Al Gore Blasts Bush Administration

This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, November 10, 2003, that has been edited for clarity.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: In a speech yesterday, former Vice President Al Gore (search) accused President Bush of failing to make the country safer after September 11. Gore characterized the war on terror as an administration excuse to consolidate power. Something, he says, has led to the erosion of civil liberties in America.


AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But in my opinion, it makes no more sense to launch an assault on our civil liberties, as the best way to get a terrorist, than it did to launch an invasion of Iraq as the best way to get at Usama bin Laden (search). In both cases, the administration has attacked the wrong target.

In both cases, they have recklessly put our country in grave and unnecessary danger, while avoiding and neglecting obvious and much more important challenges that would actually help to protect the country.


COLMES: Is Al Gore setting the stage for another run at the White House or is the former VP just trying to help his fellow Democrats with some Bush bashing?

Joining us now, the host of War Stories, and the author of the upcoming book, War Stories: Operation Iraqi Freedom, Lt. Col. Oliver North and former White House special counsel, live in person on the air, Lanny Davis, here tonight. Good to see you here in New York City.


COLMES: Ollie, nice to see you way over there in D.C.


COLMES: Let me ask you about the statements that Al Gore made. He's not the only one who feels...

NORTH: Outrageous.

COLMES: He's not the only one who feels we've had an erosion of civil liberties (search). We've gone and taken steps that have nothing to do with making us safer. People are still able to get on airplanes with box cutters, we found out. And finding out what books people read at libraries or infringing upon, you know, people's rights to have a right to an attorney, a right to being told why they're being detained or not to be detained indefinitely, those rights are clearly being eroded. And they don't make us any safer.

NORTH: The fact of the matter is, Alan, what you've got is simply one more part of this vicious attack plan that the Democrats have drawn up. Part of that is that memo Sean discovered. And this is all part -- And listen, all nine of the candidates are talking from the same sheet of music.

And I would suggest that what everybody do, as the historian of FOX News, right, covering wars, you know, past and present, I would point out to you that in 1944, when everybody in Washington knew that Franklin Delano Roosevelt (search) was a very sick man, not one Republican stood up in the well of the United States Senate or the House and said, "This man is incapable of carrying things out. We ought to elect a Republican."

Nobody attacked him for the kinds of things that had gone wrong in World War II. And it was certainly not a sure thing in the election of 1944, that we were going to have a victory in 1945. And this kind of attack while America is at war is unconscionable. Al Gore ought to know that.

COLMES: How is that an attack? Our civil liberties are being infringed upon, standing up for our rights to get a book from the library without John Ashcroft (search) knowing about it.

NORTH: Let me just make...

COLMES: You're changing the subject.

NORTH: I'm not changing the subject. This is an attack on the president of the United States.

He didn't mention, you know, the fact that in World War II, we collected up all of those German spies that came to this country, because the FBI was able to poke into things just like that.

This is a country at war, Alan, and that's not something that apparently the Democrats are even aware of.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Ollie, very well said.

And by the way, it's Al Gore and Bill Clinton that passed on Usama. If they want to talk about recklessly putting this country in danger, both of them did that.

You know something Lanny? It doesn't bother me what Al Gore says. It doesn't bother me the daily nonstop attacks of the nine wannabes. You guys keep losing election after election, because you have no vision, you have no plan. This is all you guys have, and I would think if somebody, a partisan Democrat, you want to win elections, you've got to have more than this daily barrage that George Bush is a liar. It's got to stop.

DAVIS: You want to know what's outrageous? My old friend, Ollie North, who I sparred with, says it's outrageous. I'll tell you what's outrageous. That dissent at any time should be called outrageous.

HANNITY: No one's against dissent. That's silly.

DAVIS: Al Gore -- I just heard Ollie North say that in wartime you shouldn't criticize the president. Al Gore's position and the Democrat's position is legitimate. To criticize a president, whether it's wartime or not, that's what the American democracy is about.

HANNITY: Lanny, that's not what we're talking about. Legitimate criticism, fair criticism.

You know, right now, the Democrats are so shrill and they're just throwing everything they can up against the wall out of pure panic and hysteria. We're not talking about that.

But when the Senate Intelligence Committee has already drawn up their conclusions before an investigation is finished, while our guys are at war, when they ought to be about the business of protecting these guys, if you don't see a problem with that strategy or that tactic, then you guys will never get it. And you'll never be back in power again, which is -- frankly, suits me very well.

DAVIS: I see a very hypocritical double standard that any Republican partisan during the Clinton years should now be shouting outrage because...

HANNITY: No. Lanny. Our country was attacked, Lanny. You know what it is? You don't get it. We were attacked. Our guys are serving in war. They're risking their lives, Lanny, and they're dying for us. All the politicians want to tear down the president that's leading those guys. You don't get it. This isn't Clinton having sex with a dopey intern.

DAVIS: What Al Gore is saying and what Democrats are saying is that the war on terrorism shouldn't allow the victory of those that would quell dissent from people who legitimately question President Bush's policy.

HANNITY: This is silly.

COLMES: I agree.

DAVIS: And that's really what differentiates people who talk about treason when we're talking about dissent.

HANNITY: You know what it comes down to, Ollie? And you are the historian of the FOX News Channel. But we have these battles, we witness this in history. And I'm writing a book about it now. Churchill versus Chamberlain, appeasement and those that confront evil in their time. Regan versus Carter.

And now we've got George Bush, who's put his whole presidency on the line to defend this country after we were attacked on 9/11, versus the nine modern day Democratic appeasers. It's really just history in the making.

NORTH: I like the rest of your book, Sean. You and I are talking on the 228th anniversary of the founding of the United States Marine Corps. So to all Marines past and present, Semper Fi.

HANNITY: I salute.

NORTH: And Semper Fi, indeed, my friend.

Second of all, tomorrow is Armistice Day, of course, the 11th month, which is supposed to bring an end to all wars.

And here we have in Washington, D.C., right behind me in the Capitol, we have a committee that has declared war against the president of the United States. With that memorandum, there's a very clear effort to start a war room type operation against the president, in an effort to bring down the presidency in the midst of a war.

And I want to come back to what you just said about Al Gore. And my good friend, Lanny, you got it wrong, buddy. The point I made about FDR, there was plenty to criticize, and yet no Republican stood up and said, "He attacked the wrong island" or "you shouldn't land at Normandy. You ought to land somewhere else."

Nobody dared do that with FDR because they knew that lives of Americans were at stake.

And what we see in all of this criticism, isn't a criticism that's aimed at improving the policy. If the memorandum doesn't show anything else, it shows that they care little for what's really happening in the intelligence community. They simply want to use the committee as a means to unseat a president. That's wrong.

DAVIS: My answer. Ollie, in the '60s, I was Democrat, and I criticized a Democratic president. And in the '90s, Republicans criticized Bill Clinton for going into Bosnia and Kosovo, including Tom DeLay, who voted against the Kosovo operation. And that was not unpatriotic. That was part of American dissent.

I do not agree with impugning President Bush's motives. I believe he's a sincere man. I think he's wrong on many issues, and I think Democrats on the intelligence committee should talk about the incorrect and exaggerated arguments made from limited intelligence that we know now was unfounded.

HANNITY: They've already drawn their conclusions, Lanny. That's the point.

DAVIS: That's patriotic.

HANNITY: They've already drawn their conclusions. They don't want to know the truth.

COLMES: Let me talk to Ollie for a second.

Ollie, you know, you like to impugn, or I should say some people on your side like to impugn the patriotism of anybody who would show dissent. You know, Thomas Jefferson (search) said dissent is the highest form of patriotism. In terms of playing politics, you know, there's a story about Andrew Card talking about the timing of the push for war, saying from marketing point of view you don't introduce a new product in August. You bring it out after Labor Day.

Politics gets played on both sides. And to act all righteous about it and say only Democrats do this. It's wrong no matter who does it, but you want to impugn my side as if we're the sole deliverers of politics in that way.

NORTH: Then you tell me -- let me just quote to you from the memo.


NORTH: "We have carefully reviewed our options and the best approach" -- this is from the memo.

COLMES: Right.

NORTH: "Is to investigate the office of the secretary of defense as well as the secretary Bolton's office at the State...trigger on the investigation in the spring.

Now, what does that mean if that's not a very clear distinction of abusing the committee for political purposes?

COLMES: Do you think the American people have a right to know what we were told, how accurate it was, where the information came from, whether or not there was an intelligence failure?

NORTH: Well, actually...

COLMES: Is this something we should be aware of as Americans?

NORTH: No, I think the American people ought to know if there was an intelligence failure, and there's no doubt that there was an intelligence failure.

Everybody on both sides in that committee agrees, we've got a terrible intelligence problem that's got to be solved. But they're not about solving the problem, Alan. What they're doing is trying to unseat the president. That's not -- the memo is not about fixing a lack of human intelligence.

COLMES: If we got a Democrat elected, there's no question about it, the Republicans would be doing the same thing. But here's...

NORTH: Not on a congressional committee they shouldn't be doing that, Alan. That's not what they're there for.

COLMES: The administration not only operates in secrecy, even Tom Kane, the Republican former governor of New Jersey, is saying he's having trouble getting information for his 9/11 commission because the White House is obfuscating and not giving him what he's asking for.

DAVIS: What strikes me as wrong about what Sean and Ollie are saying is the double standard that they're exhibiting. They didn't say these words when you had a Clinton bashing machine attacking him on Bosnia and Kosovo and every other thing...

NORTH: It wasn't a congressional committee dealing with intelligence, Lanny.

DAVIS: Ollie, there were 20 congressional committees that Newt Gingrich said they would do nothing but spend money investigating the White House. You know that that's politics on both sides.

HANNITY: We -- you never criticized Clinton when he was far more definitive in his case against Iraq, when he bombed them in 1998. I didn't hear you say, "Where is the evidence? Show me the proof. Where is it?"

DAVIS: I supported his unilateral action in Bosnia and Kosovo on human rights grounds.

HANNITY: But not Iraq.

DAVIS: And George Bush would have been much better off being straight about human rights. He was against nation planning when he ran for president.

HANNITY: Good to see you, Lanny.

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