Congressional Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-26) spoke to his constituency at a question and answer forum last night at the recently reopened State Theatre in downtown Ithaca. Members of the Cornell and Tompkins County communities gathered to hear him speak on a number of issues, mainly the impact of Sept. 11 on Central Asia and the MIddle East.
Hinchey was part of the five-congressman delegation that recently traveled to Afghanistan to “see the effects of U.S. funded programs there.”
While in Afghanistan, the delegation visited a number of civil organizations, such as a a school in the city of Queda, which is sponsored by one of the U.S. government programs, “Save the Children.”
During the forum, many citizens expressed concern over civil liberties and Hinchey’s initial support of the USA PATRIOT Act, which passed in Congress. Although Hinchey was originally in favor of the bill, during the meeting he apologized for his vote.
“It was a mistake, a vote we were forced to make. There was no hearing or examination,” Hinchey said.
Later, he emphasized that he “was forced to vote for it, not on it.”
“I think it was encouraging to have so many constituents [in attendance],” said Prof. Michael Latham, international nutrition. “Hinchey is very outspoken about Bush’s administration policy which is directed against terrorism, but is in fact undermining basic human rights of Americans.”
Many were also concerned about America’s military involvement in Afghanistan.
“We as a country need to set a higher example if we except others to act in a civilized way. People look to us for leadership and we are giving the wrong example,” Hinchey said.
However, since visiting Afghanistan after the recent bombings, Hinchey stated his belief that “it had to be done,” in order to prevent more civilian deaths in Afghanistan and surrounding areas by the Taliban government.
“A lot more needs to be done in the Middle East. We need to pay more attention to conflict,” Hinchey said.
Hinchey is supported by many members of the Ithaca community, since he got close to 70 percent of the vote during the last election.
“I think that he’s done good things for Ithaca, said Rachel May ’02. “In the wake of September 11, he expressed the same general view of the people in the community — that Bush’s reign on the war in Afghanistan should not remain unchallenged and that while we’re at war, we should not ignore our domestic policy and that we should make sure our civil liberties are not eroded in the name of liberty abroad.”
“We need to pay close attention to the actions of our government,” Hinchey concluded.
Archived article by Veronika Belenkaya