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Citizens Speak Out

A recent town meeting held by U.S. Rep. Tom Davis touched on many issues, including Iraq, cloning and homeland security.

Questions about the looming possibility of a war with Iraq dominated the second half of a town meeting hosted by Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-11th) on Saturday, March 15. More than 35 citizens attended the meeting, with questions ranging from Iraq to health-care funding to therapeutic cloning and stem-cell research.

Among citizen comments about the war were questions about U.S. foreign policy and Congress' role in supporting the war. One woman, in an impassioned voice, asked Davis to intervene.

"This is so horrible. ... Please do something. Talk to Mr. Bush," the woman said.

Davis replied that military force was a last-choice option that would hopefully bring about a regime change.

"While he is there, he's not just a danger to Iraqis, but to countries around him. Guys like Saddam Hussein understand one thing, it's not lawsuits," Davis said, referring to a lawsuit made by victims of the first World Trade Center bombing.

Another citizen asked how the government will craft its foreign policy, given current disagreement with France, Germany and other countries who favor more time for United Nations inspectors.

"We're trying to figure out, what is this new world order. ... What's clear is, we can't do it alone, we need some allies in the long term, and I think that will happen," Davis said. He added that Congress wouldn't be good at leading a foreign policy debate, because member interests vary so much.

"The administration really has to make that call. We don't speak with one voice," Davis said of Congress.

A W.T. Woodson High School student asked Davis about the benefits of attacking Iraq.

"The answer is, no one knows exactly what's going to happen," Davis said. "What’s the alternative of doing nothing? ... What's the cost of waiting?"

While some citizens asked about the merits of a war with Iraq, others questioned the government's domestic involvement. One citizen asked what homeland security measures were being taken with the Immigration and Naturalization Service and with people entering the country illegally.

Davis answered that there has been more received intelligence and monitoring of bank accounts.

"It is glacier speed. It's government," said Davis, of the creation of the Department for Homeland Security. "In terms of reorganizing, it's a work in progress."

Another citizen expressed his concern about setting up elections when there's no opposition. Davis replied that the jurisdictions are drawn up by the state, although Congress has made it more difficult to gerrymander, or manipulate boundaries in order to give influence to a party.

"The difficulty is the party in control always wants the commission," Davis said.

Davis also answered a question about whether he supported therapeutic cloning and stem-cell research. Davis said he supported stem-cell research because he thought there was some opportunity to find some cures, but he was hesitant about cloning.

"I'm very nervous about opening it up at this point," Davis said.