Open Letter To Senator Richard Burr

Dear Mr. Senator,

I recently wrote to you to express my concern about the NSA program of warrantless wiretapping. I presented you with specific and reasonable arguments as to why this was an unjustified and unnecessary invasion of the privacy of American citizens.

I found your pre-carved response to me unsatisfying, Mr. Senator. I listed examples from FISA regulations, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. I explained in great detail why I felt that this program was illegal, as well as immoral. I asked for your consideration of my concerns when you returned to Congress to confront the weakened position in which you, like all U.S. Congressmen, find yourself in this current epoch of our government’s development.

Mr. Senator, your response to me was simply unsatisfactory. You said:

“…unfortunately, it is often those very freedoms which terrorists seek to exploit in planning and organizing their activities.”

Can you give me an example, Mr. Senator? In what way was my freedom of speech allowing the terrorists the opportunity for another attack? How, exactly, was my assurance of reasonable privacy under the Fourth Amendment allowing the terrorists the chance at a new field goal? If you call another country, are you subject to surveillance, Mr. Senator? Even if it’s your cell phone company help line? Tell me how that makes you feel.

You said, in your kind, if canned, letter to me:

“The President has indicated that the work of the NSA intelligence gathering program is crucial to combating terrorists.”

I am a patriot, Mr. Senator. I believe in this country and want to see it free, just like you do. But I wonder, Mr. Senator, have you ever asked the President for his proof? I know it’s not seen as very patriotic to question the President, but he has misled us before. There was that whole embarrassing thing about the WMD’s in Iraq, and how Iraq was actually behind the terrorists who flew the planes into the World Trade Center. We all know that was wrong, now. I know you voted for the Patriot Act, Mr. Senator. Surely that is something of an embarrassment to you, since you didn’t even read it before you voted for it. I know, we were all freaked out that day. You’re human. You make mistakes. I understand. But the President is human, too. There is quite a body of evidence to demonstrate that he, too, makes mistakes. Maybe you should ask about this one. Maybe you should demand to see some proof.

Mr. Senator, the main body of your explanation to me in your letter seems to rest on your belief in the assurances of the President. You seem to be suffering under the belief that you are there to back him up, to go along with his programs, perhaps, as Attorney General Gonzales said a couple of months ago, to “offer suggestions” to the administrative branch. I think it may be time you read the Constitution again, Mr. Senator. Your branch of service to us, the people, has a long and respectable history. Your whole purpose is to serve as the part of the government that makes the rules. You don’t offer suggestions to the President, Mr. Senator. You tell him what the laws are going to be. You can even override his veto, if you really want to.

Mr. Senator, you say to me in your letter that

“The effectiveness of much of this work may never be widely known or appreciated due to its secretive nature—rarely will we hear the positive stories about uncovered terrorist plots or captured terrorists.”

I understand that there are issues of national security that may make it necessary for the general public not to know about the details of how this program works. But shouldn’t you know, Mr. Senator? I mean, how are you going to make sure that the program is legal and fair if you don’t know anything about it? Isn’t that your job, as an elected representative of the people? Honestly, Mr. Senator, I don’t really care whether this Presidentially-authorized program is capturing terrorists. I don’t want another terrorist attack on this country, any more than anyone else does. But if the whole agenda of the terrorists is to unseat democracy and uproot freedom, aren’t we just giving them exactly what they want if we allow our own government to ignore our basic rights under the law? Isn’t the Constitution what set up the democratic process for this country in the first place?

Mr. Senator, you asserted in the most sincere of terms that

“…the President has repeatedly asserted that he is acting within the law and the Constitution.”

I have just one final question, Mr. Senator. If I can spend two hours doing research online and find out pretty conclusively that this is not the case, what are you doing with your time and our money? I know you have assistants that could pull up the relevant documents. But they might need to be replaced. It’s so easy to research, and yet you don’t seem to have the facts. I just found some good information today at:

It’s a bit by Robert A. Levy, Ph.D., J.D. , Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies. He doesn’t seem to think that the NSA program is legal. A lot of other folks don’t, either. I think you might want to look at it again.

You said I shouldn’t hesitate to contact you again on this or any other issue. I hope that this format is o.k. After all, you are paid to represent us, the people, and I thought that the people might want to know what you had to say. Please be assured that I will be happy to let everyone know what you have to say on this issue from here on out. I am always happy to consider your viewpoint.