I sent a letter to my representatives today. It's the first time I've ever sent an actual paper letter. I guess it's the first time I was ever concerned enough to do so. Not to mention that it's much more effective than arguing with people on message boards and in the office, when it comes to making real change occur.
The text is as follows:
The Honorable Albert R. Wynn
434 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-2004
Dear Representative Wynn:
I am writing this letter to express my concerns with regard to our response to the attacks of September 11, 2001. As we pick up the pieces and move forward, there is a great temptation to overreact in such a way as to violate the very freedoms we hold so dear, or to further exacerbate a hatred of the United States that is so prevalent abroad. With that in mind, my specific concerns are listed below.
I believe the first thing we must do is reexamine our foreign policy positions in light of these attacks. The CIA was instrumental in training and funding Osama bin Laden in his previous role as an Afghan rebel during the Soviet occupation. We have been more than willing to fund rebels abroad, taking sides in conflicts we have no legitimate business being involved in. The bombing of the pharmaceutical factory in Sudan, the bombing of civilian targets in Serbia, and the funding of Colombian crackdowns on dissent are just a few examples of a foreign policy that has no respect for international law, or the ramifications of our actions. The recent attacks are horrible crimes, but were also an inevitable result of our willingness to make enemies abroad.
The second major concern I have is with the calls for restrictions on the freedoms and rights that we enjoy as Americans.
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution protects citizens from warrantless searches, yet the FBI has recently been putting the "Carnivore" (renamed "DCS1000") system in place in ISPs across the country . To make matters even worse, it's come to my attention that the Senate has just yesterday passed the "Combating Terrorism Act of 2001", as a rider to the annual appropriations bill for the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State Departments . What this law would do is allow any U.S. Attorney to have a wiretap or Carnivore system installed, without the need to obtain a warrant. This amendment was passed by a voice vote, which sends it for consideration to the conference committee, bypassing any floor debate or Senate accountability.
While I understand the desire of the Congress to do something in response to these horrible attacks, terrorist action is no justification for abrogating the rights guaranteed to us by the Constitution. Frankly, I find actions like this to be completely unacceptable, and I'm eager to hear what your response to this, and any other violations of our fundamental rights, will be.
My third, and final concern is with our nation's response to these attacks. I am eager for our government to find those responsible, and ensure that justice is done. It is important, however, that we not be drawn into a modern-day Vietnam, resulting in more innocent bloodshed, and playing into the hands of the terrorists. They would like nothing better than for us to react in kind, killing innocent people in our quest for revenge, and galvanizing sentiment in the Islamic world against us. We must be absolutely certain of who was responsible, and have a clear exit strategy to ensure that we do not get drawn into an ongoing cycle of violence.
We must also remember that Afghanistan is a land littered with landmines, whose people were crushed by the Soviet occupation and bloody war to expel them. They did not elect the Taliban, and should not be made to pay for the actions of their government. If and when we find those responsible, they should be made to pay, but if we make no distinction between them and the innocent, then we become that which we despise.
In the days and weeks to come, many decisions will have to be made by you and your colleagues that are directly related to the concerns I've mentioned in this letter. I hope that you will take my views into consideration when making these decisions, and feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the points I have made. I also look forward to hearing your views on these particular issues.