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Civil Liberties Quotes in the Wake of 9-11


Sen. George Allen, (R-VA):

“And what makes us a great nation is that this is a country that understands that people have God-given rights and liberties. And we cannot—in our efforts to bring justice—diminish those liberties.” (Cong.Rec., 9/12/01)

Sen. John Warner (R-VA):

“Again, as we pursue the legislative challenge to balance the magnificence of our Constitution, which has held us united—it remains the oldest continuously performing Republic in the world today—and balance the need of additional security against human rights, civil rights, and the rule of law, we will do it.” (Cong.Rec., 9/12/01)

Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN):

“As an open society with enormous respect for civil liberties, we are vulnerable to those who would target innocent civilians.” (Cong.Rec., 9/12/01)

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE):

“If we abandon the liberties we cherish, the terrorists will have won.” (Cong.Rec., 9/12/01)

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX14):

“Demanding domestic security in times of war invites carelessness in preserving civil liberties and the right of privacy. Frequently the people are only too anxious for their freedoms to be sacrificed on the altar of authoritarianism thought to be necessary to remain safe and secure. Nothing would please the terrorists more than if we willingly gave up some of our cherished liberties while defending ourselves from their threat.” (Cong.Rec., 09/11/01)

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA48):

“To Americans across the Nation who mourn and who are angry, I call on you to focus your anger on the perpetrators of this unlawful act and not to cast anger on neighbors, on coworkers, simply because of their certain religion, race, or nationality.” (Cong.Rec., 9/11/01)

Rep. Bob Barr (R-GA07):

“What we must avoid, however, is the knee-jerk reaction to pass more laws restricting the civil liberties of American citizens. The tragedies of this attack will only be compounded by giving the government more power at the expense of our civil liberties. If we cannot stop this sort of attack with all of the power our government agencies already have, then we are in very serious trouble. As I have said, the one area where the government can and must approve is in allowing more latitude to gain information overseas and in taking direct action against terrorists.” (Cong.Rec., 9/11/01)

Rep. Timothy Johnson (R-IL15):

“I encourage my colleagues to be wary of any suggested government action that would infringe on our freedoms. Any encroachment of our civil liberties is a victory for the perpetrators of yesterday's heinous crimes.” (Cong.Rec., 9/11/01)

Rep. Roscoe Barlett (R-MD06):

“In responding to this heinous attack, we must reaffirm our commitment to uphold our Constitution, including the rights guaranteed to every American in the Bill of Rights? We have an obligation to overcome this latest challenge to freedom while honoring our Constitution and preserving the rights it guarantees for ourselves, our children, and our children's children.” (Cong.Rec., 9/11/01)


Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE):

“In the ultimate American way, he called at the end of his speech for not abrogating the basic cherished liberties that this Nation has.” (Cong. Rec., 9/12/01)

Sen. John Breaux (D-LA):

“Let us at the same time all be mindful of some points that I think need to be remembered. First, these perpetrators are not American citizens. They are not entitled to the protection of the U.S. Constitution. They are not entitled to a presumption of innocence. They are not entitled to a trial by jury of their peers, and they are not entitled to the services of a free attorney.” (Cong.Rec., 9/12/01)

Sen. Jon Corzine (D-NJ):

“We have defended over the centuries the fundamental liberties that make us so strong and, as spoken about so eloquently, including the rule of law? It is our responsibility at this moment in time to stand strong on those principles. It motivates us and moves us to be ever vigilant, protecting our security and freedoms.” (Cong.Rec., 9/12/01)

Rep. John Dingell (D-MI16):

“In addition to this, Mr. Speaker, it will be necessary for us to protect the civil liberties of Americans. We have some mistakes in our background: what we did to German-Americans in World War I, what we did to Japanese-Americans in World War II, and German-Americans and Italian-Americans in World War II. Those things cannot be done in this instance, and we must indeed see to it that we protect the great constitutional and indeed religious principles with regard to treating our fellow Americans well and properly.” (Cong.Rec., 9/11/01)

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL):

“We have experienced all too personally a new kind of warfare, and in the process of us exacting this justice—I say justice; I did not say revenge—we will protect the constitutional rights of all people; we will respect them.” (Cong.Rec., 9/12/01)

Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA36):

“We must take bold steps. And, fourth, respect the civil liberties and intelligence of Americans.” (Cong.Rec., 9/11/01)

Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-TX27):

“Nothing has really moved you to think about what this country means to you, how fragile our liberties are? Then let this moment in history move you. Let it move you to a greater understanding of our nation and our constitutionally-protected liberties, let it move you to appreciate those liberties, let it take us to a deeper understanding of who we are as a country.” (Cong.Rec., 9/11/01)

Rep. Mike McIntyre (D-NC07):

“We in Congress must be dedicated and determined to take immediate action in three ways:...Second, to ensure that our liberties as American citizens are protected and that the American public is safe.” (Cong.Rec., 9/11/01)

Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI02):

“Our constitutional liberties shall not be sacrificed in our search for greater security, for that is what our enemies and all enemies of freedom and democracy hope to achieve.” (Cong.Rec., 9/11/01)

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH10):

“America must remain calm because such calm is essential to preserving our liberties? We must be cautious about rolling back freedoms at home or placing blame in the wrong place.” (Cong.Rec., 9/11/01)

Rep. Marty Meehan (D-MA05):

“In the days to come, we must take a hard look at the state of our defenses against terrorism. It is a delicate task to prevent terror while preserving the civil liberties that have long distinguished our nation. We must rededicate ourselves to finding a balance that both protects and empowers the American people.” (Cong.Rec., 9/11/01)

Rep. John Tierney (D-MA06):

“Our civil liberties and those of all Americans, together with our own sense of justice, will not be abandoned lest we tender to terrorists the victory they have not achieved and they do not deserve.” (Cong.Rec., 9/11/01)

Rep. David Wu (D-CA06):

“Finally, in the process of combating international terrorism, we must either** abandon American civil liberties nor express our fears and anger by indiscriminately striking out against those with different names, skin color or religion.” (Cong.Rec., 9/11/01) **This sentence is exactly as it appears in both the print and online editions of the Cong. Rec.

Rep. James Moran (D-VA08):

“America must also stand firm, though, in its commitment to civil liberties for all of our people. In the coming months and years, all of us will have to make accommodations to heightened security at our airports, Federal buildings, and other large landmarks. We can and must make those accommodations and in a manner that is wholly consistent with the U.S. Constitution.” (Cong.Rec., 9/11/01)

Rep. Eva Clayton (D-NC01):

“How many of our individual liberties do we relinquish in order to ensure our personal safety?? We must take the necessary precautions to safeguard our lives and American interests, but we must not relinquish our cherished freedoms.” (Cong.Rec., 9/11/01)

Rep. Lynn Rivers (D-MI13):

“Additionally, as we consider legislation to address this crisis, each proposal must be passed before the great lens of our Constitution, the cornerstone of our Republic and our freedoms.” (Cong.Rec., 9/11/01)

Rep. F. Allen Boyd (D-FL02):

“We must always maintain the magnificence of our Constitution while moving forward with the legislative challenge of balancing the need for additional security versus our God given rights and the rule of law.” (Cong.Rec., 9/11/01)

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