Former Vice President Al Gore broke with many of his fellow Democrats Friday and said that the NSA surveillance programs violate the constitution.
"This in my view violates the constitution. The fourth amendment and the first amendment – and the fourth amendment language is crystal clear," he told The Guardian, which revealed the agency's phone surveillance and reported on its Internet data-mining. "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."
"I quite understand the viewpoint that many have expressed that they are fine with it and they just want to be safe but that is not really the American way," he added.
Gore called "blanket" surveillance "obscenely outrageous" in a tweet on June 5. Nevertheless, he has mostly criticized Obama over climate change, an issue where the 2000 presidential nominee won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in 2007.
The revelations have scrambled traditional Democratic and Republican labels. A bill to require the Attorney General to declassify the court opinions used to justify the programs was introduced by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah). Sen Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced Thursday that he planned to take legal action against the programs, after initially introducing his own legislation to prevent the government from collecting data on Americans.
On the other hand, both Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) have said that Edward Snowden, who admitted to leaking documents showing the existence of the programs to The Guardian, committed treason. Congressional leaders in both houses have called for him to be prosecuted, with Boehner going so far as to call Snowden a "traitor."