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An Open Letter to the Hon. Charles Schumer and Hon. Hillary Clinton

August 24th, 2006 · 1 Comment

Hon. Mr. Schumer, Hon. Ms. Clinton,

Greeting and salutations; this is my first time writing to you as long as you have been my senator. Though occasionally various issues make me want to write a letter to you, I rarely find the time. However lately I have become gravely concerned with the direction of the United States based on what I have seen and heard. I felt that if I failed to act on my concerns that I would be failing as a citizen, and so I write to you today. I am publishing this letter on my personal website should anyone be interested in what I have to say.

While we sacrifice our civil liberties to stand guard against threats to our homeland, we forget that the Bill of Rights is meant to guard us against threats from our homeland. I am saddened that we have allowed ourselves to forgo the mechanisms that we fought to establish, such as the right to a fair trial, and the rights protecting us from unreasonable search and seizure. Fifty years ago, the war drum was beat to fight the “reds”, and we let Sen. McCarthy parade American citizens in front of a Congressional circus. Today I would hope that we are better, but instead of parading the citizens in front of Congress, we lock them offshore in places like Guantanamo Bay, where they’re hidden from the public. I suspect that it is because some of the programs that the United States engages in right now are “too horrible” for prime time. Perhaps Americans today don’t have the collective stomach to watch another Rosenberg trial. I’m sure that there are elements within the federal government that are eagerly awaiting the coming of the next Rosenbergs, however as citizen I can say that I do not want it to be me.

I’m not really too worried that I’ll be made an example of by the criminal justice system – after all, my name doesn’t sound middle eastern. However I am worried for my life. My next door neighbor died the morning of September 11, 2001. I didn’t know him very well, and this is what bothered me the most – even someone living right next door was alien to me, and I only wanted to know him more because he was no longer there to know me. Then in 2004, I received an email from my grandmother that one of my cousins had died in Iraq. I didn’t even know him, either, even in my own family. I can blame disparity of modern society, but in reality it was my fault for not knowing my family well enough, nor meeting my neighbor. There are conspiracy theories out there that the federal government was complicit in the 9/11 attacks, but here forth I’ll assume that there was absolutely nothing that could have happened to prevent 9/11. My cousin, however, did not die because of a faceless coward that hijacked a plane with a five-dollar box cutter.

My cousin died because you, amongst your peers, allowed yourself to be convinced that a war in Iraq was righteous. Whether we went to avenge 9/11, find weapons or mass destruction, or simply de-despotize the Saddam Hussein we installed years prior, most of America, yourself included, followed the call to war blindly. This is no surprise; the American public is mostly politically unaware and apathetic, but I assure you there are people like me out there that are genuinely heartbroken to see this state of affairs. At the time, I even believed that there would at least be weapons of mass destruction in Iraq because it was based on the reasonable belief widespread in America that as a dictatorship in the Middle East, Iraq probably aspired to destroy us.

Except instead of waiting for Iraq to send missiles to destroy our people, we’ve instead sent our people to Iraq so that we can be destroyed.

But not only are we allowing ourselves to destroy other nations, we are destroying our own. We the people are asked to sacrifice our freedoms so that we do not die, while our soldiers are dying to defend our freedom.

My grandmother needs to remove her shoes to board an airplane today. Even Israeli airline El-Al does not take such drastic steps, because they are at least humane enough to spare passengers that indignity. I make phone calls every day, and thanks to the cooperation between major telecommunications companies and the federal government, I can be assured that if I were potentially even calling politically undesirable people (probably of middle eastern descent), “they” would know. And finally, I am amazed that even before 9/11, that the United States had the 2nd largest prison population per capita in the world. I suppose prison is just part of the cost of freedom. Or is obedience the message of today’s America: free to be any way as long as it’s our way.

Am I supposed to not be afraid now? Am I supposed to trust that yourself and the other Honorable members of Congress will not make mistakes like Iraq again? Even if I choose to ignore global politics, I can’t ignore that my banker suddenly scrutinizes me when I open a new personal checking account. After all, what responsible small town banker wants to promote global terror? It would certainly be a shame if a bank were to lend a line of credit to a citizen like David Banach, who would then go turn that around and ungratefully buy a laser to disrupt air transit. It’s amazing what one man can do with a little laser pointer, isn’t it? He could have crashed airplanes. I don’t think he would have; but I certainly remember the scare that Mr. Banach “caused”.

Mostly I can’t ignore that there are still concrete barricades around some of our national monuments as if they are in a war zone. The only people the barricades keep out are citizens. Sure, there could be a terrorist in there, maybe. It’s certainly enough to warrant a regular, paramilitary patrol of the nation’s capitol, according to some people. However, I suspect that as a member of Congress you have never been subject to seeing the business end of a patrolman’s service pistol, nor will you. I can assure you that if you put a gun in a man’s hand, no matter how steady and well-trained the hand – it will be fired some day. Should I too wear body armor, as police do, since I too fear the wound of a bullet? Sure, police encounter threats daily, but am I too not subject to the same if not similar threats?

I don’t want to die like my cousin or my neighbor died. But I’d rather be shot dead by Osama Bin Laden himself than to be shot dead at the hands of a cowboy cop and his “cell” of a S.W.A.T. team. I know plenty of young middle eastern men, and some of them even hate the United States government, but I fear that same government far more than I fear any of these young men.

I posit that fear is not appropriate in our country and cite the Constitution and the Bill of Rights as my source for this claim.

I don’t necessarily have a platform that I would like to see you to enact. I’m not a politician; you can develop your own platforms. But how can it be so that all the platforms I am permitted to chose from insist that I must sacrifice my rights to be secure?

I could care less about how you use your platforms to advance your political career. However I do care greatly about these five issues:

1) Safeguarding the basic protections of the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights, even during times of crisis, including a comprehensive Congressional and Judicial review of the application of the Bill of Rights in the post-9/11 world; and
2) Ensuring that elections are carried out fairly (even if that includes abandoning relationships with companies with questionable track records such as Diebold) and stopping gerrymandering at the risk of having to face a more demanding electorate; and
3) Ensuring that the companies responsible for delivering media, namely print, radio, television, and especially the internet, are free from government interference and bias (as part of this I support efforts to ensure “Net Neutrality”); and
4) Reforming intellectual property law in such a way that it is not acceptable for recording associations, publishers associations, and the like to use “John Doe” lawsuits to bring litigation amongst persons possessing unauthorized copyrighted works for personal use only; and
5) Reform of drug law, especially including the legalization and regulation of marijuana possession in amounts suitable for personal consumption.

I would like to know how you feel about these issues as well. Though I would love to get the chance to meet you personally and discuss these issues and more, I’m sure that it would be next to impossible to ever get to actually sit down face to face and discuss current events with you. If you should decide I am worth your time to see, I would gladly travel to the capitol just to stand in your presence even for a passing moment.

But assuming that I’ll never get the pleasure of meeting you, if you can find the time, I’d like to know more about your feelings on the issues that I outlined above. I would like you to be honest and not provide a canned response, since I was honest and did not provide you a canned response. I did not have an aide write this so that I could apply my signature later, and I would appreciate that you respond without the assistance of your staff. I beg you to be open with me about the issues that as a voter, and above all an American citizen, I care about.

Your Sincerely,


Tags: Government & Politics · Police, Law, & Justice

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 peteru // Oct 29, 2006 at 4:02 pm

    A few days ago I got a response by email. Just shy of two months later, this is the underwhelming response I got. I think your aides missed the point, Senator.


    Dear Peter:

    Thank you for writing to share with me your concerns regarding internet neutrality. As you may know, I support net neutrality. The open architecture of the Internet has been the critical element that has made it the most revolutionary communications medium since the advent of the television.

    Each day on the Internet, views are discussed and debated in an open forum without fear of censorship or reprisal. The Internet as we know it does not discriminate among its users. It does not decide who can enter its marketplace and it does not pick which views can be heard and which ones silenced. It is the embodiment of the fundamental democratic principles upon which our nation has thrived for hundreds of years.

    I have always, and will continue to, strongly and unequivocally support these principles. As I have worked throughout my Senate career to make broadband access readily available throughout New York State and our nation, I believe that maintaining an open Internet coupled with more broadband access is necessary if we are to meet the promise and the potential of the Internet to disseminate ideas and information, enhance learning, education and business opportunities for all Americans and improve and uplift our citizenry.

    We must embrace an open and non-discriminatory framework for the Internet of the 21 st century. Therefore, it is my intention to be an original cosponsor of the net neutrality legislation proposed by Senators Dorgan and Snowe to ensure that open, unimpaired and unencumbered Internet access for both its users and content providers is preserved as Congress debates the overhaul of our nation’s telecommunications laws.

    Thank you again for writing about this issue that is important to me and to so many of my constituents. Please be assured that I will fight any efforts that would fundamentally alter the inherently democratic structure of the Internet. Updates on this and many other important issues being discussed before the United States Senate, can be found on my website


    Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton

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