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Jewish World Review Sept. 24, 2002 / 18 Tishrei, 5763

Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow
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Al Gore's selective amnesia | Former Vice President Al Gore is apparently on the hunt for votes. He criticized the Bush administration on just about every ground at a recent dinner hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus. But the greatest moment of unintended hilarity came when he charged that Attorney General John Ashcroft "is not respectful of civil liberties."

Unfortunately, that's true. Gore was right when he argued: "One of the tests of our nation is whether in times of grave challenge, we have the courage to be true to our deepest principles."

But it's bizarre to see these fine sentiments come from someone in the Clinton-Gore administration, which perfected the practice of jackboot liberalism.

Start with Attorney General Janet Reno, apparently defeated in her quest for the Democratic nomination for governor of Florida. On her watch, federal law enforcement officials burned Waco, Texas, children in order to save them in its assault on the Branch Davidians. She stonewalled attempts to hold anyone accountable for Waco or Ruby Ridge, Idaho, where federal agents earlier killed the wife, son and dog of loner Randy Weaver in order to arrest him in a case verging on entrapment.

The Clinton-Gore administration used the Oklahoma City bombing as an excuse to propose sweeping new federal powers, even though civil liberties protections had not inhibited terrorist investigations. The most wiretap-friendly administration in U.S. history sought to gut the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement for searches -- requiring public housing residents to sign away their Constitutional right to a search warrant and backing unwarranted drug tests for high school athletes, for instance.

The Clinton-Gore gang requested greater FBI authority to conduct "roving wiretaps," without a court order. Officials pushed the Communications Assistance Act, which required telephone companies to retrofit their systems to ease police surveillance, supported restrictions on the sale of Internet encryption technology, and requested legislation forcing firms to give the government the "keys" to such technology.

The administration consistently sought to frustrate state voters who approved measures to allow the desperately ill to use marijuana to ease their nausea and pain. Administration appointees even threatened to prosecute physicians, who prescribed marijuana as allowed by state law.

The Clinton-Gore gang jailed people for resisting federal designation of their (very dry) property as "wetlands" and committing other environmental offenses. Other administration proposals and actions included: curfews for kids, random drug tests for welfare recipients and kids seeking drivers licenses, attacks on the requirement of a jury trial, ex post facto tax hikes, uncompensated property takings, prosecutions implicating the Double Jeopardy clause, pretentious claims of federal criminal jurisdiction, and infringements of the Second Amendment right to possess a firearm.

The Justice Department supported Draconian restrictions on abortion protesters. The Defense Department also attempted to gag military chaplains to stop them from discussing abortion.

Clinton, Gore & Co. politicized the FBI, using it to justify the White House Travel Office purge. Presidential aides snooped through FBI files on potential administration opponents.

The IRS audited a suspiciously large number of conservative foundations and groups. The White House pressured the Treasury Department to limit the latter's probe of Madison Guaranty, which financed the Clintons' dubious Whitewater investment.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development intimidated opponents of federally-subsidized housing projects. The misnamed U.S. Commission on Civil Rights similarly investigated anti-immigration groups for engaging in activities clearly protected by the First Amendment.

The Clinton-Gore administration supported the Communications Decency Act to ban the transmission of "indecent" materials over the Internet. The law, voided by the Supreme Court, inevitably meant heavy-handed federal censorship of today's most-free communication medium.

Although President Clinton spoke of reforming affirmative action, his administration promoted it with a mailed fist -- supporting, for example, the Piscataway, N.J., school district that fired a teacher because she was white. The Department eventually flip-flopped in that case, but left its support for the government's vast system of racial spoils otherwise undisturbed.

The Department of Agriculture disciplined an employee for privately criticizing its policy of offering spousal benefits to same-sex partners. The State Department fired an employee for questioning discriminatory hiring and firing policies, make-work Foreign Service jobs and the failure to defend the religious freedom of Americans working in Saudi Arabia.

Whatever the administration's defense of any particular decision, Wired magazine's John Heilemann accurately termed the Clinton-Gore civil liberties record "breathtaking in both the breadth and the depth of its awfulness." Complained Tim Lynch, assistant director of the Cato Institute's Center for Constitutional Studies, the administration's rhetoric aside, it "actually weakened a number of fundamental guarantees."

Now former Vice President Al Gore says he is worried about our civil liberties. Too bad he didn't evidence a similar concern when he was in office and his administration was routinely sacrificing our liberties to impose its philosophy of jackboot liberalism.

JWR contributor Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Comment by clicking here.


09/09/02: Arm those pilots now
08/27/02: Modern-day gladiators
08/20/02: Don't start the second Gulf War
08/13/02: Declare war before going to war
08/06/02: Hostile allies
07/30/02: Protecting or persecuting citizens?
07/23/02: Shifting the risk to Uncle Sam
07/16/02: Fighting the patent wars
07/09/02: Getting that quota feeling
07/02/02: Teetering on the Democratic edge
06/25/02: Judicial litmus tests
06/18/02: Killer teeth?
06/11/02: Europeans defending whom?
05/24/02: Threatening pharmaceutical innovation
05/14/02: The war crimes fantasy
05/07/02: Paying a high price for befriending Saudi princes
04/30/02: The price of postal monopoly
04/23/02: The war on charity
04/16/02: The forgotten human right
03/27/02: Cuba's struggle to be free
03/20/02: How to defeat Cuban communism
03/12/02: Junk science, redux
03/06/02: Axis of hubris
02/27/02: Washington-style campaign reform: incumbent protection
02/20/02: The grand Enron morality play
02/12/02: Rebuilding what?
02/05/02: Succumbing to the terrorist temptation
01/29/02: Democrats for what?
01/22/02: The Iraqi question
01/14/02: Profiling frequent flyers
01/08/02: Trade, not aid
01/02/02: Treason by any other name
12/26/01: Preserving freedom in an unfree world
12/17/01: Dealing with terrorism's aftermath
12/10/01: Emerging friendships?
12/04/01: Uncle Sam: Insurer of last resort
11/28/01: Expanding the circle of trade
11/20/01: Free to be stupid
11/13/01: The meaning of compassion
11/07/01: Patriotic scoundrels
10/30/01: The coming postal raid
10/16/01: First, do no harm
10/12/01: Good news from a suffering land
10/04/01: Defending whom?
09/25/01: The wrong solution to the wrong problem
09/21/01: The price of terrorism
08/28/01: Uncle Sam's retirement scam
08/21/01: Canberra's quaint naivete
08/14/01: Uncle Sam's false fuel economy
08/08/01: The Clinton administration in drag
07/31/01: The high cost of government
07/24/01: Kill the campaign reform illusion
07/17/01: Do as I say, not as I do
07/11/01: Lawyers at play
07/05/01: Western blundering, Macedonian disaster
06/26/01: How best to honor Bill Clinton?
06/19/01: A maturing Europe?
06/15/01: Tell Beijing to mind its own business
06/06/01: Ukraine's boiling cauldron
05/31/01: Protecting privacy from Uncle Sam
05/22/01: America's Balkan quagmire
05/09/01: The Taiwanese flash point
05/01/01: Globalization serves the world's poor
04/24/01: Who's cheating whom?
04/10/01: The NCAA scam
04/03/01: Balkan stupidities
03/27/01: McCain doesn't want a 'risk for our country'
03/20/01: Dubious Korean alliances
03/06/01: Coercive patriotism
02/27/01: Bombing without end
02/20/01: A dose of misplaced outrage
02/13/01: Psst: Tax cuts for taxpayers. Pass-it-on
02/06/01: Bridging the unbridgeable gap
01/23/01: Left-wing demagoguery
01/16/01: The drug war problem
01/10/01: Politics and trade
01/03/01: Hope for liberty?
12/27/00: The debris of war
12/19/00: What's the rule of law for?
12/15/00: Ending silicone breast implant saga
12/05/00: Election may yield victor, but there are no winners
11/21/00: A Bush presidential mandate?
11/07/00: Exprienced Gore? Yeah, right
11/01/00: Interventionist follies
10/17/00: America's brightening prospects in Ukraine
10/11/00: GOP budget scandals
10/03/00: How a pharmaceutical 'crisis' was created
09/27/00: Clinton's empathy has helped nobody
09/13/00: AlGore's risky budget policies
09/05/00: Military readiness and Korean commitments
08/29/00: Let sleeping hypocrites lie
08/21/00: Targeting a journalistic pariah
08/15/00: European garrison for Kosovo?
08/08/00: Journalistic cleansing at the Boston Globe
08/04/00: Junk science on trial
06/22/00: Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty
06/15/00: The end of U.N. peacekeeping
06/07/00: The Clinton regulatory miasma
06/01/00: Administration stupidity, congressional cowardice
05/25/00: The silence of the international community
05/18/00: Protecting the next generation

05/11/00: Freer trade with China will advance human rights

05/04/00: How not to save the Constitution

04/28/00: American tripwire in Korea long ago disappeared: Why are we still involved?

04/18/00: Clinton administration believes the IRS is too gentle, wants more auditors

© 2002, Copley News Service