I wrote our senator a bit ago with the announcement that I was posting the letter and the reply.  That reply has been received:

Thank you for contacting me regarding privacy, federal firearms laws, and the military detention and prosecution of terrorists.  I appreciate having the benefit of your comments on these important matters.
Privacy is an essential part of the freedom that makes America great.  Our Constitution protects privacy, including by securing our homes and property against unreasonable government searches and seizures.  It is the duty of Members of Congress to uphold this constitutional protection while also ensuring the safety and security of Americans.
Technological innovation has not only driven incredible economic growth in the United States, it has improved nearly every aspect of our lives.  But new technologies also make available a great deal more information about the lives of American citizens, and thus raise privacy concerns.  The same tools that enable our mobile phones to access the Internet from anywhere can be used to track those phones; unmanned aircraft systems can track terrorists and criminals, but also innocent citizens; and conducting more of our personal affairs through online tools gives companies an increasing amount of personal information.  Our laws must continue to foster technological growth, but must also respect the privacy rights of all Americans.  You may be sure that I will continue to work to ensure the privacy rights of American citizens are protected.
Secondly, as a strong proponent of the Second Amendment, I believe it is essential to safeguard the law-abiding citizen’s constitutional right to own and use firearms designed for legitimate purposes such as hunting, target shooting, collecting, and self-protection.  Restricting this right runs counter to the intent of our Founding Fathers, who expressly guaranteed that citizens would retain the right to keep and bear arms.
It is encouraging that the Supreme Court has upheld the will of our Founders and re-affirmed the ideals our country was established upon.  The Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller provides a greater guarantee that Americans’ Constitutional rights remain secure from federal government intrusion.  I was proud to sign an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in that case stating an individual’s right to bear arms is fundamental.  This historic ruling continues to have implications far beyond the District of Columbia.  In 2010, the Supreme Court decided in McDonald v. City of Chicago to strike down the arbitrary gun ban in Chicago—and thereby affirm that the Second Amendment safeguards against state and local encroachments on the fundamental right to keep and bear arms.
As a former Texas Supreme Court Justice and Attorney General, I have firsthand knowledge of crime-fighting policies that work, and I believe that citizens’ Second Amendment rights should not be restricted because of the actions of criminals.  Rather, we must focus our attention on the source of violent crime: criminals who use firearms to commit crimes.  I believe that strictly enforcing the law—and meting out tougher sentences for career criminals and those who use firearms when committing crimes—will reduce crime more effectively than gun or equipment bans, which primarily serve to take firearms away from law-abiding citizens.
Finally, I do not believe terrorists should be brought to the United States and granted the same rights and privileges as American criminal defendants.  Terrorists should be kept at Guantanamo Bay and prosecuted through the military commissions established by Congress under the terms circumscribed by the United States Supreme Court.  Holding civilian trials in the United States for terrorists would do nothing more than place Americans at risk, while providing terrorists with a platform from which to spew their hate-filled ideology and recruit like-minded fanatics around the world to join them in violent jihad.  We must not forget that we are a nation at war against ruthless killers who wear no uniforms and deliberately target innocent civilians.  Treating these killers’ war crimes as ordinary criminal acts and trying them in a civilian court under the U.S. Constitution would simply be reverting to a dangerous, pre-9/11 mentality.
As you may know, Congress passed the Military Commissions Acts of 2006 and 2009, making a powerful statement that U.S. civilian courts are not the appropriate venue to bring terrorists to justice.  The military commissions were specifically designed to prevent damaging disclosures and to protect classified information, as well as sensitive sources and methods.  We know that these military commissions have a long history in our Republic—dating back from the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, to World War II.  They are the most appropriate forum for terrorists to be tried for their crimes.  Furthermore, in its 2004 Hamdi v. Rumsfeld opinion, the Supreme Court recognized that, in accordance with longstanding principles under the law of war, an individual determined to be an enemy combatant, including a U.S. citizen, can be detained by the Executive Branch until the end of the military campaign against al Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups.
Therefore, I supported amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (FY 2012 NDAA; P.L. 112-81) regarding terrorist detention practices.  It is important to note that these provisions do not extend any new legal authorities to detain U.S. citizens, rather they clarify existing authorities as utilized by the President and recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Section 1021 of the final version of the FY 2012 NDAA reaffirms the President’s indefinite detention authority under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF; P.L. 107—40).  Additionally, Section 1022 requires military detention for a certain subset of unprivileged enemy belligerents—members of al Qaeda and affiliated entities—pending their disposition under the law of war.  By its own terms, Section 1022 explicitly exempts U.S. citizens from the requirement for military detention.
Congress again revisited this issue during consideration of the FY 2013 NDAA (P.L. 112-239), which was signed into law on January 2, 2013.  Section 1029 of this legislation clarifies that nothing in the AUMF or the FY12 NDAA shall be construed to deny the writ of habeas corpus or any other constitutional rights to any person in the United States in a U.S. court.
I appreciate having the opportunity to represent Texas in the United States Senate.  Thank you for taking the time to contact me.
Sincerely,
JOHN CORNYN
United States Senator
517 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Tel: (202) 224-2934
Fax: (202) 228-2856

 

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