February 17, 2006
Al Gore's Embittered Remarks

By Jack Kelly

Former Vice President Al Gore is bitterly disappointed he was not elected president. Periodically, he expresses his disappointment in ways that gives us reason to be thankful he wasn't.

The most recent was last weekend, when he traveled to Saudi Arabia to make a speech denouncing the United States. The occasion was the annual Jeddah economic forum, which is sponsored in part by the family of Osama bin Laden (which claims to have distanced itself from the family black sheep).

Mr. Gore has not disclosed how much he was paid for his words of wisdom. It probably is less than the $267,000 former president Bill Clinton was paid for speaking to the group in 2002, but odds are his fee was in six figures.

Whatever Mr. Gore's speaking fee was, his hosts likely thought it a bargain, considering what the former vice president had to say. The U.S. committed "terrible abuses" against Arabs after 9/11, Mr. Gore said. Arabs were "indiscriminately rounded up, often on minor charges of overstaying a visa and not having a green card in proper order, and held in conditions that were just unforgivable."

According to the Arab American Anti Discrimination Committee, about 1,200 Arabs were arrested after 9/11. Of these, 725 were held on immigration violations, 100 on unrelated criminal charges, and 360 for possible links to terrorism.

The Census Bureau says there are about three million Arabs in the United States. The number "indiscriminately rounded up" after 9/11 is much less than one tenth of one percent of that number.

Mr. Gore didn't say what he thought was "unforgivable" about the conditions in which the Arabs were held, but his source probably was a June, 2003 report by the Justice Department's inspector general, or, rather, erroneous news accounts of the report.

The Los Angeles Times said most detainees were held for months without charges. In fact, only 24 were held for more than a month before being charged, and 59 percent were charged within three days, the IG report said.

Most Americans remember that 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudis, but Mr. Gore seems to have forgotten. He deplored the cancellation of "Visa Express," the expedited program without background checks through which several of the hijackers entered the United States.

In a footnote on page 492 of its report, the 9/11 Commission said Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who planned the attacks, told interrogators most of the hijackers he selected were Saudis because they had the easiest time getting visas. According to statistics gathered by the Government Accountability Office, before 9/11 only three percent of Saudi applicants were interviewed prior to being issued a visa, and only one percent were refused.

The Bush administration "is playing into al Qaida's hands" by subjecting Saudi visa applicants to special scrutiny, Mr. Gore said. "The worst thing we can possibly do is to cut off the channels of friendship and mutual understanding between Saudi Arabia and the United States," he said.

Some Americans think it would be worse to let into the country terrorists bent on perpetrating another 9/11.

The former vice president's speech attracted little attention from the news media, but drew condemnation from Web loggers who were appalled both by what he said and where he said it.

"Only Al Gore could come up with the idea of criticizing Bush for not sucking up to the Saudis enough," sighed law professor Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit), who had been a volunteer on Mr. Gore's 1988 presidential campaign.

"It is one thing to say such things to an American audience in an effort to change our policy...It is another thing entirely to travel to a foreign country that features pivotally for the war for our generation for the purpose of denouncing American policies," said "Tigerhawk."

One wonders what possessed the former vice president to say what he said where he said it. Perhaps he is so embittered by his narrow 2000 loss that he doesn't mind saying things helpful to America's enemies if they might be hurtful to George W. Bush. Perhaps he is desperate for money and will say whatever his paymasters want to hear in the hopes of garnering future invitations. And maybe he just isn't all that bright.

He did flunk out of both law school and divinity school.

Whatever the reason, Mr. Gore's remarks will not assist Democrats in persuading swing voters they can be trusted with national security... which may be why his remarks drew so little attention from the news media.

Jack Kelly

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