Boston Herald 11/21/2001 Joe K Lauds Dad as Devoted to Justice by Karen E. Crummy
WASHINGTON -- Former U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II proudly recalled his father’s deep devotion to civil rights yesterday as other members of the famous family questioned the impact on justice of new anti-terrorism measures.
Speaking at a ceremony renaming the Justice Department’s headquarters in Robert F. Kennedy’s memory, the slain senator’s son said his father was “willing to make personal and political sacrifices others shied away from.
“He gave the country a sense that that we could overcome our differences and create a better country for our children and our children’s children,” Kennedy said.
The former Bay State congressman, the eldest of RFK’s 11 children, delivered a moving tribute to his slain father, whose passionate style and devotion to civil rights and the poor became a Kennedy family political hallmark.
“We honor him not because he made things easy but because he made them hard,” Joseph Kennedy said, pointing to his father’s battles with segregationists in the South.
But the say was not without controversy. At a different event earlier in the morning, Kerry Kennedy Cuomo, daughter of Robert Kennedy, said her father would have sharply disagreed with the Bush administrations attempt at expanding its police power at the expense of civil liberties.
“May daughter, Cara, is here today,” Cuomo said at a ceremony honoring Darci Grigo, a Brazilian lawyer and land reform advocate who won this years’ Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award.
“Cara, if anyone tries to tell you this is the type of justice your grandpa would embrace, don’t you believe it.”
But during his speech at the Justice Department, Joseph Kennedy repeatedly thanked the president for his “profile in leadership” in the wake of the terrorist attacks.
When asked whether RFK would have approved of some of the administration’s tactics, including the secret arrest and detention of people during the terrorism probe, Joseph Kennedy said that he wasn’t quite sure.
“The whole mission these terrorists have taken on is to use our freedoms against us and that poses some difficult and significant issues,” Kennedy said. “I’m not ready to condemn (those tactics) yet because they haven’t been looked at closely enough yet.”
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, (D-Mass.), said that Attorney General John Ashcroft had agreed to meet with the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss constitutional “concerns” such as wiretapping prisoners, arresting and detaining individuals for questioning, and using military tribunals to try foreigners charged with terrorism.
“We are enormously critical of military tribunals in other countries when they try Americans,” Kennedy said. “We have serious questions to look at; first of all, the constitutionality of some things.”
President Bush, who renamed the building on the 76th anniversary of RFK’s birth, called the former attorney general a leader whose spirit “tolerates no injustice and fears no evil.”