the administration acted without congressional authority and made a "direct assault" on a special federal court that authorizes requests to eavesdrop on Americans. One judge on the court resigned last month, voicing concerns about the National Security Agency's surveillance of e-mails and phone calls.

A spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, Tracey Schmitt, attacked Gore's comments shortly after address.

"Al Gore's incessant need to insert himself in the headline of the day is almost as glaring as his lack of understanding of the threats facing America," Schmitt said. "While the president works to protect Americans from terrorists, Democrats deliver no solutions of their own, only diatribes laden with inaccuracies and anger. "

Gore's speech was sponsored by the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy and The Liberty Coalition, two organizations that have expressed concern about the policy.

The former vice president said that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should name a special counsel to investigate the program, citing the attorney general's "obvious conflict of interest" as a member of the Bush Cabinet as well as the nation's top law enforcement officer.

Gonzales has agreed to testify publicly at a Senate hearing on the program, and he told a news conference recently that the president acted "consistent with his legal authority" to protect Americans from a terrorist threat.

Gore, speaking at DAR Constitution Hall, said the concerns are especially important on the King holiday because the slain civil rights leader was among thousands of Americans whose private communications were intercepted by the U.S. government.

King, as a foremost civil rights activist in the 1950s and 60s, had his telephone conversations wiretapped by the FBI, which kept a file on him and thousands of other civil rights and anti-Vietnam war activists.

Gore said there is still much to learn about the domestic surveillance program, but he already has drawn a conclusion about its legality.

"What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels the conclusion that the president of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and insistently," the Democrat maintained.

Bush has pointed to a congressional resolution passed after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that authorized him to use force in the fight against terrorism as allowing him to order the program.

Gore had a different view, contending that Bush failed to convince Congress to support a domestic spying program, so he "secretly assumed that power anyway, as if congressional authorization was a useless bother."

He said the spying program must be considered along with other administration actions as a constitutional power grab by the president. Gore cited imprisoning American citizens without charges in terrorism cases, mistreatment of prisoners _ including torture _ and seizure of individuals in foreign countries and delivering them to autocratic regimes "infamous for the cruelty of their techniques."

Gore didn't only criticize government officials. Referring to news reports that private telecommunications companies have provided the Bush administration with access to private information on Americans, Gore said any company that did so should immediately end its complicity in the program.


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Clinton Strikes Deal for AIDS Drugs
by Karen Matthews

NEW YORK - Former President Clinton announced Thursday that his foundation has negotiated agreements to lower the prices of rapid HIV tests and anti-AIDS drugs in the developing world, potentially saving "hundreds of thousands of lives."

Under the agreement, four companies will offer the tests for 49 cents to 65 cents apiece, slicing the cost of a diagnosis in half. Four more companies will provide the antiretroviral drugs efavirenz and abacavir at prices about 30 percent less than the current market rates, Clinton said.

"Too many people die because they can't afford or don't have access to the drugs," Clinton said at his office in Harlem. "Too many people are being infected because most of the people who have the virus today have not been tested."

The products and prices will be available in 50 countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin
America and Eastern Europe.

Clinton said the availability of quick HIV tests at half their current cost should mean many more people will get tested.

"I hope that the availability of these low-cost testing and the quickness of the response will encourage employers all over the world, especially in the high infection rate countries, and schools, governments and others to take advantage of this," he said.

The tests will be sold by Chembio Diagnostics Inc., based in Medford, N.Y.; Orgenics, a subsidiary of Inverness Medical Innovations, based in Israel; Qualpro Diagnostics in partnership with Core Diagnostics, based in India; and Shanghai Kehua, based in China.

The two antiretroviral drugs that will be sold at reduced prices under the agreement are typically used when first-line AIDS drugs lose their effectiveness and are several times as expensive as first-line drugs, Clinton said.

Cipla, Ranbaxy and Strides Arcolab, all based in India, and Aspen Pharmacare, based in South Africa, relying on active pharmaceutical ingredients from Matrix Laboratories of India, will offer efavirenz for $240 per patient per year, and Cipla will offer abacavir for $447.

Clinton said he expects to announce price reductions of additional AIDS drugs later this year.


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I wonder if Gore is considering or would consider running again ?? I know everyone is guessing that ol' HC will run but you never know...