Letters to the Editor

US Sen. Graham should acknowledge constitutional rights of whistleblower

As a teacher of the United States Constitution, I try to stay abreast of constitutional issues in the news. I find it disappointing that our United States senator, Lindsey Graham, a member of the South Carolina Bar, publicly stated that President Trump has the constitutional right to confront his accuser, namely the whistleblower, in the Ukrainian telephone call controversy.

Surely Sen. Graham knows that the Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses only applies to criminal prosecutions. An impeachment investigation conducted by the United States House of Representatives, the only body which can initiate an impeachment, is not a criminal prosecution.

Additionally, Sen. Graham should know that this accuser falls within the provisions of the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 found at 5 United States Code Sections 2302(b)(8) and (9). The purpose of this statute is to protect the identity of a whistleblower so that he or she will not be fired or otherwise harmed or embarrassed. Another distinction in this case is that the improper or illegal statements made by the president are clearly stated in the summarized “transcript” released by the White House. The credibility and identity of the whistleblower therefore matters little.

Sen. Graham and other Republican lawmakers should publicly acknowledge the carefully crafted system of checks and balances which are part of our Constitution. We have the right to expect members of Congress to demonstrate their independence from the president, to honor the rule of law, and to honor their oaths to support and defend the Constitution of the United

Joel Collins Jr.

Columbia

Russian interference has led to a divided country

For years, the Russian intelligence services have engaged in a massive, aggressive campaign to undermine our democracy and to turn us against one another, along racial, religious and political lines. Their primary tools on social media platforms are propaganda and disinformation. The goal of propaganda is to persuade, in the guise of providing unbiased information. The goal of disinformation is to blur the lines between facts and beliefs, and to sow distrust – in this case, distrust in democratic institutions.

Their campaign appears to have had some success. I’ve never known the country to be so divided. I’ve seen pictures of political conservatives wearing T-shirts with the slogan “Better a Russian than a Democrat.” We’ll never know if Russian election interference was decisive in Trump’s Electoral College victory, but it would be naïve to believe that this massive effort had no effect at all on the election. The Russians bought a lot of ads on social media and posted thousands of manipulative messages, written by Russian intelligence agents posing as partisan Americans – so-called “sock puppet” identities.

This campaign is still being waged, and it’s not just election meddling, but a sustained attack on our democratic institutions. It’s not simply a matter of “fake news,” but of media literacy. People need to be educated about the psychotechnologies of persuasion that are being used by experts to manipulate them. Thomas Jefferson said that a nation couldn’t be both ignorant and free. The result of a successful propaganda campaign is orchestrated ignorance on a mass scale.

Jeff Koob

Columbia

Those who don’t like Trump should just hold their nose

Let’s see where to start with the Oct. 3 letter and diatribe about American democracy. I cannot recall anyone in the current administration, TV or print suggesting President Trump wants to eliminate “freedom of press.” Maybe you are confused with his use of social media versus print paper. We certainly know what is on his mind without depending on “fake news” outlets. We spent 2 1/2  years hearing and reading about the president’s collusion, treacherous deeds and conspiracy with Russia, and now we find out the president has spies in White House leaking phone calls with foreign leaders.

Surely you are aware of the Mueller findings? “Fake news,” you bet. His verbal attacks not in keeping with normal standards for a president? When was the last time a president spent three years fighting fake news and the Democratic Party trying to oust a duly elected president? I held my nose for eight years with Obama. I suggest you do same now. Trump’s racist rhetoric design to foster exclusion – Trump’s economic recovery has provided the best financial ingredient’s for non-whites regardless of gender.

The recently passed First Step Act is a step to reform the criminal justice system and ease punitive prison sentences at the federal level. Whom do you think this act affects more, white nationalist or minorities? According to you, Trump claims he can do anything under the constitution. I remember a president saying he could do anything with a pencil and phone.

I don’t recall reading your concerns about megalomania and extremism harming our democracy with President Obama. You have a double standard for those that do not agree with you. Take my advice and hold your nose.

Bob Little

Columbia

The State publishes a cross section of the letters we receive from South Carolinians in order to provide a forum for our community and also to allow our community to get a good look at itself, for good or bad. The letters represent the views of the letter writers, not necessarily of The State.

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