WASHINGTON (CNN) — Former Vice President Al Gore called on Congress and the public to resist what he called “a gross and excessive power grab” by the Bush administration amid the war on terrorism, declaring that “our Constitution is at risk.”
Gore said the use of the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans without a court order shows that President Bush “has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently.”
“A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government,” he said.
Gore, Bush’s Democratic opponent in the bitter 2000 election, spoke to the Liberty Coalition, which calls itself a “transpartisan” group concerned with civil liberty and privacy issues.
Bush has defended his use of the NSA to intercept international communications of people in the United States suspected of having links to terrorist groups, telling reporters the program is legal and necessary to fight terrorism. The president and other top officials argue that Congress gave him the power to act without the approval of a special panel of judges established by Congress under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.