An Open Letter to Senator Burr: Five Tough Questions

Dear Senator Burr, 

When you became Senate Intelligence Committee chair, you said that you would conduct vigorous oversight and ask the tough questions. Libertarians and all those concerned about the erosion of civil liberties and the wholesale violation of Constitutionally-guaranteed rights, were encouraged by this promise. 

However, according to the Washington Post, you recently sent a letter to the Executive Office demanding they return all copies of a report critical of CIA interrogation techniques, claiming it is “highly classified” and a “committee sensitive document.” This action is troubling and not consistent with your pledge. 

In the hope that you will renew your promise, we ask you to consider answering these tough questions: 

1. Do you believe it is Constitutional for American soldiers and agents to torture prisoners or use “enhanced interrogation techniques,” including methods like sleep deprivation, confinement in small spaces, water boarding and rectal feeding? 

2. Do the rights protected by the U.S. Constitution apply to foreign nationals in the U.S. or in U.S. custody, even those suspected of planning or carrying out criminal acts? 

3. Will you oppose classifying the results of investigations your committee conducts merely to prevent the American people from learning of illegal or criminal actions by U.S. officials? Will any investigations protect the natural rights of those under investigation? 

4. Do you believe the president of the United States has the Constitutional authority to order the killing of anyone, including American citizens, who he suspects of being a terrorists, wherever they are? 

5. Do you agree that national security interests justify the new authorities and powers President Obama proposed for his office in the State of the Union address? 

We'll be interested in hearing your response.


J.J. Summerell
Chair, Libertarian Party of North Carolina

Showing 2 reactions

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  • Brian Irving
    commented 2015-01-23 11:21:15 -0500
    Thanks for the additional proofreading. I will make the corrections. I regret that these minor errors lead you to conclude that these are not serious questions.
  • Andy Dodds
    commented 2015-01-22 18:13:27 -0500
    Mr. Summerell,

    To avoid looking like the tinfoil-hat-wearing nutjob Libertarians are so often stereotyped as, have someone proofread your letter.

    To wit:

    In your introductory paragraph you say " the wholesale violation Constitutionally-guaranteed rights." Do you mean “of” those rights?

    “Next paragraph, it reads “demanding the return all copies” There’s that missing preposition again.

    The second question in #3 lacks subject-verb agreement. Then there’s the whole 2-for-1 question thing in #3.

    Otherwise, you have managed to bring to your questions the same tone Stephanopoulos took with Mitt Romney when he started the “War on Women” meme. If that sort of antagonism was intentional, it worked.
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