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A Letter to Our Representatives
March 8, 2002
By the North Broward Democratic Club

This is a copy of a letter sent by the members of the North Broward Democratic Club to their representatives in the Senate.

       Noel O'Connor
       Pompano Beach, FL

 
Dear Senator Graham and Senator Nelson,

We, the members of the North Broward Democratic Club, along with the other freedom-loving citizens of this nation, watch current events unfolding with a growing sense of alarm. In a time when all Americans supposedly share a common purpose, we see the Bush administration and Justice Department exploiting the American people's fear and uncertainty in a cynical attempt to ram their right wing agenda through. From their outrageous corporate sponsor payback, euphemistically described as "economic stimulus"- to their scandalous tax cut for the wealthy that gutted our surplus and raids our treasury for a decade to come - to their horrendous foreign policies that isolate us, destabilize the globe and embarrass us before the world - at every turn, this administration has aligned itself against the best wishes of it's majority of citizens, that same majority that voted against it's agenda on November 7, 2000.

But the most insidious threats emanate from this government's attitude to law and civil rights. The events of September 11 have understandably shaken the American people, but the efforts being taken by the Justice Department undermine the rights and rule of law that define us. For several months now, Attorney General John Ashcroft and the Justice Department have circumvented the Constitutional rights of an unknown number of persons by imprisoning them, without charge, and without access to the courts. We do not know their names, their location, or their impending fate - and neither do their families. Along with the incredibly misled PATRIOT Act, Congress allowed this unforgivable knee-jerk reaction to occur, at a time when cool heads and leadership was sorely needed. This same Act also raised the unthinkable spectre of secret military trials, empowered with the death penalty. Trials in which the accused's rights to evidence and appeal were abridged and final judgement was reserved for the President himself. No charges have, to our knowledge, been leveled at these prisoners. Their continuing incarceration has served no purpose other than to illustrate our willingness to abandon the rule of law when we deem it inconvenient. To our recollection, the Constitution makes no mention of this seemingly transient property of freedom - nor does it make these rights contingent upon citizenship- as we recall, these rights are inalienable to all men.

At the same time that the Justice Department casually overrides the rights of thousands of non-citizens, it is making unprecedented moves to trample the constitutional rights of those lucky enough to carry an American passport. Laws governing wire taps and surveillance gathering have been drastically, dangerously widened. A lawfully passed measure by the people of the State of Oregon to let it's senior citizens end their suffering with some degree of dignity; a law exercising the will of the people of the State of California to alleviate the suffering of it's terminal and chronically ill patients - both these legal and mandated measures have been actively thwarted by a Justice Department that tramples states rights in order to impose Attorney General John Ashcroft's own moral leanings.

No less shocking than Mr. Ashcroft's unwarranted activism in these matters was his response to Congress when asked to explain them. According to the Attorney General, anyone who questioned the actions of this Government or it's agents was aiding and abetting the terrorist forces who perpetrated the horrific events of 9/11. We watched in open mouthed astonishment at the audacity of his testimony. As special counsel for the prosecution, Joseph Welch, at the McCarthy hearings once exclaimed, "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you no sense of decency?" Apparently, dissent or discussion of this adminstration's policies is no longer welcome.

At the same time that our civil rights are being increasingly infringed, the most worrying aspects still lie ahead of us. Judicial appointments to the Federal and Appellate courts will shape our country for many years to come. The Administration has amply demonstrated it's intent to skew the courts to the right with it's appointments and nominations to date. An especially cynical move to extend the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to pregnant women by covering the fetus, not the mother, is actually a stealth attack at Roe v. Wade. Each day brings new terrible things to light about the Bush agenda.

As our elected representatives, we depend on you and your colleagues in the opposition to actively fight for our interests. We are all too aware that the brave men and women who have fought and died through our country's history did so in defense, not of a flag or an abstract symbol, but of these very ideals. They do not defend a government or a President, but a concept, voiced in a document written by men beyond their time. This is our legacy to our children, and we owe it to future generations to protect it.

Osama bin Laden and all the terrorist forces ranging against us around the world can, and probably will continue to, do us damage. They can destroy our buildings, threaten our lives and shake our sense of security. But Attorney Ashcroft and President Bush are mistaken when they claim that the aim of the terrorists is to take away our freedom.

That has to be given away.

Yours Sincerely,

North Broward Democratic Club

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