To the editor:
Sen. Pat Roberts continues to insist that hearings are not needed to determine whether the Bush administration's domestic surveillance activities have broken the law. I have written to him directly several times about my concerns. In those letters, I reminded him that he has a responsibility as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee to use his position not to cover for the administration but to ensure that it follows the law. He appears to be choosing party loyalty instead.
Sen. Roberts trusts President Bush not to abuse his powers. However, a proper investigation will assure us all that presidential powers are being kept in check, as the founders intended. Supporters of domestic surveillance keep insisting that people who have nothing to hide should have nothing to fear. Congress needs to take this advice and not shy away from bipartisan hearings, which will reassure Americans across the political spectrum if they find that proper oversight was in place, and will help hasten reforms if they find that it was not.
This is a very difficult subject for a lot of Americans, because we all want our country to be safer. But if we trade off our constitutional rights against the illusion of safety, in the end we all lose. The American people must regain trust in the way our system works; hearings are the only way to make that happen. Kansas' senior senator needs to stop being a stumbling block to progress and help ensure that the president is acting within the law.