Sen. Leahy sees a downside to more security
January 11th, 2011
05:01 PM ET
11 years ago

Sen. Leahy sees a downside to more security

Washington (CNN) - A senior senator, who had full-time security after 2001 deadly anthrax attacks, cautioned Tuesday that lawmakers run the risk of becoming isolated from their constituents if they were assigned that level of security.

"I think it puts you in a cocoon and separates you from the people you serve. I think you have to be accessible," Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, told CNN. Leahy was reacting to proposals to strengthen security for lawmakers in the wake of the alleged assassination attempt of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona.

Leahy dropped his U.S. Capitol Police detail less than two years after an anthrax-laden envelope was mailed to his Senate office. Leahy said he wanted people to approach him more easily to share their views.

"I want to walk through the grocery story at home and have people talk to me. I want to come out of church on Sunday and have people talk to me," he said. "I don't fear for my safety."

In fact, it was while running errands with his wife one weekend that he decided to forgo his security detail.

"I recall when Marcel and I were in a grocery store near where we live. We go there all the time. Saturday, we're dressed in casual clothes. Someone came up to me and said, 'I asked your security people if it's okay if I talked to you.' The security was gone the next week," Leahy said firmly.

Despite dropping full-time protection, Leahy says he takes security seriously and coordinates with local and state police for his public events in Vermont. In Washington, he says security measures are good, having "intensified dramatically" in recent years.

"We used to take the threatening letters and just throw them away," he said. "Since the anthrax attack, threatening phone calls, threatening emails, threatening letters, they go immediately to the police. That I do pay attention to."

Leahy said some of the ideas about increasing security will put up unnecessary barriers between voters and their elected representatives.

"One of the problems is that the American people feel too isolated from their government as it is," he said. "Let's not add more isolation."

Filed under: Arizona • Patrick Leahy
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Inmyopinion

    Well said Sen. Leahy, hopefully Bill Maher will read this post and understand that this very increase in security is what keeps leaders of other countries in a cocoon, safe, unharmed, priviledged, separate and isolated from their people, unlike we in the USA whose leaders are part of our communities and not isolated from their constituents.

    January 11, 2011 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  2. Lori in St Pete

    Of course the rethugliban will trash the "leftists" for this, but they had no problem at all when ari fleischer stated after people began questioning the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue's "either yer fer me or a'gin me" cowboy stance following his decision to invade Iraq based on lies that he knew were lies that Americans "need to watch what they say". And when American citizens somehow managed to unfurl banners or expose t-shirts with negative comments about the dauphin prince in public venues where the dauphin prince was holding court, they were beaten and then arrested for "inciting violence". Whether it's an issue of wingnuts beating up on peaceful Democratic protesters or another story about the shrinking middle class, the right always finds a way to blame the victims

    January 11, 2011 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  3. Monster Zero

    This is truly getting hilarious, reading the pathetic rants of the proclaimed liberal pacifists...pacifists calling for calm and removal or censorship of inflammatory language from politics...while at the same time speaking of cutting off Limbaugh's head, hilarious. A deranged psychopath goes on a killing spree, no political agenda given, just a nut job and the left spins this to no end on their never ending quest to stifle free speech and disarm America. I find it very interesting that the squelching of free speech goes directly in contradiction to its intended purpose found within the Constitution, along the same line that disarming the American populous would. Inflammatory speech is within our rights to enable us to stand up when a citizen or group of citizens believes that their government is failing them in accordance to their Constitutional bound duties. I can easily see why people would think that our government driving us off the cliff of bankruptcy, failing to enforce our laws and refusing to listen to what the majority of America is telling them to do could result in inflammatory language. I find it truly humorous that these elected officials are just now figuring out how pissed off America is at them, and they figured it out NOT from an event of political anarchy but from the actions of a 22 year old mentally deranged killer...CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN AMERICA, CHANGE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN, NEVER LET A GOOD CRISIS GO TO WASTE.

    January 11, 2011 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  4. megan

    what I want to know is how do this guy Loughners get these high priced lawyers and who is paying them to take his case. I heard rush say that he has the best lawyers. Make me wonder is rush paying these lawyers .

    January 11, 2011 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  5. Tough Love

    Look, I'm a football fan and I hate the useless "offsetting unneccesary roughness penalties". It's time to man up and call it like it is.

    The Republicans are the party that has had the most egregious violations of civility when it comes to inflamatory, violence laddened metaphors. It's time the public hold them accountable, that is to say, FIRE THEM, for their Neanderthal ways. By taking a PC view of both are at fault, we solve nothing

    January 11, 2011 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  6. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Read about the 2007 assassination of Pakistan Prime Min. Bhutto and what then former Pres. George W. Bush called a cowardly act of murderous extremist with no mention of that person(s) being mentally unstable. The Pakistan gov't watered down the assassination saying she died by impact on the knob hood of her auto and not by the bomb or bullet. We can't water down what's happened in Tucson especially knowing we are in an unstable and toxic political atmosphere by just saying Oh, he's just mentally unstable. That mentality will get us all killed.

    January 11, 2011 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  7. Lori in St Pete

    Hey monster zero, care to provide a link to a video of pacifist "speaking of cutting of limbaugh's head"? No, huh? Didn't think so. Nobody's trying to stiffle your free speech, and it's a pathetic straw man tactic. As for "no political agenda given", the guy was extremely anti-government and anti-currency. While he may not have been affiliated with a political party, his ideology is a striking combination of some of the most venomous voices on the right. It is what it is.

    January 11, 2011 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  8. Spending on More Defense Is Not The Answer

    You can not apply enough security to protect people if the world you live in is uncivil or if you tolerate inflammatory rhetoric by people that purport to be responsible "leadership caliber" material.

    No responsible person would use terms like "reload", "2nd Ammendment remedies", "if not by the ballot, then by bullets", or use rifle crosshairs to "target" people in an ad. EACH of these was done by a REPUBLICAN. Moreover, when the crosshairs 1st appeared, they were SOUNDLY condemned by Democrats and Independents who could see that this imagery could help tip the balance of civility in WORDS and DEEDS.

    Instead of spending money after the fact on more security, the better use of our time and money is to castigate all those fake tough guys (including crass females, like Palin, Coulter, Bachmann, Ingram) for their low class, gutteral, trailer park comments.

    January 11, 2011 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  9. Proud member of "Global Zero"

    I am a liberal and a pacifist. I do not condone or engage in hate. More people would be better off to do the same.

    January 11, 2011 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  10. malcolm in St Louis

    If politicians feel unsafe when walking the streets of America then join the crowd. We all do. thanks to lax gun laws any idiot can get access to serious weapons and threaten lots of people any time they want.

    Maybe they will get serious about restricting gun rights so that we can finally get to feel safe.

    January 11, 2011 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Monster Zero I can only surmise that you slept through the First and Second Coming of The Shrub (W) based on your ridiculous comments about our Constituiton being violated and our laws not upheld.

    Let me be the first, well, maybe not the first, but let me add myself to the list of folks that I am sure have tried, albeit in vain, to make you see that our Constitution has NEVER been in better hands, and our laws better upheld than they are by our current President.
    Of course, I cannot say the same in regards to MANY members of Congress on both sides, so you might have a point there.
    However that CHANGE THAT YOU CAN BELIEVE IN starts with the President, but continues to radiate from the populace. No one in their right mind can expect ONE MAN to change hundreds of years of corruption, and wrogndoing. Our President however has proved that he is willing to stick his neck out to make a difference and set the example for US TO FOLLOW.

    Either be a part of THE CHANGE that this President is trying to bring about, or continue to sit at home waiting for it to be handed to you, like one of those entitlement programs that right-wingers love to denigrate so much.

    January 11, 2011 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  12. Byrd

    More security is actually their plan. Once the politicians are cordoned off and isolated from the People, whom they now fear, so that no one can either speak to or question them, we will have officially entered the nightmare of Orwell's 1984. And are the politicians ruthless enough to do something like that? You bet they are. You bet.

    January 11, 2011 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  13. GOP Taliban Victim

    We need to bring back a mental health program to keep these lunatics off the streets. People that are schitzo need to be institutionalized and monitored regularly. Thanks to the Republicans and Reagan – most of our state mental health programs were eliminated. Now are paying the price with tons of these psychopaths roaming the streets – harassing and killing people.

    January 11, 2011 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  14. Monster Zero

    Here is a link Lori, it is on the know that right wing radical news page...

    Politics from the Nation's Capital
    Dem Congressman who called for GOP Gov. to be put against a wall and shot now pleads for civility

    January 11, 2011 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  15. zon

    @ Lori in St Pete the young chubby lady who knew him said he was liberal. tea partiers and republicans do not have the communist manifesto on their favorite books list. and crazy is just crazy. you are obviously scared and overemotional and angry that you cannot categorize this loon and put him in a box that fits your world view...however, It is what it is.

    January 11, 2011 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  16. timz

    We shouldn't be wasting public funds that are already in short supply on increasing security for politicians. They're largely complicit in creating this toxic environment and they should have to live in it. Maybe they will have the good sense to moderate their rhetoric and contribute to a more civil public discourse out of a sense of self preservation. Lord knows they won't do it based on general principle or serving the best interests of the public.

    January 11, 2011 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |