Dear Sen. Warner:

On behalf of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, I am writing to express our support of civil rights, civil liberties and the core values of justice and equality for everyone in light of the impending reauthorization of the Patriot Act.

We affirm efforts to defend our nation and our county against terrorism and believe that there is no inherent conflict between national security and the preservation of liberty. Our community, and the country, can be both safe and free.

Fairfax County is a diverse community comprising citizens of many nations, whose contributions are vital to the economy and culture; and we are committed as a local government to protecting their rights.

Fairfax County was affected directly and indirectly by the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Some residents of Fairfax County were killed or injured that day, and many members of our community, including public safety workers of Fairfax County, worked to help them.

In this post 9-11 era, we continue to depend on appropriate laws and regulations in order to purchase equipment, facilitate public safety efforts and in many other ways, protect the persons who live, work and visit within our community.

Many within Fairfax County are deeply concerned about the Patriot Act, and we pass these concerns on to you so you are mindful of them when deliberating the Act's future.

The Act has facilitated improved communications among the federal agencies, made funding available for the purchase of personal protection equipment for our first responders and promoted community emergency preparedness, among some positive results from this legislation.

But we encourage you to review the Act and support measures as necessary to modify the statute so as not to undermine the fundamental rights and liberties guaranteed by the constitutions of the Commonwealth of Virginia and the United States. Virginia is the place that first enunciated the human rights of all Americans, and your continued advocacy is vital to ensure the Patriot Act reflects this as it is debated and modified. Specifically, we endorse bipartisan efforts in the House of Representatives, to curtail unwarranted intrusions into the library records of our residents. Further, we believe that the Constitution and due process of law must govern all search warrants, property seizures, detentions, interrogations, prosecutions or deportations that may be triggered pursuant to the Patriot Act. In the execution of the Patriot Act we must ensure that we protect our liberty just as, in the purpose of the Patriot Act, we preserve it.

Shortly after the tragic events of September 11, 2001, we approved a Memorial Grove located behind our government center, right here at the seat of government for Fairfax County, to provide an opportunity for contemplation amidst beautiful trees and flowers that symbolize new growth and life.

People visit it often, here on the grounds of one of the buildings where their government continues to do what we do every day -- provide service and protection to all our residents, proving that the events of 2001 have not threatened our way of life nor deflected us from those daily freedoms and daily activities that we enjoy.

We will be gathering again at the Memorial Grove on September 11, 2005, at 7 p.m. to commemorate our community members and celebrate their lives and the lives of those who selflessly assisted that day. We hope you can join us this fall and participate in the ceremony with us.

You can also remember and celebrate those lives through the protection of our core American values of freedom, tolerance and equality, as you consider the reauthorization of the Patriot Act.

Thank you for your past efforts in support of our community; we appreciate your work on our behalf.


Gerald E. Connolly