"They have taken us much farther down the road toward an intrusive, 'big brother'-style government - toward the dangers prophesied by George Orwell in his book '1984' - than anyone ever thought would be possible in the United States of America," Gore charged.
Gore, who lost the disputed 2000 presidential election to Bush, said terrorism-fighting tools granted after Sept. 11 amount to a partisan power grab that have led to the erosion of the civil liberties of all Americans.
He was especially critical of the Patriot Act, which expanded government's surveillance and detention power following the terrorist attacks.
Gore chided the administration for what he said was its "implicit assumption" that Americans must give up traditional freedoms in order to be safe from terrorists.
"In my opinion, it makes no more sense to launch an assault on our civil liberties as the best way to get at terrorists than it did to launch an invasion of Iraq as the best way to get at Osama bin Laden," Gore said.
His speech before a crowd of about 3,000 people was sponsored by the liberal activist group Moveon.org, which earlier this year held an online presidential primary in which Howard Dean finished first.
The second sponsor, the American Constitution Society, is a national organization of law students, professors, lawyers and others that says it seek to counter what it characterizes as the dominant, narrow conservative vision of American law today.
By Jennifer C. Kerr