My friend Monica Gabrielle, a 9/11 victim whose husband was killed in the WTC attacks (and who subsequently became instrumental with the "Jersey Widows" in 9-11 Commission proceedings and other issues involving national security and terrorism), just sent me a copy of the open letter she and other September 11th Advocates are sending to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Be advised that it is powerful stuff:
Watching Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testify before Congress on July 24, 2007, for the third time, was excruciatingly painful. During Gonzales' testimony, it became abundantly clear that Americans were witnessing the unraveling of the fabric of America. We do not feel that this is an overstatement.
The Attorney General, a man who supposedly personifies America's rule of law, obfuscated, committed perjury, and belittled the very institution, the Congress, which makes America a great Democracy. Over and over, we publicly witnessed Gonzales' refusal to answer the questions posed by you -- a Committee authorized to conduct oversight duties. You were made to look frustrated and foolish as your attempts at Executive Branch oversight were thwarted by the bizarre, circular non-answers of Attorney General Gonzales. For the third time, you were unable to penetrate his stonewalling.
We want to know, is it not a crime to mislead and outright lie to the Congress? How many more opportunities will you give Attorney General Gonzales to make a farce of our system by denying Congress information that would allow you to do your job and properly perform your oversight role?
The Bush Administration has repeatedly told us that American troops are fighting to spread democracy in Iraq. Ironically, here in America we seem to be losing the core principles that make us one. Mr. Gonzales' testimony and the Administration's refusal to have key people testify at the hearings, without any accountability, make a mockery of our system of checks and balances. We are supposed to have three equal branches of government: the Executive, Judicial and Legislative. While they are often on opposite sides of an issue, the three branches are to be unified in the maintenance of American civil liberties, not working in concert to covertly undermine and rescind them. Again, no one branch is supposed to have absolute power, nor should any combination of the other two be cowed or manipulated into consensus against the interests of the American people.
And, while we support these inquiries and applaud your patience and attempts to solicit truthful and substantive answers to your questions during all of the Gonzales hearings, it was disconcerting to watch the disdainful contempt that the Attorney General exhibited for the entire process.
Sadder still, it appears that you are becoming unwittingly complicit in your own undoing. It is evident that what we are watching is the U.S. Congress in the process of making itself irrelevant. When the Executive Branch alone is allowed to act without any oversight, or any accountability, then what we will become is a dictatorship. And once all Americans realize that Congress is unable to perform any oversight, whether it is due to lack of will or complicity, you will no longer be needed. Once it becomes apparent that the Executive Branch is not only making the laws but also deciding which laws to follow, the Congress will be just a quaint, unnecessary and useless artifact.
This Administration, aided and abetted by some members of Congress, has repeatedly deceived the American people by allowing the Executive Branch to ignore the rule of law and divisions of power specifically stated in the Constitution. This Administration's "constitutionally and legally challenged" activities include, but are certainly not limited to: taking America into a pre-emptive war on false pretenses, warrantless wiretapping, illegal torture, and the political firing of attorneys. Where are those who took an oath to uphold the Constitution and are supposed to represent us in our government ... our Congress?
While we understand that you only have limited tools in your arsenal to address these matters, what we don't understand is why you have yet to use them. We also understand that using these tools may involve a lengthy and highly contentious process that we will all have to endure. Yet in the annals of history, the only thing that will count is whether or not you upheld the rule of law and fulfilled your Constitutional responsibilities. The mere countenance of argument and eventual capitulation will only ensure our collective demise, and the continued abuse of power by others in the future. But by seeking the truth and reestablishing the balance of power you can negate the current Administration's unilateral quest for domination, and hopefully, begin to restore the United States' international and regional standing in the world.
Thus, all options for achieving these goals should be put back on the table.
Show the American public and the world that our democracy has been reinstated. That the system put in place by our forefathers, the system that this Administration says it wants to spread throughout the world is once again viable and indeed worth saving. Fight with all that you have to save our democracy here in America. You owe it to every American, but most of all you owe it to the men and women in the military that have been repeatedly put in harm's way attempting to establish a democracy overseas.
The future of our Democracy is in grave danger. It is imperative that you act immediately.
September 11th Advocates--July 26, 2007
Lorie Van Auken