Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Open Letter to My Representatives

To: Senators Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez,
Representative Illeana Ros-Lehtinen

I am writing to express my concern over the recent news that some members of a Quaker meeting in South Florida have been listed as a "threat" as a result of a domestic investigation by the military. (Story online at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10454316/.)

For several years now I have attended the Quaker meeting in Miami. During that time I have met and got to know many Quakers. I can tell you that it would be hard to find, and almost impossible to imagine, any group whose members are more honest, kind, well intentioned, and --above all--open about their activities.

These are people who make a point of opening all their proceedings to the general public. The sign on the door always says, "All Are Welcome." Ironically, I am sure that even government investigators, had their identities been made known, would have been equally welcome to attend, listen, and participate in whatever discussions took place regarding military enlistment or other topics.

If there is any "threat" from such people, it is nothing other than the threat that truth always poses to lies and deceit. To subject any American citizens to covert investigation, and to stigmatize them for doing no more than exercising their Constitutional freedoms, would be shameful enough; but to do so to such a group of exemplary citizens, of exemplary human beings, goes beyond questions of legality, and should cause us to question the motives and intentions of those perpetrating the investigation.

I sincerely hope that, as our elected representative in Congress, you will investigate what has taken place and make every effort to see to it that our freedoms are not infinged by the ill-advised and overreaching actions of any governmental agency, and especially of the military, which has no Constitutional jurisdiction in domestic law enforcement.

We look to you to make the laws we live by, and likewise to see that they are upheld.

In accordance with the open nature of Quaker meetings, this letter is being published online at nortspews.blogspot.com so that nothing in it can be considered to be concealed. I would welcome the opportunity to publish your reply in the same spirit.

1 comment:

  1. I received the following response from Senator Bill Nelson on January 17:

    Thank you for contacting me regarding the recent reports of domestic surveillance activity by the U.S. Government. The challenge of balancing America's national security needs with personal privacy rights has been made more complicated in recent years as technology has become more advanced and more intimately involved in American life. At the same time, our military and law enforcement agencies must have the tools they need to protect the country.

    The Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) in 1978 and created a special court, which operates in closed session, to consider government wiretap requests in national security cases. Two Supreme Court cases had previously established that domestic wiretaps for national security purposes do not inherently violate the fourth amendment's protection against unreasonable searches, but do require judicial approval. Congress passed FISA to bring the law into conformity with those decisions. I am concerned about recent reports of potentially unlawful domestic surveillance activity without approval by the FISA court. There will be congressional hearings on this topic this year, and I will be looking very carefully at the circumstances of this program.

    Please know that I take the security and privacy needs of the American people extremely seriously. I will keep your concerns in mind as this issue comes before the Senate.