22 July 2007

Draft: Letter to the President... comments/corrections welcome

This is a revision since this morning...

Dear Mr. President:

I am troubled by your actions over the past four years that undermine the basic premise of our country, the freedoms and protections listed in our Constitution’s First, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. It seems you have decided that the 9/11 attacks on our country justified extraordinary curtailment of civil liberties and due process. But the level of offense against us on that terrible day does not justify the continuation of these extreme measures.

I understand that you are doing what you believe is right. Yet I disagree with the assertion that “9/11 changed everything.” It is fair to say that it changed some things. For example, as a nation, we are now more aware of the infrastructure we need for response to domestic crises, whether they are natural disasters, terrorist attacks, or industrial accidents. This is a correct thing.

Eroding civil liberties codified in the Constitution is not a correct thing. Further, as a beacon of liberty for the world, we ought not be reserving those rights for own citizens only, on our own soil. Our traditional practices as a free nation ought to be extended to all, without regard to nationality and without regard to presence inside or outside our borders. And it’s important to note: the individual liberties of the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment are not luxury items reserved for times of peace; they are necessities for our national identity at all times. The fact that our United States has in the past sometimes dropped the ball on issues like habeas corpus, unreasonable searches and seizures, due process, and unlawful imprisonment does not make it right for us to do those things now. We must always strive to be better, to improve on our nation’s founders’ ideas about how a country of truly free citizens should govern itself.

I am told that Civics classes today get less emphasis than when I was in grammar school a few decades ago. Those lessons stuck with me. They left me with a notion of service that guided me to my career as a municipal firefighter.

I was at the firehouse the day those infamous Al Qaida members from Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., and Egypt executed their attack. Memories of watching the planes strike the Twin Towers and of witnessing their fall still sear. As an active member of the Federal Urban Search and Rescue Response team that responded first to the Pentagon site that day, the wounds of 9/11 remain. I love my country and have faith in the strength of our ideals.

That strength supports this knowledge: it is not necessary to subvert the Constitution of the United States of America to prevent more attacks against us. I don’t believe you properly honor the memory of my fallen brothers and sisters in Public Safety, nor of the fighting men and women of the Armed Services throughout our history, by dismantling the very foundation of freedom and liberty that they lived to serve and protect.


Gordon Ginsberg

  • Note to AOC readers: I'd like to leave this up for a couple of days... might 'tinker' on it a little, and I'd love some input before sending to the White House (with copies to various others in other branches). Your help is needed and appreciated. -- GG

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