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Letters to the 107th Congress

September 18, 2001

Honorable J. Dennis Hastert
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Honorable Richard K. Gephardt
Minority Leader
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Mr. Speaker and Representative Gephardt:

The horrific attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon vividly portray the vulnerability of an open and free society. All Americans are grieving as a result of these senseless crimes against our society, and our hearts go out to all who perished or were injured in these savage attacks and to their families and loved ones.

It is essential that Congress determine what steps are needed to ensure that we take all proper precautions to protect our people and our institutions from cowardly terrorist violence. We are extremely heartened that the President and the leadership in Congress are united and working together to formulate a plan of action to bring all who participated in these heinous crimes to justice and to take all necessary steps to ensure that this kind of terrorist campaign does not happen again anywhere.

We are also reassured that so many Members of Congress have spoken out on the need to defeat the real intention of these terrorists: to undermine American democracy and the rule of law. Many have said that in bringing these criminals to justice the United States must not retreat from its commitment to freedom, tolerance, and diversity. Other Members have underscored the need to protect the civil liberties of all Americans as we aggressively pursue the extremist organizations responsible for these horrible crimes.

It is clear we must move promptly and decisively to review our criminal laws and antiterrorist policies to ensure they safeguard as much as possible our people and institutions. We know the individuals responsible for these vile acts of terrorism are attempting to undermine the cornerstone of our democracy: due process of law. I know that you will give careful consideration to any proposed antiterrorist legislation, giving knowledgeable parties an opportunity to analyze and comment on proposed initiatives. This will help us avoid counterproductive emotional responses and enable us to craft effective measures that truly enhance our national security and protect our democratic ideals and our liberties enshrined in the Constitution. The American Bar Association is confident we can do so.

Our members will be working hard with others to help rebuild the affected communities and to be of whatever assistance they can to those who need help. We also stand ready to be of assistance in your effort to eradicate terrorism and preserve the rule of law throughout the world.


Robert E. Hirshon
President, American Bar Association

cc: Members, House Committee on the Judiciary

107th Congress Letters Home

Governmental Affairs Office
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ph: 202-662-1760
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