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Al Gore on the Politics of Fear

http://www.moveon.org/front/gore.html February 5, 2004

"......The Administration did not hesitate to heighten and distort public fear of terrorism after September 11th, to create a political case for attacking Iraq.

Iraq was said to be working hand in hand with Al Queda.

Iraq was said to be on the verge of a nuclear weapons capability.

Defeating Saddam Hussein was conflated into bringing war to the terrorists, even though what it really meant was diverting resources away from the pursuit of the people who attacked us, and causing us to lose focus on that task.

The administration also did not hesitate to use fear of terrorism to launch a broadside attack on measures that have been in place for a generation to prevent a repetition of gross abuses of authority by the FBI and by the intelligence community at the height of the Cold War.

I served on the House Select Committee on Intelligence immediately after the period when the revelations of these abuses led to major reforms.

Conservatives on that panel resisted those changes tooth and nail.

They have long memories, and now these same constraints have been targeted in the Patriot Act and have been sharply diminished or removed.

And the President wants the Patriot Act extended and made permanent.

Neither did the administration have any scruples about using fear of terrorists as a means to punch holes in the basic protections of the Constitution: to create a class of permanent prisoners; to make it possible to imprison Americans without due process; to totally sequester information not just from the people, but from the congress and the courts - all justified by recourse to fear.

.......

....After the oil embargo of 1973, Nixon threatened a military invasion of the oil fields of the Middle East. Now Bush has actually done it.

Both kept their true intentions secret.

Like Bush, Nixon understood the political uses and misuses of fear.

After he was driven from office in disgrace, one of Nixon's confidants quoted Nixon as having told him this:

"People react to fear, not love.

They don't teach that in Sunday School, but it's true."

The night before that election, 33 years and 3 months ago, Senator Ed Muskie of Maine spoke on national television for the Democrats and said,

"There are only two kinds of politics. They are not radical and reactionary, or conservative and liberal. Or even Democrat and Republican. There are only the politics of fear and the politics of trust.

"One says: You are encircled by monstrous dangers.

Give us power over your freedom so we may protect you.

"The other says: The world is a baffling and hazardous place, but it can be shaped to the will of men. ...(C)ast your vote for trust ...in the ancient traditions of this home for freedom...."

The next day my father was defeated. Defeated by the politics of fear. .." Read the transcript