Gore Says Bush Wiretapping Could Be Impeachable Offense

A Bipartisan Problem

Specter and Gore part company, though, on the question of whether a president might possess special inherent powers as commander-in-chief that would make the National Security Agency's domestic spying program permissible in wartime. Whereas Gore is confident that the president does not possess such power, Specter is hoping to explore the issue when the Senate Judiciary Committee holds hearings on the legality of the president's program next month.

In his Constitution Hall remarks on Monday, Gore did not confine his criticism to members of the other party. He criticized both Republican and Democratic members of the so-called "Gang of Eight," who were secretly briefed on the NSA program but did not take action to stop the president's "illegal activities."

"Though I sympathize with the awkward position in which these men and women were placed, I cannot disagree with the Liberty Coalition when it says that Democrats as well as Republicans in the Congress must share the blame for not taking action to protest and seek to prevent what they consider a grossly unconstitutional program," Gore said.

The Liberty Coalition is the "trans-partisan" civil liberties group that co-sponsored Gore's speech, along with the American Constitution Society.

Supreme Court Criticism

In his Martin Luther King Day remarks, Gore also criticized President Bush for nominating Supreme Court justices who he believes will not serve as an adequate check on the executive.

"Whether you support his confirmation or not -- and I do not -- we must all agree that he will not vote as an effective check on the expansion of executive power," Gore said with respect to Judge Samuel Alito. "Likewise, Chief Justice Roberts has made plain his deference to the expansion of executive power through his support of judicial deference to executive agency rulemaking."

Regarding specific recommendations, Gore called upon congressional candidates to appoint a special counsel to investigate domestic eavesdropping, which could become an issue in the 2006 elections.

He also appealed for new whistleblower protections, comprehensive hearings in the House and Senate and no renewal of the Patriot Act until adequate constitutional safeguards are added. He also wants telecommunications companies to "cease and desist" their "complicity" in this "apparently illegal invasion of the privacy of American citizens."

Gore's biggest standing ovation came when he said it was "simply an insult" to those who "came before us" to "imply that we have more to be fearful of than they."

In an effort to show that criticism of President Bush's spying program reaches across party lines, Gore was supposed to be introduced by former Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.), a former House manager in the impeachment trial of then-President Bill Clinton. Since leaving Congress in 2003, Barr has emerged as an outspoken critic of the effect the Bush administration's antiterror policies have on civil liberties.

The image of the odd bedfellows did not materialize, however, as Barr's satellite connection failed.

Teddy Davis is an ABC News field producer and co-author of The Note. He covers politics for the network's television, radio, and Internet platforms.

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