Former Vice President Al Gore said that the "outrageous" and "completely unacceptable" surveillance revealed by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden showed possible "crimes against the Constitution."
Gore made the comments Tuesday in a public lecture entitled Technology and the Future of Democratization at McGill University in Montreal, The Canadian Press reports.
The "absurd" lengths the government is going to in its surveillance don't work, Gore told the university crowd. "When you are looking for a needle in a haystack, it's not always wise to pile more hay on the haystack."
Denouncing the dragnet surveillance Snowden exposed, Gore added, "I say that as someone who was a member of the National Security Council working in the White House and getting daily briefings from the CIA."
This was not the first time Gore has voiced criticism of the NSA's surveillance programs; in an interview with the Guardian in June, he said that the agency's bulk collection of U.S. citizens' phone records "in my view violates the constitution. The Fourth Amendment and the First Amendment – and the Fourth Amendment language is crystal clear. 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."
Also, earlier in June when the first headline on NSA surveillance broke, Gore tweeted:
In digital era, privacy must be a priority. Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous? http://t.co/KONSBtTWjc
— Al Gore (@algore) June 6, 2013
During his speech in Montreal, Gore echoed the comments he made to the Guardian, saying that that Snowden "has revealed evidence of what appears to be crimes against the Constitution of the United States." Yet the former vice president offered some optimism, saying, "I think you will see a reining in."
In addition to government surveillance, Gore slammed corporations' data mining to obtain customer information, charging, "We have a stalker economy."
"These times now call for young men and women such as you to shape the future and make it what it should be," Gore said.