'Terrible Abuses'

So what was Al Gore thinking anyway?

Over the weekend, the former vice president spoke at an economic conference in Saudi Arabia, where he tried to warm up the crowd with comments like this: He said that after 9/11 Arabs in the United States had been "indiscriminately rounded up and held in conditions that were just unforgivable... Unfortunately there have been terrible abuses, and it's wrong." He didn't say where or when this happened.

Perhaps the former vice president thinks that these statements will win him friends in faraway places — even places that 15 out of the 19 hijackers called home. Beyond that, it seems the disgruntled Gore keeps digging his political hole a bit deeper. His name does not surface on many lists of potential candidates for 2008 and while these rants don't seem to be winning him supporters, they certainly get the warm glow of attention turned his way.

If Gore was referring to the pictures from Abu Ghraib prison, it's hard to imagine anyone not being sickened by them. Those who committed those acts of degradation will face their own demons and — in most cases — hard time. But can it possibly be helpful in a time when we are working hard to help those in the Middle East see our country for all of the good that it does at home and around the world, to make these statements? Clearly, these statements are selfish at best — and maybe worse. So much for the camaraderie that exists in the elite club of former presidents and VPs.

Okay, my daughter — she is 10 — came home from fourth grade and announced to me that, "The president is listening in on our phone calls and it's illegal!" I asked who told her this and she said she learned it at school where she read it in TIME for Kids. I took a look at the article and here's what I found:

"Imagine discovering that your older brother has been reading your IMs and listening to your phone calls for months. Now he knows about everything from your secret crush to the time you blamed the dog for breaking your mom's vase. How would you feel? Angry, probably.

"That's how many people felt last December when The New York Times reported that the National Security Agency (NSA) had been eavesdropping on some Americans without legal permission. The NSA had been monitoring the overseas phone calls and e-mails of certain U.S. residents since 2001.

"Lawmakers and ordinary citizens were troubled by the news. Nobody likes to have people snooping in their personal business. Isn't that against the law in a free country like ours? Usually, it is."

You get the idea. You can read the rest at TIMEforKids.com. The story goes on to say that there is a law that says you need a warrant for this kind of surveillance, but that the president decided to bypass it.

While the article makes some attempts further down to be "fair and balanced" I was struck by what my daughter and one of her friends took away from it. I filled them in on some details that were not included in the story. I also shared some of the e-mails I've received that suggest that many Americans are not concerned that the government is invading their privacy and prefer that all necessary measures be taken to prevent another attack on our country. While I'm glad that they are exposed to news stories and current events at school, I was also struck by the fact that children, for the most part, take what they are taught as truth. That's a huge responsibility and one that cannot be taken lightly.

One last thought: How great is it that the Olympics are taking place in beautiful, snowy Turin. Or is it Torino? I'm calling it Torino — even though I know if they were in Rome or Venice we would not be calling it Roma or Venezia. I admit it: I like the way Torino sounds. Sometimes in questions of "style" in journalism — that's as good a reason as any.

So that's just bene with me. Go USA and Bode... and ciao for now.

What do you think? Send your comments to: martha@foxnews.com

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Martha MacCallum currently serves as the co-anchor of "America's Newsroom" alongside Bill Hemmer (Weekdays 9-11AM/ET). She joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in January 2004. Click here for more information on Martha MacCallum