Al Gore on secret law
Unlike other leading Democrats and his former allies, Gore said he was not persuaded by the argument that the NSA surveillance had operated within the boundaries of the law.
"This in my view violates the constitution. The fourth amendment and the first amendment – and the fourth amendment language is crystal clear," he said. "It is not acceptable to have a secret interpretation of a law that goes far beyond any reasonable reading of either the law or the constitution and then classify as top secret what the actual law is."
Gore added: "This is not right."
To my mind, there are the "secret law" aspect of the NSA scandal is far more powerful as an argument than the "privacy" argument.
I believe in the privacy argument, and the NSA program gives me the creeps (just as Bush's program of warrantless surveillance did). However, the immediate riposte is always "I've got nothing to hide!" where the subtext is "What have you got to hide?" and that just goes off into the weeds and then we're arguing about penumbras to the Constitution and so forth.**
By contrast, anybody can see that secret laws, and secret interpretations, are incompatible with the people being sovereign. If the law can be secret, how are people supposed to obey it? Are you going to be pulled over for speeding and given a ticket because a secret intrepation of the law redefined "55 m.p.h" in as "k.p.h"? Why not?
NOTE * Which would be why you keep your toilet in your living room, I suppose.
NOTE ** I believe that activists push the privacy issue to the fore because they themselves have surveillance as a primal fear, and quite sensibly so. Pragmatically, however, most Americans are not activists.