And Other Hightlights from an Extraordinary Speech to a Bi-Partisan Audience...
Calls for Special Counsel, Exec Branch Whistleblower Protection, Comprehensive Congressional Hearings to Immediately Investigate Constitutional Crimes by the Executive Branch...
By Brad Friedman on 1/16/2006, 9:52am PT  

Al Gore's speech, to a bi-partisan audience, on our "Constitutional Crisis" has just concluded. UPDATE: We've posted extended video highlights from the speech here...

Gore was to have been introduced by former Congressman Bob Barr (R-GA), but Barr's live video feed broke down at the last moment. We are told by the Liberty Coalition's Michael Ostrolenk (who jumped up to introduce Gore in an improvised statement), that Barr will be appearing on CNN's Situation Room later this afternoon.

An early highlight from Gore's address: "The President of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently."

MORE HIGHLIGHTS...

A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government. Our Founding Fathers were adamant that they had established a government of laws and not men. Indeed, they recognized that the structure of government they had enshrined in our Constitution - our system of checks and balances - was designed with a central purpose of ensuring that it would govern through the rule of law.
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The President and I agree on one thing. The threat from terrorism is all too real...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.
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It is this same disrespect for America's Constitution which has now brought our republic to the brink of a dangerous breach in the fabric of the Constitution. And the disrespect embodied in these apparent mass violations of the law is part of a larger pattern of seeming indifference to the Constitution that is deeply troubling to millions of Americans in both political parties.
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This shameful exercise of power overturns a set of principles that our nation has observed since General Washington first enunciated them during our Revolutionary War and has been observed by every president since then - until now.
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But the most serious damage has been done to the legislative branch. The sharp decline of congressional power and autonomy in recent years has been almost as shocking as the efforts by the Executive Branch to attain a massive expansion of its power.
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The Congress we have today is unrecognizable compared to the one in which my father served. There are many distinguished Senators and Congressmen serving today. I am honored that some of them are here in this hall. But the legislative branch of government under its current leadership now operates as if it is entirely subservient to the Executive Branch.
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In the 70's and 80's, the oversight hearings in which my colleagues and I participated held the feet of the Executive Branch to the fire - no matter which party was in power. Yet oversight is almost unknown in the Congress today.
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It is the pitiful state of our legislative branch which primarily explains the failure of our vaunted checks and balances to prevent the dangerous overreach by our Executive Branch which now threatens a radical transformation of the American system.

I call upon Democratic and Republican members of Congress today to uphold your oath of office and defend the Constitution. Stop going along to get along. Start acting like the independent and co-equal branch of government you're supposed to be. [standing ovation received after this section]
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Fear drives out reason. Fear suppresses the politics of discourse and opens the door to the politics of destruction. Justice Brandeis once wrote: "Men feared witches and burnt women."

The founders of our country faced dire threats. If they failed in their endeavors, they would have been hung as traitors. The very existence of our country was at risk.

Yet, in the teeth of those dangers, they insisted on establishing the Bill of Rights.

Is our Congress today in more danger than were their predecessors when the British army was marching on the Capitol? Is the world more dangerous than when we faced an ideological enemy with tens of thousands of missiles poised to be launched against us and annihilate our country at a moment's notice? Is America in more danger now than when we faced worldwide fascism on the march-when our fathers fought and won two World Wars simultaneously?

It is simply an insult to those who came before us and sacrificed so much on our behalf to imply that we have more to be fearful of than they. Yet they faithfully protected our freedoms and now it is up to us to do the same.

We have a duty as Americans to defend our citizens' right not only to life but also to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is therefore vital in our current circumstances that immediate steps be taken to safeguard our Constitution against the present danger posed by the intrusive overreaching on the part of the Executive Branch and the President's apparent belief that he need not live under the rule of law.

I endorse the words of Bob Barr, when he said, "The President has dared the American people to do something about it. For the sake of the Constitution, I hope they will."

A special counsel should immediately be appointed by the Attorney General to remedy the obvious conflict of interest that prevents him from investigating what many believe are serious violations of law by the President.
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new whistleblower protections should immediately be established for members of the Executive Branch who report evidence of wrongdoing --- especially where it involves the abuse of Executive Branch authority in the sensitive areas of national security.

Third, both Houses of Congress should hold comprehensive-and not just superficial-hearings into these serious allegations of criminal behavior on the part of the President. And, they should follow the evidence wherever it leads.
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As I stand here today, I am filled with optimism that America is on the eve of a golden age in which the vitality of our democracy will be re-established and will flourish more vibrantly than ever. Indeed I can feel it in this hall.

As Dr. King once said, "Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movements and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us."

Much more in the extraordinary full speech, for which RAW STORY now has the complete prepared text.

UPDATE: FBI Whistleblower, Sibel Edmonds issues an exclusive statement to BRAD BLOG in reply to Gore's speech...

Crooks and Liars has video highlights.