Friday, January 1, 2010

Pennsylvania: Home of the "Charter of Liberties"

(Jump direct to quick links: PA members of Congress on Guantanamo.)

This view of the Liberty Bell is one that I saw many, many times during my years living in Philadelphia.

Over the years, I took many visiting groups -- from China and other parts of the world -- to see the sights, and the culmination was always a visit to the Liberty Bell. One of the referents of the bell -- it refers to at least three distinct liberty movements in American history -- is William Penn's Charter of Liberties. It's hard to be from Pennsylvania and not feel that you have a special relationship to our country's origins and the liberties our forebears fought for.

Even more than the Liberty Bell, it is Washington Square Park that holds special meaning for me. It is a beautiful park filled with enormous oaks; it is not until you visit the monument in the center of the park that you learn that it was a British prisoner-of-war camp during the Revolutionary War, and that "in unmarked graves within this square lie thousands of unknown soldiers of Washington's army who died of wounds and sickness" during their internment.

I used to walk through Washington Square Park on my way to work every morning, and I seldom did so without intoning to myself the words on that monument: "Freedom is a light for which many men have died in darkness."

On the Guantanamo issue, there have been a few lions from Pennsylvania.

Congressman John Murtha (D, 12th) has spoken frequently and forcefully in favor of reversing the abuses of Guantanamo. He has said, "Guantanamo has cast a dark shadow over two centuries of America’s moral leadership in the world. . . . . [I]n order to restore our international credibility, we must shut down the Guantanamo detention facility." (more by Congressman Murtha on Guantanamo)

Congressman Joe Sestak (D, 7th) has given strong support to civilian trials of accused terrorists. He has said, "What could send a stronger signal to the world of American resolve than bringing these people to justice in New York City? The last thing we should do is allow these terrorists to cause us to abandon our American principles. We are a nation of laws, not men." (more by Congressman Sestak on Guantanamo)

Other Pennsylvania congressmen have opposed the closure of Guantanamo.

Here's how Congressman Joseph Pitts (R, 16th) characterizes Guantanamo:"Pancakes with syrup, whole wheat bagels, scrambled eggs. That is not what I had for breakfast this morning, but there is a good chance that the terrorist prisoners at Guantanamo Bay were eating this morning. . . . Each person is treated according to the Geneva Convention, though none of these prisoners meets the qualifications of soldiers under that treaty. . . . ." (more by Congressman Pitts on Guantanamo)

Congressman Bill Shuster (R, 9th) has said, "It is clear that terrorists, whether using a plane to kill innocent Americans or exploding car bombs in the Middle East, do not fight fairly. They fight cowardly and do not show their face. However, the Department of Defense treats these detainees in accord with the Geneva Convention, even though that is not required because of the inhumane methods used by these killers." (more by Congressman Shuster on Guantanamo)

Congressman Charles Dent (R, 15th) has said, "I, for one, sleep well at night knowing that these dangerous terrorists are detained at Guantanamo Bay instead of somewhere in the United States." (more by Congressman Dent on Guantanamo)

Information on how to contact your representative, and on their Guantanamo positions, is shown below.

(Don't know who your representative is? Look him/her up by zip code here.)

(Don't know how what to say? Suggestions for getting started here.)

Altmire, Jason D4thContact
Brady, Robert A. D1stContact
Carney, Christopher P. D10thContact
Dahlkemper, Kathleen A. D3rdContact
Dent, Charles W. R15thContactOn Gitmoabove
Doyle, Michael F. D14thContact
Fattah, Chaka D2ndContact
Gerlach, Jim R6thContact
Holden, Tim D17thContact
Kanjorski, Paul E. D11thContact
Murphy, Patrick J. D8thContact
Murphy, Tim R18thContactOn Gitmoabove
Murtha, John P. D12thContactOn Gitmoabove
Pitts, Joseph R. R16thContactOn Gitmoabove
Platts, Todd Russell R19thContact
Schwartz, Allyson Y. D13thContact
Sestak, Joe D7thContactOn Gitmoabove
Shuster, Bill R9thContactOn Gitmoabove
Thompson, Glenn R5thContact

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