A Congressman's Prayer

Date: Fri, 15 Mar 2002 12:46:33 -0500 (EST)
From: Greg Nelson 
To: rdnelson@Princeton.EDU
Subject: A Congressman's Prayer

I took the time to read this, and I am glad I did.  On the web at:


[This is the official House of Congress site, where it is nicely formatted
with the official seal.  Looks good, feels good, let's hope it flies.]



   Speech By Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH)
   To The
   Southern California Americans for Democratic Action.
   February 17, 2002
   Los Angeles, California

                           A Prayer for America 

     (to be sung as an overture for America)

   "My country 'tis of thee. Sweet land of liberty of thee I sing. . . .
   From every mountainside, let freedom ring. . . . Long may our land be
   bright. With freedom's
   holy light. . . ."

   "Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave. O'er the land of the
   and the home of the brave?"

   "America, America, God shed grace on thee. And crown thy good with
   brotherhood from sea to shining sea. . . . "

   I offer these brief remarks today as a prayer for our country, with
   love of democracy, as a celebration of our country. With love for our
   country. With hope for our country. With a belief that the light of
   freedom cannot be extinguished as long as it is inside of us. With a
   belief that freedom rings resoundingly in a democracy each time we
   speak freely. With the understanding that freedom stirs the human
   heart and fear stills it. With the belief that a free people cannot
   walk in fear and faith at the same time.

   With the understanding that there is a deeper truth expressed in the
   unity of the United States. That implicit in the union of our country
   is the union of all people. That all people are essentially one. That
   the world is interconnected not only on the material level of
   economics, trade, communication, and transportation, but
   innerconnected through human consciousness, through the human heart,
   through the heart of the world, through the simply expressed impulse
   and yearning to be and to breathe free.

   I offer this prayer for America.

   Let us pray that our nation will remember that the unfolding of the
   promise of democracy in our nation paralleled the striving for civil
   rights. That is why we must challenge the rationale of the Patriot
   Act. We must ask why should America put aside guarantees of
   constitutional justice?

   How can we justify in effect canceling the First Amendment and the
   right of free speech, the right to peaceably assemble?

   How can we justify in effect canceling the Fourth Amendment, probable
   cause, the prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure?

   How can we justify in effect canceling the Fifth Amendment, nullifying
   due process, and allowing for indefinite incarceration without a

   How can we justify in effect canceling the Sixth Amendment, the right
   to prompt and public trial?

   How can we justify in effect canceling the Eighth Amendment which
   protects against cruel and unusual punishment?

   We cannot justify widespread wiretaps and internet surveillance
   without judicial supervision, let alone with it.

   We cannot justify secret searches without a warrant.

   We cannot justify giving the Attorney General the ability to designate
   domestic terror groups.

   We cannot justify giving the FBI total access to any type of data
   which may exist in any system anywhere such as medical records and
   financial records.

   We cannot justify giving the CIA the ability to target people in this
   country for intelligence surveillance.

   We cannot justify a government which takes from the people our right
   to privacy and then assumes for its own operations a right to total

   The Attorney General recently covered up a statue of Lady Justice
   showing her bosom as if to underscore there is no danger of justice
   exposing herself at this time, before this administration.

   Let us pray that our nation's leaders will not be overcome with fear.
   Because today there is great fear in our great Capitol. And this must
   be understood before we can ask about the shortcomings of Congress in
   the current environment. The great fear began when we had to evacuate
   the Capitol on September 11. It continued when we had to leave the
   Capitol again when a bomb scare occurred as members were pressing the
   CIA during a secret briefing. It continued when we abandoned
   Washington when anthrax, possibly from a government lab, arrived in
   the mail.

   It continued when the Attorney General declared a nationwide terror
   alert and then the Administration brought the destructive Patriot Bill
   to the floor of the House.

   It continued in the release of the bin Laden tapes at the same time
   the President was announcing the withdrawal from the ABM treaty.

   It remains present in the cordoning off of the Capitol. It is present
   in the camouflaged armed national guardsmen who greet members of
   Congress each day we enter the Capitol campus. It is present in the
   labyrinth of concrete barriers through which we must pass each time we
   go to vote.

   The trappings of a state of siege trap us in a state of fear,
   ill-equipped to deal with the Patriot Games, the Mind Games, the War
   Games of an unelected President and his undetected Vice President.

   Let us pray that our country will stop this war. "To provide for the
   common defense" is one of the formational principles of America.

   Our Congress gave the President the ability to respond to the tragedy
   of September 11. We licensed a response to those who helped bring the
   terror of September 11th. But we the people and our elected
   representatives must reserve the right to measure the response, to
   proportion the response, to challenge the response, and to correct the

   Because we did not authorize the invasion of Iraq.
   We did not authorize the invasion of Iran.
   We did not authorize the invasion of North Korea.
   We did not authorize the bombing of civilians in Afghanistan.
   We did not authorize permanent detainees in Guantanamo Bay.
   We did not authorize the withdrawal from the Geneva Convention.
   We did not authorize military tribunals suspending due process and
   habeas corpus.
   We did not authorize assassination squads.
   We did not authorize the resurrection of COINTELPRO.
   We did not authorize the repeal of the Bill of Rights.
   We did not authorize the revocation of the Constitution.
   We did not authorize national identity cards.
   We did not authorize the eye of Big Brother to peer from cameras
   throughout our cities.
   We did not authorize an eye for an eye.
   Nor did we ask that the blood of innocent people, who perished on
   September 11, be avenged with the blood of innocent villagers in
   We did not authorize the administration to wage war anytime,
   anywhere,anyhow it pleases.
   We did not authorize war without end.
   We did not authorize a permanent war economy.

   Yet we are upon the threshold of a permanent war economy. The
   President has requested a $45.6 billion increase in military spending.
   All defense-related programs will cost close to $400 billion.

   Consider that the Department of Defense has never passed an
   independent audit. Consider that the Inspector General has notified
   Congress that the Pentagon cannot properly account for $1.2 trillion
   in transactions. Consider that in recent years the Dept. of Defense
   could not match $22 billion worth of expenditures to the items it
   purchased, wrote off, as lost, billions of dollars worth of in-transit
   inventory and stored nearly $30 billion worth of spare parts it did
   not need.

   Yet the defense budget grows with more money for weapons systems to
   fight a cold war which ended, weapon systems in search of new enemies
   to create new wars. This has nothing to do with fighting terror.

   This has everything to do with fueling a military industrial machine
   with the treasure of our nation, risking the future of our nation,
   risking democracy itself with the militarization of thought which
   follows the militarization of the budget.

   Let us pray for our children.

   Our children deserve a world without end. Not a war without end. Our
   children deserve a world free of the terror of hunger, free of the
   terror of poor health care, free of the terror of homelessness, free
   of the terror of ignorance, free of the terror of hopelessness, free
   of the terror of policies which are committed to a world view which is
   not appropriate for the survival of a free people, not appropriate for
   the survival of democratic values, not appropriate for the survival of
   our nation, and not appropriate for the survival of the world.

   Let us pray that we have the courage and the will as a people and as a
   nation to shore ourselves up, to reclaim from the ruins of September
   11th our democratic traditions.

   Let us declare our love for democracy. Let us declare our intent for

   Let us work to make nonviolence an organizing principle in our own

   Let us recommit ourselves to the slow and painstaking work of
   statecraft, which sees peace, not war as being inevitable.

   Let us work for a world where someday war becomes archaic.

   That is the vision which the proposal to create a Department of Peace
   envisions. Forty-three members of Congress are now cosponsoring the
   legislation. Let us work for a world where nuclear disarmament is an
   imperative. That is why we must begin by insisting on the commitments
   of the ABM treaty. That is why we must be steadfast for

   Let us work for a world where America can lead the day in banning
   weapons of mass destruction not only from our land and sea and sky but
   from outer space itself. That is the vision of HR 3616: A universe
   free of fear. Where we can look up at God's creation in the stars and
   imagine infinite wisdom, infinite peace, infinite possibilities, not
   infinite war, because we are taught that the kingdom will come on
   earth as it is in heaven. Let us pray that we have the courage to
   replace the images of death which haunt us, the layers of images of
   September 11th, faded into images of patriotism, spliced into images
   of military mobilization, jump-cut into images of our secular
   celebrations of the World Series, New Year's Eve, the Superbowl, the
   Olympics, the strobic flashes which touch our deepest fears, let us
   replace those images with the work of human relations, reaching out to
   people, helping our own citizens here at home, lifting the plight of
   the poor everywhere.

   That is the America which has the ability to rally the support of the

   That is the America which stands not in pursuit of an axis of evil,
   but which is itself at the axis of hope and faith and peace and
   freedom. America, America. God shed grace on thee. Crown thy good,

   Not with weapons of mass destruction. Not with invocations of an axis
   of evil. Not through breaking international treaties. Not through
   establishing America as king of a unipolar world. Crown thy good
   America. America, America. Let us pray for our country. Let us love
   our country. Let us defend our country not only from the threats
   without but from the threats within.

   Crown thy good, America. Crown thy good with brotherhood, and
   sisterhood. And crown thy good with compassion and restraint and
   forbearance and a commitment to peace, to democracy, to economic
   justice here at home and throughout the world.

   Crown thy good, America. Crown thy good America. Crown thy good.

   Thank you.

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