Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Senator Clinton, on DHS and civil liberties

While we’re talking about Hillary Clinton (well, we were yesterday):

I wrote my senators about the TSA’s policy on laptop searches, in the aftermath of the senate hearings. The other day, I received her (canned, of course) response. Here it is:

Dear Mr. Leiba:

Thank you for taking the time to write to me about your concerns regarding the protection of civil liberties.

As part of the war on terror, I supported our efforts to remove the Taliban and Al-Qaeda from Afghanistan. I also voted for the legislation that created the Department of Homeland Security because this legislation was designed to improve coordination among various federal agencies charged with security responsibilities and to create a stronger and safer America.

At the same time, however, I recognize the importance of being ever vigilant in protecting the civil liberties of all Americans. It is our civil liberties that help to make America the great country that it is. I am committed to doing all I can to protect the civil liberties of all our nation’s citizens while also fighting terrorism. We can, and must, do both. Although finding the proper balance is not easy, I am committed to doing all I can to pursue that goal and will weigh individual proposals carefully. Hearing from you reinforces this commitment.

Please check my website for regular updates on this and other issues being debated before the United States Senate. Thank you again for sharing your concerns with me.


Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton

In other words: “We have to protect ourselves, and we have to maintain civil liberties, and we can’t always do both at the same time. And which side I come down on for this particular issue is not something I’m going to talk about here. Thank you for sharing.”

Actually, it seems that this is just her standard “civil liberties vs DHS” response, and isn’t directly related to the laptop-search issue.

On the other hand, Senator Schumer’s office hasn’t responded at all (other than to acknowledge receipt). But that’s consistent; I don’t recall ever getting a detailed response from Senator Schumer.


lidija said...

I don't think I ever get anything from Schumer either. I think it's probably dependent on the number of aides or something.

I hear the order of importance in addressing you and me goes as: phone calls, then mailed letters, then faxes, then emails. Proportional to the amount of time you'll put into it, I guess. Of course not if you draft a long detailed letter even via email but I often sign the canned letters via various sites.

Barry Leiba said...

The "mailed letters" part is an interesting one, because they're actually trying to discourage people from mailing things to congress. Packages, of course, are more of an issue, but letters, too, aren't really desired.

I never do the canned letters, but always write my own. On the other hand, because we tend to comment on topical matters, my own comments are often related to some current canned write-in campaign, so my notes might be clumped with the others anyway.

W.M. Irwin said...

As citizens, we're supposed to be able to trust our government to protect us from our enemies. And sometimes that means that it may need to collect information that we don't understand the rationale for. But when the government misleads the people regarding their security, as it did in 2002-2003 about Iraq's supposed threat to the U.S., that trust breaks down, casting anything described as a security measure in a deservedly suspicious light. Politicians can no longer say,"Just trust me" and let it go at that.

Barry Leiba said...

And, in particular, we need to understand that what the government is doing really is protecting us. With the ridiculous "security theatre" that's been going on, where it's clear to most of us that there's intrusiveness without real protection (Nail files? Shoes? Shampoo? Underwire bras? A "watch list" that's so large and vague that it's demonstrably worse than useless?), we're not willing to accept it.

And the laptop situation is especially egregiously stupid; it's quite clear that it's fishing, not security.